We spoke to Gareth Evans, our Training, Development and Meaningful Activities Coordinator, about his role at HARP.
How long have you been with HARP and what does your role entail?
I started with HARP in June 2011 as part of the Learning for Life project, providing skills and opportunities to long term rough sleepers in Southend. I’m now based within the Homeless Prevention Team at the Bradbury Centre and am responsible for the planning and delivery of Meaningful Activity groups and training courses for both rough sleepers and residents in HARP accommodation.
My role typically involves working with a range of partners and providers including local colleges, health care and training providers to source opportunities, and working with rough sleepers and residents to assess their needs and aspirations, and then match them with suitable courses to help them achieve their goals and improve their prospects.
The groups we run are quite varied and generally incorporate confidence and self-esteem building groups, recovery focussed groups, vocational training and life-skills training.
What time do you typically start work, and what's the first thing you do when you get in?
I work from 9am to 5pm but typically arrive by 8.30am to prepare for the day centre opening at 9am for the rough sleeper breakfast, and also to prepare the training room for any groups or courses.
When the doors open at 9, I usually assist the front of house coordinator on reception as this is a great opportunity to greet the rough sleepers as they arrive and inform them of which in-house groups are running that day. Building trust and a rapport with service users is key to their engagement with us and is something that I try and achieve early on with individuals.
What are the most interesting aspects of your role?
Because we work with such a variety of people with different levels of need, skills and interests there’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution to addressing their housing circumstances, or getting them engaged in positive activities. The fact that everyone is so different it makes my role very interesting when trying to match individual personalities and interests to existing opportunities or sourcing new ones to refer them to.
I run a supportive goal planning group for rough sleepers every Monday morning and one for residents on a Wednesday. I find it incredibly rewarding working with people; seeing them make positive changes to their lives and succeed in taking steps to achieving their overall goals.
Are there certain tasks you do every day?
Every day is different when working with people, and in the course of the day I will usually interact with several rough sleepers and residents for a range of different reasons, which vary day to day.
However, there are tasks that I do undertake every day. These generally include preparing resources and setting up the training room for the days groups, speaking with residents and encouraging their attendance to those groups and also the administrative side of the role, which involves the recording of the group attendance on our database.
What time do you usually finish work for the day?
I finish work at 5pm every day, although the day centre closes to the public at 3.30pm daily. The time from 3.30pm to 5pm is useful for getting up to date with phone calls and emails as well as updating paperwork or sharing information with the rest of the team. If a bed space becomes available in the night shelter, for example, as a team we will discuss and work out the best way to allocate the space.