“Tell me, I’ll forget. Show me, I may remember. But involve me, and I’ll understand.” – Chinese Proverb
Born in Newcastle, Andrew spent his early years moving around the UK with his family, before spending his school years in Keswick. He later returned to his roots where he lives today.
He spent many years working in banking for Northern Rock until their collapse. In December 2009 he left to go travelling including some time spent in Denmark. In January 2011, wanting to return to work, he applied for a part-time cleaning role at St. Vincent’s on New Bridge Street. They turned him down for this role but offered him the position of part time Keyworker which he accepted and enjoyed for the next 6 years, having worked his way up to the position of Senior Support Worker.
Initially working with ‘low needs’ homeless men to provide supported accommodation, this later opened up to males and females aged 30-65 years deemed at high risk and with high needs. Andrew, together with the team, crafted a new structure for the organisation, putting procedures in place and adopting a person-centred approach which put the individual at the heart of it all.
Andrew left in February 2017 to take up a Support Worker position at De Paul UK, working with youth at risk and or experiencing homelessness.
“It was run very much as a Drop-In, creating an environment that was a cross between a social club and a crisis intervention centre. We provided support including living and employability skills, mental health issues and financial health in addition to our main purpose of securing appropriate and timely accommodation” Andrew explained. “The team created a psychologically informed environment, for example using colours to inspire mood changes”.
“I strongly believe in supporting each and every person with unconditional positive regard” he added.
Ready for a fresh challenge and to use his skills in a senior role again, he successfully applied to Action Foundation as Senior Support Worker in the housing team, taking up this position in January 2019. He was attracted by the prospect of working with a new client group as well as inputting to the shaping and management of the team. Being very methodical and structured he was also attracted by the strength of the charity, which is reflected in the work that we do, and excited about the potential growth and new opportunities.
Over the years, Andrew feels that his extensive and varied experiences have softened him a bit, making him more empathetic and appreciative of everybody. “Witnessing and being part of the changes in people’s lives is very humbling.”
Andrew shared a story with us: A well-known street dwelling alcoholic had exhausted all the known opportunities provided by mainstream and charity projects at that time. Andrew felt that by providing him with a change of environment in secure and serene accommodation that perhaps he could be helped. He moved into their accommodation and with the team approaching him with respect each day, he engaged in support, became clean, sober, and accepted treatment for his Hepatitis C. He also went on to move into his own accommodation, if only for a while.
Andrew explains that by changing someone’s environment, behaviour can change too, and it is all about the approach made to the individual. This example also showed the sector in general that new approaches and opportunities can make a difference.
Andrew has been in post at Action Foundation for only 4 weeks but has already started to understand about the needs of the team and the processes to achieve great things together going forward.
Asked about his spare time, Andrew revealed that he is keen on hiking and cycling and, together with his partner, has a small home brewery; making ales, cheeses and wheat free bread! We are all looking forward to the opportunity of tasting these artisan treats!