This week’s writer is a live-in worker at a homeless hostel in London

Our hostel has finally settled down. This is a relief to the staff
team including myself because I began to feel like we couldn’t hold
on to our residents for love nor money. Looking at the white board
in the office and lamenting the loss of another two residents
during the night the only thing my colleague could mutter was
“swings and roundabouts.” Times of stress lead to cryptic
explanations of how things came to be.

Went with one of the new residents to the job centre to sort out
his claim. The Benefit Agency headquarters at Belfast only received
his jobseekers allowance 3 form five days after it was posted and
it had unfortunately been filled in incorrectly. The woman at the
Job Centre was very helpful with helping him to fill out a new
form, even cracking jokes along the way like asking him if he “was
pregnant”. The joke fell flat because the resident’s first language
is not English, and he seemed to become quite concerned about being
asked such a personal question. The Job Centre adviser then agreed
to send the form via the internal post to Belfast and give my
resident an emergency payment.

Quiet shift, nothing much happens on the weekend, so the two staff
went and watched a horror film in the lounge with two of the
residents. As a team we are trying to build bridges with the
residents again after the last few months when we felt that a bit
of a gap had appeared. This means watching more TV and playing more
pool and table tennis with the residents.

Quiet shift again. While sitting in the lounge one of the residents
turned to me and asked if I thought that women were naturally
better at cooking and cleaning because “that is what they expect to
do so they are more used to it”. I shrugged and thought of my
ex-girlfriends. “Not really,” I said, not wanting to push the
matter because I am still on fragile ground with him after his
prior eviction two months ago. One of our other residents piped up
and said that when he was resettled he would get his girlfriend to
cook and clean for him in his new flat. I left and cooked myself
some dinner, bringing it back into the lounge to show that it was
possible to be male and to cook for yourself. I think I just came
across as effeminate.

The resident who was having trouble sorting out his claim went to
the Job Centre today and came back with a new jobseekers allowance
3 form. He said that a worker at the Job Centre had told him that
the head office in Belfast had lost his second form, even though it
had been sent via internal post from the local Job Centre. The
resident later came back and asked for food because he had none
left. This feels like a problem that could run on for some

More from Community Care

Comments are closed.