Arch helps hundreds of people across Staffordshire, who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, victims of domestic abuse, people suffering from poor mental wellbeing and anyone struggling to maintain their independence or their tenancy. Without a great workforce, we couldn’t deliver our aim of creating opportunities for people to transform their lives.

Leigha Marshall works in our Stoke based refuge for women and children fleeing domestic abuse. Here she provides tailored support to women and children and helps them on their journey of recovery from domestic abuse. Leigha tells us a bit about her job and what working for Arch is like.

I’ve worked for Arch for just over a year and my current role as a keyworker involves supporting women on a one to one basis within the refuge. The job role is really varied because one day you can be supporting somebody emotionally and the next it can be really practical support such as helping them fill in forms, sending referrals or attending meetings and court with somebody. This support involves taking a multi-agency approach which is really effective for the women and children but at the same time interesting and challenging at times for me as a practitioner.

One of the tools we use when providing support is the empowerment star; this can help give an overall picture of different aspects of the women’s lives and identify areas for support. We look at health and wellbeing, finances, if they need legal support, support for their children, their support networks, safety and work or career options. Due to the scoring system involved with the empowerment star, as time goes on we can see what areas are changing and what areas need more or less support. It’s also a really good way for the women to look back and see how far they’ve come.

Over the first couple of sessions you start to see women relaxing a little, feel safer in their environment and more supported. With domestic abuse, it’s a long process of recovery. They may have come from situations where they had little or no choices, so they begin to see their options and the different routes they can take. It can be a little bit of an eye opener for the women, in the sense that they can see ways out of the situation they are in.

The thing I enjoy most about working here is the time I get to spend with the women and children, getting to know them, watching them develop and helping them through difficult times. I feel a sense of satisfaction when I see their progress, their growth towards more independence, confidence, and happiness…knowing that I’ve been part of that, I am so pleased for them!

I’ve always been interested in domestic abuse and concentrated on the area in my university studies so I’ve got quite a wide knowledge and understanding of it. Since starting at Arch, I’ve also had lots of training opportunities. As well as the mandatory training we do, I’ve done various courses, such as child sexual exploitation, domestic violence and children training, paediatric first aid, self-harm in young people…there is actually too many for me to remember. For me it’s really important as I’m a perpetual learner and it’s really helped my personal and professional development. Having that training behind me has helped with my career progression and I’ve moved forward from assistant domestic abuse practitioner to a domestic abuse practitioner.  

As well as the training, Arch have been really flexible. I have four children and I’m also doing my Masters in Psychotherapeutic Counselling. I work part time and in this role Arch have allowed me to work around my child care commitments and change my working hours, but I’m also flexible with them if I need to work longer some days.

Interested in finding out more about working Arch? Our recruitment open day is happening on Wednesday 27 February. Drop in between 2pm – 8pm to the board room at 308 London Road, Stoke on Trent, ST4 5AB.