I'm a Progression Coach, and I've worked for Crisis for five years. So my role is to be a Coach rather than an expert. We are trying to allow people to take steps themselves so using coaching skills, using different styles of working with people to try and help them decide on change and help them do things themselves. That’s the kind of the ideal - with our client group we do have a lot of people who come to us in crisis situations where actually they do need maybe for you to advocate for them, or give them guidance. We’re generally looking for solutions - we don’t do counselling, we are generally looking forward trying to find a plan rather than spending lots of time talking over things that have already happen - it is kind of more future focused than that.
So obviously, I've shared the building with the Arts for nearly five years, which in itself is just such a nice way to have a building set up. In terms of my role and how that’s interacted with the Arts, there's been lots of interactions with people like Becca, and more recently Rachel over engaging members that I work with into the training scheme or into ushering or arts projects.
Actually some of that has had a really big impact on me, and gives me a lot of good feeling for my role. Seeing some of the people that I've worked with and supported onto the training scheme and what that’s then done for them. It’s definitely been something that has had an emotional resonance with me - seeing the confidence that it’s brought to a lot of people that I've worked with, and just the real change for them, you know when you go home from work and feel really positive.
And I was quite heavily involved in the Hidden Spire project 2 years ago, Before the Tempest. I acted as a key person for the Crisis Progression Team in the production, which basically was in terms of supporting the members who were taking part, and also supporting the professionals to work with the members. I was there quite early on in the process so I was involved in a lot of different bits of it, which was really good. And particularly once it became a company and the weeks preceding the production - being around every day and part of that was something that personally was very satisfying because I've always had a toe in to the arts in the past and it’s something I really enjoy.
My role was quite different to my normal role – normally I focus on finding solutions to members’ situations, but in Hidden Spire I was actually supporting them to engage with creative process. I also really enjoyed working with the professionals, discussing how they were working with the members, things they were finding difficult things they weren't sure about: whether this is ok? or should I, you know? I think for me, it was just nice to feel part of that arts company. It felt good for to be involved a bit with some of the members in a different way and be part of a team that had members on it.
I think, in any sort of social care or client support work you have to be very aware of professional boundaries and that’s very important - and it’s not that those weren't there, but equally there was something very nice about being individually alongside members from Crisis, all of us part of a bigger thing. That’s something that’s empowering for members but also it’s quite a positive thing for me as a staff member to get to do that, and engage with people on a slightly different level than you would in your normal day to day work.
And likewise being involved with the Arts team, the professionals, and being part of a team that isn't my normal team that was a really nice experience for me. We all had different roles but actually it felt like I had quite a specific role which felt useful. Going to see the show, and going to see the members and the people I'd worked with in it, it felt like actually yeah, you have been a part of this process - and that was really satisfying. There's something very special about those sorts of short term teams that exist for a project - you can get quite a lot out of it because you learn different things from the people you're working with - it is quite an intense process.
I think another thing that comes out of doing things like Hidden Spire, which sounds slightly trivial in comparison, but actually is really important, is the opportunity to genuinely get to know colleagues from the Arts. Everybody's very busy in the building, and it is quite easy to get to a point where there are a lot of people who you sort of say hello to. But to really see people working, and get them to see you working, and just to chat, and be involved in a project with them - I think that’s really, really nice because it helps with the relationship between the two organisations. And also on a personal level for me when I'm at work I often will just focus on what I'm doing – being able to then suddenly kind of, be pulled out of that comfort zone slightly and actually be chucked into another bit of the building with other people and see what they're doing and get involved in it is really good. I think it’s good for everybody to be moved about a bit sometimes and, in a different space.
On a personal level, being involved in Hidden Spire reminded me how much I enjoy that kind of thing and actually it made, it made me want to do more creative projects in my own time. I've done some great stuff before and then, you know, work and life and things happen but it’s definitely made me think, no actually that’s part of who I am and that’s something that I know is good for me and it’s something I like doing. It was a reminder for me that often experience is more important than the outcome of that experience. On a personal level, that’s something that I've tried really hard to learn, because one of the reasons why I often haven't done things creatively in the past is that thing feeling that, well, the outcome’s going to be rubbish and then you don’t do it. And actually if you realise that that doesn’t matter then you can just have good experiences, and the end result isn’t necessarily the be all and end all of it. And sometimes that has good outcomes as well.
It also refreshed some of the ways that I approach things professionally, not least the importance of things that may not seem that important - if that makes sense? You know, working for a homelessness charity, a lot of the time I'm trying to help people with very, very concrete things like, getting their benefits back, or getting into a hostel, or helping them find work - you know, which are very important. However, that doesn't mean that the artistic endeavours they can do in the building are just an add-on to what we do. I think that’s the thing that it really refreshed in me, is actually, a lot of the time those can be just as important as the practical side of it. So, actually something being a good experience, that’s enough, it doesn’t have to be more than that. And actually that can be life changing for somebody - it doesn’t have to get them a job or get them a qualification, or get them money - it could just be a really positive experience. Because, at the end of the day, you can have a bit of money, you can have a house, and that doesn’t fulfil you as a person. Being able to get fulfilment, get an opportunity to express yourself, to learn things - that is actually just as important for a lot of our members, and it reminds you that, when somebody comes in to do an induction with us, and they've got, sleeping bags and you know they're out on the streets - it’s quite tempting sometimes to think, oh well, there's no point in spending lots of time talking about the music classes because, you know... but actually, that’s not true at all - you know the amount of people that I've worked with who have been sleeping out who are now coming to do art, coming to do drama, music or watch shows– you know, that might be the thing that keeps them going through that experience. So when you think of it like that, I think actually that’s a really important thing for a homeless charity to do, rather than just deal with the concrete stuff.