Thames Reach
Wednesday 20 September 2017
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Making a difference

13/08/13


Thames Reach fundraiser Milton Bevan recently went out with Thames Reach’s London Street Rescue outreach service, working as a volunteer for the night. London Street Rescue staff and volunteers are outevery night of the year, across the capital helping rough sleepers off the streets and into accommodation.


“For my volunteer shift, I was placed in the capable hands of London Street Rescue outreach worker Terri Filkins. Terri explained how vital volunteers are in enabling London Street Rescue to function. Terri explained the course of action for the night, which was to take us across the boroughs of south-east London in search of London’s homeless.

 

“Much of the evening was taken up looking for new rough sleeper referrals. After the second stop in search of a new referral, the business analyst part of my brain was asking why don’t members of the public take pictures of the exact locations of these rough sleepers, in order that we have a greater chance of meeting and helping them?

 

“As the evening drew on, I half expected to have a policeman tap me on the shoulder as we searched under fly-over and building site; however, on the road police vans on patrol would flash their headlights in recognition of our Thames Reach branded London Street Rescue van.

 

“Evening became night and in no time it was 1:20 am. Terri was keen to make contact with M. We found M sat amongst her belongings – a dark blue sleeping bag and rucksack. A sickly metallic chemical smell permeates the air – it comes from the super strength can of lager that M is periodically swigging from.

 

“Although I am new in post, I was made aware during my induction of Thames Reach’s campaign to have these super brews priced out from the homeless communities reach, but I can smell, see and hear first-hand how this ‘special brew’ impairs a homeless person’s ability to make informed choices and take full advantage of an offer of help.

 

“M explains how she regularly attends weekly AA meetings, she takes another swig from the can, ‘but it’s hard you know’. I have a mental image of M sitting in AA still swigging from the can in her hand.

 

“M shares a letter from A&E addressed to her GP, which describes M’s most recent visit to hospital, her treatments and ends with a recommendation that M reduces her alcohol intake, another swig. M recounts how after a recent drinking session she awoke to discover all her valuables had been taken, another swig. I can’t help but think that the can in M’s hand is robbing her of something far more valuable, her ability to make considered choices and decisions.

 

“As we leave M, my mind goes to the Thames Reach articles that I have read and the statistics to focus the politicians and brewers minds and their apparent in action on super brews in a can.

Since that evening, Terri has said that she is trying to set up a multiple agency professionals meeting to pool knowledge and resources to try and get M off the streets.

 

“My first experience as a street rescue volunteer is over. I am volunteering again next week, if you haven’t had a chance to volunteer for London Street Rescue, I highly recommend it. As Terri says: ‘volunteers enable LSR to function, both because of the time commitment and the different skills and life experiences people working outside street rescue bring.’

 

“As a volunteer, what I saw was that Terri and her Outreach Worker colleagues are making a real difference every night of the year to the rough sleepers on London’s streets.”


Please help us to help more homeless and vulnerable people to turn their lives around, by making a donation to Thames Reach.