On Thursday evenings we have been collecting meals and providing them to our homeless and vulnerable clients who are currently in temporary accommodation. We also take the time to check in with everyone and see how they are doing.
As many of our clients do not have recourse to public funds, they are unable to access food. Our focus has always been on emotional and practical support but with many services closed the provision of food is vital.
As we did our rounds one gentleman approached us in a distressed state. He spoke a little English and told us he was very upset and was asked for his room to be changed. There had been some conflict between him and someone else at the B&B. As we spoke, he tried to tell us about injuries he had sustained in his past. It had obviously been a traumatic event for him.
We attempted to locate a different room for him but all the rooms were booked up. Fortunately we were able to find a room in another location. We also arranged to meet with him the next day to put him in touch with more specialised support services for his mental health.
As outreach workers this situation was difficult emotionally. The trauma this gentleman had clearly been through was so clear in what he communicated to us. Unfortunately there is no instant fix. It is not something accommodation or money can solve. As outreach workers we rely on empathy, a good listening ear, consistency, unlimited time and kindness to support them.
Another gentleman approached us bare foot with his shoes in his hands. They were completely worn out and impossible to wear. The gentleman was embarrassed, but we reassured him he did not need to be and promised to locate some for him.
Another gentleman we had been engaging with approached us with letters. We have been supporting him to open a bank account. Due to him having limited identification, the letter was informing him that his application has been declined. He was extremely disappointed. This now means he can not claim benefits. The Embassy is closed so we cannot support him to get identification and financially his life is on hold until the restrictions are lifted. Many of our service users face these barriers.
For our last job, we drove to see our clients in our supported accommodation. They were looking forward to seeing us and when we provided them with the food and they shouted "Merry Christmas!". They requested that we support them to change addresses with their doctor’s surgery, make an appointment and attend the bank with them. It has taken a long time to build up this relationship, so they trust us with such tasks.
We were also delighted to deliver the news that one gentleman had been successful in their settled status application and have been granted indefinite leave to remain. This now means, after living for a long time on the streets with no food or money and serious health conditions, he can now enrol in education, apply for benefits and work in the UK.
It was a great way to end a very busy evening!