As a person, I need a challenging and rewarding life and an integral part of that is fulfilling employment. What drew me to apply for the post of Outreach Worker was the challenge of new responsibilities; an urge to develop as a person and contribute something positive to society, something that would help build and develop the liberal caring elements that society has to offer; to reduce the harmful side effects that homelessness imposes on people in this balance.
A law set up to protect society and the individuals in that society from people who may harm it. At the same time though, the rights and needs of the offender have to be taken into consideration and a balance struck.
Growing up in a poor working class suburb of the north east of England I could see with my own eyes the effects homelessness had on the surrounding culture; creating fear in the homeless person, suspicion and insularity in the surrounding population. I experienced how poor upbringing, a destructive environment, a bad education and unemployment can contribute to social disintegration and homelessness.
I can also see that it is not just rehousing and reintegrating homeless members of society that can help rebuild fractured communities. However, in the big picture, it is a very important part of our society and the profession needs people who are not only trained to professional standards but also have the wider human skills to adapt to the homeless persons and societies needs within the framework of the law.
Ideally, this will help achieve integration back into the broader society. What could be more rewarding than that? To keep people off the streets and help them into their own homes? Homelessness does not help society or the individual but long term, homelessness levels must be reduced by other means if possible. Is supervising community punishments on a one to one basis, in order to help reduce reoffending, a better chance to reintegrate than prison? The answer has to be an overwhelming yes.
That is why I believe in the power it has to help shape society, to help shape public perception of homelessness, to help homeless people find that security. It seems as if my adult life experiences and education has all led me to this point. That is why I wish a career in this particular field. After leaving school with 2 A levels, I worked for the National Coal Board in their computer room. It was the time in the late 1970’s that the pits were closing and the industry was in the process of restructuring and downsizing. Unemployment was high and prospects were low in the
northeast. I needed to take control of my life and change my circumstances myself. I therefore studied part time at a local college gaining a place on a BA (Hons) course in English at Newcastle Polytechnic. My careers advisor suggested I apply to Universities after expressing an interest in film studies. After much traveling and many interviews later, I secured a place at The University of Kent at Canterbury.
With my own motivation and determination, and the timely intervention of a careers advisor, my life was about to change forever. I had learnt that managing, or being given the power to manage, your own life was empowering and produced a feeling of independence. I felt a part of society.
This attitude was to shape the way I behaved forever.
Relate to others?
One of my hobbies is house music. I love this electronic music form that originated in Chicago and have organized promotions and played music on the scene for ten years. This means dealing with people from all class and cultural backgrounds on many differing levels. From negotiations with club owners, publicans, police and fire brigade to looking after VIP’s and handling door staff. Traveling around the UK and Europe meant, to me, being an ambassador for house music and needed appropriate behavior to reflect our music. This interest led to creating a small fanzine that included news, reviews and artwork or anything the readers wanted to contribute. This involved dealing with artists and writers, coordinating the copy for the current issue; editing and publishing and distributing the magazine via gigs, clubs, record shops and other events.
The magazine has since gone online.
Assessing people’s abilities and skills, assigning jobs and ensuring everyone is treat well and paid where appropriate. This brings a great sense of community to everyone involved and is rewarding on many levels. The team works together to produce the promotion.
This also led to me dealing with the side effects and, some would say, the inevitable consequences of party culture; personal problems, drug problems, housing problems and other related issues.
The skills I learnt here also helped me in my professional career life. The internet department of Solo Communications (UK) Ltd had four people – the internet director, a graphics designer, a programmer and me, the web developer. When the department worked at its best all of us felt we had contributed our part to the project. Teamwork was essential. The main ongoing project in our department was the development of an internet kiosk. This kiosk could be placed in hotel lobbies, railway stations, pubs, museums – the various implementations were limitless – and people could access paid for or free information simply through a touch sensitive screen. We would work together to produce kiosk ideas to sell to potential clients. Liaisons between the graphics designer, the web developer and the programmer were imperative as I designed the interface, web site or interactive CD that would be shown through the kiosk. Technical and artistic elements must be considered before producing a well coded web site. The director had the final say so ideas were tweaked and improved until the job was finished. Professional support was what we had for each other.
Then the personal came. We began to share problems and formed a mutual support network that helped us all through some difficult times.
15 people from Kent to Cornwall for a one-week holiday seems like a logistic nightmare but doing this and taking a portable café with us, to a Festival, was a great experience. The organisation of this was the best thing I had ever done. I learnt so much and benefited enormously as a person by doing it. It would mean organizing and paying for the pitch liaising with festival organisers, selling the idea to them.
Taken: 1 marquee, 1 portable kitchen, 2 vehicles, enough food for the duration for customers and staff, 10 staff (and their children) to organize transport for, tickets, tents, petrol. Once there; set up, pickup fridge, organise work rota’s, baby sitting rota’s, liaise with local suppliers for fresh products, soothe marital frictions, children’s arguments, cover shifts for ‘missing’ staff (it was a festival after all), look after money and generally be available 24/7 for 7 days.
Openness to new ideas
Due to the rise and rise of the internet and the publishing phenomenon of web sites, I decided I needed to be involved somehow in this great cultural change. I bought a computer, some web design software and over a period of about five years taught myself, initially, the basics of computer design and web page coding then later techniques that are more advanced. This was purely for the love of trying something new and interesting; to see if I could be a part of this new way of communicating. I transferred the magazine I was editing and publishing to a web site and this was a great success. This brought in other friends who wanted sites designed and published. I got recommended and designed sites for small businesses. I eventually got a job with my last employer on the CV of site I had done so far.Due to the rise and rise of the internet and the publishing phenomenon of web sites, I decided I needed to be involved somehow in this great cultural change. I bought a computer, some web design software and over a period of about five years taught myself, initially, the basics of computer design and web page coding then later techniques that are more advanced. This was purely for the love of trying something new and
interesting, to see if I could be a part of this new way of communicating. I transferred the magazine I was editing and publishing to a web site and this was a great success. This brought in other friends who wanted sites designed and published. I was recommended and designed sites for small businesses. I eventually got a job with my last employer on the CV of site I had done so far.