“Have you suffered any domestic violence?” the housing officer
asked, his head down towards the desk. “No” my client replied. “Are
you pregnant?” he asked. “No”.
He carried on ticking the multi-choice questionnaire, obviously
used several times a day. “So why are you here?” “My father has
told me that I have to leave as his wife has just had a baby and
there is no room for me,” my client replied, obviously
uncomfortable with talking to a stranger about her situation.
The housing officer then told my client that her father could
not ask her to simply leave. I began explaining to him (with her
permission) that this was not her father and that her parents had
both passed away. Her step-mother had been physically abusive
towards the children and had refused to let my client into the
house on numerous occasions and so the police had been
The officer re-opened the form and began to scribble down
something. He said there would be an investigation and someone
would be in touch.
It is true that many of my clients find talking to other
professionals about their personal lives very difficult. This is
why I sometimes attend interviews like this to advocate on their
behalf. It is also true that my clients blame the person who
interviewed them, for not getting the service they want. It would
be easy for me to agree but really I feel that most professionals
working to help young people do so because they genuinely care.
What I have come to realise is that situations like this occur
because each professional has their own function. Social workers,
youth offending team workers, housing officers, counsellors…
all have their own rules and thresholds. Until Connexions was
created young people were often passed from pillar to post, with
different professionals dealing with them in respect of different
areas in their lives. There was a lack of co-ordination and
As Connexions is a universal service, I am able to take a
referral for any young person who wants a personal adviser. Having
this unique role gives all young people the chance to get advice
and guidance on any issue affecting their lives, no matter how big
or small. It also helps young people to access the specialist
services they need to.
This was the case with my client who after two weeks of
investigations, was identified as “at risk” and housed by her local