Posted 07 July 2021

Day in the life of…

My name is Steph and I am the Volunteer Coordinator here at BSWA. I’ve worked for BSWA for seven years and during my time I’ve been lucky enough to be able to work in a range of different roles, from a caseworker to a trainer. I love being able to work with a group of like-minded, passionate women and I feel privileged to be allowed to be a part of the lives of the women I work with.

The first thing I do when I start the day is check my e-mails and look at the rota. Due to COVID, we had to pause volunteer recruitment and couldn’t have volunteers in as usual, so I have been covering our Helpline and Webchat a lot in order to help out. I can see that I am covering Webchat in the morning, so I make myself a cuppa and login to the system.

Whilst waiting for women to access support through the chat, I start to plan my content for a webinar I have been asked to do for Adult Social Care. We will be focussing on the impact of abuse on older women and what we have learned as an organisation since having a dedicated project which supports women aged 55+. I’m really looking forward to delivering it and hope it will help the professionals attending to better understand the specific issues that this group of women experience.

A woman joins the chat and we speak for about an hour and a half. She’s never spoken to anyone before about what she’s been going through and isn’t sure what she wants to do next. We talk through all of the options she has and I provide her with some emotional support. Like a lot of women we work with, she feels a lot of shame about the abuse and we talk about how that isn’t hers to carry and that she is not at fault. She tells me how helpful she has found it to be able to chat through text and says she feels more comfortable to call us next time, which is lovely to hear. We launched our Webchat as a response to the pandemic and it has been brilliant to be able to reach women who wouldn’t have otherwise spoken to us and women who wouldn’t have been safe enough to ring us, but are safe enough to chat.

Another woman joins looking for refuge; I do a search and give her some numbers and make sure she knows the other options she has available to her in case the spaces don’t work out for any reason. I hope she’s able to find somewhere safe and start the process of moving on from what she’s been subjected to. One of the interesting things about Webchat is that everything takes a lot longer than it does over the phone, so chats last a lot longer than the average telephone call. It’s also been interesting thinking about how to show empathy and other non-verbal communication in a setting where you can’t see a face or hear a tone of voice.  It’s been great having the Helpline team and Helpline Coordinator to bounce ideas off and develop good practice with.

I speak to another couple of women on chat and once my shift for the morning has finished, I get some lunch and spend the afternoon catching up on e-mails and reading through some reports. I am in a WhatsApp group with the rest of the Helpline team and we use it to ask each other questions and share useful information. With so many of us working remotely, it’s an invaluable way to keep in touch with one another. I answer a few questions posted in the group and then it’s time to log off for the day.

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