Helping vulnerable people

Surgery all morning followed by a visit to HARTS which is Haringey’s family support unit. It was a really worthwhile visit as the issues they deal with as also issues that many people who come to my surgery also raise.

The issue often presents itself around housing difficulties – sometimes eviction – but the real problems is that the resident has got into arrears because of lack of understanding of how to manage finance, or a failure to understand official looking documents sent to them – either because of an aversion to bureaucracy or because of problems reading English – and so on. Often these situations are multi-layered with language issues, medical or mental health challenges, children not being in school and various other trials and tribulations which result in the person simply not coping. And that downward spiral then costs a fortune of support ultimately.

HARTS puts in support mechanisms at a stage where they can help the individual sort out the problems one by one until they are managing and coping independently – and then helps with pathways to work and education – so that they can become properly independent in the future.

I meet two of the people they are helping. The first was a single mother whose son had been stabbed twice and the victim of muggings 18 times and who had had to leave her home and go into temporary accommodation so her son would be safer and begin to recover from the traumas. Her English is now very good and she could not sing the praises of Mohammed Belal Aziz highy enough – the HARTS manager who was always there for her.

The second had spent five years also as a single mother and she virtually didn’t go out because she didn’t know how to get help or what was available. With two children, no husband and no family – she was stuck until financial problems alerted her landlords, Circle 33, to recommend she contact HARTS. They helped her get on top of her finances and she is now studying at college – and hopefully will be able to go into the working world in due course. Her caseworker, Zerrin Cankiran, was there too – and it was clear that the relationship side of the support had played a consistent and important role in the road to recovering independence.

The women were delightful and it was a genuine pleasure to meet them and all of those at HART who are working so hard with those who are vulnerable in our society to help them sort out what have seemed impossible problems.