Portland Street Reflections
Let’s be honest we are all sick and tired of talking about the pandemic and want to get back to the way things were and feel more positive about the future. As we begin to head out of lockdown and get our freedoms back it seems like a good time to reflect on the last challenging and unprecedented year.
At Portland Street we have gone through ups and downs during this period and the team has weathered the storm as best we could in the circumstances. In some ways we have thrived as it has tested our commitment to the young people in our care when other services and supports in the community have been reduced or stopped all together. At the start of the first lockdown in March last year we had to adjust to lockdown restrictions as things changed every day. Although as individuals we had our own personal fears and concerns about keeping ourselves and our families safe, we showed our commitment to the service through our continued attendance. The staff team have been supportive of each other, and regular supervision has provided the opportunity to talk about how we are managing things day to day and receive individual support.
During this last year we have continued to make improvements to the house including getting a new kitchen, fixing the roof, replacing old windows, and getting the front door painted. We currently have a full house and several of the young people are interested in cooking, and we have brought several appliances including a pressure cooker, air fryer and a food processor. The young people appreciate these items and cook independently or with staff. We also recently had the first of three cooking sessions run by fellow colleague Debra after she attended the Jamie Oliver cooking school, and this was very well received. Funding has been provided for young people to keep connected and social work has provided funds for bikes to help with their wellbeing.
We have learned a lot about resilience and mental health (for ourselves and young people) and have got used to communicating on Teams and attending training via Zoom. We are thankful for the support and encouragement we have received from management, the board and staff working from home during this difficult time.
I feel optimistic about the future of the residential service at Portland Street as we talk about the new replacement building and making plans again that have been on hold for so long. We can definitely see the light at the end of this long tunnel.
My journey so far with Dean & Cauvin (Portland Street)
On a quiet evening I was in my living room with my wife and glued to my iPad when suddenly I noticed an advertisement for a job. It was from Dean and Cauvin Young People’s trust, looking for a residential night shift worker. I had a job as a night shift worker with another organisation and honestly, I was not looking for a job. I cannot explain how Dean and Cauvin appeared on that faithful day. I had never heard or known anyone that work or has worked with the Trust. I showed the advert to my wife, and she said, “apply for it”. It was the last night before the deadline and it was about midnight, but I applied! Surprisingly, I was called for an interview.
On the day of the interview, I was faced with three or four people, I came for the interview not feeling nervous but looking at the faces before me on that day, I had to be serious. I also met young people and workers, one of them turned out to be my first supervisor. Finally, it was the end of the interview.
As I walked towards my car, I asked myself what I have gotten myself into. Again, I was in for a surprise, that same day I was offered provisional employment. Can a company or an organisation be so swift and efficient? I planned to hold on with my other job for six months until the probation period was over. This was more than two years ago!
I was invited to the induction and found the atmosphere was very friendly and the people around me were nice to each other as if we had known ourselves long before that day. All the managers came in to introduce themselves, one by one and had something or a topic or a subject to teach or offer. I had never experienced managers do this before. Everyone was nice and efficient, there was no stress and things were well timed.
In Portland Street we are a family and members of staff forms a body with different talents. We have the young, old, and quite experienced in life in childcaring in other words we are rich and spiced, a coat of many colours. Our young people are privileged. They might not know it but it is true because, I have never worked in an organisation as rich as this where a staff on a sleepover has made it a routine to tell a night staff you know where to find me when you need help, where every staff will want to know how you are doing and be patient to listen to you.
Finally, my able manager. I call her the mother of the house. Without mentioning her my story will not be complete and Portland Street will not stand because, she is the pillar of the house. I have never seen her angry but always smiling. She sees things differently in a positive way and always show appreciation when things or tasks are completed. When you do not hear from her, be patient something is being done. She has good leadership qualities that are real. I appreciate being part of the Portland Street family.
Residential Night Worker
How nature helped my mental health during lockdown!
During lockdown, one of the main activities we could all do was walking. I walked all the time with my dog prior to lockdown anyway, but I did not appreciate this simple act of walking, being outside and connecting with nature.
It was during lockdown that I found peace, calm and beauty in my surroundings during my walks, especially with being stuck indoors every day. Every Friday after work I would switch off from work and go for a walk by the sea or in the woods. I would not take my phone with me and it would just be me and nature. I would disconnect from the week and I would allow my mind to be taken over by the rawness of the sea, quiet of the trees and peacefulness of greenspace. I would feel calm and breath in the fresh air around me.
This weekly ritual of connecting with nature, beauty, fresh air, the world and trees that have stood for hundreds of years helped me with my mental health and challenging times during the pandemic. The connection with the natural world has amazing healing powers for the body and soul. It is also a great way of exploring the wilderness and you may just stumble upon some wonderful sights. I have included some photos of the sights you can see.
My favourite places I visit to connect with nature are: Dalkeith Country Park, The Grove Musselburgh, Lagoons Musselburgh, Newbattle Abby, Roslin Glen, Gore Glen, Musselburgh Beach, Gullane Beach and Portobello Beach. These are just some suggestions for lovely nature walks.