CVS Inverclyde Community Link Workers are here to support patients of all GP practices in Inverclyde by offering a listening ear and a helping hand to guide them to services that are right for them. The team provide support for any non-medical issues that impact on people’s health and wellbeing.
Supporting people experiencing poverty is a key part of their role.
What do you do to help people living in poverty?
We look at people’s money and we look at their health and wellbeing, then we look at others alternatives: could we increase your benefits, can we get you in touch with inclusion projects – it’s solution-based - to take that person from their poverty level to another, better level.
Inverclyde has one of the highest poverty rates in Scotland so it’s important we provide information and keep up to date with services and how they are constantly changing.
We provide information on a basis that empowers people to make choices and not make it biased – make the information available and let them decide. We’re not affiliated to any organisation – we are fair and broad.
For example, a lot people think they’re not entitled to benefits. So our role is about information and access – for everyone and everybody, not just certain people. Our role is about being approachable and friendly; not being that person in power.
Can you tell us about the stigma associated with poverty and how you come across it in your role?
People automatically group people together but poverty is across the board. It’s often people who are working. The inequalities are across the board and that shows in the work we do with a lot of clients who are working. It affects absolutely everybody.
People who are working often don’t bracket themselves as needing help such as foodbanks and other referrals to services. When we suggest ‘how about this’, they are ashamed. A lot of people say when you refer them ‘maybe we should leave that for people who need it more’.
Can you provide an anonymous example of the impact you’ve made?
A patient phoned me very distressed at 1pm. They had run out of money 3 days earlier and not eaten for 3 days with no electricity either; they were feeling weak and not able to get out of bed. I requested an emergency food parcel to be delivered that afternoon, and made an application for crisis grant that afternoon. I Also contacted iHEAT to see if they could help and they topped up gas and electricity. I put a referral in for a foodbank the next day they were opened.
The patient had no credit on their phone to call anyone and had to ask a neighbour to use their telephone to call me. Due to not eating, the patient had been feeling too weak to collect daily medication from pharmacy, which was exacerbating anxiety.
The patient was grateful to know help was coming and that they would be able to have a hot drink and food, after which they were then able to collect medication, which helped reduce distress.
➡ Find out more about the work of the community link worker team on their entry on Inverclyde Life's directory - click here.
➡ Keep up to date with the community link worker team and follow them on Twitter.
Oct 6, 2021