On the Frontline
Rowena Gregor works as a Case Manager for ARCH Cymru, a community support organisation in Wrexham, but years ago experienced homelessness herself. We asked her to tell us about her job and why she chose to do it.
As a Case Manager you help people to find secure accommodation. How long have you been in this role?
‘That’s Right, though primarily ARCH is a drug and alcohol service, working alongside the criminal justice system and 65% of my workload is supporting people to find secure accommodation and maintain that tenancy. I have been in my current role for nearly two years.’
How did you become a Case Manager?
‘By sheer perseverance and determination! I first came to ARCH three years ago as a part-time Recovery Support Worker, at the time I was also studying for a degree at Glyndwr University. The position for a Trainee Case manager came up and I applied. I went on to become a Case Manager a year later… It is one the proudest moments of my life.’
What is a typical day like for you?
‘There is no such thing as a typical day that’s one of the best parts of the job! Everyone who has access to our services has a substance misuse issue but there are so many other issues – mental health, homelessness, family… Each one needs to be supported, all at the same time. We liaise with many different services such as Wales Probation, the courts, Community Substance Misuse team… We are extremely lucky in Wrexham that we have good partnership working.’
What keeps you motivated when you have a tough day?
‘The service users themselves and when you see that moment that they move forward, whether it’s obtaining accommodation or entering rehab, this is why I go that extra mile.’ What do you think is the hardest thing to overcome when you’ve experienced homelessness? ‘Being able to trust other people, without thinking there was a catch or a hidden agenda. I had to learn how to be around people and how to conduct myself without fear of being inferior.’
What do you think each of us can do, if we see someone homeless?
‘Don’t judge what you see, remember that they are someone’s mother, father, sister, brother and something really bad must have happened in their lives to get them into this situation… Just acknowledging that homeless people actually exist, a smile or a ‘good morning’ costs nothing.’