The Single Point of Contact team at Forward Leeds handle most of the phone calls, emails and online referrals coming into Forward Leeds. For most people they are the first contact they have with the drug and alcohol service. Allan Nicholson is a part of the team that deals with these enquiries.

“As a team we are a crucial component of Forward Leeds. We’re the main link point between the general public, the users of the service, professionals, family members and Forward Leeds. We’re also a link between all the elements of Forward Leeds.

We deal with a whole range of enquiries. This can be from people just wanting to know more about the service to someone who realises their drinking or drug use has got out of hand and they want to know how Forward Leeds can help.

Allan Nicolson

Allan Nicholson takes a call

Sometimes it may be people already using the service who have forgotten when their appointments are or who are wanting to speak with their worker.

We’re there to provide that initial triage. We will do an initial screening and work out which team will be best for them at the appropriate hub. When it’s suitable we can arrange for them to see a Forward Leeds worker at one of our participating GP’s surgeries.

At the same time as the initial screening we explore their physical and mental health and social situation to ensure they are offered a team that can support their needs. We’ll also offer some basic harm reduction advice.”

Connecting with people

“It’s about connecting people and it’s also about connecting with people. It can be someone’s first contact with a service like ours. They are often worried or already experiencing other people judging them and they need to know we won’t do that. Our job is to demonstrate empathy and make them feel safe and wanting to engage with support.

They must feel they are being listened to. They need to feel comfortable talking about their situation and about aspects of their life over the phone, they may not have spoken to anyone about before. We always treat people with respect and as individuals.

The role requires skilled communication because you never know what call is coming through. Who they are, what their history and their state of mind might be.

We receive calls ranging from the routine to the ‘highly challenging’.

Sometimes the caller will break down in tears on the phone and we have to be there to support them through that and that’s a real skill.”

Working together

“We’re talking about some of the most vulnerable members of society who are coming to us often at a point of crisis in their life, where things may have fallen apart and there is a lot of chaos in their life.

They may be feeling ashamed, they may have been disowned by their family or have found themselves suddenly homeless.

Within the team there’s a blend of skills, knowledge and lived experience and we use those special insights to make sure we are supporting people the best way we can and offering the best advice and solutions.

We are a strong team who are supportive of each other with genuine care and respect.

It’s a fantastic place to work and a great way to learn about Forward Leeds as a whole.”

by Allan Nicholson, Single Point of Contact Worker, Forward Leeds

Copyright 2016 Forward Leeds