Life as an Advocacy Worker

By Karen Taylor

AS HELP & CARE CELEBRATES 20 YEARS OF PROVIDING ADVOCACY SERVICES, ONE OF OUR ADVOCACY & SUPPORT WORKERS KAREN TAYLOR TELLS US WHAT HER JOB INVOLVES.

How did you become an Advocate?

I previously worked in the insurance industry before coming to Help & Care. I wanted to find a job that focused more on helping people rather than helping sales and profit.

I came to Help & Care about 15 years ago and I worked on the short break service for about four years until a vacancy came up in advocacy. That type of work had always appealed to me because it involves working out in the community and speaking to people face to face.

What do you enjoy the most about your job?

I liked building a relationship with people, building up that rapport and gaining their trust. Being out and about in the community and visiting people in their homes is lovely and I like helping people reach their goals and overcome barriers to their independence.

We always keep our work people centred, that’s the core value of advocacy at Help & Care. We always ask people what they want to happen, what they need and what their aspiration are and then we try to work with them to help them achieve this.

Because we are a charity, we try to be a little bit more flexible with people. We try to look holistically at issues and it’s often the case that we get a referral for a particular issue but then when you go to visit the client and talk to them, you find out there are possibly other issues as well that we can help them with.

We always keep our work people centred, that’s the core value of advocacy at Help & Care. We always ask people what they want to happen, what they need and what their aspiration are and then we try to work with them to help them achieve this.

Karen Taylor, Advocacy and Support Worker

Tell us about someone that you have helped.

I recently supported a lovely gentleman called *Edward who is 79 years old and has lived in the same home for 75 years, so since he was 4! Edward has severe hearing problems, bad arthritis, impaired mobility, he lacks confidence and found it very difficult to communicate on the phone. The house had no heating or hot water, and the landlord had recently increased the rent. Edward wanted to stay in the home for the rest of his life, along with the memories of his late wife and late mother, but had not had any success with asking the landlord to make improvements to the property. Edward had been carrying a saucepan of hot water up the stairs to the bathroom to have a wash and the only heating he had was a Calor gas  heater which was expensive to run and caused condensation. I contacted the letting agents on Edward’s behalf, arranged for the agent to meet with me and Edward, and we eventually negotiated to have heating installed and the hot water system renewed. I also researched Edward’s tenancy rights so that he now knows how to challenge any further rent increases and negotiate with the landlord. This case was very rewarding for me as Edward’s goals were reached, he was more comfortable, safe and warm in his home, and he felt more confident dealing with issues in the future. Edward told me he was so very grateful for my support and would be using the word ‘empowered’ as his middle name in the future!