International Women’s Day: Poema, outreach lead manager
Poema Ivanova talks to us about her career progression and vocation to work in outreach support, as we mark her retirement after eight years with Thames Reach.
As part of our International Women’s Day celebrations, we spoke with Poema Ivanova, lead worker at Thames Reach’s Enfield SORT (Street Outreach Team). This week marks her last at Thames Reach after eight years of service as she enters retirement. She was selected by chief executive Bill Tidnam to discuss her work, plans for the future and International Women’s Day!
Can you tell us a bit about your service, and exactly what your role is?
I have been working at Thames Reach since August 2012 in various roles, starting as a reconnection worker before moving to the wonderful team at Tower Hamlets Street Outreach Team (SORT). After 4 years there, I went on to lead Newham SORT, which then was just a team of one. A year later I laid the foundation of the well-known SAFE Connections, the greatest team, with the greatest manager! At the end of that project, I had to take another challenge, to join Enfield SORT, to help build up the new Outreach service in LB Enfield. I am proud to say that we managed to keep the rough sleeping population in the borough under good control during the pandemic; responding to referrals, picking up people from the street as soon as we hear about them. Enfield council were able to provide the necessary resources for that, and this is a huge achievement.
What personality qualities and skills does it take to be a good outreach worker?
Good outreach work is a mission, it is not just work. One needs to be dedicated to this work, dedicated to the people in need. In normal life those people are not met every day, but we are facing these cases every day, sometimes a few a day. We need to have very large hearts, to be able to contain all this struggling people’s fates and stories, but still remaining very strong and resilient, to be able to encourage people to stand back on their feet and start sometimes probably the most difficult in their life journey towards the light, towards the sun. We need to have the hope and belief in what we are doing and be able to pass it to people in desperation. The sympathy, respect, empathy – these are the personal values, which the outreach worker must have in their day-to-day work.
What have you enjoyed about working at Thames Reach?
I would say that there was no day like the last. Every new day meant new people, new stories, new lives, new challenges. There was no time to be bored. That is how the last 8 years of my life have passed by so quickly.
I will not forget my colleagues at Thames Reach – the real treasure of the company. Working in different teams has had a very positive effect on my entire life and working experience. I had the greatest chance to watch my colleagues, my line managers growing in their roles, up to the very top.
I am very grateful to my colleagues, and now friends, for an unforgettable time together!
What are your plans for retiring?
Oh, difficult question. After dreaming about this moment for the last few years, now it has actually arrived one side of me is very happy, that I won’t have to get up for the early shift, the other half of me is crying; but I also hear a whisper: what is next? I hope my health will be good enough to allow me to enjoy the life for the coming years. I have a nice hobby to entertain me, which I hope to have more time for, and more time for my favourite flowers! And of course for my family.
I would also like to use this opportunity to celebrate all women in Thames Reach with the wonderful day of 8 March, International Women’s Day! I think in Thames Reach we have some incredible women from all different parts of the world, and are one of our most valuable assets. With their never-ending optimism and hope for a better world, with their understanding and caring nature, with their readiness to fight for every single person in need, with their generous willingness to help and support others. HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY!