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The caged bird sings

This is a space where you can hear different voices; our staff and volunteers who have kept the Centre going over the last 40 years, our friends, colleagues and supporters from across the violence against women sector, and people who have used our services and want to share their experiences.

A day in the life of Glasgow Rape Crisis Centre

In December 2014 we picked a random day and mapped out the work we did. We published that first “Day in the Life” in January 2015 and had a huge amount of feedback from it, mainly astonishment on the huge amount of work that we do and the diversity of our work.

In response to the increase in support calls, texts and emails we receive and send in the course of a day and the increased number of survivors, and family members, that we support, we decided to repeat the exercise. Glasgow Rape Crisis Centre is 40 years old this year. Over the years the demand on the service has grown and we’ve developed and grown to meet that demand. There are many more areas of work we could address but with the resources we have, it just isn’t possible right now. But what we do is obviously working.

A word of warning – there’s a lot going on here so settle down for a lengthy read ……

An intro to the staff and volunteers who are around today, Wednesday 4th May 2016.

Isabelle Kerr - Centre Manager (and writing up this account of the day)

Sue Domminney - Deputy Centre Manager

Ailish Carroll-Brentnall - Volunteer Support Worker

Allison Macdonald – Volunteer Support Worker

Angie Hawk - Helpline Co-ordinator (working from home today – we’re a bit overcrowded)

Angie Mwafulirwa – Volunteer Support Worker (training)

Audrey Taylor - Support and Advocacy Worker for Renfrewshire

Cat Storrie – Advocacy Co-ordinator for Support to Report

Claire Gilfillan – Office Administrator

Cassi McLaren – Volunteer Support Worker

Fiona Reid – Support and Advocacy Worker

Fred Greer – Support and Advocacy Worker

Hanna Jedh – Independent Sexual Violence Advocate – Ruby/Asylum Project

Jenny McLaren – Support and Advocacy Worker

Kathryn Hullin – Volunteer Support Worker

Lauren O’Rourke – Young Women’s Support and Advocacy Worker

Lesley Baillie – Volunteer Support Worker (training)

Mary Rankin – Advocacy Worker – Support to Report

Paula Dunn – Prevention and Education Worker

Sharon Cranwell – Advocacy Worker – Support to Report

Steph Coyle – Advisor with GEMAP.

Stef Panescu – Support and Advocacy Worker – Ruby Project

7.00 am Sue arrives early as always and does some housekeeping such as emptying the dishwasher so that we are ready for what is always a busy day. It’s quiet in the early morning so there’s time to catch up with emails and some of the tasks that need some quiet space, such as finances. Our funding is made up of an astonishing cocktail of funding and it all has to be apportioned properly so that we can be accountable to our funders for the work we do. At the moment we’re preparing for our audit which is coming up very soon. We’re also busy with pensions auto enrolment – all of which sounds dull but is absolutely vital for the running of an organisation.

Early in the morning we often get calls into the office about appointments or making referrals. Today is no different and Sue answers several calls including referrals from Police Scotland. These can be passed on to Support to Report when the workers arrive.

8.30 am Mary and Paula both arrive. Paula is a full time worker and has a dedicated desk but Mary works part time and shares a desk with a colleague. We are short of space so hot-desking is the order of the day. It’s not a good set-up but all of the staff accept it cheerfully as we all know it’s necessary. We’ve been trying to secure some extra office space but the negotiations are dragging on. Stef arrives at the same time and gets the coffee pot on. First of many pots of coffee that keep us going through the day …

8.40 am In Renfrewshire, Audrey arrives at the office of Women and Children 1st where she is based. We’ve had a long standing arrangement with Women and Children 1st and Renfrewshire Council and it’s really useful to have a rape crisis worker based in the area so that survivors can be seen locally. It’s going to be a long day so kettle on and coffee made while checking emails and getting files out for the day’s support sessions to begin.

Back in Glasgow, Stef is texting the women she has appointments with today to remind them of their appointment times.

Audrey makes several phone calls and covers the Women and Children 1st office telephone lines until her 9.30 am appointment as there is no business support worker available at the moment. She calls a couple of new clients, but no reply right now so she makes a note to try later. She also has to contact social work and after that’s done, to check up on directions as she’ll be dropping off a donated computer to a client later in the day.

In Glasgow, Paula and Mary get started by checking their emails and Mary responds to some texts on her work phone. She makes sure she gets a cup of tea to start the day as it can be difficult to stop when the drop-in gets busy. She responds to the texts and arranges to phone the women later in the day. She also has to phone the police to follow up on a woman’s case.

Lauren, Cat, Claire and Hanna also arrive early. Lauren has a 9.00 am appointment so she gets ready for that.

Paula is being interviewed by police in relation to a case so she gets her support room set up before the officers arrive. Mary also sets up her support room for the drop in which opens at 10.30 am.

9.00 am I arrive to find a full office and a lot of emails and a pile of mail on my desk. I was out of the office yesterday and with the holiday weekend that means I haven’t been around since Friday. A bit of a backlog to deal with …..

Everyone looks as though they’ve been at it for hours: even though it’s been a holiday weekend our helpline is still on. This leaves us playing catch-up so I can understand the desire to get into the office and get started.

Lauren’s 9.00 am appointment has cancelled so she has some extra time to write up the notes from her support sessions yesterday and she’s also asked Claire to run off a report from our database so that she can see the number of students we’ve over the past six months. The number of students we support is rising so it’s worth checking on the demand so that we can respond appropriately. This extra time also allows Lauren to send texts to some of the young women attending her support group so that they will be along next week, and she also texts a worker about a referral to the project for support.

Hanna isn’t in the office yet as she’s out with a woman at a solicitor’s appointment in another part of the city. The solicitor is preparing the woman’s asylum case for a Judicial Review and explains the process to the woman and also what’s happening with her case.

Stef emails the Kenyan Women in Scotland Association (KWiSA) about future events they are organising. Stef met one of the representatives of KWiSA at the FGM National Action Plan implementation workshop organised by the Scottish Government so we established contact as we’re supporting several women who may find it useful to attend KWiSA events and strengthen connections with KWiSA community.

I check out my many emails and do a bit of triage – what do I deal with first?

The police arrive and begin Paula’s statement. It lasts around an hour.

Sue is liaising with Community Enterprise in Scotland so that we can develop a new business/marketing/fundraising plan. She is mailing them, and talking to them about meeting up with us to begin that process. She’s also communicating with a designer to look at the possibility of creating a new logo for us to mark our 40th anniversary.

Steph from GEMAP is in this morning for an appointment with one of our service users. Our partnership with GEMAP allows us to offer women advice services such as benefits or housing advice. Steph’s regular advice surgery is very well used.

Claire checks all the emails that come into our general info@ email address. She also picks up emails coming into our support@ email address and refers them on for action: survivors emailing for support don’t have to wait too long for a response.

Angie is working at home today. She is the Helpline Co-ordinator but does other jobs including managing our social media and co-ordinating all the criminal justice work we do so that we can report to the Scottish Government. She logs on from home and checks her many emails. They vary from an email asking for support to an email from me about our survivor support group, to an update from a volunteer support worker about her availability, to an invite to a sexual health services networking event. Her priority is responding to the survivor’s email and then sending out a circular email around all volunteers asking for someone to cover our helpline shift tomorrow because our scheduled volunteer is unwell.

9.15 am I check my diary to find that I should be starting a supervision session with a staff member at 9.00 am. We can’t delay it as the drop-in will begin at 10.30 am and she is on duty today. We reschedule.

Fred arrives just before 9.30 am. The door is buzzing already so she lets someone in then has to go out to close the door of our very elderly lift. Claire puts on the kettle – we need constant liquid sustenance to keep us going through the day.

9.30 am In Renfrewshire, Audrey’s first woman arrives and is provided with some tea before the support session begins. There’s another woman waiting for a worker so Audrey makes sure she is settled and has some tea before going into her session.

I meet up with Fred for a brief discussion then she catches up on emails, makes sure that the door is answered and women are welcomed.

Claire produces the report that Lauren has asked for. Our data is easy to access so we can see very quickly where we need to focus our services. We can’t always find the resources to carry out large scale pieces of work but this information really helps us when we are making funding applications.

Hanna and her woman are finished with the solicitor but the woman still isn’t sure what’s happening so Hanna takes her for a cup of tea so that she can explain what was said during the appointment and have a more general discussion about the woman’s fears about the review process.

At home, Angie begins working on our helpline rotas for the fortnight beginning 16th May. It’s a challenge to timetable in all workers and volunteers for helpline shifts, matching everyone’s availability and also making room for our new volunteers shadowing. Our helpline is open 7 days a week and we are the busiest centre in the country so we’re doing something right!

Cat has a quick catch up with Mary on some of the cases they currently have then Sharon arrives and goes into a meeting with Cat to do some planning around the Support to Report Open Day that will be taking place at the Centre on 26th May. Invites are going out to workers across the areas we cover so that we can showcase the project and let people know about the work we do.

9.50 am Stef’s first appointment of the day arrives so she is offered a coffee and taken into the support room for her session to begin. Stef works with the Ruby Project (supporting women from minority ethnic communities who have experienced any form of sexual violence) and today she has appointment with women from several different communities across Glasgow.

Claire has also had a request from Mary regarding a new section in the National Database so Claire has to liaise with Rape Crisis Scotland on how we can build this into our record keeping.

10.00 am In my wee office, the most important emails have been dealt with and now I can look at the rest of them and see what needs to be done. An ex volunteer has emailed me. She has moved back to Glasgow and wants to come back to work with us. I am delighted and reply that our Volunteer and Training Co-ordinator will get in touch with her to organise. Another pair of hands is always welcome. I also respond to a student who is doing a Masters and want to talk to us. We’re always keen to help where we can so give her a couple of dates.

Lauren’s 10.00 am appointment arrives. This young woman is attending the support group and tells Lauren that she’s really enjoying the groupwork and that it’s really helping her. The young women’s group is always a really positive experience for the young women and for the workers.

Paula is sitting in with a woman who is being re-interviewed by the police. The woman gave a statement last week but needed a second visit for more information.

In the meantime, Mary speaks with Cat about a referral she’s received. Mary can’t take it on as she’s going on holiday tomorrow but the woman can’t wait as she’s going to court. The handover is made and Cat picks up the case. There’s a lot of court support going on and this can take up huge amounts of work time but survivors tell us over and over again how valued it is.

Sue is doing some personnel task with staff: booking in leave, contacting payroll about changes in hours and keeping track of workers’ hours. All the work that nobody sees.

Fred phones several women who are on our waiting list. Some of the women she’s been working with are now finished their support so she has the chance to offer appointments to some who are waiting. All of the calls and discussion have to be entered into our database so that takes up another bit of time. Recording what we do is very important. We need to be able to report to our funders on the number of phone calls, emails, appointments, survivors and family members we see each year. Also, we contribute to the National Rape and Sexual Assault Database so we have a better picture of how many people across Scotland are using rape crisis support and advocacy services.

10.30 am One of our volunteers has written an excellent piece for our website’s blog. It’s called “Lads, Lads, Lads: Sexual Violence and University Culture” and is an excellent piece. http://www.rapecrisiscentre-glasgow.co.uk/blogs/blog/ Angie can get it on to our website today. I have a meeting later this afternoon to discuss funding and take some time to jot down a few notes for myself. Want to make sure I don’t forget any important points.

Claire heads out to replenish our supplies. We have a lot of service users and we like to make sure we are able to offer them some refreshments when they arrive.

Hanna is back in the office and catches up with Stef. She working with a woman who is facing destitution and they discuss what can be done for the woman while Hanna is on leave for a few days.

We are going to be interviewing for an outreach post in East Dunbartonshire on 10th May so I get on with some prep for that, including the scoring sheets and the questions sheets. We’ve got some excellent candidates so I have high hopes of getting a great new worker. We’re also thinking about a date for starting the next survivor support group. Angie is interested in co-facilitating the group with me so we exchange some emails and make plans to meet tomorrow to get dates in the diary.

Fred is getting her room ready for her next support session. We always try to make our centre as attractive and welcoming as possible so we make sure we have scented candles and flowers on the tables in our support rooms.

In Renfrewshire, Audrey is waiting for her 10.30 am appointment to arrive. The woman doesn’t come but there is another woman waiting to see her worker so Audrey spends 10 minutes speaking to her before going back upstairs to make sure the office phones are covered and catch up with some admin tasks. She tries to contact those 2 clients again but they are still unavailable. She also takes a referral from the head teacher of a nursery and speaks to the caller for a while, giving information about the service. That done, she works through the many emails we get in a day and deals with those and then tries to print off a research paper she’s been sent on Dissociative Identity Disorder and Ritual Abuse.

10.45 am Cassi and Angie arrive for the first helpline shift of the day. Our helpline is open between 11.00 am and 2.00 pm every day of the week. Angie is one of our new volunteers in training so she’s shadowing Cassi who is an experienced helpline support worker. Shadowing helps the trainee gain experience from other workers while they are undergoing their 20 week training programme and gives them the opportunity to get to know our admin procedures and our database. Being a volunteer at Glasgow Rape Crisis isn’t easy but we do have the best volunteers in the country (am tiny bit biased).

Angie rings into the office to check that there are no issues with the helpline. All is well.

For the remainder of the morning Claire is working on our database, clearing out files that are now out of date and ensuring that it’s working at optimum levels. She also takes some time to proof-read Ailish’s blog and to help out staff on various queries on our records.

There’s a bit of discussion in the office about a forthcoming fundraiser. Five staff members of our staff and volunteers are participating in a 30 mile walk to raise funds for our service. This will take place at the end of May and all the rest of us are filled with admiration but not enough to pull on our walking boots. We might not be walking but we are all busy promoting the event through our Just Giving page https://www.justgiving.com/rapecrisiscentre

The first woman arrives for the drop-in and Mary makes her a hot drink and takes her into the support room. It’s the first time the woman has been so it takes her a while to settle and tell Mary why she’s come to the Centre. We make sure we have all the woman’s details, but her case is also quite complex so it’s a full hour before Mary is free again.

11.00 am Our helpline opens. There are always a number of tasks to carry out, messages to respond to, calls out to make as well as dealing with the incoming calls. One of the first tasks is to open our Instant Message facility which is becoming more widely used. It’s a great way to contact the Centre anonymously or to get in touch if speaking to someone is difficult. Cassi and Angie settle in for their shift.

A sister rape crisis centre has circulated a joint working proposal to all rape crisis centres in the Scottish Network so I take some time to read it. It looks very interesting so this will be discussed when Sue and I have our meeting later today.

I was off work yesterday but had some staff supervision in my diary so take some time to reschedules with staff members. This done, I decide that I have to make a start on a funding report as the deadline for submission is Friday. Before I do that however, I circulate an email to staff asking if anyone has any ideas for a venue for our forthcoming Mammoth Book Sale to raise funds for the centre. We’re looking for a city centre location that’s preferably free but we could stretch the budget to extremely cheap – asking everyone to put on their thinking caps.

Cat’s busy pulling together all the materials for the Open Day and getting the invites ready to go out. Fred’s 11.00 am appointment has arrived and she makes hot drinks and takes the woman into her support room.

Paula and Lauren are in a meeting with another organisation, the Daisy Project. They discuss providing some workshops later in the year for young BME women on the risk of sexual exploitation, risks on social media and ‘revenge porn’. They will do these workshops together so that Lauren can introduce herself as the young women’s support and advocacy worker and talk about our support service.

At home, Angie begins her work updating our criminal justice service mapping, recording all criminal justice related work that happens within our centre. There is a lot of data to input into our system, detailing the many ways we work including meetings and advocacy with police, reporting, work with the Crown Office, supporting survivors at court and helping survivors with Criminal Injuries claims.

Stef’s support session is over and she gets all her casenotes written up and begins to prepare for her next support session.

11.15 am Hanna receives a call from a woman she’s been working with for some time. The woman has a long standing battle with depression and suicidal thoughts and of course the strain of going through the asylum process is difficult for her. Hanna discusses what’s happening with the woman’s case, talks about how the woman is feeling and if there are any useful coping strategies she can use.

11.30 am Back in Renfrewshire, Audrey’s 11.30 am appointment has arrived and after making sure the woman is settled, the support session begins.

Angie posts Ailish’s blog onto our website then promotes it across all our social media via Facebook and twitter. Angie also emails her network with a link to the blog asking everyone to share, like, retweet and comment. We are using social media more and more now and it has become a huge success. We are able to keep issues in the public domain and ensure that our service is visible and accessible to as many people as possible.

Sharon is back at her desk and is making some phone calls to the Crown Office on several cases at the Sheriff Court and High Court in Edinburgh.

11.45 am Mary sees her second woman of the day for the drop-in. This woman has been to rape crisis before and she’s on our waiting list for support but we always encourage women to use the drop-in if they need some immediate support or advocacy.

12.00 pm Paula and Lauren’s meeting finishes and Paula takes a break for lunch. Lauren goes back to her desk and to the report she was considering earlier. She then calls Rape Crisis Scotland to pass on the student numbers. She didn’t have time to write up her notes on her earlier support session before the 11.00 am meeting started so she does that now, as well as answering our very busy phone and responding to some calls about her own caseload.

Cat also takes the chance to get a bit of lunch before an afternoon of advocacy calls and emails.

Sue and I leave for two meetings that will run back to back. In the midst of it all we do manage to get some lunch just before we go off to our second meeting at 2.00 pm. We’re not going to be back in the office until about 4.00 pm but as one of those meetings is about funding and sustainability of the service, it’s vital that we give enough time to it.

Fred catches up with her casenotes before she can get some lunch.

A young woman drops by to speak to Hanna. She has problems receiving asylum support and needs to fax financial statements before 3 pm today. Hanna helps her fax the papers and afterwards they talk about what support the young woman has and what she feels she needs. Hanna has referred her to SAY Women so they will be in touch with the young woman soon.

Angie is only working half a day today so she signs off.

Sharon has a support and advocacy appointment with a woman who is worried about the legal process. It can be daunting but Sharon gives her reassurance and information about how the case is progressing.

12.30 pm In Renfrewshire Audrey stops for a quick half hour lunch break but while downstairs a woman arrives to see another support worker so Audrey chats to her for a few minutes and makes sure she has some tea and feels comfortable.

Back at the office, Paula is updating her casenotes with information about the police interviews and also has to contact Rape Crisis Scotland as they may also be interviewed about the complaint. There are several emails because the woman Paula is supporting had met with someone from the Solicitor General’s Office so Paula was thanking RCS for setting up that meeting.

Cat has a telephone support session with a woman who has made a statement recently. The woman wants to talk about how the case is progressing and some communication she’s had with the police.

Mary makes some tea for herself and gets out her lunch but another woman arrives for the drop in. She puts lunch away for the moment. This woman is new to our service and she’s looking for some information about reporting to the police. It’s fortunate that Mary is covering the drop in today as she also works with the Support to Report project so is able to give the woman all the information she needs. Mary is also gives the woman a copy of a DVD which was made by Rape Crisis Scotland: this gives information about the criminal justice process from reporting to the police right through to the court case. Having this DVD will give the woman the chance to watch it at her own pace and get all the information she needs before making her final decision about reporting to the police.

 

Fred is having some lunch but at the same time, having a discussion with a colleague about some work issues. This can be a recurring problem – if we don’t leave the centre for lunch, we get caught up in work.

1.00 pm Stef stops for lunch and more coffee: very welcomed indeed.

Fred has another support session. This is phone support so Fred needs to use one of the support rooms as the helpline room is busy. Our helpline shift runs from 11.00 am until 2.00 pm and with the support worker and a new volunteer shadowing, it’s impossible to squeeze in an extra support worker. Also, it would be very distracting for the woman being supported if there was a phone ringing in the background and other people talking.

Sharon’s support session is finished so she writes up her casenotes and gets a chance to eat some lunch.

Hanna is on the phone to a solicitor to get some clarification regarding a support letter a woman wants in preparation for her asylum claim that is going to appeal.

Claire stops for some lunch before picking up her database work again.

1.30 pm Stef writes up her casenotes from the previous support session and prepares for her 2.00 pm appointment.

Paula has a workshop tonight so she is doing some prep for that. She is making up information packs for the young people and pulling together some workshop materials.

Sharon is on the phone to the Divisional Rape Investigation Unit at London Road Police station to follow up on a case. We have a good working relationship with the police and it’s extremely useful to be able to just lift the phone and speak to the officers when we need information for a survivor.

Sharon then rings Gartnavel Hospital to speak to a counsellor about booking in an appointment for court support for a woman who is currently in hospital.

Hanna has an appointment with a woman she’s been working with for several months. Today is the first day the woman feels able to speak about her trauma and the sexual violence she has experienced. Previously, Hanna had focused on the woman’s asylum claim, her housing and financial support. These were the most important issues for the woman as she could not approach her trauma issues if she did not feel that she was in a safe environment. We often have to work on the practical issues before any of the trauma issues can be approached. The woman is very anxious about her forthcoming appeal. Her longer term goals are to become more confident speaking English and to do some volunteering work but until her most basic needs are met, she can’t think about these. All that done, Hanna writes up her casenotes for the morning.

Another woman arrives for the drop in and Mary sees her. After talking to the woman, Mary suggests an appointment with Steph from GEMAP as there are some practical issues that can be dealt with while the woman is waiting for support. The woman is happy to see Steph as she’s worried about some housing issues. After the woman leaves, Mary contacts Steph and arranges an appointment.

Cat has another telephone support call with a woman who wants to talk about withdrawing from the justice process. Cat spends some time with the woman talking through her concerns and offering as much support as we can give her. Cat then has to phone Police Scotland to check on a case we are involved in.

1.50 pm Lots of notes to catch up on so Cat updates the database before her 2.00 pm appointment with a journalist comes round.

2.00 pm Stef’s 2.00 pm appointment arrives. The woman is from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Stef is able to offer the woman support in French as she is fluent in this language (as well as some others!) Being welcomed into the Centre and supported in your chosen language is one of the benefits of the Ruby Project where we have workers with a range of languages. We do sometimes use interpreters but have a really diverse group of workers and volunteers so we need to do this less often than we did in the past.

Fred writes up her casenotes from her phone support and then texts two women about their support appointments. She also tries to call a woman from the waiting list without success.

Paula, Cat, and Mary meet with a journalist from the Evening Times who is researching the experiences of survivors who are going through the criminal justice process. Although we are often asked to work with the media we are really clear that we won’t be giving out any personal information, nor do we “provide a victim” for the press. It’s been a policy of rape crisis for many years now. In the meeting Paula, Cat and Mary talk about rape crisis workers’ experiences of the justice process and give an overview of some of the challenges we face.

Sharon isn’t able to meet up with the journalist as she has an appointment with a woman who has just recently made a statement to the police. Sharon was able to discuss where the case is at the moment and talk to the woman about uncertainty she has about the outcome of the case.

Sue and I meet with the National Co-ordinators at Rape Crisis Scotland to discuss some joint work on sustainable funding for the Glasgow Rape Crisis Centre. Lack of resources are causing us some concern especially since our Centre is the largest and busiest in the country. We cover six local authority areas, have a population of approximately 1.2 million in our area (23% of the population of Scotland), and have the most diverse population in the country. In terms of deprivation, we also have many of the most deprived areas in the country in the area we cover and there is a real need for us to offer survivors help with travel costs so that they can access support services. When we meet with RCS we discuss this and the ever increasing demand on our service. We stringently record all the work we do and this pays off because we have excellent statistics for last year. We can show that there were 11,834 support and advocacy phone calls, texts and emails though our centre between 1st April 2015 and 31st March 2016 and we provided medium/long term support to 883 individual survivors with a further 691 one-off contacts. We were also able to provide support and advocacy to survivors from 42 different countries outside of the UK.

Helpline shift is over. Calls made, messages passed on, appointments made, referrals to the different projects and support carried out. And of course, all recorded on our database so that we can see at a glance what we’ve been doing. Another busy day for us – business as usual.

2.30 pm Time for Fred to finish for the day. Also time for Claire to finish for today.

3.00 pm Stef’s 3.00 pm appointment arrives and this time we have to use an interpreter as we have no one at the Centre who is a Sorani Kurdish speaker.

Hanna takes a break to get some food.

3.30 pm Sharon is on the phone again to the Crown Office but this time it is Glasgow she’s calling about one of her cases. After the call is complete she has a discussion with Cat and Mary about a specific case and a course of action they can take.

Mary finally gets her cup of tea and sandwiches. Then, she writes up all the casenotes from her drop in sessions today.

4.00 pm Sue and I arrive back at the office. I am doing some telephone support with a survivor at 4.30 pm so have a quick check over my emails and get a cup of tea organised before I start. I manage to have another few minutes input on the funding report but have to leave it when it’s time for my phone support.

Stef sends out an email to book her Sorani Kurdish interpreter for next week’s support session and begins to write up her casenotes. She also has to ring the Asylum Health Bridging Team regarding a woman she’s working with.

Hanna calls the woman she accompanied to the solicitor’s appointment this morning. The woman has to attend the Home Office monthly which makes her very anxious. Hanna normally attends with her but she will be on leave for a few days so won’t be able to go this week. Stef can’t help out as she has appointments that morning so the woman will have to attend on her own. Hanna has arranged for Stef to call the woman before and after her appointment as the woman is scared of being detained. Hanna supports the woman on the phone and helps calm some of her fears. The call ends with an agreement that Hanna will call her next week when she is back from leave.

Paula takes some time to finalise her prep for the workshop and check up on her emails before she leaves. She replies to a few emails from youth workers asking her to provide workshops for the young people they are working with, and also about the services the Rosey Project can offer.

Cat finalises her casenotes then it’s home time.

4.30 pm Phone support with a survivor. For some survivors this is the preferred option, particularly if coming to the centre is difficult. I’m now four weeks into support with this survivor so we’re beginning to develop a good support relationship.

Jenny arrives at work. She is covering tonight’s drop-in shift. She is also helping Lauren with the Rosey Project, working with young women from aged 13 years, so she takes five minutes at the start of her shift to discuss her work hours with Sue. Then, time for coffee and a search for a free desk so that she can check out her work emails. Jenny has been in touch with some young women who were on the waiting list and she updates the database with our waiting list, sets up the room for the drop-in and meets Kathryn who is shadowing this evening’s drop-in.

Mary answers a phone call and it’s another new referral from Police Scotland for the Support to Report project. That information is also recorded and will be progressed tomorrow.

Ailish has arrived but she’s been busy today already. Her excellent blog post was put up on our website today so she’s been sharing it and keeping an eye on how well it’s doing. She has a support appointment at 5 pm but she’d come straight from an exam (she’s a student) so just had enough time to eat a banana and a half a Pot Noodle before her woman arrived. Ailish’s friends have organised a celebratory post-exam night out so she will be joining them after she’s finished at the centre. The woman Ailish is supporting is coming to the end of her support sessions so they are concentrating on ending the support and the coping strategies the woman is going to use if she needs them. They are also looking at the progress the woman has made in her support and reflecting on these. There are still two more sessions but it’s useful to make sure the ending is positive.

4.45 pm Hanna calls a young woman she’s been supporting for some time. Hanna’s had email contact with the woman’s solicitor as she’s been asked to attend an appointment to talk through what happened at the woman’s asylum interview, which Hanna also attended. The woman is happy with her new solicitor and feels it’s important to have a female solicitor so that she can fully disclose what has happened to her.

5.00 pm Time for Sue to go home. Mary also leaves for the day.

5.10 pm Stef goes home. It’s been another busy day. Just time for Sharon to finish up her casenotes and then home.

Paula leaves for her workshop in Scotstoun carrying a big box of resources.

Just as most people are leaving, Allison and Lesley arrive for their evening helpline shift.

5.15 pm Hanna calls a woman she’s been supporting to check on how her solicitor’s appointment has gone and also a medical appointment. The woman is very upset so Hanna takes some time with her until she feels better.

5.30 pm My phone support is over so I grab some food before writing up casenotes.

The evening drop-in opens at 5.30 and right on time, the first woman arrives to see the support worker. Kathryn is shadowing so that she can pick up face to face support in the future. This is part of our very comprehensive training programme that all support and advocacy workers must undertake before they can do any support work with us.

The helpline opens with all the usual tasks to be carried out. It’s a quiet one tonight, not many calls coming in or going out but it means that Lesley has some quality time with Allison to learn more about telephone support work. Our work is so diverse that we continue to learn from each other every day.

Hanna has just taken a call from a woman who is having some housing difficulties. I have a conversation with her about how we can help solve this problem for the woman. She has locked herself out of her flat and is stranded outside with two small children. Hanna chases Orchard and Shipman (they provide housing for people going through the asylum process) but their out of hours service is unavailable. The only thing Hanna and the woman can do is to leave messages and keep trying.

I try to do a bit more work on the funding report.

Ailish has written up her casenotes and tidied up her support room so she’s ready to go and meet her friends to celebrate another exam done.

6.00 pm Jenny and Kathryn finish their session and Jenny comes to speak to me. She’s seen a woman at the drop-in and is asking if the incident happened outside Scotland, can we still support the woman (who lives in Glasgow). I reply that we can do that and can offer both support and advocacy services.

While Hanna and I are sorting out the woman’s housing problem, another woman calls to cancel her 6 pm appointment with Hanna because she is unwell. Hanna agrees to ring the woman back next week to reschedule the appointment when the woman is feeling better.

Jenny is working with Kathryn on the database so that she can become familiar with our recording system. After having the conversation with me, Jenny makes a referral to Support to Report for the woman she saw at the drop in earlier.

I pop into the helpline to say hello to Allison and Lesley while they aren’t on a call. Lesley is training with us and tells me that she’s getting a huge amount of learning from working with Allison.

Fiona passes a final evaluation that a service user has left for us. These evaluations are completed in private by the service user and passed to me in a sealed envelope. It gives the survivor a chance to give frank and honest feedback about the service. This evaluation says:

“The staff generosity when calling or entering [the Centre], the help and support I have received from Fiona, I simply cannot thank her enough for helping me.”

It’s our team meeting tomorrow (Thursday 5th May) and we make a point of sharing some of the feedback we receive from service users. It’s important that the staff and volunteers know that the service they deliver is making a difference to survivors.

Paula’s workshop in Scotstoun is starting. It’s with Aberlour Youth Point and is on “Sex Offender vs Lads’ Mags” language. It’s being delivered to a group of young men between the ages of 16 and 19 years. The discussion includes issues like respect in relationships, young women feeling pressure to engage in sexual activity they don’t want, and the impact of pornography on young people’s lives.

6.30 pm Lauren and Jenny discuss the waiting list for the Rosey Project and Jenny makes a list of the young women she will be phoning tomorrow to offer support. Meantime, she answers the door to a woman who has come for an appointment with Fiona and makes the woman comfortable with a coffee.

Hanna gets a call from the woman who has been locked out of her flat. The out of hours service is on its way to let her in. Sigh of relief!

6.35 pm Hanna puts on her ‘out of office’ message, shuts down her computer and goes home. Time for some well deserved annual leave.

7.00 pm Try to get some more time spent on the funding report but I think my brain went home a couple of hours ago. I decide that I will leave this until tomorrow and do a few final admin tasks including reading over some of the ‘day in the life’ emails that the staff have sent through. Although I know exactly what every staff member does, it’s interesting to see it written down and shows the breadth of work that goes on. And of course it’s not just the support sessions but all the ‘behind the scenes’ work, the phone calls, texts, emails, meetings, chasing up information, keeping in touch with survivors, keeping in touch with other workers and even making sure there is enough milk in the fridge so that we can offer women a cup of tea when she arrives.

7.15 pm The dishwasher cycle is done. Jenny empties it so that we can start again tomorrow. Then she clears out the rooms, puts all the lights out and makes sure there are no candles left alight.

7.45 pm Allison and Lesley have finished their helpline shift and are heading for home. I have a quick word with Lesley about a fundraiser she’s organising for us and then start to pack up. Just Fiona, Jenny and I left. Time to go home I think.

8.00 pm Paula’s workshop is over. It has evaluated either ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’ and the young men have asked for further sessions so that more issues can be explored. Time to go home.

We ask survivors to tell us about the service they have received – and we ask them to be honest because that’s the only way we can improve our service. An evaluation that landed on my desk read:

“I came here silent and numb and I’m leaving with the best support network and full of joy. Cannot thank you all enough for the work you do.”

And in our toilet we have a comments box, a notepad and a pen. We also have a sign

asking service users to leave us comments about the service. This means that it can be

done in private and quite anonymously. Lots of people make use of our comments box: this

had been taken out of the box yesterday. It was on my desk when I arrived this morning.

It’s been edited to remove identifying information:

“I cannot praise Mary highly enough …. This explains why the Rape Crisis Centre has been in place for the past 40 years and more. It clearly meets the needs of its clients. Long may it continue to do so.

With Gratitude”

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