The pioneering Gaia Centre, funded by the London Borough of Lambeth, was the first of its kind in the UK to offer a ‘single point of access for women, girls and men experiencing violence and abuse.
To get an insight into the day in the life of a professional working hard to #safeguard #youngpeople in #Lambeth, we asked Alice, an Early Intervention worker at The Gaia Centre to describe an ordinary day...
Q: What’s the first thing you do when you get to work? Why?
A: If I am starting my day in our office, I make sure I have a strong coffee and my breakfast – in my role, I am travelling across the Borough a lot supporting young people, so caffeine and food are a must!
Q: Can you walk us through the different and competing priorities and situations you might experience in a day? How do you deal with this? How does it make you feel?
A: A typical day for me might be meeting with a few young people at different schools for 1-2-1 sessions, as well as meeting out in the community (like at Brixton Library or Waffle Genie in Streatham!). These sessions are led by the needs of the young person: what is going on for them, and what they have identified as important to them. For example, I could be supporting a young person to identify how social media apps are impacting on their mental and emotional health, who are positive social media influencers, and changes they might want to work towards taking back control over their own social media use. I could be constructively challenging negative gender stereotypes and myths, and asking the young person to reflect on their own experiences and beliefs in a safe way. I could be opening up discussions with a young person on their understanding of sexual and criminal exploitation, what this could look like, and directly safety planning with them. I could be asking them about their dreams, goals, and aspirations, and using creative media to work with the young person and bring this to life! I could be supporting a young person to access sexual health support from external agencies in the Borough, like Brook. In a typical day, I might also attend a LAC Review or Child Protection Conference with external partners. I am having to prioritise throughout the day, remaining flexible to respond and advocate for a young person in relation to any safeguarding needs. This means my working days are often quite varied, and challenging, which I really like.
Q: How often do you work with others from different agencies to support and safeguard a child or young person you work with? What is the best thing about working with different agencies? What is a challenge and how can this be overcome?
A: I am working directly with partners from other agencies on a daily basis – I couldn’t do my job effectively without the support and coordinated approach from all partner agencies, so thank you to everyone! One of the most rewarding aspects of working in partnership with other agencies is the opportunity to share learning and best practice in supporting young people across sectors. In these uncertain times, one of the challenges remains the lack of dedicated resources and the continued cuts to our work, which puts unrealistic pressures on all staff working in this field. I think continuing to find ways of pooling resources, sharing expertise and working jointly together (through co-locations, sharing work spaces, free trainings and sharing best practice regularly) is key from grass-roots level and up.
Q: At the end of a really tough day, how do you relax/unwind/get support for yourself?
A: Depending on the day of the week, I might meet up with some friends for laughs and drinks, binge watch a series on Netflix, or cook a yummy dinner! I love flowers and plants around my home, so often buy myself a bunch as a treat. I also LOVE baking extreme occasion cakes, so I am regularly doing that after work, which I find relaxing and helps to refocus my mind for the next day.
Find out more about The Gaia Centre by visiting their website.
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