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A Day in the Life of a Link Worker

Our Social Prescribing Link Workers are often the first point of contact for local people who ned our support. The team triage referrals and carry out assessments over the phone or face-to-face, to find out how we can help and then use that information to signpost to a service who can best meet those needs. This service might be internal to SOAR, or external to a citywide partner. Read on to see what a typical day looks like for Sarah, our Link Worker for Network North Primary Care Network:


Sarah's day starts with walking her two dogs, come rain or shine (or sometimes snow in Penistone!), and then have a peppermint tea to start the day.


What's a typical morning look like?

I often work in a GP surgery that I'm linked with, so I head there and say hi, then get settled in a quiet spot. First thing I usually have some new referrals to check through, assess for priority, and add on to my waiting list.


I spend a lot of time talking to clients on the phone! Normally I will speak to 2 or 3 clients each morning. I like to familiarise myself with all the information on a referral, the person's circumstances, pull up any resources which may be useful on the call and then put aside an hour of my time to call them and talk about 'what matters to them'. Sometimes they need the whole hour, sometimes not, and occasionally they need a little longer!


The people I speak with are often a little overwhelmed and isolated - they've sometimes had contact with many different services and have struggled to engage or felt 'lost in the system', and are sometimes embarrassed that previous attempts to access services haven't been successful.


I find it's so important to listen carefully to what the person, for them to feel heard and not rushed, and for them to feel supported in taking ownership to move forward with the kind of support they have chosen.


Lunchtime!

I must remind myself to break off for lunch as I'm often engrossed in my work! When I'm at Foxhill Surgery I like to go and sit in the local park for my chicken caesar salad (I'm a creature of habit), although last time they were cutting the grass and I got sprayed with grass cuttings!


What's the rest of the afternoon look like?

It's nice when I get a chance to meet a client at one of our SOAR groups, to make a change from the telephone! I recently went along to Anna's Grenoside Mindful Gardening group. Anna is our Wellbeing Coach & Green Prescriber and she runs the group with her brilliant volunteer. It's lovely to introduce a client to them and the garden at Grenoside Surgery, witnessing how they start to relax and feel at ease.


I often speak to colleagues within SOAR and outside of SOAR if I need a bit of advice on supporting a client to the best of my ability. Today I called the Adult Autism Hub for someone, and they were incredibly helpful! If an issue crops up that I've not come across before, or I need to look into a specialist type of group or service, I do a bit of extra research to find the right service for that person.


I also like to attend training and networking sessions when I can. Today I attended a webinar with Compassionate Sheffield with Child Bereavement UK. I booked onto this training so I could better understand the services and pathways available for parents to access that support for their children, so I can share my learning with my clients.

How amazing is Child Bereavement UK, by the way!


The most challenging part of my role is hearing about the very difficult circumstances or traumatic events which have impacted hugely on the wellbeing of the people I speak to, which can be difficult to break away from when you leave work. The lack of resources in much-needed services can be frustrating too, when it means people are waiting longer for the right support.



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