2020 – wow, what a year this has been! The team here in the in the Homeless Outreach support team have been working harder than ever to continue to provide a safe face to face service to support rough sleepers in North Somerset. Whilst this has indeed been a year full of many challenges, it has also provided some fantastic opportunities.
In March 2020, the “Everyone In” initiative was launched and we supported, together with North Somerset Council, 75 people to be placed into emergency accommodation. Rough sleepers, some of whom had been living outside in awful conditions for some time, came inside and accessed the support they needed to move forward with their lives. This great piece of work was achieved working with partner agencies in the Local Authority as well as the local Outreach Nurses Team, who we worked alongside to ensure health needs were met. Social distancing measures meant the local homeless day centre had to close, and in response to this we opened up our Youth Café to provide showers for homeless people and provided a place for phones to be charged and get the supplies that may be needed. This year we’ve also provided over 2100 meals for homeless people, which was a new service offer that was achieved with support from local charities Comfort and Warmth and Somewhere to Go.
This year we have been pleased to welcome new members to our team. Kitty Gormley, who joined in February as our Outreach with Substance Misuse worker, has really strengthened our links with the local drugs and alcohol service We Are With You, enabling clients to be directly referred in to receive rapid support for their addictions. Chris Charnley, who joined in April as our part time Outreach worker, has achieved some great outcomes for clients and has been linking in with local abstinent based accommodation projects that have been able to offer accommodation for our clients. Katie Shillaker has continued in her role as our Navigator, and has achieved some fantastic outcomes with complex clients through the use of innovative solutions for the issues they face, including supporting one very client to access accommodation out of area. This involved driving them in a socially distanced minibus which meant we could fully support them through the process. All of the team have gone above and beyond this year to support our clients, which I am exceptionally proud of.
Finally, I would like to say a huge thank you to all of those who have supported the work we do. This year we have had some great responses for our requests for donations. We’ve been inundated with acts of generosity and the positive response has really shown how the community can come together in times of adversity. It is with these thoughts we should move forward to 2021, knowing we can come together and overcome any of challenges we are presented with.