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24 hours with Debbie Fawcett

08 February 2019

Debbie is a specialist HV for homeless families at Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust and a Queen’s Nurse.

24 Hours with Debbie Fawcett

My alarm goes off at…

6.30am, but I’m usually the last one to leave for work. So I take advantage of a quiet house and respond to emails on my laptop. My role means I’m in contact with a range of statutory and voluntary colleagues, from social services, schools and housing to charities offering support.  

I am responsible for…

families living in temporary accommodation units, including B&Bs, women’s refuges, young mothers’ accommodation and private units for families placed by housing authorities, and traveller communities moving through and on fixed sites.  

I aim to…

meet every new family on arrival. Families dealing with homelessness face many stresses, and maximising engagement means being flexible and responsive. The initial contact is an opportunity to assess the family’s current needs, and to signpost them 
to services and local support.  

A visit can involve…  

addressing and signposting issues such as housing, benefits, domestic violence, mental health, drug or alcohol use, as well as the practicalities of finding a school, GP and children’s centre. There are many barriers to accessing services when homeless, not least that every time a family moves, referrals may close due to address or GP changes.  

Parenting advice needs to reflect…

the home environment families are placed in. Families presenting as homeless at their local council are often placed in a studio flat with limited facilities, far from familiar social networks, for several years before being offered more permanent housing. Lack of stability can impact on a parent’s emotional wellbeing and decision-making.

The best part of my job is…

knowing I can make a difference. I am in a unique position to recognise challenges and offer emotional support as well as practical strategies. I love being able to visit families in their temporary accommodation and getting to know each one. It’s very rewarding to be part of their journey, and I often get calls after they’ve moved telling me about their new homes. I can also advocate for individual families as well as raise awareness of the impact of homelessness.  

My proudest achievement is…  

the support from management and recognition of the specialist role by commissioners, which led to a team of two! My colleague Nicola Ford joined me last August and we hope to continue to develop our role. The most challenging part of my job is knowing that as soon as a family are re-housed, another family will move in, and this will continue until the current housing shortage is addressed.  

Outside of work…

I enjoy walking my dog, which also gives me the opportunity to reflect and enjoy the countryside. I tend to head off to bed around 11pm. 

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