The Outreach service visits the places that “Rough Sleepers” are known or thought to be using. The teams offer blankets, food, hot drinks, a sympathetic ear and advice to those sleeping rough. The teams’ main aim however is always to help people come in off the streets by providing support and accommodation options that suit their needs.
The Outreach service is provided by the Shelter Trust and funded by the Jersey Homeless Outreach Group.
Purpose: To end rough sleeping by offering support and accommodation to those who are sleeping rough. To minimize the harm experienced by those sleeping rough.
Accommodation: The Outreach team has direct, 24 hour access to Shelter’s Emergency accommodation.
Services: Assessment, supported access to accommodation and services (GPs, health, drug and alcohol, mental health), benefits advice, advocacy.
Access: No referral.
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Rough sleepers face particular problems in relation to their health and wellbeing and their ability to access normal services. For example rough sleepers typically don’t have a postal address for correspondence about appointments. They often can’t find somewhere to have a shower and wash their clothes before an appointment.
Shelter and the Outreach team work together to try to help rough sleepers overcome these barriers to access to services. Shelter provide day facilities where rough sleepers can have a shower, use the laundry, use the phone, have a meal or just get in off the streets for a few hours. Shelter can also provide rough sleepers with a safe postal address and a telephone number where messages can be left.
The Outreach team act as link between the rough sleeper and the various services and agencies with which they are involved. They can arrange appointments, speak to agencies on their behalf and accompany them to to appointments should they wish.
When a rough sleeper decides to come off the streets and move into Shelter’s emergency accommodation every attempt is made facilitate the move. The rough sleeper will be allocated a key worker who will work with the outreach team and the individual to assess their needs and draw up an individual support plan to address those needs. Then the work of trying to re-establish the individual into independent living begins.
The Outreach service now spends an increasing amount of time in providing ‘day contact’ with those at risk of becoming rough sleepers such as street drinkers. This work aims to prevent future rough sleeping by offer some pre-emptive support and crises intervention to those most at risk of becoming rough sleepers.
The Outreach service was formed in 1996 in response to the needs of the relatively large numbers of people who were sleeping ‘rough’ in the car-parks and cemeteries of St. Helier. Shelter staff and volunteers and other interested individuals identified 20-30 people regularly sleeping rough in and around St. Helier.
Initial contact confirmed that the needs of these “rough sleepers” were not being met. It was agreed that a service was needed that could reach out onto the streets to these individuals with the aim of supporting them back in off the streets.
Initial funding was secured by way of a sponsored “Sleep Out” in the Royal Square on 20th October 1996. Volunteers raised £800 and the Jersey Homeless Outreach Group was established to raise funds and awareness for the proposed service. Further funding was secured and Shelter started bringing a nightly outreach service to the islands rough sleepers.
The Outreach service has had tremendous success in reducing rough sleeper numbers from a nightly average of 25 ‘regulars’ to the current position where no-one regularly sleeps rough in Jersey. Typically the service will now come into contact with one or two rough sleepers every two to three weeks. The ‘night’ outreach service has now been stepped down from 7 nights to 3 nights per week. When out however the team still visit all 20 or so rough sleeping ‘venues’ of old to be sure no new rough sleepers are overlooked.
The Jersey Evening Post carried out a feature on our Outreach Service in 2010, called "Room with a view but no windows". To read the article click here; Part 1 Part 2