Monday: I'm planning for tomorrow evening's support service for people affected by HIV. There's lots to cram into four hours, so preparation is crucial. In the evening, I train some of our volunteers in basic case-work skills. Recent welfare changes have led to a big increase in our workload, so trained volunteers are vital.
Tuesday: I arrive at our office in Farringdon, London, at 1.30pm. This evening we'll have four workshops and up to 14 therapists, counsellors, solicitors and case workers conducting one-to-one appointments, so I spend the afternoon preparing for everyone's arrival at 4.30pm. I conduct 21 informal one-to-ones, covering legal, social, practical and personal issues. At 6pm, we have dinner, which gives the people we support a chance to socialise and relax. At the end of the evening, we have a volunteer debrief.
Wednesday: The phone rings non-stop all morning. Prioritising case work is difficult: the challenge is whether to go for immediate impact - for example, by writing a hardship grant application - or to spend hours working on a longer-term solution, such as pushing social services to provide better accommodation. At 11.30am, we have a debrief about last night. We saw 118 adults and 53 children. But our service is under increasing strain: we've had 35 referrals in three weeks.
Thursday: I visit an HIV clinic in Southwark, south London, to talk to the team about our work. I then head back to the office to devote time to some of my more complex cases, but not long after I arrive a young adult drops by needing urgent support, forcing me to abandon my initial plan.
Friday: A mother of three in need of immediate assistance drops in. She has no immigration status, no money for food and no idea of her children's rights. I refer her to our monthly immigration clinic and for food parcels. At 4pm one of our service users calls to say he's been evicted. He's also alcohol-dependent, so it's hard to find him accommodation. Just in time, I find him a temporary hostel.
Rosie Backhouse is head of adult programmes at Body & Soul