For the first week that I worked at The Passage I mainly did research from my desk. This meant working out exactly how the changes to benefits eligibility worked; a non trivial task. Reading the actual legislation was only marginally helpful so I had to look elsewhere for information. This lead me to find that the Social Services Advisory Committee (SSAC) was investigating the effects of the change. Thankfully the minutes of all the SSAC meetings are published online and I was able to find out more about the intended effects of the change. As part of their investigation, SSAC called for ‘evidence’ from organisations working with homeless people, such as St Mungo’s. These organisations submitted documents explaining how the change had affected their work and I was able to read these documents and find out a lot about some of the unforeseen effects of the change.
After researching for a week I felt ready to begin contacting other organisations and so I drew up a list of day centres and other institutions that work with homeless people and might be able to give some helpful information.
Alongside the work I was doing for the report on non UK EEA nationals I also did various odd jobs around the office. Being able to do different tasks for different people lets you get a wider breadth of experience and try new things and I feel that it is a strong reason to work in a medium sized organisation such as The Passage. It is large enough that there is always something to do but not so large that people’s roles have become overly specialised. Because of this I could find myself writing the organisation’s twitter and facebook posts one morning, wrestling an enormous desk through a maze of corridors and staircases the next day and questing all the way to Wandsworth in search of discounted furniture only to end up negotiating with the manager of the local homebase that afternoon. Being trusted with access to the Twitter, Facebook and website of The Passage felt like a large responsibility; it was being allowed to represent the organisation to the public in effect. I was also often asked to research a particular opportunity. This might mean looking for a company to make branded keyrings or it might mean searching for funding organisations that could pay for a research project. Overall I was able to get a real sense for how things actually get done in a medium sized business.