Rieanna in our Choices Team

Rieanna joined our Choices Team at St Giles Trust last year. The team help disadvantaged young people overcome any barriers and progress towards employment, training and education goals. It’s a busy Monday morning for Rieanna and she doesn’t quite know what the day will bring…

“I start my Monday mornings after the school run where I’m greeted with masses of messages. ‘I’ve lost my oyster card, ‘I need help with….’, from my budding 16-24 year old clients. On the way to work, I ring round checking they are on their way to training, or act as their wake up call for any important appointments I know they might fail to attend or show up late for. Then I send out reminder texts of any appointment with me. That’s the first 30mins of my day!

When I enter the office my first task is to catch up with emails and prioritise tasks and appointments for the week ahead. However, more often than not the ‘things to do today’ list gets neglected due to fact our clients can be hard-to-reach and have high needs.

At the Wednesday team meeting we go through our varied caseloads, discuss our individual borough specific outreach sessions from last week and update each other with what our calendars are looking like for the week ahead! Then we go through our wonderful database updates and all the ever-changing things that need to be incorporated into our already hectic workloads.

My general routine consists of seeing my many clients, touching base with my team and facilitating support thoughout the day to the Peer Advisors. I train them on the paperwork and systems while they shadow me in initial assessment meetings with clients. I guide them on the daily trials and tribulations of being a Choices caseworker e.g. don’t expect your clients to turn up because you made an appointment - young people often need a gentle reminder!

On Thursdays I’m on my outreach where I see new and existing Youth Offending Service clients. Our Peer Advisor Kevin joins me on this weekly venture and assists me with these highly complex young people and ex-gang members. He helps me source appropriate education, training and employment progression routes for them. If it’s a busy day he may carry out some new referral appointments on my behalf. I believe the best form of training is to throw yourself right into the deep end and - if you surface - you’re sure to get to grips with this demanding role!

On other days I may be attending partnership meetings and visiting my providers, checking on my clients in training, like colleges or Linx Security Ltd. On many occasions, I spend days out the office providing support to clients by acting as their advocate at appointments. I also deliver one-to-one CV building sessions and interview role play techniques, helping them to complete applications for jobs and assist them in general career searches. Sometimes, being a caseworker may be just being that voice or ear on the other end of the phone listening to those stresses and dilemmas of life. This holistic approach can be just as important to young people as emotional support and praise is key to reinforcing to the client how great they are doing.

Before leaving the office to start my next shift as mother, I finish up my week sending out emails with updates on client progressions to my manager and other professionals like Probation or Youth Offending Service. I contact providers to ask for progress on clients I’ve referred onto their training programmes, send out my last round of What’s App job opportunities messages to my Job Op group and reply to any more distress calls. I do my checks and give a quick reminder call or message to the clients I am due to see the following day to confirm appointments and remind them of training start dates. I update all client case notes and schedule any follow up appointments or reminders for reviews for later in the week. I check all my clients’ paper files are all placed back in our client cabinet and then switch off my computer. That’s my day completed.”