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Archive for the ‘rough sleeping’ Category

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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Jon, one of our support workers shares the experiences of a day ‘at the office’ in Huddersfield:

As I was walking down to the Mission to meet Tim I bumped in to Julie who I have been doing some short term work with regarding her abusive relationship and domestic violence. She had blood on her coat and clothes and what appeared to be a cut on the side of her head. I spent some time talking to her and tried to get her to either go to the doctors’ or to let me call her an ambulance due to the fact she had a head injury. She refused to go seek any medical help and insisted she was fine. While talking to her she informed me that she had been stabbed in the leg with a screwdriver repeatedly and had been attacked by her husband but she still refused to see a Dr or to have an ambulance called.

As I had an appointment to go to and I could not get anywhere with Julie and she insisted on staying in the park I went to meet Alan. I managed to book him an appointment at the Doctors’ in order to talk to the Dr about his mental health and the options available to him for treatment. While waiting for the appointment we managed to phone and restart a benefits claim for him and he is now just waiting for the statement to be posted ou.

I also called the addiction service for Alan to talk to his worker there about his community order. When I managed to talk to his worker there she told me that he had not been engaging, as we knew, and that all efforts on their part from home visits and outreach that they had been unable to re establish contact. His worker was keen to help me to help Alan re engage with herself, his
CPN and probation and gave me the names and contact details of his probation officer and his CPN. On contacting these I managed to establish that Alan has been discharged from the mental health team due to non engagement, however they are willing to re asses him if the need arises. I was also told by probation that if Alan re engages with either the addiction service or probation or both them he would not be in breach of his community order and they could work to sort things out for him. I made an appointment for Alan at Lifeline tomorrow at 10am, his worker agreed to contact me to let me know if he did or did not attend so that we can discuss ways to help him to engage.

At the doctor’s appointment Alan was told that he needed to start re engaging with the addiction service as his short to medium term problems were best addressed by them and that once engaging with them more medium and long term solutions could be considered for his mental health. Alan gave the doctors’ permission to share his information with me and to contact him through me. From this I learned that when Alan was discharged from hospital his assessment was that there were no mental or psychological needs and that he was not in need of any medication. I am not sure if this diagnosis/assessment is still accurate as Alan talks about hearing voices and has told me he is a paranoid schizophrenic. He does exhibit signs of increasing paranoia and has been very agitated since the passing of a friend of his.

Later on when I went back to the mission I was told that an ambulance had been called for Julie as she was looking to be very sleepy and people were worried about her injuries. I talked with the paramedics and because she refused to be taken to hospital there was little they could do except to inform us of the signs to be aware of with head trauma. After this Julie wanted to go to a housing appointment we had booked previously and so we went up and presented at housing.

Initially they processed the application as a domestic violence application but after going through the interview and checking details the only places they could offer were in Keighley or Rotheram, neither of which Julie wanted to go to for differing reasons. As she had been sleeping rough for 2 nights we managed to go down the rough sleeper process rather than domestic violence. Once this was done they found her some temporary accommodation in until such a time as they can give her a temporary flat.   Julie was over the moon with this and was very thankful that I had managed to get her somewhere to stay and said that although she still felt scared she did feel safer. I called into the mission with her on the way back in order to make a referral for clothes as the only ones she had were the ones she was wearing and they were all covered in blood. Julie appeared to be ok when I left but I’m still worried and will catch up with her again as soon as I can.

 Jon, Support Worker

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We had a great soup-run in Leeds last night.  Our purpose is to provide a good atmosphere for people who are out on the streets –not to attract people to the streets.  The food we offer, from our perspective is a means to an end – we are not trying to feed the hungry but to engage the disengaged!

Once we have the right people there the idea is to have a pleasant and welcoming environment where anyone who attends feels valued and listened to.  From this point we can then signpost people to appropriate services.

Last night I had two great conversations; one with a guy who is living in a hostel and really starting to struggle with coping with life in there.  An hour of listening to his concerns about what his life had been in the past and what it is at present and some questions about what he wanted changed his focus from ‘sacking off the hostel and going back to rough sleeping’, to feeling able to speak to his key-worker about his worries and trying to make the placement work.

Another guy had gone into a mental health crisis a couple of days before and was feeling lost under the weight of his own anxiety and the complexity of 3 different services that were trying to meet his needs.  A long chat that switched from very serious consideration of his own mental health to ‘banter’, sport and taking the mick out of just how green our soup was, worked well for him.  All I had to provide was a straight man role for the banter and some genuine interest in his challenges.  He clearly needed to talk to someone who overtly had no agenda; just wanted to listen.  He obviously felt better for it and seemed to have started to make sense of his own feelings.

It was a fantastic evening: great company, great banter and great opportunities to encourage some people with some tough challenges to find ways forward that might just work for them.

I love my Job!

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Mat in Bradford talks about the challenge of the early work trying to engage with a non-engager:

“I identified this guy from Ivory Coast as a complete non-engager based on my own experience and what I’d heard from other services.  After many failed attempts to connect with him I found out where he was sleeping and Jon and I went down early one morning and took him some breakfast.  He took the food but pretty much completely ignored us.

The following day I was in another service and he was there, sitting on his own avoiding everyone as usual.  As I left I said ‘au Revoir’, and I got a smile and a wave.  I felt this was a great result and the opportunity to start a relationship… the following day he was back to ignoring me!”

 

The reason Simon on the Streets exists is because we will not let people like this drop off the radar.  If people need support but are not ready to accept it yet we believe simply waiting for them to change their mind is not good enough.  By getting in front of people and trying different things we are creating opportunities to begin a journey of change that would not happen without some kind of intervention. 

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 In a recent survey conducted in day centres (http://www.crisis.org.uk/data/files/publications/HiddenTruthAboutHomelessness_web.pdf ) 62% of the respondents stayed in a ‘hidden homeless’ setting the night before.  That means they were rough sleeping, staying with friends or sleeping in squats.  This snapshot data demonstrates that many of those who are homeless are not necessarily engaged with any formal services that are supporting them to address their situation. 

It’s fantastic that a survey has picked up on this point.  At Simon on the Streets we are working to address this point for those with the most complex support needs.  We find that for some people it’s not just the case that they happen to be getting missed by mainstream support, but are often avoiding it due to their history and how they feel about ‘the state’, formal settings and ‘normal people/society’.  Through street outreach work we specifically target this group and work hard to bridge the gap between them and the services that can meet their needs.

Clive

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According to some research conducted by CRESR/Crisis:

“Rough sleeping may be more prevalent, enduring and ‘invisible’ than we think. The majority of respondents had slept rough, often in ‘out of sight’ locations and with little contact with support services such as rough sleeper teams. Rough sleeping was not an emergency measure for a night or two until adequate shelter could be found. Rather, many respondents had endured sustained episodes of rough sleeping.”

I’ll post more info but you can see the full report at:

 http://www.crisis.org.uk/data/files/publications/HiddenTruthAboutHomelessness_web.pdf

“The survey was conducted in day centres for homeless people in 11 towns and cities in England. These were London, Birmingham, Oxford, Stockport, Newcastle, Blackpool, Manchester, Southampton, Newton Abbot, Sheffield, and Brighton. The character of, and services offered by each day centre varied considerably, from small organisations with a handful of regular clients with whom they work closely to large drop-in centres serving food and offering other basic facilities such as showers and laundry to 200+ people a day.”

I was at our soup-run last night and spoke to three different people who all stated that they do not use day centres (one because he was banned the other two out of choice).  So this research might well be missing data from some of the most vulnerable individuals!

 

Clive

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Our support worker in Bradford, Mat, who is new to us and quite new to our service user group is asking some great questions!  For instance yesterday he spent a few hours trying to support a guy to get some housing who had just been evicted from a hostel.  As always with our service users things are never straight forward and there is probably more to learn, but the reason for his eviction (or at least a contributing factor) is to do with him either having alcohol or consuming alcohol on the premises.

The challenge for Mat is that the guy only moved into this hostel about a week ago.  He has a massive alcohol problem.  So Mat’s questions are why was this person referred to and housed by a hostel that has such strict rules about alcohol on the premises.  The job in hand today should have been done a week ago and without the challenge of a recent eviction making supported housing providers nervous about this guy’s behaviour.  We’re confident that he’s no angel, but if square pegs are forced into round holes something has to break and it’s usually the vulnerable that come off worse.

My worry is that we live in a society where it’s all too easy to point at people like our service users and say ‘it’s your own fault, you should behave properly’ but when you consider this not unfamiliar story of how someone was set up to fail maybe the fingers that are pointing need to take a u-turn!

Clive

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