Poetic tribute to ‘life saving’ homeless outreach worker

The grateful mother of a Cardiff man who slept rough on the city's streets has sent a powerful message of thanks to the team that helped her son achieve real change in his life.


Mum Philippa filmed a short video of herself reading an emotive poem she penned, paying tribute to a support worker who has helped Michael on his journey away from life on the streets.


The poem, and Philippa's story, give an important insight into the complex reasons that can lead to someone becoming homeless and how solving the issue is not as simple as providing a roof over a person's head.


Philippa thanks Sian Farrugia, an outreach worker in the city's Multi-Disciplinary team for all the time and support she has given to help Michael get his life back on track.


The Multi Disciplinary team provides a range of support services to address the underlying support needs of individuals sleeping rough and in hostel accommodation, and has enjoyed considerable success supporting vulnerable individuals to rebuild their lives and achieve long-lasting, real change. The team includes a mental health nurse and social worker; drug and alcohol workers; access to rapid prescribing services, primary care nurses; a counsellor and therapeutic workers; peer mentors and primary care nurses.


In the poem, Sian is described as a ‘miracle worker' who has stuck by Michael during the most difficult year of his life, during which he spent time sleeping rough on the city's streets before starting to engage with the outreach team and moving into temporary accommodation.


Sian, who began her role in the MDT as an advocate before moving into her current outreach position, has continued to work with Michael over the past 12 months and he is now living in his own flat through the Supported Accommodation to Independent Living (SAIL) project.


Philippa praises Sian for the amazing job she does, for believing in Michael, for her empathy, knowledge, patience and care. She describes how people like Sian are actually saving lives.


Cabinet Member for Housing and Communities, Cllr Lynda Thorne said: "Philippa's poem is a wonderful tribute to all the dedicated people who work to help homeless people in Cardiff, doing their utmost to support vulnerable individuals, and of course, more specifically,  Sian from our MDT.


"It is clearly a very moving piece and a valuable glimpse into the complex issue of homelessness and the underlying issues that can lead to homelessness.


"It's for this very reason that our Multi-Disciplinary Team was established, bringing together the skills, knowledge and expertise of a range of professionals, who can go to the root of an individual's problems and make sure they have the right support, in the right setting, that will enable them to stay off the streets.


"It's been a crucial part of the recent successes we've achieved that have seen many more people than ever before move on to life-changing drug treatment programmes and rough sleeping in the city plummet. We're eager to build on this positive platform, to achieve real change in our ‘no going back' approach to reshaping homeless service in the city for the future.


"The MDT will play a key role in this vision and I am grateful to Philippa for this fantastic way of letting Sian and her colleagues know how much their tireless work is appreciated and for shining a light on this important issue."


Sian said: "Michael has made huge progress and his determination and focus throughout a very difficult time has shown the strength of his character and I am pleased to have been a part of his journey.

 "I was very touched to receive such a personal and emotional thank you from Philippa and it was completely unexpected. It was certainly a rollercoaster of a read. I laughed and cried throughout! The sentiment was greatly and deeply appreciated."


Philippa said: "I used to write poems for special birthdays and anniversaries for family members and I wanted to show Sian how much we appreciated what she had done, in an unusual way. It was so refreshing to come across someone who got Michael and understood the feelings beneath the difficult behaviour.


"We love our son unconditionally but he needed the kind of support we couldn't do on our own. Sian and her team worked with him but also worked with me, which was refreshing."


View Philippa's video here: