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Ohannes

Diary of a Framework Street Outreach Worker

5 January 21 illustrations: K Kamminga

Framework’s Street Outreach Team directly engage with and help rough sleepers, assessing their individual needs and either providing help or referring them to other relevant services. Former Police Community Support Officer, Zoe Wade has been in the homelessness sector for thirteen years and, having worked as a member of the Street Outreach Team for the past two months, takes us through what an average day entails, and what inspired her to choose this career...

0830

Went out to locate a male who was rough sleeping in the city. He has a priority need and I needed to inform him that he may have accommodation this evening, and also that he has an interview with Nacro which would be a more permanent housing option for him. Located him on St James Street, and learned that he needed to charge his phone. Advised him to do this at Emmanuel House, where he will also get a shower. 

I’ve worked with the homeless community for thirteen years now. Before that I was a PCSO in Nottinghamshire Police. My first beat was here in the Lace Market where my main focus was to engage with the community. I noticed that there were a lot of people who were homeless or begging in that area, and tried to support them by forwarding their information to the Street Outreach Team. I decided that I liked the community side of policing, so after I joined Framework to help those affected by homelessness. I worked at the London Road hostel for three years before getting the opportunity to join the Street Outreach Team. 

0930

Morning briefing at the office with the Street Outreach Team (SOT).  Tasked with doing a phone assessment with a male who was found rough sleeping outside the Council House. During the call, I assess that he is homeless due to having to leave his shared house because of other tenants harassing him. After completing an SOT assessment, I directed him to The Friary for some warm clothes, food and a sleeping bag, as he had no warm provisions.  

Winter is a key time in trying to get people re-housed. The conditions can be terrible – it’s cold, wet and the temperatures drop, which can be the difference between life and death for people on the street. We’ve currently got the Winter Night Shelter to try and get people indoors as much as possible during the colder months. 

1045

Arrived at Emmanuel House to meet with male from St James Street. He did not show, and his mobile went straight to voicemail so I left a message. Spoke to Kevin, a support worker at Emmanuel House, who passed on some information about a new possible rough sleeper who was evicted from his hostel due to assaulting a member of staff. I will need to update this on the SOT database on my return, and have advised Kevin to ask the male to make contact with us. 

An important part of this role involves building up a level of trust. You have to establish a good initial relationship but showing respect and listening to the person. A lot of homeless people have told me that one of the hardest things is that people simply don’t acknowledge or listen to them. Everybody is an individual, and has specific needs that we have to consider.

1200

Approached by an ex-resident from London Road. He wants me to contact Opportunity Nottingham on his behalf to be re-referred. He is accommodated, but needs some support with his benefits and medication. Returned to the office to triage the male I had assessed earlier to Housing Aid and arrange for a Personal Housing Plan to be completed over the phone. I will support him with this tomorrow afternoon, as he does not have access to a mobile phone.  

People need to understand that anybody can become homeless, and it’s often really simple things that they need when it comes to support. Things like getting a bank account, or an ID. It’s all about making little steps. It’s about engaging with people and trying to get them the help they need, whether that’s with drug or alcohol issues, or accommodation, or anything else that will help them get to where they want to be. 

1415

After lunch I cover the phones in the SOT office and update my notes on the database. I referred the male I assessed earlier to the Winter Night Shelter and Alma Inn. Then I head out with my colleague Grace to locate a Russian male who is rough sleeping on Goldsmith Street. He requires some support with accommodation but has no local connection to Nottingham. He was not at the location, so I left a card at his tent so he could contact us. 

Not everybody who is rough sleeping wants to be accommodated, and trying to understand that can be really difficult. Especially now, when there’s a COVID pandemic and it’s getting dangerously cold. However, it’s important to understand that some people are so entrenched in that lifestyle that, when they do get given a room, they feel more able to sleep on the floor rather than the bed because they were so used to it, which, for me, is heart-breaking. But it’s about giving people options, and that’s what we do. We’re not here to force anyone to do anything they don’t want to do. 

1530

Still in the city trying to locate a male to let him know that he has accommodation from that evening at Sneinton Hermitage. We’re unable to locate him, but fortunately he has already arrived and is being booked in. 

It sounds like a bit of a cliché, but I do feel like I make a difference to people’s lives, and that’s very rewarding. I really enjoy working in the Street Outreach Team with a positive group of people. We’re only a small team, but you can tell that they’re all doing this job for a reason: to support and help people. We’re all working together for that common goal. 

1615 

Return to the office to update my notes and have a team discussion about referrals to the Winter Night Shelter. Team go out and locates the rough sleepers who have accommodation starting from that night. When my shift finishes at 1715, I’m definitely ready for a cuppa. 

Framework Homeless to Home website

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