Jim Bird-Waddington

Jim Bird-Waddington

Caer Las provides services to people who are experiencing profound social exclusion.

These are individuals who are, for whatever reason, deemed by others, or themselves, to be disengaged and vulnerable. They can be referred to Caer Las services from housing and homelessness routes, mental health routes, or directly self-referred.

We provide services over three South Wales counties, Carmarthenshire, Swansea, and Neath- Port Talbot. We provide housing with a support service, tenancy support to people in their own homes, specialist mental health services and prevention of homelessness advice services. We also have a 24-hour hostel, an accommodation service for older people, and some niche projects providing specialist training support and assistance.

The reality is that our clients can be people who have experienced homelessness, housing crisis, physical or mental health problems, substance use difficulties, or who have spent time in prison. Whilst these descriptions may be objective facts, it is none the less true that these descriptions, and many others that are used throughout the sector define people by their problems and deficits. Our vision for our work begins with the belief that people’s problems and deficits are things that they experience, not a part of their identity. We believe that each individual that we work with is the very best expert in their own life, and that they have inherent resourcefulness, strengths and abilities, which they can draw upon to institute desired change in their thinking and behaviours. Therefore, we see making value judgements about client’s identity, situation, or even prescribed courses of action, are not necessarily valid.

Our view is that there is no valid utopian goal that can be described for our clients by third parties. None the less, this is implicitly done by the many voices the client will encounter in their experience. Our view, is that the individual personal goals and aspirations of our clients are the ones which are totally valid and provided we work within the boundaries of our contracts, our regulators and the law, then this should be the focus of our endeavours.

A great deal of our work involves conversations with clients. Our vision is that wherever possible we should be constructing narratives that are not only useful to the client, but are led by them, working to their particular aspirations, and working at their pace. Whilst this may sit alongside more pragmatic elements of the work, and at times may represent a smaller percentage of our activities, we fervently believe these ‘solution focused’ conversations are the keys to clients being empowered to make positive changes. Whatever the type of service they arrive in, we try and establish what it is that the clients want to gain form our work together, and then set about constructing a programme of support that gives them the best chance of attaining their goals.

Jim Bird-Waddington