A day in the life of a DASU Refuge Team Leader.
No day is the same in refuge, each day brings its own challenges.
Although refuge life can consist of many tasks; SAFETY is always a priority. Safety of the clients and the staff always comes first.
You need to be very organised working in a refuge environment as although there are a lot of planned tasks, you have to be flexible as things can change on a daily basis.
Refuge life can be unpredictable at times but this is understandable as we are working with people who have experienced very high levels of trauma. All of our staff are trained in Trauma Informed Practice, so are able to work with an understanding of what our clients have been through and adapt the way we work with each person.
When I arrive at the refuge in the morning, I will check in with all the residents, and then with each member of the team and plan the day ahead over a cuppa.
As I’m checking in with staff, I will set myself up for the day and get organised. I will update the Live Fear Free Helpline about our refuge availability so that anyone needing an emergency refuge space can be signposted to us (and other refuges that have space on that day).
Once all main admin tasks have been completed, the team and I will start our daily support sessions with the women – each refuge resident is provided with a planned hour-long support session – these are so that we are checking in each day, and helping the clients address any issues or actions identified in their support plans.
“It is the unplanned support sessions/moments that I enjoy the most”
I came into this field of work because I am passionate about supporting people who have experienced all forms of violence against women and domestic abuse. Working in refuge means that I get to be part of people’s journeys to recovery right from the beginning. I enjoy spending time with each resident and I learn so much from everyone by sitting down and truly listening to their experiences of abuse and what their hopes for their futures are. This is a real and humbling experience.
Just before lunch today, we will have our “house meeting” where all residents attend and have an opportunity to discuss any concerns or feedback that they might have. These are a great opportunity to have everyone together, and plan for the week – such as activities for the women, and for children as well.
Regardless of who we have in refuge, a group favourite has always been “Chippy Fridays” – this is something that came out of a house meeting, and the tradition has just continued on. This is just another way to get to know each other in a different way over lunch and a chat! Peer support is really important in refuge – it’s so positive seeing women supporting one another and building friendships.
During the afternoon, we set some time aside to follow up on support plan actions and any referrals that need to be made to other agencies. Today, I made contact with Citizens Advice to follow up on a referral I made earlier in the week for a family. A positive conversation was had with positive outcome meaning that the family will be able to get the support they need. Result! It might seem like a small win, but for this family, it will make all of the difference.
“We must celebrate the little wins”
Before the end of the day, I make sure to check in with the team, I book in support and supervisions for each of them to make sure they are also getting the support they need. A few more admin / paperwork tasks and I am ready to head back out into the refuge to check on the women and children before we head home.
Working in refuge means we are always on hand to guide, support, encourage and empower each client and see each of them blossom and flourish – which is amazing! There is a sense of magic working in refuge. We do see the sad times, but everyone pulls together to look after each other and see each other through to the positive outcomes.