Cassie Dyer, Team Manager for You First, part of our Fulfilling Lives project in London Boroughs of Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark, shares her experiences of the new team’s first few weeks.
“After many months of preparation, planning and debate, we accepted our first nomination last month. The real work has begun at last! It’s exciting - and a little daunting - to have reached this milestone”.
The You First team joined the Fulfilling Lives project in July. The team name was chosen by our Expert Service User Group (ESURG) and really gets to the heart of our role: we’re here for our clients, no matter what.
We’re a small team of six key workers with a wealth of experience of working with people with multiple and complex needs including homelessness, mental health, substance misuse, sexual exploitation and offending.
Everyone is brimming with energy and eager to start reaching out to clients. But we’ve also recognised the challenges of how an entirely new organisation approaches working with well-established multiple agencies across three local authorities. It doesn’t happen overnight. That’s been our key learning so far: invest time and effort into getting the right relationships and systems in place from the very start.
So, our initial focus has been on building relationships and setting up the network of strategic partners, commissioners and practitioners that we will collaborate with over the lifetime of our eight year project.
With so much to cover, we decided to split responsibilities into the nine pathways to resettlement and identified a lead worker in every area. Each key worker is building a network around them and sharing learning and contacts with the rest of the team.
Getting going has been a whirlwind of meetings, phone calls, visits and flip charts. Between us, we have introduced ourselves to everyone who delivers services to vulnerable adults in Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark. We’ve been out on the dawn shift with the Southwark team. We’ve met the Southwark service user council and the alcohol outreach worker in Lambeth hostels. People have been responsive, warm and enthusiastic about Fulfilling Lives.
It’s not an exact science but allocating a lead person per service has worked for us and awareness of what we’re trying to do is spreading. It meant that when the nominations process started for deciding which clients we will work with, everyone knew exactly who we were and what we were looking for.
Lessons learnt so far? Make sure you can see the big picture before making decisions. Invest time to build relationships from the very start. Be open and receptive. Listen to the experiences of others already doing brilliant work and have the flexibility to make changes to ensure the team can best support some of the most vulnerable adults living in our communities".
This blog first appeared in the Big Lottery Fund's October edition of Fulfilling Lives: supporting people with multiple needs newsletter