In recognition of Starts at Home Day 2023 one of our Project Officers, Alice has shared an overview of her working week at Bridge Foyer in Chester…although no two weeks are ever the same!

Alice has been a Project Officer at Bridge Foyer for several months and has 13 residents appointed to her who she works with to develop the skills needed to live independently.

The daily and weekly routine at the Foyer gives a structure to the week, but it is always approached with an element of flexibility so that they can adapt to fit with the residents needs and mood. 

A week at Bridge Foyer

Monday, as Project Officers we work two types of shifts, 8am - 4pm and 12pm-8pm, Project Officers don't work weekends so if it is my 8am shift on a Monday, I spend time reading over reports from the weekend for all residents at the Foyer.  
Another Monday morning job is making doctor’s appointment for residents, so I get on the phone as close to 8am as I can. We offer to attend appointments with residents, whether that is doctors, dentist, job centre, college, so they always know that they don’t have to go alone.

9am daily: (Breakfast club) We hold a breakfast club every day, so I  cheerfully knock on everyone’s door… If they are struggling with food this is a good opportunity for them to have a decent meal – even if there is a lot of chocolate spread involved.

We might also play pool, and this gives us a chance to check in with residents, ask how their evening went, and see what plans they have for the day. For those going off to work or college we offer them a takeaway breakfast to make sure they are fuelled for the day ahead.

After breakfast club I usually hold a one to one session with residents, we check in monthly to monitor their progress, the check in helps us, to see how well our service is performing – it is our job to help with life skills.

On Monday afternoons we have a cleaning session with residents. We do flat checks on a Tuesday, so this gives them the opportunity to learn the basics of cleaning products and how to use them. E.g., Residents learn how to clean a toilet and how often they need to clean it.

The flat checks are held on a Tuesday morning after breakfast club. We use this as an opportunity to carry out some basic health and safety checks on extractor fans and heaters, plus see if any repairs are needed.

It also gives us an insight into how they residents are doing, especially the ones who may not engage with us much. We have a scoring system which is relevant to the individual and their goals and we give feedback. This helps teach our residents how to maintain a home.

We have different sessions with residents in the afternoon; Hazel (Customer Service Operator) has started a gaming session and I have started holding some Yoga sessions which have been fantastic. We also do things like walks along the river, crafts, table tennis, and boules at the green over the road. We often team up with partners too, previously we have partnered with Chester Youth Pride and the Rainbow Tea Rooms to do some crafts for Pride.

It is another opportunity to engage with residents and develop new and different skills. The sessions usually last a couple of hours, but sometimes they can run longer. We did a session painting plant pots and the residents ended up being involved for 3 hours, the residents just enjoyed being together and talking.

On a Wednesday Afternoon we hold a resident meeting, which is an important part of the week. We give updates and listen to questions  and we always set out some actions that we then check through each week.

Throughout the week, we have several workshops/sessions, they include a Social Worker who comes in once a week, sexual health clinics, and Job centre appointments on a Wednesday, which we often attend with residents. We also support with views and filling in forms for things like job applications or enrolling in a college. 

We had a new resident join us this week, so I have been supporting them to register with services such as a doctor and a dentist, at 17 years old they have never had one before. They are settling in really well and are really pleased to be at the Foyer, which is great to hear as they have had a really tough time.

Recently, we attended Tomorrow’s Women, who are a charity which started for victims of domestic violence. They offer lots of services, including Alcohol Recovery. We attended with one of our residents as we are fully supportive to those in their recovery.

On Friday afternoons we have a cooking session, which is always great and gives residents a homecooked meal that they can have for tea. Recent recipes have been Gyros, fakeaway KFC, BigMac patties, Pizza, Stroganoff, and Sticky honey chicken and rice. We accommodate for different dietary requirements, and always print out the recipe so they can take it home and keep.

There are so many different stories for the residents who come to us, and we work hard to support each one individually. Some are really engaged, and some keep themselves to themselves, but we have the same goal for each one, which is to equip them with the life skills they need to live independently.

It is so rewarding when we get to see our residents move on to that next phase in their life, whether it is work and their own home or going off to University. We are very proud of them, and it is a privilege to support them on that journey.