Clockwise from top left: Amy Gilliard, Megan Austwick, Millie Lepic and Zaza Phoenix
We are the new Meaningful Occupation Co-ordinators and we’ll be working as part of the Government’s Next Steps Accommodation Programme (NSAP). This initiative created as a response to meeting urgent housing needs following the “Everybody In” strategy, which was put in place to ensure people were moved into temporary accommodation due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a project which follows BCHA principles, NSAP recognises that people who spend their days in ways that they find meaningful and interesting are happier, healthier and more engaged in their communities.
Therefore, as Meaningful Occupation Coordinators, we will be providing intensive personalised support to a small caseload of customers, with an emphasis on moving people closer to employment, education and long-term accommodation.
Our roles will vary from support with everyday living, such as budgeting, life skills, future planning, to finding meaningful things for our customers to do in their day.
The four of us will be covering a wide area that encompasses both Bournemouth and the South-West.
Amy Gillard will be in Exeter, Megan Austwick and Zaza Phoenix in Bournemouth and the surrounding areas, while Melissa Lepic will cover Plymouth.
We all come from diverse backgrounds, including life coaching, law, recruitment and physical rehabilitation, and have volunteered or worked for other charities, such as the RNLI, Help For Heroes and women’s charities in India.
Although we are quite different, we all have similar motivations for working with BCHA and are all really excited to be given this opportunity.
Since starting at BCHA in January 2021 we have jumped head first into learning the ropes of the organisation including the processes, policies and procedures, as well as completing mandatory training.
We have taken every opportunity to meet (virtually of course) with a number of interesting and inspiring people internally, as well as with other agencies who have offered invaluable advice and discussed how we might partner with them to support our customers in gaining a more meaningful and successful journey away from homelessness.
We are all so grateful for the shadowing experiences we have shared with our work buddies, who have provided insight into the customers already using BCHA’s services.
We are currently keeping busy with academic and housing research, linking in with BCHA’s Employability Skills training team and establishing smaller projects such as book and recipe swaps.
Meanwhile, Megan has been lucky enough to visit BCHA’s 2.2 acre New Leaf Allotment, which is a place of beauty, nature, wildlife and will be a seat of learning for our customers.
It has been a really exciting couple of weeks, but we are now chomping at the bit to get started with our own customers.
At present BCHA is in the process of acquiring accommodation for our future tenants and we are still on track for completions by 31 March 2021.