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2019 Volunteering Case Study

Volunteering 01 January 2019

Elizabeth was assigned the case in August 2019 and overall spent approximately 6 months working with the Service User.

He’d been in and out of prison for years and was very distrusting towards the system and many professionals – he was a black Rasta man who had experienced and was hyper-vigilant of racism. Due to this he had previously had engagement issues and was branded as aggressive by almost all professionals who had engaged with him.

His main needs at the time were sorting out benefits including PIP and opening a bank account, finding permanent housing and addressing his health (legally blind in one eye, partially in the other; muscle weakness in his arms) and addiction issues. Upon beginning work with him and finding common ground, Elizabeth found the Service User to be engaging well – he was never aggressive, attended all of their meetings and even began to up his attendance with his probation officer. During the first 3 months Elizabeth had focused on his benefits and they had started a PIP application process. Unfortunately, they were unable to finish it due to an incident which occurred in Service User’s temporary accommodation where he was the victim of an attack by another resident.

During this period Elizabeth advocated on Service User’s behalf and had extensive conversations with the hotel’s management about the poor handling of the incident and their decision to evict the Service User for a minor transgression whilst his attacker was allowed to stay on the premises.

Despite all of this, the Service User was really appreciative of Elizabeth’s support and opened up about mental health struggles. This was very significant, because despite being honest about his addiction and social issues, the Service User was very guarded when talking about his wellbeing beyond the physical health. Elizabeth explained the process of addressing it with a GP and convinced him to make an appointment.

In the last 3 months of handling the case Elizabeth was in touch with St Mungo’s in order to make sure the Service User had an assessment for housing, and he was supported by them. He was assessed and placed on a waiting list. Shortly after that, the Service User’s probation period ended and so did mentoring. He reached out to Elizabeth a few months later indicating that he was staying out of trouble, making this one of the longest periods in the last few years he hadn’t been in prison.

The probation officer in charge of the case was really pleased with the work Elizabeth had done to support the service user. They could see that the service user felt emotionally and practically supported in his benefits and housing situation. They were particularly impressed with the volunteer’s use of initiative to identify incidents and problems that have a safeguarding concern and to inform the police following good practice.