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A day in the life of a System Broker (in quarantine)

VOICES system broker

By Lauren Macaskill, System Broker, VOICES


Well this case study isn’t how I’d thought it would go! I did consider picking a day before being in quarantine to document what a typical working day looks like for a System Broker, but I thought why not use an opportunity to document this exact time which we may hopefully never experience again. All being well, I’ll have plenty of opportunities in the future to evidence what a typical day for me looks like – in the office.


So, what is a System Broker? To summarise, there are two of us doing the role which can include the following:


  • Overseeing a team of 8 Service Coordinators working with people experiencing multiple and complex needs such as drug misuse, homelessness, offending and mental health
  • Complete suitability assessments for those introduced to VOICES – where they do not meet the threshold, provide specialist advice where possible and further signposting
  • Meet with partner agencies on a regular basis to maintain and encourage partner agency working
  • Ensure VOICES have attendance at all relevant meetings in the city
  • Working with Service Coordinators, highlight any potential “blockages” in the system through appropriate escalation
  • Contribute to the development of good practice and “systems change”
  • Contribute in the sharing of learning and good practice with others


This is not an exhaustive list, just a snapshot of what the outline of my job looks like – it does not include the weird, the wacky and the wonderful of what a “normal” day at work generally looks like.

So, I have been in quarantine for 3 weeks, working from home and home schooling two young boys. And yes, you’d be right in guessing I’m missing being in the office – any ideas I previously had about wanting to be a teacher have mysteriously vanished overnight.


Here’s an insight to what one day last week entailed:

9am – logged onto system, worked my way through emails and ensuring to update the team on anything relevant. Following a request from the Rough Sleepers Team, they required support with delivering food to the homeless units and local B&B’s where they have had to place rough sleepers as an emergency measure. I quickly email the Service Coordinators asking for help – fortunately, we have an amazing team where they willingly offer their support. Due to how proactive the team are, I can complete a rota for the next month and send to the relevant services.


10am – I log onto a virtual meeting with other managers to discuss vulnerable customers and allocations into suitable properties – luckily this was audio only so the meeting didn’t witness my two boys fighting in the garden behind me! Due to the pandemic, the main focus is rightly on rough sleepers and accommodating them.


11:30am – we get another request for extra support with the food deliveries. We’d created a rota to support 2 days a week, they now need another 2 days help for further rough sleepers that have been accommodated. Again, due to working with an amazing team, a quick email to them provides an immediate response and cover is again sorted! I can’t begin to imagine how hard this role would be without having staff so on board with wanting to help others, they are such a blessing to VOICES!


12:30pm – my boys want to do a 300-piece puzzle as I’m attempting to document all the hours the team have volunteered over the last 2 weeks to send to management. I manage to do around 5 pieces until I’m able to sneak off again and finish my work. They notice 3 minutes later and I’m back to helping with the puzzle!


1:30pm – time to attempt to home school two very reluctant boys. After much bribery, I manage to get them to work through the home learning packs their school sent home, most of which I have no idea how to do myself so I pray they understand what they should be doing before they ask me for help. Although it’s Easter Holidays, my boys seem to manage much better with structure in the day, so I continue to attempt home schooling.


2:30pm – I realise how ridiculous I am trying to home school when it’s the Easter holidays, so the boys are back outside wrestling. A request comes in from my colleague asking for help to source temporary accommodation for a complex case. All local hotels are not an option due to various reasons, so I have a scan online to see what hotels are still open and not only that, happy to work with our client group. I realise this wasn’t going to be as easy as I originally thought when I offered to help!


3pm – I have phoned several hotels and am getting a mixture of responses ranging between “we are only open for keyworkers” or “we aren’t working with rough sleepers”. Finding hotels happy to work with us is a challenge under normal circumstances, trying to do this during a global pandemic starts to feel like an impossible task.


4:15pm – at last! Along with help from the Rough Sleepers Team, I locate a hotel, albeit out of area! I let the customer’s Social Worker know – they request support with transport.


4:30pm – I manage to book a taxi online to pick the customer up and take them to their hotel. I let the Social Worker know and ask her to pass on the information to the customer. Taxi’s ETA is 5 minutes, job done!


4:35pm – the Social Worker emails back and asks for the taxi to pick the customer up in 30 minutes as they are not ready. The taxi company emails to say the taxi has been cancelled as the customer cannot be located.


4:45pm – I repeat the same process again from 4:30pm – another taxi ordered to arrive in 30 minutes


5pm – I can officially finish work. The boys want me to play football. I want to lie down in a quiet room. The boys win again!

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