A while back, recovering from an op, I booked a cleaner to help me blitz my house. 3 hours of graft. She was marvellous, worked hard, had a laugh, put the world to rights. I didn’t want to sit around while she worked, I wanted to be part of the effort but I knew I wouldn’t do it on my own. One thing she said has stuck with me – ‘some things are just easier done as a team’. I don’t like cleaning particularly, I do it but get easily distracted and make do with a lick and a promise. With her doing it with me, it stopped me sloping off, we got on with it ‘cos we kept each other going. On that day she was my peer support.
The push for volunteers at Shelter is for peer support workers. I’m helping a Shelter client with job search. He could do it on his own, but having a buddy nudges the task along. I’m there to encourage/cajole him to get on with the task, to have the confidence to apply, to believe in himself again. He’s been homeless, he’s moved into a flat with little in the way of possessions, he doesn’t have a full time job at the moment.
Sometimes, you will hear a homeless person refuse a flat because it means moving away from people they share their lives with on the street. A home can be a very isolated place. So the more community support we can provide, the less daunting the change.
We’ve had a couple of sessions searching online for jobs and put in several applications. He could have done this on his own, but with the frankly devastating personal challenges he has had, a buddy to help him might be just enough to get him above the line to where he can support himself.