Supporting people rough sleeping during the pandemic

Photo by Ben Sharples from Pexels.

Iain Barnes, Recovery Worker (Outreach), With You in Bournemouth – how his experience over the last 12 months has highlighted how with concerted action homelessness isn’t inevitable.

Towards the end of last year, I was on an outreach shift when I came across a couple huddled together in a dingy stairwell. They were clearly in a bad way, the woman especially was dangerously thin and pale. I squatted down and started chatting to them, just simple stuff like asking their names and where they were from. Despite being on the streets and injecting they weren’t engaged with any services at the time. So, working together with St Mungos, we supported them to move into one of the hotels Bournemouth Council is using to house people experiencing homelessness during the pandemic. From there my colleagues at St Mungos helped the couple set up a bank account and register with a GP, while I worked with them to stabilise their drug use.

This is very much a normal day in my work on Bournemouth’s Drug and Alcohol Homeless Pathway. For a Recovery Worker like me, it can be really hard to help someone address their drug and/or alcohol use if they don’t have the stability of a stable home. Vice-versa, it can be difficult for homeless organisations to support people into housing if their drug and/or alcohol use leads to chaotic behaviours. So the core principle that runs through the support we offer is that homelessness is a symptom of a variety of issues. This means the most effective way to confront it is a holistic approach which addresses everything at once.

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The full version of this content first appeared on We Are With You’s blog

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