This week’s writer is a regional Supporting People adviser for supported and sheltered housing providers

A precious day at my desk. My colleague and I work from an office
in Manchester. It’s convenient and friendly but buzzing by 9.30am,
so I arrive as early as I can bear. Switch on computer and am
greeted with 74 e-mails. I ignore them. Work on presentations for
events later this week. One problem is that the government’s
Supporting People proposals change faster than a drunken chameleon,
so I check the DTLR’s “K-web” for latest versions. Of course,
consultation is great but I sympathise with the hostel manager who
says she can’t spend all day reading half-baked ideas. I’m going to
buy a T-shirt that says: “Don’t shoot the messenger”. My colleague
arrives. We spend half an hour agreeing who’ll do what before she
dashes to a lunchtime finance workshop. Many interruptions later I
finish my presentations. Not perfect but time’s up.

Off to Liverpool for an advice surgery. Can’t make individual
visits, so surgeries allow us to give personal attention to
providers. High winds close every motorway so I’m late. Luckily my
first client fills time on her laptop. Surgeries are great. We see
the detail of how Supporting People impacts on services. Often I
can help and I always learn something. I might get stuck into
practical budgeting or rent setting with one client. The next could
be a national provider, anxious to discuss the implications of a
charging policy.

Catch up on e-mails. Funniest is a summons to speak on 10 complex
topics next week – in 20 minutes. Luckily the date clashes. Other
requests are less easily dismissed – desperate pleas for
information. Today’s big event is a briefing at the airport for
sheltered housing providers. Delegates arrive depressed, having
passed through the departures lounge. A lost power lead makes for a
dodgy start, but it goes OK. I enjoy presentations – I’m a
show-off. But I can’t get the hang of networking. Aren’t tea breaks
for drinking tea?

We get lots of invitations to meetings and honour as many as we
can. Today is a housing managers’ group. They are keen and we have
a good discussion. Before this job I was only familiar with Greater
Manchester. Now our “patch” covers the whole of the north of
England. Since I am not a competitor, people usually talk very
openly to me. I’m also quietly building up a dossier of places
where I’d like to work.

Some people like Fridays, but I remember what I haven’t achieved
that week. Out all day at an “inclusive forum” for North Yorkshire.
There are special difficulties for big two-tier authorities, so
this is important. Good start: biscuits, 200 delegates and a
well-structured programme. Arrival of a live tenant reminds us what
it’s all about. As I suspected, a lot of delegates need basic
knowledge about Supporting People. I encourage them to join our
mailing list. It’s my birthday on Monday but I dare not take the
day off. Never mind – I grumble, but it’s a great job.

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