I work for the Aftercare service at SHP, the part of the service which helps people with substance abuse issues back into the community and recovery, and my role is to support them to enter education, training and employment (ETE). A typical day as an ETE worker is like going into Mr Benn’s closet – I wear many different hats! I might start by doing an initial assessment of a new client, where I’ll need to ask open-ended questions. Later, I could be advising an existing client on their mental or physical health, or I could be facilitating a confidence-boosting workshop.
The Aftercare service, which works with those who are recovering from substance misuse issues, works with each client for around twelve weeks, with the first six generally spent building their confidence and motivation. When a client’s self-esteem is low, I usually try to interact positively and professionally to make them feel worthy of our help. My clients are a diverse group, ranging from those who run their own businesses, to those that struggle to leave the house, and it’s a great experience working with them, as they are all highly motivated and willing to talk about uncomfortable issues. The most rewarding thing is to see clients who really succeed in building their self-esteem and who go on to enter work or training.
Before becoming a support worker, I taught English in South Korea for two years. It was quite different from what I do now, but some of the skills I gained have been helpful – when I need to get someone into education, for example. At university I studied Global Development and International Relations and I also spent some time working with homeless people in India. I often think my current work is like doing grassroots development in Britain, so my studies definitely helped prepare me.
We also run a number of programmes at SHP that help clients to build their skills and confidence. Alongside my case work, I organise two IT programmes and a family relationship group. It keeps me busy! As an organisation, I think SHP stands out for having a strong client focus. Working here has helped me learn how to really listen to others and provide support to those that need it. As staff, we always give each other feedback, and the organisation is open to self-analysis. It really helps to be working with such a supportive team – someone is always willing to help you out if you need.