Why Hammersley Homes is needed: from our Outreach Manager

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We spoke to our wonderful Outreach Manager, Crystal Bloomfield, about our outreach programme:

You have been working with us for over a year now, setting up and managing our outreach programme. Can you tell us what a typical day at Hammersley Homes looks like for you?

The first I would like to say about my role is that I absolutely love it! It is a role which I am passionate about! It allows me to utilise my skills while gaining new knowledge and understanding. Hammersley Homes has provided opportunities to meet some incredibly inspiring people – people with lived experience of mental illness, and people who are working towards bettering the lives of vulnerable adults. I am hugely grateful and proud to be part of the invaluable work of Hammersley Homes.

Generally, I start by with looking at any concerns raised or anything else I need to follow up. Some of my typical tasks include recruiting and inducting a team or caring and generous volunteers, writing and updating policies and procedures, communicating with local community mental health teams, delivering presentations and training, monitoring and evaluating the impact of the service and meeting with clients for support need assessment – to find out how we can help them to live their best lives. Every day is different, but I love it.

How do you feel about your work, and what you have achieved?

It is rewarding to see and hear the positive impacts the service has on helping reduce feelings of isolation and improve mental wellbeing. Supporting people to help people brings me happiness and reassurance. Working alongside Louise is amazing – she is truly admirable and provides me with guidance and feedback to develop. It is great to feel appreciated, and to work with enthusiastic hard-working people who share the same values. I am passionate about supporting people to achieve their personal goals by providing encouragement, advice, information, and motivation.

Our services have a knock-on effect. By directly supporting vulnerable adults; setting the friends and relatives of our clients’ minds at rest- lessens the strain on their own mental health. It also impacts the community, because we prevent people getting to the point of hospitalisation or on the wrong side of the law. Hearing how our volunteers have benefited from giving their time to help others is heart-warming; one volunteer shared how what they learnt with us improved their relationship with a relative.

From the initial launch of the outreach service, it has been clear that the demand for lifelong friendships is huge! I would love to see the service expand – to support more people achieve their personal goals and live their best life. I hope to improve the service by actively reflecting on my work, responding to feedback, and engaging with continuous learning. For me, it is important that all outreach visitors and remote volunteers are confidently enjoying their role, and all clients feel valued and listened to. I am excited to see the progress of Hammersley Homes long-term goal of opening permeant lifelong housing to these vulnerable people.

How do you think our outreach service helps our clients? What effect does it have on their lives?

Our outreach service was set up to support people with long term mental illness who may be suffering from the debilitating effects of chaotic lifestyles, loneliness and/or social isolation.

We focus on increasing people’s quality of life; while decreasing the likelihood of relapse into a mental health crisis. Implementing ongoing support provides an opportunity to notice if there is any notable decline in the person’s health or well-being.

Since the pandemic, the number of people suffering from mental illness has increased further. In the UK we have great provisions for people who reach crisis point and lots of temporary help, but ongoing support isn’t there for many people who need it.

Our volunteers catch up with clients remotely and in person. We offer them friendship and help with anything they might be struggling with. We all need a nudge to do the washing sometimes, but if you’re suffering from mental illness, small things can become overwhelming. Many clients live alone and are quite vulnerable. We replace loneliness, chaos and confusion with kindness and compassion. We support them to find hobbies, build a social network and get involved in the community.

You have also been recruiting, training and working with our outreach volunteers, without whom this project wouldn’t be possible. What qualities and attributes does someone need to be an outreach volunteer?

We hugely appreciate the kindness and generosity of our incredible invaluable volunteers. The feedback continues to be positive and heart-warming. This is of course reflective of volunteers’ respect, generosity, companionship, commitment, and willingness to go the extra mile to help resolve some of the loneliness and chaos our client group too often experiences. Every volunteer has contributed their skills and talents – we hope they are enjoying being part of the solution.

Outreach volunteers empower clients to maintain independence while building meaningful relationships. We look for caring and empathetic volunteers to assist our clients with day-to-day tasks, including accessing other services, engaging with the community, participating in hobbies and activities of interest, organising their week, communicating with health care professionals, shopping, and going on a walk.

We would love to hear from you if you think you might have what it takes so join our wonderful volunteering team.

To find out more about our Outreach Services and our Big Give campaign,