Practical tips for people working in housing
In the face of the latest crisis, it is to be expected that we get into reactive advice and help mode. This feels better than preventing the crisis in the first place and to prevent it you have to spot it ‘upstream’ anyway. This might be why prevention has a reputation for taking longer and being harder. In the long run, however, it saves you time and money.
Using our tips below, see how you can help prevent crisis by building resilience, creating interdependence, community and network – all freeing you up too.
- Triage the need – start with a statement and invite the person to place themselves on a scale from disagree to agree. This allows a nuanced conversation about why they feel that way. It helps to identify whether they are in crisis or not and what type of support might make a difference. An example could be ‘I am on top of my monthly spending’.
- Ask open questions – these help people explore solutions. And this builds inter-dependence (less dependence on you!), as they realise that previously they have turned to family, friends and other networks. These might be as simple as ‘Who did you ask the last time you needed help?’ If it starts with W, then it’s probably a great open question.
- Find their strengths – alongside open questions, drawing out what they do day to day can help identify the skills they have already and in so doing build their confidence and resilience. A great example of a strengths-based and open question could be ‘So what skill did you use last time you faced a difficult problem?’ – proving that they have that skill within themselves already!
And here’s a free budgeting exercise we call it ‘I buy monthly, weekly, save’. On the biggest sheet of (coloured if possible) paper and with all the gold stars and funky coloured pens you can find, put four columns and title them ‘I Buy’, ‘Weekly’‘Monthly’ and ‘Save’. With your lovely non-judgemental and open questions, if comfortable, invite them to think up four or five things they buy every week and write them in column one. It might be milk or cigarettes – it doesn’t matter. Work onto the next column inviting them to estimate how much they spend a week. You can then move to monthly and have the really useful conversation about a month not being four weeks and how this might have an impact on budgeting (52 weeks divided by 12 is 4.3 weeks on average!). You might even multiply up to a yearly spend to see the big numbers! The conversation ends positively and upbeat with the final column and open questions about the things they can do to save money. You’ll probably learning something too!