Read below to find out a little bit about her job role, her career history so far, and interests away from work.
1)Tell us a bit about yourself first of all
I'm Hannah and I am the new Senior Mental Health Practitioner work with the Rough Sleepers Team, although I remain employed by North Staff Combined Healthcare NHS Trust. It is a brand-new role that started on April 13th right in the height of COVID-19, which of course has brought its challenges for us all.
2)And give us an overview of your career so far?
I originally qualified as a Social Worker, and in every role, I have supported and advocated for individuals with complex needs. Unfortunately, they are still recognised as a highly marginalised sector of our society.
I spent many years working in Drug and Alcohol support services before I joined the Mental Health Access Team- 24/7 single point of contact under North Staffs Combined Health Care. The opportunity then came to work under an Inclusion Integrated Mental Health and Substances Misuse Team - covering three prisons in Staffordshire. From my experience of working with offenders in the community and who are released from prison with no fixed abode, I was able to focus and develop a release plan pathway with a view of helping them return to custody.
I later returned to the Access Team at Harplands Hospital where this opportunity with Brighter Futures was advertised. It was something I couldn’t wait to do.
3)And how will you be working with us?
The role is essentially mirroring the service provided by Access Team to offer advice, support, assessment, and signposting. However, this is predominately for those customers either already identified as sleeping rough or at risk of becoming street homeless.
I difference from Access is that I can offer short term interventions and support, to engage those in accessing longer-term support from mental health services by adopting an assertive outreach approach.
I offer guidance and support to the partner agencies also working with the customers. Many of them have complex needs and it requires a multi-disciplinary approach to engage them. Communicating with other agencies is key to identifying barriers and needs to engage them with relevant mental health services. It also helps for those involved with services but not engaging. We adopt an assertive outreach approach to change this.
With COVID-19, we have had to be creative due to the limited resources available. I have set up drop-in sessions at the hotels and homeless units across the city that are providing the emergency housing provision them. They can then access mental health support in person rather than via telephone although social distancing brings its own challenges with that.
4) How is an average day looking for you?
There is no average day - as I’m sure the outreach team will agree!
A lot of my work each day involves working with homeless units and drop-in engagement opportunities The rest of the day can vary from providing advice, offering information to outreach workers/partner agencies, arranging appointments for customers, liaising with GP’s, working with colleagues at Access Team and CMHT’s regarding concerns of identified rough sleepers and liaising with mental health teams in various prisons. The list is always different.
5)Where do you see yourself taking the role?
The model has been successful in other areas of the country and I would like to do as much as I can to increase engagement of rough sleepers into mental health services, whilst continuing to challenge barriers in front of people.
6) How often will be working an outreach shift?
Arrangements have been made so I will be available early in the morning once a week to offer support and help with different mental health concerns that people have.
7)And does this differ from any other role you have held?
Apart from starting a new role in a global pandemic of Covid-19, I guess it is not too far different from any role I had as I have always chosen to work with individuals with complex needs. The main key difference is I can be more assertive to try and engage with people who can benefit from mental health services.
8)What is your favourite part of the job?
Well, I am four weeks into the role, but Covid-19 has provided an opportunity to help customers get support from mental health services. All customers have been housed under guidelines and this means we can work with people at a time and place to engage that way.
9) What is your favourite career achievement so far?
I can’t say there’s a definitive achievement as such, but I would say I am grateful for the opportunities I have had throughout my career to continue my passion for promoting recovery and positive outcomes for vulnerable people in society.
10)Away from work, what do you like to do in your spare time?
I have always had a passion and interest in ceramics. Originally, I studied it at school and college.
Over the last few years I have attended different evening classes and would love to have my kiln/studio. I also enjoy spending time with friends travelling to different cities to watch different bands - although most of those plans have now been rescheduled due to Covid-19!
11)If you could live anywhere in the world, where and why?
I would be lying if I said somewhere really hot, I’m from Stoke and not made for the tropics. I would say maybe Peacock Island in Berlin-although I doubt that would be possible as it is a world heritage site!
I love Berlin for how multi-cultural it is, its creativity, and significant choice of events seven-days-a-week.