Blog: A new normal at Croydon Reach
Support worker George Slater discusses his work at Croydon Reach and how the team have adapted to support people into longer-term accommodation
George Slater, support worker at Croydon Reach, tells us all about his service, and his role in helping people rough sleeping across the borough to escape homelessness and then supporting them into new accommodation. George discusses his progression from Thames Reach’s Traineeship programme to a support worker, how the Croydon Reach team have come together to produce fantastic results, and how they feel prepared for future challenges.
I started at Croydon Reach in May last year as a Trainee and have since been given the opportunity to work my way up as an assistant support worker and then support worker.
Croydon Reach is responsible for handling the casework of verified rough sleepers in the local borough; we support our clients from the point of verification and then into temporary accommodation through their local council and back to more long-term independent living. Since becoming a support worker I have taken on the responsibility of overseeing the outreach side of our work and monitoring our rough sleeping population.
It’s been a very interesting year for Croydon Reach. We normally coordinate the Floating Churches Shelter during the winter months but this had to be cut short once lockdown measures were introduced, but all clients were found alternative accommodation that same afternoon! We also suddenly lost access to our daily drop-ins hosted by partner agencies such as Crisis, Salvation Army & Turning Point, as well as the ability to immediately place new rough sleepers into the No Second Night Out and Somewhere Safe To Stay Hubs.
The nature of our workload dramatically changed when the Government introduced the “Everyone In” policy at the end of March. Overnight, we suddenly had all of our rough-sleeping client base in local authority and Greater London Authority (GLA) hotel accommodation, giving us the opportunity to find sustainable, more permanent accommodation options for everyone. On the outreach side of things, we experienced a huge increase in the number of new rough sleeper referrals from Streetlink, and consequently we had a much higher volume of newly verified clients to work with. Thanks to the availability of GLA hotels we were able to accommodate everyone.
Despite the tragic consequences of COVID-19, Croydon Reach have had really positive outcomes in being able to get 90% of our clients immediately into temporary accommodation and placing 80 clients into permanent accommodation, including many of our most entrenched rough sleepers with a history of non-engagement. Although we’ve had to limit the usual face-to-face work that we do, the team has been able to work in the office safely and we’ve had the chance to streamline our workload and become much more efficient. The amount of increased casework we’ve experienced since March has been a positive learning curve for us all and we feel well prepared for the challenges we may face in the near future.