Trying a Different Approach
Thursday 10th October is World Homeless Day. Marked internationally, the day is an opportunity to raise awareness about the issue of homelessness and those affected by it. This week, Action Homeless will be sharing stories about the diverse range of people we have worked with and the key values that underpin our work.
Action Homeless recognises that we need to be flexible in how we work with people and allow them to make the choices that suits them best. Often people have been let down in the past and have trouble trusting others. Sometimes this means that we may need different people trying a different approach to engage with them and gain their trust.
As part of Leicester’s Rough Sleeping Initiative, Action Homeless works closely with Leicester City Council to discuss the best way to support people who are sleeping on the streets. By working in partnership the Initiative ensures people receive help that is appropriate for their needs. Within Action Homeless, part of the role of the RSI team members is to try to engage with clients where they are most comfortable. In the case of Charlotte* this was the streets.
When Action Homeless met Charlotte she was accommodated by Leicester City Council in a B&B, but their support staff found that she was very difficult to contact. An RSI worker made several phone calls and left letters at the B&B but Charlotte either ignored offers to meet or made excuses not to
Our staff knew that Charlotte often engaged in begging in Leicester City Centre and it was during a walk about in town that they saw her and were able to have an informal conversation, something that she was much more comfortable with.
Charlotte had the different types of accommodation available with Action Homeless outlined to her and was told it was up to her where she wanted to live, if anywhere at all.
By talking with Charlotte informally, the RSI staff member was able to learn that she was part of a couple, which meant that Action Homeless would not be able to help with accommodation directly as only rooms for singles were available.
However, staff were able to support Charlotte by offering to look for other more suitable accommodation. She provided the team her and her partner’s phone numbers, meaning they would be easier to contact again in the future.
About a week later the team found a one bed flat with a local housing association and, after getting in touch to check they would be interested put the names of Charlotte and her partner forward. While Charlotte did not directly give the RSI team any updates, as her contact details had been passed on to the housing association, a short while later they bumped into her partner who he said they had been contacted. He let the team know that all the paperwork had been completed, checks done, and that they had been offered a joint tenancy.
Charlotte is now being supported in by her tenancy by a Leicester City Council Revolving Door worker.
Joint working between Leicester City Council and Action Homeless meant Charlotte was afforded a greater choice of possible housing outcomes. This meant she and her partner were provided with accommodation that meant their needs. This also meant that Action Homeless had a space available to offer to someone else who might need it.
Supported by the The European End Street Homelessness Campaign
*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved.