Here you’ll find a selection of news and stories reflecting the activities and events happening within SJOG.

"I saw myself in that container"

The death last month of 39 Vietnamese people in a truck that was trafficking them into the UK had particular resonance within SJOG.  Our services for victims of trafficking and modern day slavery across the country include a specific service in the north east for Vietnamese people.  All but one currently living in the house arrived here in the UK in a similar way – in a container lorry.

Some of the people in the service wanted to share their stories and working with our partners at the Salvation Army we’ve enabled this to happened.

Mr Nam (not his real name) told his story to journalist, Zoe Conway, which appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme on 5 November.   His story can be heard at:  (starting at 2.39 and finishing at 2.46). Available until 3 December 2019.

Mr Nam, a young man in his early 20s, desperate for money, turned to a gang for help. The result was a harrowing journey in the confines of a box that took him from Vietnam to the Netherlands where he was put to work on a cannabis farm. After a year, he was then taken by the gang, transported once more in a container, to the UK, again having to work on cannabis farm, working sometimes more than 18 hours a day.  He eventually escaped and was cared for by the Salvation Army and is now supported by SJOG where he is beginning to rebuild his life.

Halloween Haunts at SJOG

Pictures speak louder than words and definitely so at Halloween.  Thankfully there was no competition as to the scariest outfit, spookiest decorations and spectacular pumpkins as there were too many to choose from, but without doubt, many of the people we support and who work for SJOG had a great time making Halloween special.

SJOG Marks Anti-Slavery Day - 18 October

On Anti- Slavery Day – 18 October, representatives of SJOG were invited to increase awareness in one of the local HSBC branches. Miguel Neves, National Lead for Homelessness and Modern Day Slavery and Pawel Zabielski, Service Manager – Olallo House, had the opportunity to speak about modern day slavery, SJOG’s modern day slavery and homelessness services and the legacy of Saint John of God with the staff and the bank’s customers. Why HSBC? Prior to HSBC’s Survivors’ Champions Scheme, the process to open bank accounts by people who had been trafficked was almost impossible, especially without ID. Even with ID and supporting letters, some banks were still refusing the accounts.

A guest we supported in our safe houses, was one of the very first HSBC customer taking part in the piloting programme. We had tried for many months to support this person to open a bank account to enable him to receive income from the Job Centre. When HSBC started the pilot and we approached them, there was a lot of kindness and openness from the staff.  The process had some challenges and barriers but there was a lot of willingness from the HSBC staff to overcome any issues.  One day the person returned to hostel with a huge smile on their face and said “Finally! We did it! We opened the bank account.”

Since HSBC has piloted the survivors accounts, many of our guests have been opening accounts with them, with little if any issues, and with a great cooperation between HSBC Champions and SJOG staff. This had a huge impact on our guests’ recoveries. Even, if some do not have any income, they are happy that they have a bank account as a member of our modern society. 

HSBC has also reviewed and rewrite their policies to include the individuals with NFA (No Fix Abode)

HSBC is the champion not only providing the services to the survivors but also to an underserved population.   Pawel Zabielski, Service Manager, Olallo House - SJOG

SJOG Nurse Nominated for Lifetime Achievement in Care Award

Rose Hayes, a registered nurse at Henry Nihill House has been selected for the final for the Lifetime Achievement in Care category in the National Care Awards 2019.  Rose has been a nurse for over 50 years and at Henry Nihill House for 34 years.   

Commendations about Rose have been numerous and much deserved, and can be best summed up by the Rt. Revd. Dame Mary Therese Zelent, Mother Abbess of the Community of St Mary at the Cross: “As a colleague working alongside us, we have great admiration and respect for Rose, for her knowledge and professional skills, and her calming manner, and absolute loyalty. To this day Rose is dedicated and committed in her care of our residents to enhance the quality of their lives, a good friend and loyal colleague.”

Henry Nihill House is a registered nursing home for older people which SJOG manages on behalf of the Community of St Mary of the Cross.

This isn’t the first time Rose has been recognised for her achievements – in 2013 the London Borough of Barnet presented Rose with an Excellent Care Award, in appreciation of her dedication and professionalism.

All finalists will meet with two independent judges for each category on 11th October at the Awards’ Judging Day at the Hilton London Metropole. And winners will be presented with their trophies at the high profile Gala Night held on Friday 29th November at the Hilton London Metropole attended by over 700 guests.  Well done Rose and good luck on the 11th.

Recognising those who Go the Extra Mile

There are lots of occasions when we see our colleagues go that extra mile for the people we support and we wanted a way to acknowledge this and to say thank you.  In September at our staff conference we made our first GEM awards.  The first of these went to Bernie Concadoro.  Bernie works at SJOG’s Resource Centre in Enfield, which provides a range of day services within the centre itself and out in the community that enable people we support to enjoy activities and leisure outings they enjoy.   Bernie was nominated for the award by Laurence Lévy, Operations Manager for “not just going the extra mile, but for going the extra marathon and for her outstanding and longstanding commitment to the service, for doing all she does without the need to be asked and her passion to make sure the service we give to the people we support is the best it can be.”  It was a truly well-deserved award and received most humbly by Bernie who acknowledged that, ‘she was not alone’ in giving a whole-hearted commitment to the service. 

The Big Idea

Over 100 colleagues from across SJOG came together to work on a series of Big Ideas.   

The gathering was led by Dr Jamie Mackrill, SJOG’s Director of Opportunities and Kate Ainscough from Freestyle Innovation. The theme of the day was Bigger, Bolder, Brighter and set the challenge to 12 groups to find ways that SJOG could be of more use to more people by being cleverer about the way we currently deliver services, or through new bold initiatives.

Jamie said that, “Lots of great ideas were generated on the day and we’ll be working over the coming weeks to develop these ideas through to implementation.”

But the last word has to go to Kate who said on twitter @AinscoughKate, “So I laughed and I cried today. Thank you @Jamiemackrill1 @paulbottsjogfor having me. Your team and their work is amazing. L.O.V.E.D.”

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