Lee Leeds the way

My name is Lee, I am a volunteer at St Giles Trust in the Leeds Team.

In 2014, I was given 12 month probations from the magistrate courts for drink driving amongst other drink related offences. I was lucky not to be given a custodial sentence, even luckier not to have done any long term physical damage to myself after my binge drinking that put me in hospital six times. After 10 years of drinking and ending up on probation at 45 years old, it was a pretty bad place to end up but still felt fortunate I had my health and freedom.

After doing the right direction training course at Probation, I applied to St Giles Trust to do a Level 3 IAG Qualification under their Peer Advisor Programme. The training was all I could have hoped for and more. Right from my interview through to my training and volunteering, I have been reassured with how friendly, yet professional the staff here are.

Although it feels like I have only been with St Giles Trust two minutes, I have actually been with them for eight months now - months where I have achieved more than I have in the last 10 years. I have done things at St Giles Trust that I didn’t ever think I would do or even have the personality or confidence to do.

When I completed the qualification, I went out with Case Managers, shadowing them and putting my training into practice. It wasn`t long before I had my own clients, in and out of prison helping them ease into a calmer way of life and into employment if possible. I giving advice and assistance with finance, debt problems, health, housing, family, relationships and education, training and employment. I will also attend any appointments with my clients if needed or refer them to the appropriate agency.

Last Tuesday (31 May), I got to the office at 8am to check my emails and to make sure I have all the correct and relevant information for when I see my clients in the afternoon. At 10am I attend a meeting with my manager Kelly and the case managers on the team to discuss any problems or issues and how our client cases are going. Everyone in the team works hard and helps each other if needed so most of the meeting we discuss client progress.

After the meeting I headed over to Bradford library to meet the first of my clients, he had just passed his FLT Counterbalance test so we updated his CV on the library’s computer and started applying for jobs online.

I then met another of my clients in Bradford who has just started working with a colleague. He needs help with quite a few different things after just being released from a long prison sentence. We had a good chat about them and where he wanted to be in the coming weeks. My client was really engaged and was very positive about our next meet.

Finally I met with another client to give him details and a phone number of a job vacancy. He called and arranged an interview whilst I was there. I arranged another appointment with him - all my clients know they can contact me in working hours if they need to.

Today went really well. I got everything done I wanted to do and left three clients feeling positive about what they are doing.