“A Day in the life of”

We take a look at the “day in the life of” Karen – SPIIOW Team Leader. Being a team leader means that I am responsible for the welfare of the team members both when they are volunteering and following any intervention. It is important that we look after each other both mentally and physically as without the team- there is no SPI.  I cover both shifts and call outs as do all the other team members and we interact well; the shifts are not always the same people together as it is important to build a relationship with every person so I have varied shifts.

As I work full time; my shifts are predominantly evenings and weekends; although dependent on my workload, I am available for calls constantly.
At the start of a shift, I meet with my partner, radio’s are turned on and we log into the SPI portal to show who is on duty. I will usually speak with other SPIIOW team members during the day and always before the start of a shift to see if there are any areas that need to be concentrated on, this may be due to concerns in that area or information that a person may be in the area; or that we have engaged with a person in the area and it is deemed high risk.
As we are walking the areas or driving around, we are constantly looking out for people and considering their behaviour; it is easy to miss, dismiss and avoid a person due to the way they are acting and it is an automatic response for the SPI team to stop and engage with someone to check on their welfare. It is vital that when we are driving round, we observe people and if we feel their behaviour is worrying, then we simply engage with them; it is always surprising how members of the public are happy to chat with us and are always thankful that we have taken the time to stop and speak with them. Community engagement is a big part of SPI’s role and we are a very visible presence regardless of intervention – this shows the public and other agencies that there are ‘boots on the ground’ and that the public do find this reassuring.

The safety of the team is most important and the radio’s are linked to a network which is shown on the laptop, meaning that we can be traced at all times by SPI Base; this means that not only can they see where we are, they are able to direct us to allocated areas if they need to. We are in constant radio contact with SPI base and as we move from one location to another, we record times on the portal for information and to indicate what areas have been covered.

There is a lot of cross over between my SPI role and my day job and through my training and both employment and personal experience, I am well equipped to help people in crisis. Engaging with a person who is struggling and does not know which way to turn can be emotionally tough and exhausting; however with our intervention and encouragement, we are able to help them through and direct them to agencies that can offer further support and assist them with a better understanding of how to manage their situation.
My ability to engage with people helps and it is a rewarding role to be involved in, it has made me better understand the mental pressures of life and particularly in the last year with us having to deal with the Covid restrictions; which has effected everyone in a different way; SPI has been far busier already this year engaging with individuals due to the difficulties of life.

In line with the Team Leader role, I am also Police Liaison and Safeguarding Officer; which means that I am responsible for engaging with Police and completing Safeguarding forms that are then sent to Adult Social Services for their action.

A day in the life of Clare. From an early start through to the end of shift, Clare tells the story of a day in the life of a team member at SPIIOW the Isle of Wights suicide prevention team.
During my time at SPIIOW I have and still do undertake a number of different roles within the charity. I undertake the role of call hander / dispatcher for the team, this means responding to calls for help that come in for a person who has been reported to be suicidal, or who has said they will act on thoughts of suicide.

The duties of the dispatcher includes monitoring routes, updating call logs, and recording call information. Calling out and tasking our highly skilled and trained teams to a location, and as a front line team member being out there in the community to help someone at their time of need.

What’s it like when on shift?, Well, working the early shift, means my alarm goes off at 06:10am and I roll out of bed, shower and throw on my uniform, making sure I have everything I might need for the shift ahead, and make my way to pick up the vehicle. Once there I undertake a daily vehicle check to ensure the vehicle is road worthy including a light check, oil water etc with my team buddy for the shift. I undertake a radio check with the on shift hub volunteer (also known as a dispatcher) to sign on for my shift and this is us ready to undertake our community role.

We never really know when the first job of the day will be, or even if there will be a first job of the day – we hope there never is. However, if there is we are ready to respond to help that person. When on shift we undertake what we call Community Engagement in a number of areas across the Island, this has a positive effect – we look at it as the “old fashion – boots on the ground” talking to people, answering any questions they have and being there to help someone who needs us.

Being ready for anything
We are always ready for when that call for help comes in. Our training that is mandatory for us to be assessed and passed for the front line gives us some of the best training available. Our training covers a number of training modules such as Safe Working at Height, Safeguarding, Crisis / Suicide intervention and negotiation, First Aid through to FREC3 to name but a few – there is a lot more than this

Time to reflect
After a call to help someone, our team have time to reflect, it is so important as a team we have a debrief about the incident. Here you are able to reflect upon your actions and talk about what went well and what could have gone better. Its particularly important in this job to be reflective as it can really help to talk about incidents that might have been distressing or upsetting, as your team are always there to support, it is so important to check on the team welfare.
We also have to undertake the cleaning of all equipment used, even more so during COVID, then that equipment has to sit for up a min of 72 hours before we use it again.

It is such a privilege and I’m proud to be a part of such an amazing team that are able to help someone in their time of need. I encourage anyone reading this to make contact and get your name added to the list for the next round of intake by emailing hello@spiiow.org

A day in the life of Laura – I had never thought of volunteering before and then a series of fate led me to applying and being successful in volunteering for SPIIOW and I must say I was honoured that I was accepted.  A day in the life of a volunteer for SPIIOW is very varied and there is no ‘average’ day.  The thing is that every day and every week is different.  There can be days when there is nothing occurring but other days when we go from one situation to another in very quick succession.  We have a wonderful ‘office’ and are out in all weathers, rain or shine. 

We are a very small ‘elite’ team all of whom have made me feel very welcome and ‘part of the family’.  What is great is that you can bring your own talents and experiences and everyone us has different strengths which we can pull on which makes the team so dynamic.

There is a great sense of pride within the Team when we manage to ‘keep someone safe for now’.

Working full time and volunteering is hard but making a difference to someone and the knock-on effects suicide has on their families and relatives makes this all worth while.