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Lauren Whitehead

9th November 2021

Sanctuary Supported Living

Project Worker at Colchester Homeless Supported Housing, photographed smiling at the camera in an office environment

Lauren Whitehead has been working at Colchester Homeless Supported Housing since 2020.

The supported housing service in Essex, provides support for adults aged 18 to 64 who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness. Clients may receive support to overcome dependence to addictive substances and typically stay for up to two years. During this time, they will build the skills and confidence needed to move out and maintain their own independent accommodation - breaking the cycle of homelessness. Lauren tells us what a typical day as Project Worker might be like.

“The first thing I do in the morning is pop the kettle on whilst reading my handover notes. I’ll also see which clients need contacting for duty of care, check in with my colleagues and catch up on my e-mails.

We support clients to move in, maintain their tenancies, and move out. By mid-morning, I’m continuing to learn about tenancies, licences, and support agreements, as well as the responsibilities of the landlord, clients and how we can collaborate with the local council, the emergency services, and other agencies.

Most of my day is spent in key working meetings. Key working meetings are client-focused and client-led. By understanding a client’s support needs, I can create and review their action plans. This includes signposting to external agencies to claim entitled benefits, LGBTQIA+ services, employment opportunities, drug and alcohol support, mental health, or other social care services. Sometimes, clients may just want to talk about their week, and that’s okay as it’s an opportunity for them to open up and build trust.

Key working meetings are client-focused and client-led

Lauren, Project Worker

The office doorbell will often ring throughout the day and clients may need urgent support. Every day is different at this Sanctuary Supported Living service! As a Project Worker, you face challenges because everyone has different needs, unique circumstances and experiences. However, this is an exciting part of the role, and thanks to my experience, the training I’ve received from Sanctuary and support from my colleagues, I am confident at managing difficult scenarios, with a good understanding of how to report incidents and safeguarding concerns.

Generally, I enjoy finding innovative ways to encourage clients to get involved in activities going on in the local community. We organise celebrations for religious festivals, raise awareness for national events such as ‘Suicide Prevention Week’ and we compete in a yearly gardening competition called ‘Ready, steady grow’.

By the end of the day, I feel a sense of satisfaction that clients have made some progress on their pathway to independence, and I know that with every small improvement that I have supported them to make will have a big impact in the long run. I’m ready to put my feet up and relax for the evening!

For more information about a career with Sanctuary Supported Living and the variety of roles we offer, see our careers page. To find out more about our services for young people, see our latest news or find a service near you