Early in the afternoon of Thursday 3rd May, I telephoned your Adult Care Department via the customer services contact number. My intention was to make a vulnerable adult referral with a view to an assessment being made by your department. I spoke to the officer on duty. I was not offered her name. I was, however, left feeling very disappointed with the outcome of the conversation.
My disappointment was twofold: first for the guest for whom I wanted to make the referral and, secondly, the quality of service I personally received.
I explained what I wanted, to make a referral. I was asked my name. I gave this information and told the officer that I work for Doorway in Chippenham. I clearly heard the exasperation in her voice. I ignored this and carried on trying to explain. I knew I was not being heard as the quality of questions I was then asked did not fit my expectations. I had followed all the local homeless housing procedures. My fears were for the guest’s safety. I was asked his last known address which I gave. I was told he was not known to the department. I was then told that he could not be visited as he has no address. I explained that he could be visited at the Doorway Drop In on either a Monday morning or a Thursday afternoon and that this would give a very safe environment for a social worker to assess him. I was then told that the officer needed to speak to him. He was spoken to and I could hear the line of questions. He just kept saying “I don’t know how you can help me”. I was given back the telephone to continue my conversation with the duty officer but she had gone. I called back to ask what was to happen. I was put through to the department again and gave my name and my reason for calling back. After a few minutes’ silence, I was cut off. I had already given my telephone number and expected a call back but this did not happen.
I am now formally asking the Adult Care Department to make an assessment with this young man with a view to a vulnerable person’s application being made. If this is not possible, could I please have a reason in writing why he cannot be seen. As I am having to submit this request via an anonymous route, I must preserve our guest’s confidentiality at this stage and not reveal his name. Please contact me at Doorway to follow this up.
Our guest has been homeless now for six weeks and appears to have no sense of the dangerous situation he is in. He arrives at Doorway Drop In twice a week cold hungry and very wet. He appears disinhibited about the world and seems cut off from reality. He may have mental health issues or learning difficulties but we would not be able to gain this information from a GP or from Social Services. These factors mean we are unable to get to the bottom of his problems and get him the help he needs. He has been living in a tent inMonktonParkand appears to have no connection with his family. He also appears to have been homeless for some years in the past. However, he has had a short term rent of a room but was unable to keep this tenancy. He needs help to prevent this happening again. This young man seems in need of a case worker. He has no drug or alcohol problems. He is quiet and shy and has shown no violence or anger to anyone working with him.
My second issue is of concern to me in my role at Doorway. I was left feeling a nuisance for bothering the duty officer. I have worked with homeless people for many years now and have been to many funerals of street homeless people who have died through no fault of their own. They were just too vulnerable to look after themselves.
I have also attended workshops and courses on safeguarding adults. I resent, as a professionally trained worker, not being allowed at least to state my concerns regarding a homeless person. The duty officer may have felt that there was nothing she could do at the time but at least I would have expected to have been interviewed fairly and with compassion for our guest.
I must ask: what is the point in being given training in safeguarding, with the priority given to timely and correct referral, if all that happens is the kind of contempt I received today? I am very disappointed and would like an explanation of Wiltshire Council’s policy in this regard.
Doorway Support Worker