*Name changed and stock image used.

Foundation work in partnership with Touchstone and Interserve to deliver Barnsley Futures. At the centre of the service is Holden House, a hostel accommodation service for homeless adults. Across Foundation our teams strive towards co-production, working with customers to develop services. Peer Volunteer Development Worker at Holden House, Yvonne, shares how working co-productively is hugely empowering for customers. This is Carl’s story:

Carl was referred to Barnsley Futures by his probation officer in August 2017,

following his release from prison. As well as finding suitable accommodation, Carl’s support needs included mental health and substance misuse.

Carl began to attend tenant meetings at Holden House

and showed real interest in becoming more involved with the organisation and the development of the service. He had a very keen interest in how things worked, how the organisation was run and looked at this as a way to improve his self-esteem and improve his understanding of the service he was involved in.

I was due to interview for the post of Peer Support Mentor so I asked Carl if he would be interested in sitting on the interview panel.

He jumped at the chance to do something to help out but was afraid he may do something wrong as he had never done anything like this before.  I assured him he would have the support of the panel and told him what to expect and apart from the initial nerves, Carl came into his own.  He asked very pertinent questions, gave feedback to the panel at the end of each interview and did an excellent job with scoring the candidates.

As I thanked him for his help, Carl told me how much he had enjoyed the day, and that he had learned so much and was very proud to have been involved in choosing our new Peer Supporter. Carl said,

‘I really enjoyed that, it’s the first time I have been involved with anything like this and it has really opened my eyes to the interview process. I would like to get involved in interviews again if I can”.

Carl has since been involved in tenant meetings and other customer events, his self-confidence has improved tenfold and he is looking at getting back into employment. Carl has been invited to sit on recruitment panels for Navigator positions in the near future and he is looking forward to taking part in this.

By recognising Carl’s strengths, gently encouraging and investing time into him and all our customers, we are helping them to realise their potential and move on with their lives in a positive way.

Carl is now a more confident individual, looking at his life in a completely different way from the person who originally came to Holden House, whose only interest was finding a room. Carl is now looking at employment and bettering his lifestyle.  He has met a partner and explains he is happy and is moving on confidently with his life.