Support worker at Robinson Court Sarah reflects on the vital importance of listening to and learning from women about what they need and what's important for them.
During a key working session this week, one of the women we support told me, ‘’Key working sessions give me a kick up the arse to stay motivated. You believe in me.’’
Reflecting on that powerful statement made me think about how many of the women we support are working with several different services and experience a combination of support needs, included those surrounding homelessness, drug use, alcohol use, domestic violence, and ill health (physical and mental). Services that support women who are experiencing homelessness can often focus on these complex problems and challenges people face. However, if we only talk about needs or problems, people can find themselves unseen and stuck in a system without hope for the future, reinforcing a negative sense of self. Offering time for a chat or providing an empathetic ear can help people know they are seen and heard, outside the usual formalities of interacting with professionals.
At Robinson Court, our supported accommodation service for women in York, we have formal key working sessions at least once per week, and at least an hour for each person, alongside informal support which is available 24/7. The importance of this time and space for women to talk about what matters to them cannot be underestimated.
Acknowledging and demonstrating that we ‘’believe’’ in the women we work with makes a huge difference, empowering and encouraging motivation to make positive changes. It helps people we work with to remain optimistic to move beyond the challenges they face and focus on a brighter future. That statement, "You believe in me," was followed by a reflective conversation about the goals we set together and how progress is not always linear; We described it as a wiggly worm moving up and down but still moving forward.
The same woman also said "I sing your praises here; … There is always someone to talk to if you’re having a rough time, there is a friendly ear and 24/7 staff… It is brilliant."
At Robinson Court, it is so important to find the time to speak to the women we work with and get to know them alongside the formal and practical support we provide. We believe offering time to the women we work with helps to build positive rapport and create trust in services which may have been lost.
It’s tough for the wide range of services that women experiencing multiple disadvantage use, and perhaps too easy to focus on fixing problems rather than what’s behind or underneath what’s going on for people. But, by listening and learning, we can work collaboratively alongside women to help them make positive changes and improve their circumstances, helping them to access their full potential.
Find out more about the services we provide at Robinson Court here...