1. What does your role at YMCA Derbyshire involve?
I’m an accommodation navigator, which means that I support people when they’ve got into a situation where they don’t have a place to stay. We give them somewhere to live and support them, with the view to them living independently and not having to come back here again.
My plan when I was younger was to be a footballer, but that didn’t work out, so I ended up taking a property management course at university. After that, I got a job working with people in anti-social behaviour areas and engaging them in sport. Once I’d done that, I was looking for a job that involved property and helping people, and I became a property navigator here.
2. How does the process work?
If someone finds themselves homeless, they have to go to Derby Council, who then refer them. They might find themselves here, or at another of the homeless groups within Derby. If they’re referred here, we’ll interview them, see whether they’ll be suitable for the accommodation here, and offer them a place if we have it. The interview process is also about working out which type of accommodation would best suit them – we have on-site and off-site accommodation, and different things work for different people. Some people come here and they need support with living skills, so our on-site accommodation works best because we work with them to get them ready for independent living. Other residents are more independent, and then off-site living might work best for them.
3. In terms of supply and demand, do you find that there are more people than you can house, or do you usually have space when people come to you?
It varies demanding on the seasons. In winter, we’ll have many more people that we can house, because sleeping rough in those conditions is really difficult, whereas in summer, people may sleep rough more frequently.
4. I’ve heard that there is an activity that you do called Walk and Talk – could you tell us a little about that?
What we do is we walk to the park or somewhere similar, and we’ll just chat with people instead of interviewing them traditionally. The conversation doesn’t usually start with what I need to know, but it relaxes people, and usually the conversation flows. We’ll often play sport or games in the park, and then everyone is more relaxed and we’ll just sit down and have a chat.
5. What about your job do you find the most interesting or enjoyable?
Interacting with the residents, being able to support them. When someone moves out into independent accommodation, that’s really rewarding, and it makes the challenges worthwhile. YMCA Derbyshire is a place where everyone can come to get the support that they need. Its very welcoming and inclusive, and provides all sorts of support for all people.