Meet Thembie - Housing and Link Worker

I joined Elizabeth Fry Charity as a Resettlement and Support Officer (RSO) in March 2015. The role involved providing day to day to support to residents at the Approved Premises, monitoring behaviour to ensure licence conditions are complied with and sharing information with colleagues and partner agencies.


When a vacancy arose in the Housing and Link Worker role I was keen to apply for this position and delighted to be offered the post. I was aware, through my work as an RSO that there are a number of obstacles facing women at the Approved Premises who are seeking accommodation to move on to. I was also aware of the impact that a lack of stable or suitable accommodation can have on re-offending rates and saw the role as a chance to support women to access suitable accommodation and make the appropriate links so that there is a package of support in place when they leave Elizabeth Fry.  


I have now been in post for three months and am getting to grips with housing legislation and the different accommodation options available to residents. My role involves contacting women before they are released from custody to come to Elizabeth Fry Approved Premises. I write to them, send information about the hostel and let them know that I am a point of contact should they have questions or anxieties about coming here on release. This contact also provides an opportunity to find out about what, if any, move on plans are in place for when they leave Elizabeth Fry. It can appear odd to be planning for move on before the resident has even arrived, but as it is usual for women to reside at the Approved Premises for a period of only 3 to 6 months, it is important that we begin the process of securing move on accommodation as soon as possible


Supporting women at the Approved Premises to find move on accommodation is the aspect of the role which I find most challenging and also most rewarding. Most of the women at Elizabeth Fry are not from the Reading area and are not intending to remain here once they have left the Approved Premises. Women can be faced with a number of obstacles, for example, inability to access local authority accommodation due to the nature of a resident’s offending history or rent arrears, an inability to access a rent deposit scheme due to not currently being a resident in the area. In addition, the majority of residents are reliant on benefits and have no savings to assist them when moving on. In order to prepare residents for move on I meet with them on a one to one basis, supporting them to make links with agencies in the area they are moving to as well as running group sessions on subjects including budgeting and tenancy rights and responsibilities.


Prior to this role being created residents would move on, it would be considered a success and we would usually not hear from them again. With the Housing and Link Worker role I am able to continue to support women once they have moved on from the Approved Premises. This can include contacting residents once they have moved on to ensure that ongoing support systems are working, meeting with ex–residents at the Approved Premises to provide specific support to deal with an issue or accompanying them to appointments.


The aspect of the role that I find most rewarding is the fact that my focus is on looking to the future, encouraging residents to be proactive and supporting them to achieve their goals.


Elizabeth Fry Charity would like to thank the Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales for funding the Housing and Link Worker role for three years.

Meet Thembie - Housing and Link Worker