Pathways Into Management at Thames Reach – Interview

The Pathways into Management programme started in January, encouraging members of staff to develop their skills to move into management roles at Thames Reach. We spoke with Miracle, one of its participants, to see how it’s going

Pathways Into Management at Thames Reach – Interview

We spoke to Miracle Godfrey, Senior Practitioner, who is one of the members of staff currently on the Thames Reach Pathways into Management programme, which is providing a group of staff with the skills and confidence to develop their career further in the organisation. 2020 is the programme’s first year, so we caught up with Miracle to see what she wants to achieve from the initiative, and how it’s going so far.

 I’ve been with Thames Reach for eight years; up until November last year I was doing night shifts at the Waterloo Project. I enjoyed it and was very comfortable doing this but sometimes when you get used to the role you’re in, you start to feel like you need a challenge. After a while I realised that people praising me for being good at my job meant that I should be aiming for a more senior role.

So while I was working at Waterloo I applied for a secondment as a Senior Practitioner elsewhere at Thames Reach, and was given the job at Newham Stepping Stone, a new, temporary project. The “manager’s role” really felt like a step up and helped me believe in myself and build my confidence as well as helping me move forward in my career.

When the opportunity of the Pathways into Management programme came up, I thought about it and said “I don’t think I can make it, I don’t think I’ll be chosen”. It was in the back of my mind until two days before the deadline, but then I sent an email to HR to see if I could still apply, and still wasn’t expecting much. Then a couple of weeks later I found out I’d been accepted; I was really pleased and shocked.

The Pathways into Management programme is going really well so far. After I found out I’d been accepted, colleagues are saying I’m lucky to be on the course but it’s not luck, you have to push yourself and find opportunities to aim high. Aside from learning new things, it’s a real opportunity to voice your feelings; it’s not a formal setting, you can hear others express themselves while contributing your own experiences. It’s a confidential and safe space. Everyone has ideas that pop up all the time.

The first day of the programme I was impressed, it really feels like you’re not alone. I was impressed by what Bill [Tidnam, Chief Executive] had to say and his own growth, how he was comfortable in his role for a long time but applied for more senior roles at Thames Reach and kept himself motivated. I don’t want to look back now; even though it’s good to reflect, I want to aim higher, and the programme is really helping me with that, I feel very empowered.

I would like to improve on my communication and listening skills; I know that the way I communicate needs adjustment. If my service isn’t made permanent, I’m aiming for a managerial role elsewhere in Thames Reach. I am going to do it, I’m really motivated now!

I would like to say that I really appreciate the programme and would like to thank those who put it together and their hard work. It’s going beyond improving staff for Thames Reach, it improves your own development and your own skills. I’ve already noticed improvements in my interactions with colleagues and external agencies.

I want to inspire people not to just sit and wait for opportunities to come to them, but to go out there and find the opportunities to develop – believe in yourself!

The Pathways into Management cohort 2020

Traineeships – Interview with one of our graduates

The Thames Reach traineeship scheme is now open for applications – we interviewed Ross, who graduated from the programme in April 2019 and is now a lead worker with our South East Regional Outreach team

Traineeships – Interview with one of our graduates

The Thames Reach traineeship programme provides career pathways into the homeless sector. It offers participants the opportunity to gain the skills and experience needed to work for Thames Reach and within the broader sector. The traineeship programme actively encourages those with a previous history of homelessness to apply, as well as people with little or no experience of the homeless sector. Passion, commitment and empathy towards homeless people along with good administration skills are required to succeed. The programme has seen students and tutors alike incredibly pleased with the experience and future prospects.

Ross Lambert is one of the graduates, who got a job as an assistant support worker at Croydon Reach after undertaking his first placement, and has since worked with three different Thames Reach outreach teams. We spoke to him when he graduated in April 2019.

What’s your background and what attracted you to the programme?
I actually had a very different career before starting the traineeship; I was a glass designer for ten years, and although I really enjoyed it, I wanted to do something that helped people. After a short career break, I thought about how I might be able to do this and did some research. Spending some time travelling confirmed that I wanted to do a job that made a difference in the community. I knew little about what support workers did but knew that it was a step in the right direction for me.

What did you do during your time on the traineeship?
The work we did while training was really close to what we’d be doing as assistant support workers once we finish, so it was good to learn first-hand from the start. I shadowed the Croydon Reach outreach team and followed their work with other agencies.

What did you enjoy the most?
The fact that I can see tangible results from my day-to-day work, and that’s something I’ll continue to enjoy as I settle in my new role and progress throughout my career.

Who have you worked with so far?
I had no experience working with vulnerable people before now but working with service users has been a real highlight, it truly feels like a two-way street, we’re inspiring each other and working collaboratively.

What are your plans for the future?
I got the job at Croydon Reach the same day as my second placement was due to start, so I’m still very new and enjoying learning everything I can about the role. I’m happy to have the experience and use the skills I learned in the traineeship for real-life situations.


Terri Filkins, lead outreach worker, awarded MBE in Queen’s birthday honours

Terri awarded for her commitment to helping people escape homelessness

Terri Filkins, lead outreach worker, awarded MBE in Queen’s birthday honours

Following the Queen’s Birthday Honours list being released on 8th June, Thames Reach are thrilled to announce that lead outreach worker, Terri Filkins, has been awarded an MBE, with the presentation ceremony being held in the next two months. Terri has been working at Thames Reach for sixteen years, and we spoke with her about the exciting news.

Terri, congratulations on your MBE! How did you find out and how did you feel?

The letter came in the post one morning and initially I was a bit sceptical as to what it might be, I thought it was a spoof. I was in complete shock when I read the letter, and it still hasn’t sunk in! I’ve had to keep it secret for weeks and I’ve been bursting at the seams to tell people. The letter did say I could tell my employer so I went to see Bill the same day and he pretended to know nothing about it…

What’s your career history prior to Thames Reach?

Straight out of school I worked for Lewisham council. I have worked for local authorities, housing associations and for a time was HR manager in retail; my passion is working with people, and luckily I’ve been able to do that throughout my career. I always wanted to be a police officer, but after going through all the training and induction, I lasted one day in the job. The role was wrapped up in brutal law enforcement at the time, and I was asking questions about why people commit crimes, and was thinking a lot about prevention rather than punishment. They suggested I would be better off being a social worker. I went back into housing after that, for a number of local authorities in London; I took their advice and trained as a social worker while at Thames Reach, which the charity supported.

How long have you been with Thames Reach and how has your role at Thames Reach changed over the years?

I’ve always worked in homelessness but have been with Thames Reach for around sixteen years in a variety of posts. At the beginning I was interviewed by Vicky Mansall, who no longer works at Thames Reach, and we remain close friends. I started in tenancy sustainment, when the solution to rough sleeping was thought to be putting homeless people straight into flats without support, which unsurprisingly didn’t work. After this I was based at Southwark Reach for a number of years. I managed the service for a short time, and although I’ve had a few managerial positions, holding these roles mean spending less time with clients, which is really what I want to be doing. Having the opportunity to influence and shape services is definitely a benefit, though. When we won the bid for Lambeth Community Options I help set it up, working alongside Bill again, about eight years ago. Now I’m back from secondment at Lewisham, I am Lead Outreach Worker at London Street Rescue for Lewisham and Bromley, where I work with all rough sleepers in the two boroughs.

What have been your most memorable moments?

I once accompanied a client out of kidney dialysis; we were on the bus and he began drinking wine from the bottle, while telling me how he wanted to stay alive for his daughter. The support was clearly still needed but for me there was no logic between his desire to be here for his daughter and the need to continue drinking. Another client that I will never forget had been sleeping rough under a bush for many years, defiantly refusing offers to come in. Then, on a freezing cold night I asked him yet again to come off the streets. His answer was: “I’ve been rough sleeping for 7 years, 8 months and 24 days”, then he got in the car to go to temporary accommodation. My passion for what I do will never waver but there are still some things that I cannot understand.

As you’ve said that you’ve always worked in homelessness and love working directly with clients, what keeps you inspired and motivated on a daily basis?

I tend to gravitate towards the more complex clients; I marvel at the resilience of people, how they can do and achieve so much. This is through accepting support, working together, but most of all it is through their strength to persevere and improve their lives. I enjoy working for Thames Reach because we always push the agenda of homelessness with the same amount of enthusiasm, whether it is in the spotlight or not. No two days are ever the same; having to think on my feet and be flexible keeps me motivated. I respect the fact that I can’t do my work alone; teamwork and relying on different partnerships keeps ideas and actions fresh and relevant.

 I truly love working with Thames Reach and am proud of the work we do. Over the years we’ve achieved a lot of wins and are continuing to make profoundly positive changes to people’s lives.

Bill Tidnam, Thames Reach chief executive, said: “Terri thoroughly deserves this award which recognises the excellent and committed work that she does and has done in lots of different teams.  Terri is the embodiment of Thames Reach’s ethos of never giving up on people, while believing that they can make real and lasting changes in their lives, and has touched many people’s lives in her work.  The award is also a recognition of the hard work and commitment of all our staff, wherever they work, and I’m very proud for Terri and for Thames Reach.”