I attend Doorway on a Thursday lunchtime for an hour in my role as a Recovery Worker for the Wiltshire Substance Misuse Service, currently run by Turning Point. This provides an opportunity for me to represent my agency positively in the community, to be the approachable face of drug and alcohol services, to take information, provide support and also to keep my finger on the pulse, for Doorway is in my view the heart of Chippenham.
The reasons why a guest might want to speak to me are many and various. Staff point guests towards me when they know that someone needs help or advice in connection with a drug or alcohol issue. Sometimes a natural conversation develops when passing the ketchup or I can speak to a person in a side room if they require privacy. Some people are already service users known to me, some are just passing through. Our client group cover a wide social demographic but it is at Doorway that I meet the people without a letterbox or phone or diary, those who might not know or remember their next appointment or even their last. I can check with the office there and then and write down the appointment for the guest or relay messages from the office to service users; I can encourage and remind. My interactions at Doorway vary from a laugh and a joke over a fine cauliflower cheese to listening to the pain of a guest on the edge. I can empathise and signpost and I hope be a useful ear but can also alert my colleagues; if their client is in a difficult space we can set up a phone call later in the day from that person’s worker or arrange an urgent appointment.
Doorway helps people to help themselves, a philosophy very much in the spirit of my agency’s current way of working. The combination of practical help and unconditional love provided at Doorway is highly valued by guests and I am grateful to be able to suggest Doorway to our service users as an effective support option. In these times where vulnerable people are having their benefits cut for tenuous reasons and some people have no funds and no social connection Doorway is a life saver. Hunger and loneliness kill and Doorway can help with both.
Doorway informs my practice as a worker and my understanding as a person. I watch and learn as both paid staff and volunteers treat so many different kinds of people with kindness and respect. I see volatile situations diffused quietly and efficiently and how established guests respect the sensible boundaries set and encourage others to do the same. I meet workers from other agencies, such as Community 4 or WASP, and learn from them. I am challenged. I hear the word on the street. Going to Doorway, for me and my colleagues, is one of the highlights of the working week and we value the relationship we have with this special project. Long may it continue.
Gail Foster, Recovery Worker
Wiltshire Substance Misuse Service