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Hearing the Voices of our Frontline Workers

Hearing the Voices of our Frontline Workers

Hearing the Voices of our Frontline Workers

Friday, October 16, 2020

The Frontline Network and Cymorth Cymru recently announced a new partnership, Frontline Network Wales, which will provide new opportunities for frontline workers to share their experiences and influence policy.

We spoke to Gareth Lynn Montes, Research Officer at Cymorth, to find out more about what motivates him to lead this exciting new Network:

Throughout my time at Cymorth, I have been privileged to meet some fantastic support workers who are some of the most selfless and thoughtful people I have ever met, always going the extra mile and putting the people they support at the forefront.

Of special impact to me was a series of conversations I had with support workers in the Newport area during a morning I accompanied them to their different appointments with the people they supported.

Throughout the morning they would tell me about the people we were going to see and it was very obvious how much they cared about them. One person who had learning disabilities was supported with their rent and banking issues, a person recovering from alcohol dependency was given help with job searching, whilst an older lady who lived alone mainly needed someone to chat to.

These were just three of the people that were supported on a single Wednesday morning within an incredibly busy weekly schedule. All had different needs and support workers have to ‘transform’ several times each day to properly meet these needs.

I’m writing about these experiences because I am very excited to be undertaking a new project here at Cymorth.

We are pleased to announce that Cymorth Cymru has formed a new partnership with the Frontline Network, part of St Martin-in-the-Fields Charity.

The Frontline Network Wales aims to provide support to support work staff from the public, statutory and voluntary sectors who work directly with those experiencing homelessness. The ethos is to empower frontline staff, working with their ideas and expertise, finding ways to help them and their work.

At Cymorth Cymru, we want to deepen our relationship with workers who are at the forefront of ending homelessness and achieving our organization’s aims: to create a Wales where everyone can live safely and independently in their own homes and thrive in their communities.

Working with Frontline Network, we will create regional forums where frontline workers can express their concerns in a safe, open and non-judgemental environment. These discussions will feed into reports and contribute to Cymorth’s long-running mission to influence government policy.

To begin, we will be trying to encapsulate the opinions and thoughts of those who delivered support to vulnerable people during lockdown and the height of the C-19 between March and May this year. What were their fears, their motivations and their concerns? Was enough PPE available and were they given the means to continue to do their work safely and confidently?

The development and training organization Paradigm recently released a report into the experiences of support workers in their network during the pandemic and what we can learn from it (“Don’t Ever Call us Unskilled Again!”). Their report surveyed 118 support workers and other personnel who work with people with autism and/or learning disabilities.

A prime consideration for these workers was the fear that the people they supported would contract the virus or feel isolated or lonely during the new living conditions under lockdown. Whilst Paradigm’s work is limited to the realm of autism and learning disabilities, they have shown a successful way of gauging the mood, opinions and thoughts of support workers during the height of the pandemic.

At a time when the status, value and vital role of support workers have become more important than ever against the backdrop of a worldwide pandemic, it is crucial that the views and opinions of frontline workers in Wales are heard and represented.

I look forward to learning about the concerns as frontline workers, how they think the sector could improve and listening to illuminating experiences from their important line of work.

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