start fresh: a service manager for a homeless charity

charity worker Kayleigh talks sleep rituals

start fresh: a service manager for a homeless charity

When it comes to a good night’s sleep, it’s easy to take the basics for granted. Like a bed or a roof over your head. As part of our Start Fresh series, we speak to Kayleigh who works for homelessness charity Centrepoint. Here, Kayleigh talks us through her morning rituals and nighttime routine and what that means for the people she’s helping.

rise and shine

  • 6.30am My job means working shifts – either 8am-4pm or 1pm-9pm. If I’m working the early shift,I’ll get up and put the kettle on. While my tea cools, I’ll hop in the shower.
  • 7am I’ll have some toast as I’m getting dressed for work. I work for the charity Centrepoint, and the project I look after is supported accommodation for vulnerable young people. It basically means I’m managing the team of staff and the building itself, helping to make sure the young people staying there are fully supported.
  • 7.30am I get the bus to work.
  • 8am I arrive at work and do a handover with security. The accommodation houses 24 young people, aged between 16-21. They are all considered vulnerable and are either homeless or facing homelessness. Some have mental health issues, learning needs or emotional wellbeing issues, and some have drugs or alcohol issues, too. Our aim is to give them the skills to work and live independently, eventually leaving the centre with both a job and a home.
  • 8.30am We’ll knock on the doors of the young people who need to leave early for college, apprenticeships or job interviews to make sure they’re awake.
  • 8.40am I’ll check my emails and answer any queries. When referrals come in, I’ll discuss them with the team or have a meeting with Barnet Homes who manage homes on behalf of the council. We’ll also try to meet with the young person being referred to learn more about their situation.
  • 9.20am If the young person is accepted, I’ll contact them and arrange for them to come and stay. Sometimes when I call, they’re happy but it can be daunting, too. There’s often relief because they’re experiencing or facing homelessness, but it’s also scary because they’re about to move in with people who they don’t know, often experiencing a very different style of living.
  • 10am When a young person joins us, we really try to make them feel comfortable. We’ll provide a bed and furniture and take them to their bedroom and introduce them to their flatmates. We’ll show them around and explain how to use the facilities. We encourage them to make their space feel homely.

winding down

  • 4.20pm Usually I’ll head back home for dinner with my partner. Sometimes I’ll practise Lau Gar, a form of kung fu to release my stress. I see it as a kind of meditation. I used to go to classes but shift work meant that was difficult.
  • 7.30pm When I’m trying to unwind, I really enjoy reading and watching documentaries – we often have something on the go on Netflix.
  • 10.30pm I need a good eight hours of sleep but working different shifts can make that hard. Once every two weeks we swap shifts, so you might finish at 9pm one evening, and start at 8am the next day. There’s enough time to sleep but I struggle to go straight to bed and switch off once I get in. That’s something I’m working on.

Fancy a sneaky peek into more morning routines? Check out BBC Breakfast presenter Dan Walker’s or Yogi Bare founder Kat Pither.