Riverside has revealed that its outreach team has supported 16 rough sleepers with complex needs off the streets of Wakefield and into accommodation during the COVID-19 crisis.
With assistance from the government’s drive to get those impacted by homelessness off the streets and into longer-term accommodation during the pandemic, Riverside has helped reduce the numbers of those sleeping rough in Wakefield from 18 people per night to two.
The association’s outreach team, which covers the Wakefield District, has supported those affected by homelessness by helping them into supported accommodation or hotels and assisting them with registering with GPs, completing benefits applications, and making referrals to drug and alcohol units.
John Glenton, executive director for care and support, Riverside, said: “The COVID crisis has enabled us alongside partners to make significant progress in tackling the impact of homelessness in Wakefield and across the country, which we all must now build on.
“As the largest provider of supported housing for people affected by homelessness in the UK, we believe that vulnerable people should have access to support services that will enable them to make meaningful changes to their lives.
“We continue to work with a range of partners in Wakefield and across the country to maximise our impact in working towards our common goal of Ending Homelessness Together.”
One man’s story
One of those Riverside’s outreach team supported was a Polish national who came to the UK in 2001.
The Polish man had a wife and child, but the relationship broke down and when he turned to alcohol his life spiralled out of control.
He had a serious head injury and had been sleeping rough in Wakefield for more than 18 months – despite having worked 13 years full-time in the UK.
Riverside contacted the Polish Embassy in Manchester and helped to secure settlement status, enabling the man to access specialised accommodation for people with head injuries.
“The COVID crisis has for differing reasons improved the engagement of many rough sleepers with our service, making them more willing to work with us and accept the support being offered,” said Matthew Heald, Riverside’s Preventing Rough Sleeping Model coordinator in Wakefield.
“Furthermore, with less people on the streets it has given us more time to spend with those who need extra support to maintain their tenancy once accommodated and to resolve complex cases.
“A great example of how this extra time has been used is with the Polish male who had no status in the country, severe memory loss, alcohol dependency and a head injury. Given his health and status he was at high risk of passing away.
“He was rough sleeping but is now in specialised accommodation which can meet his support needs.”
Riverside says it supports 3,000 people affected by homelessness every night across the UK.
Read more on the homelessness crisis:
- ‘Particularly disturbing’ report reveals thousands of high-risk offenders made homeless
- Rochdale Boroughwide Housing to provide more homes to Stepping Stone Projects for people sleeping rough
- Mayor of Greater Manchester calls for Government partnership to help deliver third phase of “A Bed Every Night” programme for rough sleepers
- Housing Secretary announces plans for long-term homes for rough sleepers taken off the streets during COVID-19 pandemic