Side by side, through thick & thin

Megan Thomson, Service Lead for the Intensive Outreach Support Team

Our Intensive Outreach Support Team, Megan pictured centre

We are always looking for good news stories and good outcomes to highlight the amazing work we do. Sadly today was not the day for that. The polar opposite in fact. Today was a tough day, with the worst possible outcome. Today we lost one of our people. 

Call him what you will.. service user, client, complex, vulnerable.. but he was a person. A father, a son, a brother, a partner, a friend. Someone we have worked with across RSVP (Rough Sleepers and Vulnerable People) for over 10 years. We talk about ‘stickability’ and ‘walking beside someone’. Our team has gone through a few pairs of shoes on this particular walk! 

We were by this gentleman’s side in good times, when life was going great and we all had hope. We were there through the bad times, which, sadly, there were many more of … the overdoses, the hospital stays, the periods in prison. 

From sleeping on the streets to accommodation after accommodation after accommodation. We’ve been there.. by his side.. taking the brunt of his trauma and anger and frustration.. His Support Worker was by his side. 

When his partner found him today… she phoned that worker.. because she’s family. As soon as that call came through, we rallied; support workers, caseworkers, managers. We rallied. 

We covered supports, we juggled to make sure everyone still got the support they needed, but we rallied. We went straight to that person and made sure we were by their side. Hurting at our own loss, our whole service rallied. 

Tomorrow our team will wake up and go back to what they do best. We will all be sad and hurting and will still process how we lost another of our valued, funny, damaged, complex, kind, caring people. Another person, sadly gone too soon. 

But we will get up with passion and humour and as a team we will look after each other. And we will be there for the young man’s partner left behind. Because that is what we do. It’s what we do well. Not because we are paid to do it, because we care. Because our team cares. About each other and the people we support. That’s why it hurts. 

This team is amazing. The work they do is amazing. The difference they make is amazing. 

My team of 8 support over 80 people across the city ‘where they are at’. From the streets to B&B’s, we go where people need us to be. We go to them. At a time that suits them. We keep trying. We don’t stop. We chip away and build relationships with people who have lost faith and trust in services. We keep going. Non-engagement isn’t a reason for us to walk away. That just doesn’t cut it. We see it as a challenge. 

We just need to be creative. Persistent and consistent!