Job Description: Female Support Worker for The Upper Room
What do we do & how do we do it?
The Upper Room is a Drop-in service offered by the charity Hope Cirencester in the centre of the market town of Cirencester, offering support services to people who may experience mental health issues, have suffered abuse, deprivation, loneliness or poverty. We offer a supportive community and a space to be heard and walk together with people on their journey to restoration.
We are also a part of the Church of England, operating under a Bishops Mission Order in the Diocese of Gloucester and we work in partnership with our local parish churches. All our staff and volunteers are Christians, motivated by the love of Jesus for each person. Our work aims to serve and bless our local community and we partner with other local charities and housing associations to support vulnerable people.
Who is it that you seek?
We are looking to recruit a female Support Worker who will work alongside our male Support Worker and will be based at the Upper Room, where we offer welcome, friendship, support, hospitality and prayer via a twice weekly Drop-In. We believe God wants each person to flourish in their body, mind, spirit and environment; that He draws near to those who suffer; that each person is made in His image and has value, and that God is at work in the world and in the church.
This is a significant new role in our staff team which will help us to develop and grow. (We currently have one full time leader who is unpaid and part of whose role this is taking over; one male part time project worker and one community development worker who works in a specific geographic area in the town and has established new projects there around care for the earth, growing, cooking and eating well.)
We are looking for a woman with a warm, open heart for vulnerable people and some experience of working with those who are marginalised or vulnerable, have mental health conditions or who have experienced trauma. We don’t offer counselling but are seeking someone to help with our offer of befriending and support, helping people to live the best life they can and access opportunities to participate fully in local life. If you have learned to transform your own pain and can be vulnerable with wounded people that will help you in this role too. We are a small team, looking for someone who will muck in and get involved. Are you a passionate Christian, helping to show the love of Jesus as a health professional, youth worker, teacher or social worker, or do you have considerable supervised experience in the voluntary sector? Do you have a passion for the person of Christ, and for justice as exemplified in the Gospels? If so we’d love to hear from you.
How will it pan out?
We are able to offer flexibility around a core number of hours; our preference would be for someone who can commit to a minimum of around 10 hours a week (Mon/Weds/Fri am’s) plus extra paid hours for occasional evening meetings and events. This will be offered as a three year fixed term contract following a successful six month probation period, with pay in the region of £10-£12 an hour depending on qualification and experience.
There are more hours available (optional) for someone willing and able to help us develop our existing relationship with the staff and residents of a local care home; and/or develop work with young people; and/or assist with the administrative running of the project and fundraising, up to a maximum of 16 hours a week. It would be possible for someone to transition gradually towards the extra hours over a period if that would helpful.
For the future, the Upper Room is planning the development of a new fresh expression of church in partnership with the local parish and more hours are also likely to become available over time for someone who has the enthusiasm and skills to help implement this vision. This role is being established to take over some of the responsibilities of the current female support worker who leads the project; there is scope for the new person in this role to develop in leadership and pioneer new work in several areas in future. This is a great role for someone with a heart for mission, justice, service and outreach and who may be considering a vocation to pioneer ministry or ordained ministry.
The role includes working at:
- The Upper Room Drop In sessions:
-Gathering for prayer with staff on Monday and Friday mornings between 9:15am and 10am before the Drop In.
-Between 10am – 12pm at the Drop In: welcoming, sharing conversation, praying with people if required, chatting, listening, drinking tea, signposting to other relevant agencies, helping people make phone calls or deal with correspondence, inviting to other activities with the Upper Room community, sharing testimony and the gospel naturally and conversationally when appropriate.
-At 12pm, going with others to the Parish Church to participate in a brief Communion service until 12:30pm, and once a month, on the 2nd Friday, staying for Communion at the Upper Room & lunch, 12:30-2pm.
-After the Drop In session, following up any Safeguarding or pastoral concerns with other members of the team, or facilitating/advocating with people as agreed in the session.
- b) Parent Support group at Chesterton Primary school between 8:45am – 10am on Wednesdays; attending the group, chatting and building relationships with the parents, following up with parents any practical issues they need support with or projects they are developing, strengthening ties between this group and the other activities of the Upper Room. Helping parents engage with planning for the summer Playscheme. Pastoral visits may be arranged or accompanying people to appointments etc.
- c) Cooking/Gardening groups at Chesterton Farm on Wednesday mornings: From 10am – 12pm, the worker may assist and support people at these groups.
- d) Community meal between 5pm-7pm; on the first Sunday of the month the support worker will attend the Upper Room Community meal in someone’s home, possibly also helping to give lifts and/or prepare food.
- e) Communion service and lunch from 12:30pm-2pm on the second Friday of the month at the Upper Room, contributing to the service regularly by one or more of the following: reading the Scripture, taking part in simple drama, writing prayers, offering a reflection on the Gospel, helping people feel welcomed and at home, setting up or preparing lunch, supporting those who are new or nervous.
- f) Participate /support community events or networking gatherings that we are engaged with, such as Barnwood Trust gatherings or training events occasionally, (once a month max for example) taking people along as often as is appropriate and offering support with participation and being heard.
- g) Trustee/management meetings on Tuesday evenings every other month from 7:15pm-9pm at the Upper Room; offering summaries or reports on their recent work, and contributing to prayerful decision making along with the trustees, volunteers and staff.
- h) Playscheme with Chesterton families on a Thursday mornings during the summer holidays; helping set up and supporting/welcoming local families, helping children with art and craft and play, listening to parents and offering care and support. (Attending a minimum of two sessions during the summer holidays from 8:30am -12:30pm, although it would be greatly advantageous if all five sessions could be attended. (In other holiday weeks the Upper Room will open only on Fridays for drop-in.)
- i) Training days as required (time will be paid) and a maximum of two trustee and staff development days a year
- j) Trips – the worker will accompany people and participate along with the team, to the Inhabit conference in Birmingham (or similar) once a year by negotiation, and on one day trip in summer.
There is a Genuine Occupational Requirement for a female support worker as the clientele being worked with by this role will mainly comprise women who have experienced childhood abuse or domestic abuse and who may disclose information regarding their history as part of their process of healing and recovery (Shooter, S. How Abuse Survivors Relate To God, Ashgate, 2013). It is a policy of the charity Hope Cirencester that a man and woman work together at the Drop In, in order to facilitate same sex support for either gender when needed or requested. This post is to replace some of the role of the existing female support worker.
There is a Genuine Occupational Requirement for the worker to be a person committed to the Christian faith and in sympathy with the beliefs and modes of worship of the Church of England, as this role will require the worker to offer prayer, share the Gospel simply, and participate in Christian worship services. The Upper Room operates under a Bishops Mission Order in the Diocese of Gloucester and is part of the Church of England. It is a registered charity, number 1095438.
Personality & Character
The person required will be outgoing, warm and friendly and with an ability to make people feel welcome and at ease. They will be aware of the potential difficulties marginalised people may have in coming to church or being in groups and be able to reach out to include people sensitively and appropriately. Whilst being friendly and engaging, they will also be able to still themselves to listen attentively to others and respond appropriately when sensitive information has been shared. (This may include invoking safeguarding procedures if a child or vulnerable adult is considered to be at risk.) The person will be comfortable working one to one or in a complex group dynamic, and with colleagues or other agencies. They will be a person who knows how to wait patiently and maintain hope, and who can spot the work of the Holy Spirit evidenced in small ways aswell as big. They will contribute to team working collaboratively and openly, supporting other colleagues.
Experience & Knowledge
The person will have some experience of working with people who have mental health issues and/or learning disabilities and understand the barriers they may have to participation in community. They will have proven abilities in faith sharing and relationship building with these groups. They will be willing to extend their knowledge and access training, be willing to participate openly in peer group supervision to support their own wellbeing, establish healthy boundaries and show a mature self-awareness of the impact this work can have upon us as individuals.
They will have experience of working supportively with women, some of whom may have experience mental health conditions, including PTSD, due to domestic violence or sexual abuse, and be able to sensitively accompany them on their journey towards restoration. They will understand and accept that this may require people accessing counselling, psychotherapy, medical intervention or medication, alongside prayer, the healing of the Holy Spirit, relational support and community engagement.
The person will demonstrate an understanding of the tension between the need for confidentiality, and the times when this is overridden by safeguarding procedures and information sharing among the team and outside of it. They will be willing to adhere to the boundaries practiced at the Upper Room and not put themselves or others at risk by being a hero/lone ranger.
The person will be able to articulate truths and stories from the Bible and in particular the Gospel stories in an engaging conversational manner as issues arise, identifying where the Gospel narrative intersects the life story of others and sharing personal stories from their own faith journey when appropriate. They will be able to pray for people in a way that affirms their worth to God, and be able to help people negotiate complex journeys to faith.
At the same time, they will discern the pace of people’s journey and not pressure or hurry them. They will use their abilities of discernment when listening to people, to hear the “cry of the heart” and enabling ways of facilitating that, opening up opportunities for people to serve, join in, grow in confidence and use their gifts and passions.
The worker will discern, along with the team, when it may be appropriate to offer advocacy or accompanying to someone who may have a difficult situation to deal with and no other support. Team working, loyalty and the desire to do this together are necessary skills.
The worker will have computer skills and use email regularly, reading and responding to reports, agendas, minutes and updates in a timely manner.
It would be most helpful if the worker could deploy a black sense of humour occasionally, be comfortable with swearing as a truth telling or survival strategy, and be able to engage in conversation on a lighter note that allows people ‘problem free time’ when necessary.
The ability to wait patiently when people are slow to open up or on days when few people come to the Drop In is an advantage, as is the ability to still one’s own body and voice in order to introduce calm when there is stress in the room. Knowing how to handle difficult people, reading a situation and knowing when to draw boundaries calmly and ask someone to leave for the sake of safety, are also advantageous skills.
A willingness to get involved in ‘set dressing’ would be most useful when we are transforming our non-church space for events such as Easter footwashing, a Christmas party or meal, Communion services based around themes such as Valentine’s Day, or setting up craft tables at the Playscheme. We work in small spaces with small budgets and so resourcefulness and the ability to adapt and create is very useful.
If this stirs your heart and you are experienced and female, please contact me for an application form at firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for applications is the Friday 8th May 2015.