Archive for June, 2011

Comic Relief Visit

We have had a morning of photos as Comic Releif get ready to launch their 2011 appeal.  Simon on the Streets recieved a grant from them to cover the wages of one of our support workers in Leeds.  They have looked at some case studies with some of our ex service users and taken lots of pictures to add to the story.

I think lots of people get tricked into thinking Comic Relief is all about over-seas causes but we can confirm it absolutley isn’t, and some of our service users will be feeling the positive effects of their decision to support Simon on the Streets – look out for us on their website!

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The Participants from the 2010 Event

This Year’s Sponsored Sleep-Out will take place on the night of September 29th.  The idea is to take on a challenge that is worthy of people sponsoring you, with the added bonus that it is related to what Simon on the Streets does.  Our aim is also to offer an insight into our work and the challenges our service users face.

If you are interested in joining us please email us at admin@simononthestreets.co.uk  We are just putting the final touches to this year’s event; in the mean time please see what we did last year:

10pm              Meet the team and register

10:30pm         “Walk of Awareness” a short walk led by some people who have personal experience of rough sleeping

11:15pm         Arrive at the sleep site for hot soup and a roll

12pm              How to build your bed demo

12:15pm         Bed down for the night

7am                Hot sandwiches for breakfast

I hope you can join us.

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According to a BBC report today:

The UK performs poorly in an international league table showing how many disadvantaged pupils succeed “against the odds” at school.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has studied how pupils from poor backgrounds can succeed academically.  It says that “self-confidence” is a key factor in whether such pupils succeed.

The UK comes behind Mexico and Tunisia in the table – with the top places taken by Asian countries.  Among leading economies, the UK is in 28th place out of 35. Among a wider range of smaller countries and regions, the UK is in 35th place out of 65.

The full news report is at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-13794591


This report cites ‘self-confidence’, ‘expectations’ and ‘internal motivation’ as factors that can help more disadvantaged children have more educational success.  So with the topic of child poverty on the radar we must concede that financial positioning is not solely responsible for the factors that then go on to lead to poor chances of social mobility. 

Does all that mean an ‘I blame the parents’ response is acceptable?  Most of the people we support have low self-confidence, expectations and motivation; usually to the most extreme degree.  However, with the right approach many people can and do develop and flourish in these areas.  Feeling sorry for children and blaming parents simply leads to tomorrows parents repeating the habits of the past. 

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Street sleeping

The Leeds Guide have put an article into the magazine about one of our Sponsored Sleep-Out participants from last year.  Have a look it’s a great article:  http://bit.ly/ivDBao

If you fancy challenging yourself to spend a night sleeping out in the open air and learning more about our work and the people we support (and helping us to raise a few quid at the same time) it’s all happening on the 29th September this year.

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There are three main strategies that we employ to engage with the group of people we support who have real challenges engaging with support services. They are a regular and committed presence on the streets, to approach people with simple human kindness and a patient / never give up attitude. 

Our worker in Bradford, Mat has been in post for a few months and is now starting to see the benefit of this approach:

There’s a guy I know only as Paul. I’ve seen him quite a lot as I’ve walked round Bradford, at projects or just walking round town.  During street outreach sessions I’ve been up to him to say hello, offer him a chat and a coffee and predictably he looked quite uncomfortable and left as quickly as possible.  Whenever I see him he’s usually on his own and almost always appears to be under the influence of alcohol.  Last night when I was visiting a project that offers free food to those who are homeless he came up to me, I didn’t even see him before he touched me on my arm and told me he had an appointment at a hostel, and if that didn’t work out he’d contact me.  I told him who I was but he said he knew.  

Reflecting on it with Jon, it’s difficult to attribute what has been important in getting Paul to want to do that.  The seemingly ineffective first meeting, the times he has seen me talking to other service users, or just being out there, are all important.  It demonstrates we are there for people and can be relied on and also means you catch opportunities like this when they arise.   Felt good though.

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According to analysis by Homeless Link:

  • The total number of applications (to councils for housing) has grown for the fifth consecutive quarter – from 21,410 applications in the first quarter of 2010 to 26,400 applications in first quarter of 2011
  • Some areas have witnessed considerable jumps in applications of over 50%
  • The percentage of applications that councils choose to accept continues to decline – the acceptance rate stood at 43% in the first quarter of 2011, the lowest acceptance rate since 1999
  • The proportion of households found to be homeless but “not in priority need” continues to increase from 15% in 2008 – to 21% in the first quarter of 2011
  • The number of households in temporary accommodation continues to fall.

So the over-all homelessness picture does not look great.  In terms of the work we do with individuals who have many needs and struggle to engage with services the numbers are not raising greatly.  But the above is likely to worsen conditions for many people and increase the chance of them dropping into hegher needs groups in the future!

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This letter was published in the Times and Independent on Tuesday 7th Jun 2011, said:

We are deeply concerned that homeless people will be left without a safety net under the Government’s radical reforms to the health service. Homeless people suffer from high rates of poor health, but ensuring that they receive the right care benefits them, and saves tax-payers money.


The NHS proposals fail to ensure that the needs of homeless people will be considered. People who don’t have a home are often transient and they can be invisible to the very GPs who are about to become responsible for commissioning health services.


At a time when thousands of homeless people already face cutbacks to the lifeline services that help them get a home, regain their health and rebuild their lives, these health reforms threaten to make this situation worse. The reforms offer opportunities to improve the health of the poorest by enabling housing and health services to work in a new way, but these must not be missed.


We are calling on the Government and NHS Future Forum to establish greater accountability for new health bodies including GP commissioners to address the needs of homeless and vulnerable people so they are not forgotten in the health reforms.


David Orr, Chief Executive, the National Housing Federation. Charles Fraser, Chief Executive, St Mungo’s. Jenny Edwards, Chief Executive, Homeless Link


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