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‘My priorities are driven by their priorities’ – Will Montgomery, Framework Housing First Support Planner

At Framework our support workers are providing people with the help they need to get back on their feet. Housing First Support Planner Will Montgomery shares in the ins and outs of providing this much needed support.

“Ending homelessness isn’t just about providing people with safe and suitable housing; it also requires intensive tenancy support over a sustained period, and this is where Framework’s Housing First team comes in.

Framework’s Housing First support planners work closely with entrenched rough sleepers, building personal relationships with their service users, acting as a constant source of available support and advice, and equipping them with the skills they need to maintain their own tenancies. Recently we interviewed Housing First support planner, Will Montgomery, to get an insight into his role.

Usually I have a caseload of 5-7 people, the number varies because people do come and go. Most of the people I work with are men over thirty, but I also work with women. In my experience, people become homeless for all sorts of different reasons. Usually it’s a combination of relationship breakdown, poor mental health, offending and drug and alcohol issues.

My service users have complex needs, which means multiple agencies being involved in supporting them, and we liaise with them all. I know it’s a cliché, but no two days are the same in my job, there is no typical day, it really just depends upon the clients’ needs and what’s happening in their lives, who needs what and when. My priorities are driven by their priorities and quite often events occur that will trigger my workload.

The phone might go or I can get a text message for whatever reason. It might be a doctor, the police, probation services, someone having a mental health episode, an accident or an urgent physical health issue, someone needs money, someone needs food, someone had a visit from the bailiffs, no electric, no gas. There are multiple reasons why I might be needed, urgently and at short notice.

It can be really stressful and challenging for people coming off the streets, trying to get everything sorted with all the bills, changing their address, getting everything transferred, the gas, electric, water; having their own bank account. Some of my service users will struggle spending, say 15 minutes on the phone. That’s where I might take the lead and take the pressure off them. It’s really important to be positive and to not be disappointed in people when they don’t move at the pace that you want them to move at. I think you can be disappointed for people, but not in them.

When you work with people in any walk of life, it can be complicated. The highs are great but the lows are really horrible. Building relationships can be hard work, it can give you great joy and great pain, and it varies because you don’t always feel great too. Sometimes things that might not be difficult one day, on a different day, when you’re having a hard time personally, it can be tough.

Some of our service users are at risk of injury or death. We do see people that are really ill, and we see people die – that’s the reality. When someone doesn’t progress and they deteriorate and become really ill, that is really difficult. Going to visit someone when there is a possibility of finding them dead is very stressful.

We have a very good team and an excellent manager, which helps create a good working environment. When you make progress on things that affect the big picture, the longer term; something that improves somebody’s mental health, their physical health, their drug addiction – that’s really rewarding. It makes me feel I’m doing a worthwhile job.”