Senior support worker Lesley works nights at Bishopbridge House, St Martins direct access hostel. What happens there while the rest of us are sleeping? We asked Lesley to explain what a night shift is like:
A night-shift begins at 10.15pm and finishes at 7.45 am, we do a handover at the beginning and end of each shift so the incoming staff knows what has been going on in the hostel.
There is never a typical night shift, which is why it is so interesting working at Bishopbridge House, but on an uneventful night – we never say quiet night, it’s tempting fate – I’ll do some paperwork initially so it’s all ready for the staff in the morning. I also make up all the booking in packs for when people move into the hostel when they run low. I, and whoever I am on with at night, are always available for residents to come to talk to at night. Sometimes things feel more daunting in the middle of the night and we try to be a reassuring presence when someone might be feeling low. Since Covid we’ve upped the cleaning schedule and we clean all the touch points in the communal areas regularly throughout the night. We clean the office and take the bins out – the glamorous side of Bishopbridge House! We’re also available to try to sort out any problems such as lost keys and people locking themselves out of their rooms when they’ve got up to make a cup of tea in the kitchen and forgotten their key fob. We let residents in all night and make sure no-one sneaks in who shouldn’t. We act as a call point for other projects to report any emergency issues in the night and send the appropriate help.
It’s usually maintenance staff who are on call and have to get out of bed to let someone in or fix a problem. They are very dedicated. I’ve also been known to do a bit of loo unblocking if necessary … and there was the time I had to take out the dead rat from the smoking area! I think all the night staff are up for helping out as and when we can. I will admit to liking to do the odd crossword in the paper if it’s not too busy though, and of course I drink lots of tea to get me through the night. I’m also doing a training course with St Martins so I’m often typing away, working on my essay deadlines. All the night staff do take the time to study and improve themselves when we are not busy which makes us an interesting and diverse bunch.
The most challenging part of my job can be making sure the residents are all safe. Sometimes there are arguments and these need to be refereed or mediated. I ensure that no non-residents get into the building, and that everyone is where they should be, for example not in each other’s rooms. I’ve had training in de-escalation techniques so I can put this into practice if needed.
The best thing about my job is the interaction with the residents and the variety of what comes up on a shift. No night is ever the same and it keeps it interesting. There’s not many jobs where you can say that happens. Sometimes you see a different side to people at night, and I’ve had very interesting conversations with people on a range of topics and some very way-out conspiracy theories are sometimes a feature, which I enjoy!
Photo: Norwich at Night by Chris Thompson