Meet Itai Mabvute, a caseworker at Changing Futures Northumbria. Itai's natural curiosity leads him to ask questions whenever he's uncertain about something.  Despite mastering SIGNAL as a facilitator, his work supporting citizens who are homeless with multiple needs often means he may only use SIGNAL a couple of times a month or even less.  

As Itai explains: “My work is very intensive, providing ongoing support to a small number of people. So, whilst I have witnessed the great benefits of using SIGNAL, it can become tricky because it feels like I am often out of practice. But, fortunately, as the SIGNAL team is always available to help, coach or for a refresh - then I simply pick up the phone, WhatsApp or email them and ask for help! This then enables me to focus on the quality of the engagement with a citizen rather than the functionality of the tool”.

This desire to learn and to adopt the attitude that ‘no question is too small’ is reflected in Itai’s own inspirational journey.

Born in Zimbabwe in the 1970s, Itai grew up in a rural village in the beautiful mountains of the Chimanimani province. Even though Itai did not consider himself a bright pupil at school, the father of his best friend saw something in him and suggested he go to England to study. Being curious of mind and fascinated by the contrast with his home country, he was determined to find his feet by learning as much about the UK and its people as possible.

An opportunity came up at the Legal Aid Commission which appealed to his desire to learn more about England and the issues which affected its population. This made him motivated to engage with ‘real people’ as mostly his work did not involve this. It was more about their stories on a ‘piece of paper’. “If I am with people, I can learn how they behave and why. I am a bit nosy – I want to dig deeper. As an African man working with English people, I am eager to learn about the differences (and similarities). At first, I was amazed, and asking myself, why are there problems when there are so many resources available?!”

Working for the Legal Aid Commission developed his analytical skills. If at first, he was amazed at the contrast between poverty in the UK and Zimbabwe, as he built his expertise and experience, he began to see what was lacking in the system and that behind everything, there is commonality between those in poverty in Zimbabwe and the increasing numbers of people falling through the cracks in the UK.

This ‘outsider’s perspective’ which Itai felt allowed him to analyse the gaps, led him and other parties to set up 2 Way Tenancy Solutions CIC, a social enterprise that supports tenants at risk of eviction due to rent arrears.  2 Way Tenancy Solutions CIC is about addressing a fundamental issue, as Itai sees it: “the system tells people what the solution is: this is the problem! What we must do is listen!” It was this approach, together with his passion and experience, that led to his secondment to the pioneering Changing Futures Northumbria programme where he is now a member of an amazing team deploying SIGNAL to ask the question: ‘What Matter to You?’

It has been a privilege to support Itai to develop his mastery of SIGNAL and to see him using it with such great effect.

We deeply value members like Itai reaching out for help and advice. Your enquiries provide us with invaluable insights into where you might need extra support, allowing us to continuously enhance how we meet your needs.

So, if there’s anything you need, please reach out. Don’t forget, no question is too small!

07914 379068