Staff Stories

Our staff here at City Hearts are the backbone of our charity’s work. Read on to find out a bit more about their roles and why they’re passionate about the work they do.

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Steve Watson

What is your job title?

Chief Operating Officer (COO)

What does that actually mean?

I oversee and lead the general day-to-day operation of City Hearts, supporting our senior managers in the Services, Finance, People and Culture, and Operations departments. 

My focus is to make the charity as effective and strategic as possible, striving to provide an outstanding service for our clients, while making sure we are conscientious and sustainable in our approach.

I also work closely with Ed our CEO, identifying key areas for growth and development. 

What do you do on an average day?

No two days are the same in my job. I tend to spend a lot of time in all sorts of meetings, making sure we are continually the best we can be in every area.

This could include working to improve or develop our support, solving problems, rewriting policies and procedures, identifying funding opportunities or consolidating our IT structures.

I am naturally quite a ‘people-person’, and I think it’s crucial that I stay in touch with what is ‘really going on’ in the organisation. Therefore, I also dedicate time to check in with our front-line staff over coffee, to make sure we are looking after our clients, staff, stakeholders and finances in the best way possible. I believe this makes me better at my job, and helps me make better decisions for the benefit of our clients. Every now and then I get to meet clients too, which is a real priority. 

How long have you worked at City Hearts?

Nearly 5 years! I have spent time working as an accommodation caseworker, manager, and Deputy Head of Services across both our North West and South Yorkshire regions. 

Having thoroughly enjoyed working across every area of the organisation, I am now lucky enough to oversee the day to day of the charity and apply my experiences.

What do you find interesting or rewarding about your role?

I am most inspired by the ‘good news’ stories often shared by the team; we sometimes have clients speak in the team meetings, and it’s so encouraging to know the difference we get to make every day.

I also love seeing members of the City Hearts team develop and go from strength to strength. Many of our best managers started as caseworkers, and I am committed to investing in our staff.

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Ruth Orange

Who are you and what do you do?

I'm Ruth Orange and I'm an Outreach Coordinator for City Hearts.

What does that actually mean?

It means I manage a team of 12 caseworkers and together we coordinate the support of clients in our area and look after the needs of the caseworkers. Caseworkers are on the front line and hear or see effects of trauma a lot during the day, so it's important for them to know they're listened to and supported. They do an incredible job as they support clients in their recovery from exploitation to independence.

What do you do on an average day?

I respond to caseworkers' questions about clients' situations, entitlements, material needs, risks or incidents. I prepare and facilitate training for the team. Report and request things from Salvation Army, liaise with other services like social workers, substance abuse services, Serco managers, Home office etc. Work with our administrators (couldn’t do the job without them!) to keep systems and records correct and up to date. And be available to speak to clients if I'm needed.

What do you find interesting or rewarding about your role?

I love working with such lovely people that genuinely want the best for each other and the clients they are helping to support. I love meeting the survivors, listening to them and being a face they can trust. I believe that being able to show you care and being able to be a practical part of helping them get access to things that will start their recovery is important.
These people have been through so much, but they're willing to start again and keep going, even if it’s the smallest of steps.

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Hannah Creighton

What is your job title?

About Face Co-ordinator

What does that actually mean?

It means I work within the Crime Free Futures area of City Hearts. I co-ordinate a team of seven Keyworkers who work with Clients on the Merseyside Deferred Prosecution Scheme, which we run in partnership with Merseyside Police.

What do you do on an average day?

I support Keyworkers with their questions about clients. I also liaise with the police, keep on top of trackers, attend meetings, and organise training and best practise. The Keyworkers do an amazing job working directly with the clients we support. I support them behind the scenes, alongside our Operations Facilitator.

What do you like best/ find most interesting about your role?

I love my role. I am passionate about our client’s being supported by their Keyworker to promote independence but they also go the extra mile. Our Client’s feedback really inspires me as well. I love hearing how we have supported them to proactively make changes within their life, as big or small as that might be, such as getting a new job, or learning about self-care and their mental health.

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Grishma Bijukumar

What is your job title?

My title is Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Lead

What does that actually mean?

In simple words I promote equality, eliminate discrimination, encourage everyone to be inclusive, and make sure everyone in the organsiation is following the Equality Act 2010. I do this by creating training programmes, lunch and learns, webinars, and policy. These are what we call ‘EDI initiatives’. The way I facilitate these initiatives is through reflection tasks. I provide our staff with information in a way which makes them reflect their behaviours and encourage them to action plan for improvement. As majority of our staff work with such a diverse client base, it is important to understand the different EDI issues which may impact our clients and ways we can all do better. 

What do you do on an average day?

On an average day, I meet with a wide range of staff from across different departments to get a better understanding of their roles, and where I can help them in terms of EDI. I create plans for future training programmes and webinars which I will be facilitating. Currently I am creating an interactive lunch and learn for International Pronouns Day and finalising a bundle for the EDI Committee which I have recently launched. 

How long have you worked at City Hearts?

I have worked for City Hearts for 7 months now.

What do you find interesting or rewarding about your role?

One thing I love about my role is the creativity and direction I get to take the role. A role like mine is different in every organisation depending on their needs. City Hearts is very early on in its EDI journey, and I enjoy freedom I have in implementing these different initiatives.

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Mischa Macaskill

Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Mischa Macaskill and I’m the Coordinator for the Integration Support Programme (ISP), our long-term service that supports survivors of Modern Slavery nationally. I also coordinate the Health and Wellbeing team in Sheffield. 

What does that actually mean?

The ISP conducts regular phone calls to clients to check in with them and direct them to local organisations to increase their knowledge of the local community and the support available. The aim is to increase our clients’ independence, and a lot of the role is about encouraging them to reach out to support independently, and stepping in to advocate on their behalf if this hasn’t been successful. The Health and Wellbeing team also put on weekly Drop In sessions for survivors to come and meet together, share a meal and be creative.  

What does an average day look like for you?

I respond to any concerns or questions that arise about our clients within the team. I speak with survivors directly once they have raised a support need and signpost them to a local organisation who can support them. For Health and Wellbeing, I support our wonderful Drop In facilitator to put on the Drop In service. We are also currently preparing for Christmas too! It is not too late to donate to our Restoration Hub if you would like to support with this.  

What do you find interesting or fulfilling about your role?

I love so many things about my role! I love seeing clients being more confident in themselves, whether this is shown by them leaving the house or the bigger things like gaining employment. I love working collaboratively with other support organisations and solicitors to ensure our clients to get the support they need and deserve to recover. I also love seeing clients at the weekly Drop In and watching them build relationships with others. 

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Dumile Moyo

Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Dumile Moyo and I am a caseworker for the men’s safe house in South Yorkshire.

What does that actually mean?

I work with and support the clients in a number of different ways, from making GP appointments, to signposting them to organisations that can assist them in any way they need. I will also spend time with clients helping them learn some basic life skills, such as how to use a computer or how to cook. My position is quite varied which is what I enjoy about it. 

What do you do on an average day?

On an average day I will be working to ensure that our clients have as much in place as possible for when they move on from City Hearts. This includes setting up bank accounts, registering to health services, applying for Universal Credit, etc... In this way we ensure that they start their new chapter in life with a lot of what they need already in place or in the process.

What do you find most interesting/fulfilling about your role?

I love helping clients start to interact with the community and other clients in a positive way. Seeing a client learn how to open up about their experience, or becoming more independent of support, makes my job worth it. But most of all, it is seeing a client move on from the NRM (National Referral Mechanism) having a fresh and positive outlook on their future.  

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Simon Bolton

Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Simon Bolton and I’m the Facilities Manager.

What does that actually mean?

Good question! I manage all the facilities that City Hearts operate in, whether it's their offices or the accommodation. I manage all the required certification and maintenance for those properties, along with some aspects of staff training. I’m also responsible for all of the health and safety needs within City Hearts. What does an average day look like? My role fits across so many different regions, teams and services, that no day is the same. A lot of my time is spent in meetings, arranging contractors or contacting landlords to come in to do any necessary certifications or works on our properties. I also work with our maintenance team on any works required in our accommodations, and deal with any health and safety needs that may arise across different areas of the team.

What do you find most interesting or rewarding about your role?

I'm someone that loves to fix things or find solutions to problems. One of the rewarding aspects of this role is being able to play a part in fixing problems within the accommodation. There is no better feeling than being able to provide a home for a client. Somewhere they can find comfort, rest, peace and support in. Somewhere they can find community and feel safe and protected in. I get to play a part in making that happen.

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Megan Reeves

Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Megan Reeves and I’m a Drop-In Facilitator for the Health and Wellbeing team.

What does that actually mean?

My role has changed since the start of the pandemic. I used to facilitate the ‘Drop-In’ Service which was the main focus of the Health and Wellbeing department, but now I arrange activity days for our clients alongside my colleague Sami, who is AMAZING to work with! Currently we are also coordinating the Christmas Present Appeal, so hopefully all our clients and their children will receive a lovely gift this Christmas, thanks to all the wonderful donations we have received from so many generous donors.

What does a normal day look like for you?

Every Monday and Tuesday myself and Sami will meet up with around 10 clients and take them on an adventure. So far we have done Liverpool Stadium Tours, Crazy Golf, cinema, picnic/games in the park, museums and many more. It so lovely to see the clients go from being nervous and quiet at the start of the day, to chatty and smiling by the end of the day. 

What is the best/most interesting thing about your role?

The best part of my role is see the clients’ smiles and reading their comments on our feedback sheets at the end of the activity days. I also love hearing the clients talk about their caseworkers and how they have been helped so much by all the staff at City Hearts. 

Everyone at the charity does such an amazing job, they really are helping to save lives.