I have recently started working for the rough sleeper outreach team at Emmaus. Prior to this I worked with ex-offenders to help with the process of supporting them upon their release from prison. Many of these people struggled with their mental health and had problems establishing and maintaining relationships as well as developing trust, which often made it difficult to engage with them. Many people that I have come across so far, whilst working on outreach struggle with their self-esteem and have a lack of trust in services, which can make it more challenging to engage with them. I have been working for Emmaus for almost a month now and I have enjoyed every minute of being a part of this team as well as making small but imperative actions towards improving the outcomes for the homeless community in the daily aspects of this role. For instance, signposting and encouraging people to access health or drug/alcohol services is a regular occurrence which contributes to the general health of those we support on the streets. I have come to realise that sometimes the people we work with just need a little extra support to overcome the barriers to accessing the help they need. For instance, making phone calls or walking into the Wilson centre can be very daunting for someone who suffers with mental health issues such as anxiety.
During my first shift out of my induction period, I came across a man who had returned to rough sleeping after there was an altercation where he was living. He explained that he was asked to leave, which was difficult for him as he had been off the streets for a while now and it was articulated that he had been making good progress prior to this. He was now living inside a tent with his friend who uses substances on a regular basis. We spoke to this person for a while about his thoughts and feelings about his current situation and the outreach team identified that this person also required support from mental health services as well as support to access accommodation. We discussed the option of going into The Hub when a space became available. The outreach team explained how the Hub worked and its processes by ensuring he knew that whilst he was staying in there, he would be assessed on his needs and then suitable more long-term accommodation would be found for him after this. He expressed that he wanted to engage with the services in there and he was happy to do this if it will help him to get the support that he needs for his mental health.
A few days later we were notified by the council that a space had become available in the hub and after successful completion of a SPOC referral form it was agreed that this person was suitable to access it. The outreach team have seen this person numerous times in the city centre and he had confirmed to the team that he has been engaging with the services that were available to him in the Hub. This was a positive outcome for the team as it highlights the importance of early intervention and shows how we were able to make a positive contribution to this person’s mental health and general wellbeing by ensuring he is kept off the streets and can manage his mental health effectively.