This week we are getting involved in Starts at Home Day 2023, the day is about celebrating the value of care and support services and the difference it makes to many lives. 

Here at YHG we provide safe, quality homes for those young to old, and try to help people live independently, in whatever form that takes. Throughout the week we are sharing a spotlight on our supported housing for young people known as our Foyers and our colleagues who deliver great services for our young residents.

Meet Hazel, our Customer Service Operator at Bridge Foyer, Chester. Hazel has worked at the Bridge Foyer for nearly a year, and prides herself on bringing a welcoming presence to the reception area.

While her main domain is in reception, the Foyer is always keen to draw on individual strengths, passions and experiences to engage with residents. With some shared experiences, and a passion for gaming and riddles, Hazel has been able to build connections with residents and create a space for them to open up and engage.

As part of Starts at Home Day 2023, Hazel has shared her routine at the Foyer to give an insight into the work they do providing supported housing for young residents who are at risk of homelessness.

Daily Routine

9am: My day usually starts at 9am when I greet colleagues and catch-up on the handover from the night before, I check to make sure if we need to pick up or be aware of anything for the day ahead, that might be an incident with a resident or a repair that needs following up on.

I then check on the post and the banking, and check the diary for any appointments resident have that day. At 9:45am I give a gentle reminder for anyone with an overnight guest that they are required to leave by 10am. I also give out reminders for appointments that day.

10am: As front of house it is my job to be the first welcome for any guests whether that is the postman or the CEO of Your Housing Group. I always try to be a friendly face, just like our little mascot – positive potato.

Another morning job is that I update our chalkboard in reception, this is something that I have unofficially taken over during the past year. I like to write brainteasers and riddles, which get the residents thinking and talking. I also draw birthday messages, which I try and make personal. One of our residents who celebrated their birthday recently is a big Harry Potter fan, so I did a picture of the sorting hat (that is one I was particularly proud of)

Lunchtime: Our manager always makes sure that we take breaks as she knows how important it is to take a bit of time for ourselves during the working day. We are always reminded that you can’t pour from an empty cup, so I try and get out for some fresh air or pick up a bit of shopping.

1pm: We have resident ambassadors who act as a voice for the Bridge Foyer community – they share ideas with us and suggestions for positive changes we can make. One thing that they requested was making the reception area feel less ‘clinical’ so from this we spent some time putting up foliage and a fun neon sign, that has really softened the whole vibe of the reception.  There is more to do but we’re pleased with how it is looking so far.

2pm: The afternoon is when we run sessions for residents, which range from Yoga with Alice, walks along the river, to pool and gaming session in the lounge area. I am a gamer myself and bring my console in once a week to have Mario Kart sessions with residents. It's never so much about the specific activity, but the sessions create an opportunity for residents to talk to us and other residents in a relaxed environment.

We also did a great craft session using masks. We asked residents to decorate one half to show how they feel on the inside, and the other half how they portray themselves on the outside. Art is such a great outlet for expression, especially for those who sometimes find it difficult to find the right words.

4pm: I have my daily check in with a resident who I have made a strong connection with, we communicate regularly to make sure she is OK. She has gone from previously never wanting ‘to bother anyone’ to communicating regularly with staff, which is what we want. It is amazing when you can start to see a resident come out of their shell and you know that you have played a part in that.

5pm: Home time. I make sure that I have updated the Project Officers and our night colleagues with anything from the day, then I head home after another rewarding day in the Foyer. Every colleague here has their own reasons for doing the job that we do. Whether that is ‘giving back’ or wanting to use their own experiences to help others. I am privileged to work with such a fantastic group of people who give so much support to each other and our residents.