Outreach team expands to support more rough sleepers in Rochdale
Date published: 20 May 2020
Alison Harrison and Ian Beasley engage with people on the streets and support them
An outreach team which is dedicated to helping people on the streets has been expanded so more people can be supported during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond.
The council, and their homelessness partners, have stepped up services during the current crisis, with the majority of the homeless community in accommodation.
The outreach team continues to play a vital role communicating with people who are out on the streets during the day and linking them to long term support, such as help with debts and accessing counselling, jobs and training.
The first outreach workers started last year, as a team of two, but a successful council led bid for additional government funding means two more outreach workers have now joined the ranks.
The workers respond to intelligence and do regular walkabouts in the town centre and across the borough to find people who are not accessing support. As well as dealing with their immediate needs, like emergency accommodation, they build up a one to one relationship, so they don’t have to navigate the system as they try and build a life away from the streets.
Rough Sleeper Co-ordinator, Angela Hamer, said: “We're building up trusting relationships over time with the most vulnerable and entrenched rough sleepers and supporting our clients to move into temporary emergency accommodation and then into permanent housing.
“It’s a very challenging role, as being indoors is not always the norm for these people and it’s a big change for them, but we’re already getting results. One man who has not accessed housing for many years has now gone into supported accommodation and told us this is the first time he has felt safe for many years.”
Councillor Linda Robinson, assistant to the cabinet member for housing and planning at Rochdale Borough Council and chair of the Rochdale Borough Homelessness Forum, said: “In common with all our vulnerable communities, support for people on the streets, which is already considerable, has stepped up in the last few months in response to the current public health crisis.
“While the majority of our rough sleepers are in accommodation, the ongoing work to tackle the long term cases of homelessness, such as debts, problems with substance misuse and accessing work, goes on. The outreach team plays a vital role in this and I’m delighted that we now have more of these valuable team members building up a relationship of trust with people who have been resistant to accessing help before, so they can access the help that’s on offer to create a better life.
“As a council, we judge ourselves on how well we look after our residents, and in particular those who need our help the most. We will never give up on any of our residents.”
Residents who see someone on the streets that they are concerned about should contact the team on: 0300 303 8548 between 9am - 5pm or out of hours on 0300 303 8875.
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