Community Support Service
Our community support service emerged in the late 1990’s when we employed 2 part time outreach workers to seek out isolated elderly Irish people living in Southwark, Lambeth and Lewisham. They were paid to work 2 days a week and most weeks worked double and sometimes treble, their hours! Mary Fitzpatrick and Pat Prendergast were our 2 diligent outreach workers and they were brilliant at discovering the whereabouts of elderly Irish people and encouraging them to attend the club. The community service has grown year on year in response to the needs of our ageing client group – currently 70% of our clients are aged 75 years and over.
Our community team comprise: 2 community support workers - Paula (who works with isolated elderly clients) and Peter (who works with clients with substance use issues) an assertive outreach worker Richard and Monica who co-ordinates our community volunteers. We are the only organisation providing specific support to older Irish people with substance use issues in Southwark and Lambeth. Our community team have a great deal of expertise and are committed to our clients, ensuring they achieve the best possible outcome for them.
Richard is the first point of contact for new clients. He actively seeks out isolated elderly Irish people and clients with substance use issues living in the boroughs of Southwark, Lambeth and Lewisham. He is the first point of contact for new referrals and ensures a pro-active and fast response to allay any crises. When Richard has assessed a client, he refers them to Paula, Peter or Monica or to another agency if we are unable to assist.
Paula and Peter take time to build a trusting relationship with their clients, establishing their needs - physical, mental and emotional and their aspirations and preferences which they feel should be addressed.
As our clients age, they socialise less, lose confidence and they often need someone to access services for them at home e.g. meals on wheels, occupational therapy, home care services and assistance through the care planning process. Appropriate care packages are a major issue for many clients who may not complain due to fear of losing all services. Some are now managing their own budgets for their care which is a completely new experience for them. Many carers also have needs that are often overlooked until in crises whereas an appropriate and well timed intervention can prevent such crises happening.
Paula and Peter advocate for their clients to ensure they have access to statutory and other voluntary agency services including our befriending service. They ensure they have suitable housing, appropriate care services, that they receive full welfare benefit entitlement etc.
Paula’s role is often to keep clients informed of the goings on in the club, to ensure they stay connected to their own community and her persistent encouragement to attend the club whenever they are able is frequently successful!
Peter supports clients living chaotic lives, assisting them to cope as best as possible with everyday living, protecting their tenancies, assisting them to manage debt and accessing them into health care services. He also advocates for clients to access them into detox or other support services at their request and offers support through these processes. Many of his clients have unresolved issues that require ongoing support.
Monica co-ordinates our team of community volunteers who offer friendship to very isolated people living at home or in care homes. The volunteers are all DBS (formerly CRB) checked and references are taken before they are introduced to their befriendee. We are fortunate to have volunteers of all ages and backgrounds – these volunteers are the unsung heroes of the community service, giving their time and commitment to alleviate the loneliness of the person they’re visiting – for many, the befriender is their one visitor of the week!
Our volunteer befrienders offer friendship with no agenda. If an issue arises with one of their befriendees, they contact Monica who alerts one of the community team to resolve the problem. We are currently looking at setting up a bespoke team of volunteer advocates to provide hands on support to the befrienders and their clients.
If you would like to talk to someone about a home visit or you wish to refer someone to the community team service, please phone 020 7394 4878 and speak to Richard.