As the cold weather sets in, there is an increasing concern for those rough sleeping. However, outreach is here to help, and we wanted to explain how we support the local street homeless community.
What is Outreach?
Homeless outreach is where organisations work to engage with and support those who are rough sleeping, street homeless, or are part of the ‘hidden homeless’ community. The hidden homeless are those who may not be obviously without home but could be ‘sofa-surfing’ or living in a vehicle.
Outreach focuses on finding and reaching out to such individuals to provide immediate and potentially long-term support. Initially, essentials such as a hot drink, food, and clothing may be provided, as well as an opportunity to talk to someone who wants to listen and help. The service offers advice and signposting for receiving the support the individual may need. This is generally with regards to housing opportunities, either through an organisation such as Arc or with the local authority but can also include help with mental and physical health.
Where do you cover?
Although we are based mainly in Taunton, Arc does not cover the outreach support for this area. Outreach for West Somerset and Taunton is covered by Somerset West and Taunton Council (SWT).
Arc’s outreach service covers Sedgemoor and works closely with Sedgemoor District Council (SDC). Our outreach staff here respond to reports from members of the public and StreetLink about possible homeless persons. They are a friendly face to see in a time of need and do everything they can to help each individual situation. They also provide a drop-in service in Bridgwater at Westfield Church on West Street. Every weekday morning, our outreach staff are available here to meet and advise those sleeping rough in Sedgemoor. There is also hot food, drinks, clothing, and showers available at the church.
What difference has Arc’s outreach service made?
Arc’s outreach service in Sedgemoor has been invaluable for those who have found themselves without a home in the area. With a ‘no second night out’ policy, the team has been successful in supporting a number of individuals towards the help they need. Although it is difficult to provide exact numbers regarding rough sleeping, it is clear from the quote below from a SDC representative just how important Arc’s outreach is.
“Sedgemoor District Council continue to work closely with Arc to improve services for those sleeping rough. They have seen a significant decline of rough sleeping in recent years as a result of the additional resources available for those rough sleeping and at risk of rough sleeping in Sedgemoor. The Outreach Team have been key to us improving health care for these vulnerable members of our community enabling access to the Covid vaccination, flu vaccination, dentistry care and sexual health clinics to name a few. Those individuals who continue to rough sleep are offered support and accommodation options with the Outreach Service working closely with the Housing Solution Officers at SDC.
Arc have developed some supported housing units in Sedgemoor which has proved to be invaluable in supporting vulnerable members of the community into housing projects helping to keep rough sleeping in Sedgemoor at an all time low.”
How can I support someone who is rough sleeping?
If you see someone you think may be rough sleeping, you can report it to StreetLink via their website www.streetlink.org.uk. StreetLink will alert the relevant organisation or authority who will then be able to search for and engage with the individual.
If you feel safe and comfortable doing so, you can ask the person if they need anything like a drink or a blanket.
If someone is in immediate danger, please call 999.
For more information regarding our outreach team, or any other aspect of Arc’s work with the local homeless community, please get in touch by emailing [email protected]