Meet our team - Eva Mateffy

Hi, I'm Eva and I’m an Independent Living Officer at The Foyer in Birmingham which is a Supported Living Scheme.

I’ve worked at Midland Heart for almost five years. I started off as a Support Worker at Coventry Complex Needs before moving over to The Foyer.

About my role

As an Independent Living Officer my main duty is to provide housing related support to vulnerable young people and prepare them for independent living.

I help our customers develop the skills they need to manage their own tenancy. I also support them to make good choices about employment and education.

The four stages to independent living are

Stage One - Assessment

We set up savings accounts, support with budgeting, identify appropriate move-on options (such as their own tenancy with local authority or student accommodation) and create a support plan to help each customer live independently.

Stage Two - Preparation for independent living

We support customers in completing their independent living portfolio. This is a workbook which is based on the customer’s individual needs. It helps them to show that they're able to manage their own tenancy without support.

Stage Three - Applying for a home

We help customers register with housing associations and local authorities. They start placing bids on the properties they would like to move into and buying all the necessary items and furnishings.

Stage Four - Moving into a new home.

Cooking, cleaning, budgeting and understanding their plans for the future are some of the common challenges we find when supporting young people. Using stages one to three we help them to develop knowledge and skills in these areas.

A typical day

Every day is different! At the start of my shift I'll look at what sessions and meetings are planned. Meetings take up most of my day, I prepare by writing notes about what I want to discuss with the customer and how I can help them.

We also look at a range of things that affect individual customers. This could be their wellbeing, mental and physical health or sorting issues with housing benefits, education or Universal Credit.

During lockdown it's more challenging to help customers with things they struggle to do on their own. We can't meet face to face but we keep in contact with customers through phone calls, video chats and emails.

My weekly tasks

Every week I have an interview with a new referral. They're usually a young homeless person who's been sent to us by the Youth Hub. I'll complete a risk assessment to see how suitable they are for our scheme.

If they’re suitable I'll book them in for a sign-up session where we talk them through our policies, how our scheme works, what we provide them and what they need to do. They'll then sign our tenancy agreement and become one of our customers.

If they’re not suited to our scheme we refer them back to the Youth Hub. It’s important that a young person is placed somewhere best suited to their individual needs and sometimes that's with another organisation. 

The parts I love

One of the best parts of my role is when a young person tells me they’ve signed a tenancy agreement. It gives me so much joy to see them waiting for their taxi to move into their new home. It shows how much they’ve benefited from their time at The Foyer. 

At the end of the year it’s great to think about how many young people I’ve helped to move into a new home. Especially when I remember what they were like on their first day compared to their last.

The challenges

As with any job, we all have our challenges! One of the most challenging parts of my role is when a customer doesn’t engage with our service. Some don’t pay rent, don’t attend meetings, don’t gain skills, and don’t care about warnings and notices.

It’s tough but as the saying goes “you can lead a horse to water but you can't make them drink”. I will always try my best to give these customers different opportunities but if they don’t take them, I can’t force them.

Something I'm really proud of

Customers can spend a maximum of two years at The Foyer. During this time we help our customers to become independent, move into their own home and live a life without needing to rely on support.

It’s heartening to think of the positive impact we’ve had on their lives.

Over the years, I’ve developed efficient administration systems so that I can spend more time with customers and help them achieve their goals.

However, I must focus on working on my own personal time management system so that I can finally have enough time for a pet!

17th March 2021 | 2021