Volunteer Klarissa on art as therapy

Volunteers’ Week: Klarissa volunteers at one of our hostels, running an art group for residents

Volunteer Klarissa on art as therapy

Klarissa volunteers with Thames Reach, running an art group at one of our hostels in central London. She has been doing this since the start of the year, and reflects on what it means for residents to get involved with a creative practice, as well as what she has learned from the experience.

“I come in every Wednesday and run an art workshop in the afternoon. It’s important that I keep the structure as open as possible, so people don’t feel put off by a lack of experience or confidence in making art. The objective certainly isn’t to produce a perfect painting or drawing, it’s to have some time and space to be freely creative, in a way that feels comfortable.

“When I started volunteering, I came into it quite naïve; I was full of enthusiasm and was very amped up at first but then I realised that I’m coming into an environment where someone might be finding themselves again, they might be at the beginning of their journey. I now know that I need to take a back seat and hold the space. Being gentle and taking things slowly can be far more inviting than coming to a group where the facilitator is super happy and chirpy; it’s been a process trying to find that balance, but a very rewarding one.

“The residents are great, it’s been a wonderful experience meeting new people with new creative ideas to work on together. We’ve been able to lean into the challenges that come with being creative, the ongoing hope is to work through cycles of low self-esteem to find that all creativity is valuable and valid. It’s so easy to feel embarrassed by art-making if you’re not confident with what you’re doing, but leaning into that is a skill that we’re all trying to learn. Doing something that can free us from our daily routine and anxieties can be therapeutic in itself. Then there’s the production element of it: once an artwork has been made, it’s a real statement of showing people who you are and how you appear in the world! There is a real issue with people feeling invisible once they’ve experienced homelessness, but making art can be one way to show people how you feel, and how you express yourself. I have gotten to know people at the project not necessarily by them telling me everything, but through the art they are making.

“Having the space for making art, having a chat and being creative every Wednesday means that residents know it’s here, as something completely separate from their usual support networks and friendship groups. People come to the art group with all kinds of issues going on in their lives, but I hope to create a space where they can do something outside of that for a couple of hours. I don’t do this in the expectation that it will change anyone’s life; although I’m interested in therapeutic activites, I’m not a trained therapist, so I have to manage expectations. If it can just change someone’s Wednesday, then I’m happy.”

Interview: Addressing healthcare inequalities in our hostels

Our interview with Yves, manager of the Robertson Street hostel accommodating residents over the age of 40 with mixed support needs, discusses health inequalities among residents

Interview: Addressing healthcare inequalities in our hostels

Health inequalities are one of the main concerns for Thames Reach in our work to end street homelessness. We spoke with Yves, who manages our Robertson Street hostel in south London, on the work they are doing to ensure more people are getting access to the support they need.

Hi Yves, can you introduce us to your service?

Robertson Street is located in Lambeth, south London, and is what you would call a ‘first stage’ hostel, meaning we can get referrals from a range of sources through Lambeth’s Vulnerable Adults Pathway. We have a capacity for 42 residents and ideally each resident’s length of stay is between six months and two years.

What kind of support do residents have access to during that time?

We are an accommodation-based service to  people over 40, so provide access and signposting to support. We want to help residents to be able to move on to independent or semi-independent living following a stay here. We’re part of the Lambeth Vulnerable Adults Pathway, and accommodate residents with a range of different and complex needs. These support needs may have previously contributed to their homelessness or not being able to maintain tenancies or other forms of accommodation. Other hostels in the borough work with different age groups, which is why we specialise in over 40s. We do have a couple of people under 40 but this is because their complex physical, or other, needs cannot be met in other services.

What is your approach to addressing healthcare inequalities at Robertson Street?  

We strive to counteract inequalities and promote inclusion. Inequalities take several forms when we are working with people who have experienced street homelessness, as we must support people to bridge these inequalities, mostly in terms of healthcare. One of the things we do is work with the pathway manager and other external partnerships in order for people to move into needs-based accommodation. It is paramount that an individual can access the support they need. We have a nurse and GP clinic once a week at Robertson Street, as well as a prescribing clinic, and we have very good connections to community mental health services. We really make health a priority. Initial assessment work is carried out in-house when residents first move in, then we can signpost to physical, mental and other medical advice externally, meaning they can continue to get support in the community after they move on. We support residents to attend appointments, working with partnership agencies and Groundswell. This level of encouragement and support enables a smoother move-on into the community when the time is right.

What challenges has your hostel faced during the pandemic?

The main challenges were the move-on pathway becoming less mobile than usual. The repercussion for move-on being unavailable was that we couldn’t move people into the hostel either, so incoming and outgoing options were very limited. Community services that we always promote were facing closures and limited availability, such as day centres, mental health support, drug and alcohol services and other community-based resources, so we had to try our best to keep up momentum and motivation for move-on. While moving services online to Zoom is a good way of keeping people safe, many residents have found this difficult to engage with. We have been keeping residents motivated that their move-on will be happening eventually and kept preparation going. As a team we’ve accomplished this really well, and have been able to keep morale up. Aside from our normal work we had to implement extra cleaning on-site, but it made a big difference; we reduced risk of infection by sanitising the building twice every shift and educating residents about social distancing, risk management and maintaining safe practices.

What positive outcomes have emerged from overcoming these challenges?

We have a great team with good adaptability who can deal with and are supportive of a range of needs. There is a good balance between experienced members of staff and enthusiasm of people who have recently come to work in the sector. I’m proud that we’ve been able to provide a consistent and continual service throughout the pandemic, which reflects the project and Thames Reach as an organisation; we haven’t had to defer anything. Anything that wasn’t available in the community we brought in; our next step is now integrating residents and services back into the community.

New hostel and moving-on accommodation in Lambeth

Our new hostels in Lambeth are helping people move on from street homelessness towards independent living. We spoke with Gareth Bowen, lead manager at Acre Lane and Clarence Avenue projects, about how this is working after the ‘Everyone In’ initiative.

New hostel and moving-on accommodation in Lambeth

Can you tell us about the projects you manage?
Clarence Avenue is an eight-bed project, all self-contained studio flats with en-suite bathrooms and kitchens. We are one of the hostels under Lambeth council’s Vulnerable Adults Pathway to help people come off the streets. We work with residents to help them get to where they need to be. When they first arrive, they will be assessed to see how independent they are and what they might need help with.

At Clarence Avenue, staff provide support for a wide range of issues that residents may arrive with, as well as helping with daily tasks such as budgeting and shopping. Once they are ready, residents will be referred to Clearing House, which is a form of social housing on a two year tenancy, and will be assigned a support worker from the TST (Tenancy Sustainment Team), making sure their support needs are covered. In Clarence Avenue there is always a member of staff available at reception to answer any urgent queries and monitor people entering and exiting the building. The clients there make appointments to see their support worker, which helps to prepare them for more independent living and engaging with services in the community.

I also manage Acre Lane, which is Thames Reach’s newest hostel. Between January and March, it was acting as a cold weather shelter. If outreach workers found someone sleeping rough in Lambeth they could bring them here to be accommodated while we found out more about them . The building is currently being refitted and redecorated;. Part of that refit is having one studio downstairs which is more isolated, which is reserved for a vulnerable person who may benefit from living closer to staff areas.

How does the Lambeth Vulnerable Adults Pathway work?
Lambeth council work hard to ensure all people rough sleeping are made an offer of accommodation. Several Thames Reach hostels are commissioned by Lambeth, so Robertson Street, The Waterloo Project, Lambeth High Street, Martha Jones House, and now Acre Lane and Clarence Avenue. The council commission projects such as ours within their Vulnerable Adults Pathway, including supported housing, and people can move between them as required, with the end goal of moving out of supported accommodation and maintaining their own tenancy. Street homelessness is often complex and not straightforward to resolve, so we work with people to address their support needs.

What positive outcomes have you seen so far?
Trying to test people’s abilities to live independently has its challenges but residents having more freedom at Acre Lane has been working well. We run cooking classes once a week on each floor; some of our residents have not had to cook for themselves in a long time, so building up these skills is going to make a huge difference. While we provide support based on their needs, we also need to make sure we’re covering the everyday tasks and skills that residents will need to have in place in order to live well independently, so for example we can go to the shops with them if they need it, as well as signposting to external services, to help them engage more with the wider communities.

When Acre Lane was the cold weather shelter, we housed a lot of people in a very short space of time, which was really impressive.. Once people were housed, we were able to focus  on longer-term solutions, and again this was focused on the support needs of the individual. The team of staff have done really well, and worked so hard to help people move on in difficult circumstances. The project was set up very quickly over the winter months and everyone has had to be very adaptable and flexible, it’s been a strong team effort.

Just Eat campaign feeds almost 2,000 people experiencing isolation and poor health

The campaign run by Just Eat which launched in December 2020 has helped Thames Reach provide tasty and nutritious meals to almost 2,000 people experiencing social isolation and poor health

Just Eat campaign feeds almost 2,000 people experiencing isolation and poor health

Prior to Christmas 2020. Just Eat, the well-known food outlet, in association with Social Bite, the organisation behind the Worlds Big Sleep Out in 2019, ran a fundraising campaign raising money to alleviate the growing problem of food poverty.

When ordering their takeaway, Just Eat customers were invited to donate a small sum on top of their order total to raise money to buy 200,000 Christmas meals for people in need across the UK. Thames Reach was one of fifteen charities selected to distribute the funds raised.

The campaign and the money raised exceeded expectations, and the charities quickly hit their target for the number of meals provided. With the help of some fantastic volunteers, Thames Reach staff across the organisation distributed 500 meals to people living alone and in food poverty over the Christmas period. This was particularly important this year, with the cancellation of  festive meals and services, which are so important for people who live alone and in poverty.

But this is not the end of the story. Because the fundraising campaign was so successful, we have continued to provide meals and groceries to vulnerable and isolated people through January, February and March. In fact, we have distributed an additional 1300 meals to people in need. This couldn’t have been more timely, with the pandemic seriously affecting those who needed to self-isolate, but who didn’t have the kind of family support so many of us can rely on.

We want to say a big thank you to Just Eat and its customers, Social Bite and our partners, particularly The Good Eating Company, which provided really high-quality ready meals, and a huge thank you to our fantastic volunteers. They distributed the meals and offered a little Christmas cheer and a warm smile to everyone they met.

Thames Reach’s response to latest rough sleeping count

Bill Tidnam, Thames Reach chief executive, responds to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Governments (MHCLG) street count figures, stating that while the decrease in numbers of people rough sleeping is hopeful, we must not lose sight of the importance of prevention services

Thames Reach’s response to latest rough sleeping count

“The national snapshot rough sleeping street count figures collected by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) at the end of November 2020 show a significant reduction in rough sleeping compared to the same period in 2019.  These figures need to be treated with some caution: they are a snapshot of one night, and some areas undertake an estimate rather than counting.  That being said, the more accurate CHAIN database from the Greater London Authority (GLA) records people seen sleeping rough by outreach workers in London, also shows a reduction in Quarter 3 (October to December) against the same period in 2019.

“This follows an large increase in rough sleeping in April and May during the first lockdown, when many people who were precariously housed lost accommodation and came onto the streets for the first time.  Many of these people were helped by the ‘Everyone In’ response, which provided temporary accommodation, with many of these people now moved into long-term housing.

“People sleeping rough are not a static population.  Of the 3307 people seen sleeping rough in London between October and December 2020, 1582 were new to the street, and 1166 spent only one night on the street.  Rough sleeping is damaging and dangerous.  Investment by government in services to help people who are on the streets is welcome and is having an impact.  However if we are really serious about tackling rough sleeping we need to get to people before they end up on the streets, and prevent this happening.  The majority of people sleeping rough have significant support needs around their mental health or substance misuse (or a combination of these), and their homelessness represents a breakdown of the networks that should provide support, rather than a ‘simple’ housing crisis.   Work to build and reinforce these networks before people ended up on the streets was a major, albeit unsung, part of the effective response to rough sleeping in the early part of this century, but in the last ten years, local government funding cuts have meant that much of this work no longer happens.

“Around 50% of people sleeping rough on London’s streets are non-UK nationals, and the often punitive legal response to this group, means that it is often difficult for charities like Thames Reach to give them the help they need to get and stay off the streets.  There has been progress in this area with a greater flexibility around exclusion and help to find work, but the figures remain consistently high.  Putting needs rather than nationality first is crucial if we are to begin to make a difference for all people experiencing street homelessness.”

Vaccination priority list to cater to “mitigating health inequalities”

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunology (JCVI) has recommended flexibility with the priority list for the COVID vaccine, stating that people experiencing health inequalities should be prioritised.

Vaccination priority list to cater to “mitigating health inequalities”

Following the amendment of guidance that ensured staff working with homeless people were treated as “frontline health and social care” staff, the public health body deciding on vaccination priorities, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunology (JCVI), has recommended flexibility from authorities, meaning that the vaccine allocation should give attention to mitigating health inequalities.  The committee has identified people who are experiencing homelessness as a group who are affected by these inequalities, something that has been a priority message for Thames Reach for some time. This has already meant that some hostel residents have been offered vaccination.

Thames Reach welcome  JCVI’s recognition that the people who use our services can be particularly vulnerable, as this opens the route to earlier vaccination for people who are particularly at risk because they live in hostels or other shared accommodation, as well as those who already meet the criteria due to their age or clinical vulnerability. In the meantime Thames Reach are maintaining the protocol of ensuring that as many people as possible are registered with their GP, in order to make sure they are offered the vaccine at the appropriate time for optimum safety for all.

A Day in the Life of a Thames Reach Trainee

After seven months as a trainee with Thames Reach’s programme, Laura felt confident enough to apply for a permanent role. Now working as a support worker, she looks back at her time as a trainee and outlines a typical day in the role.

A Day in the Life of a Thames Reach Trainee

Laura Mackenzie, support worker, The Waterloo Project

“The traineeship was a fantastic way to start my career in the homeless sector – you are eased into the work very gently. As a trainee, you feel like a student in the best sense. The teams I worked with were so supportive and nurturing, and they helped me grow a lot in a short time. After 7 months as a trainee, I had gained enough confidence, experience and skill to apply for a permanent job. I am now a support worker at the Waterloo Project.”

7am

“Today I am working an early shift – so I arrive at the hostel at 7am.  After making an emergency coffee, it’s time for a ‘handover’.  The previous shift run through our list of clients, letting us know who’s been seen throughout the night. Handovers are opportunities to flag any issues with clients or the building that the next shift needs to be aware of.” 

7:30am

“I do a check of the building – one of the early shift’s ‘duty tasks’. Duty tasks are routine tasks that are done around the hostel every day, mostly relating to health and safety.”

8:30am

“The hostel is quiet, and there’s nothing urgent on emails, so I take the opportunity to work on a support plan. The Waterloo Project has 19 clients – all with complex needs around areas such as mental health and substance use. Support plans take this into account, they include assessments of the client’s risks and needs, as well as relevant goals. They are quite detailed documents, but as a trainee there’s plenty of time to get to grips with them, as you only have one client.”  

9am

“I accompany my client to her 10am probation appointment. On other days I might accompany her to drug and alcohol services, court appearances and doctor’s appointments. As a trainee, there’s plenty of opportunity to see and build relationships with the many different external agencies that clients use.  Sometimes these ‘external agencies’ come to the hostel, such as our weekly nurse clinic.”

10:30am

“My client and I have a detailed ‘keywork session’ – my favourite part of being a trainee. My client and I discuss the progress on her goals and have a think about some of the things she is struggling with at the moment. As a trainee, you have time for frequent and in-depth key work sessions with your client, giving you the chance to build strong rapport and trust. Keywork sessions allow you to build essential support work skills such as empathising, effective listening and maintaining boundaries.”

11:00am

“As a trainee, I was given responsibility for the area ‘service user involvement’. Service user involvement is about encouraging clients to participate in how the service is run. This morning I am helping facilitate a residents’ meeting, where clients can share their thoughts and suggestions about the hostel.”

12am

“It is time for the ‘welfare check’ – I knock and enter each of the bedrooms to ensure clients are safe.”

12:30

Lunch break.

1pm

“Today I have an online training session on ‘Client Support and Domestic Violence.’ All trainees complete a set of Core training courses, but beyond these, there are plenty of opportunities to take on additional learning. My client is struggling with issues around domestic violence and my supervisor supported me in seeking out this specific training.”

2:30pm

“The late shift arrives, and I hand over all relevant information. On alternate Wednesdays, this is also the time we have ‘reflective practice’. This is when our team, including our psychologists, gather for an in-depth reflective discussion on one client. These meetings really show you what taking a ‘team-approach’ to challenges looks like.”

3:00pm

“Home!”

Thames Reach’s traineeship programme is open for 2021. This year’s cohort will start in May 2021, and the deadline for applications is 7 February. Click here for more information on becoming a trainee.  

Interview with Yvonne, area manager, on what it is like to work at Thames Reach

Yvonne Scott-Henry, area manager for floating support and other prevention-based services, explains the work she does and what it’s like working for us

Interview with Yvonne, area manager, on what it is like to work at Thames Reach

Yvonne Scott-Henry is area manager for floating support and other prevention-based services at Thames Reach. We chat to her as she explains her role in the organisation and how advocacy for the people we work with lies at the heart of our work.

Can you explain your role?
I’m an area manager at Thames Reach, responsible for overseeing the floating support services, including Brent Reach, and the social impact bond team, as well as our two tenancy sustainment teams (TST).

What does floating support do?
We help people get support in their own home or where accommodation has been identified for them. In addition to housing, we provide support around issues including mental health, as some people will have a range of support needs. My services are preventative, so we work with people to maintain their tenancies and make sure they feel supported. We also work with people who may not be happy in their tenancies, and having previously been street homeless may still be engaged with street life. Making sure people stay housed is our main priority and we adopt different techniques to tailor this support to the client.

How do you feel Thames Reach is different to other organisations?
For us, as a service and an organisation, it is important to be actively listening and working with people, working with their priorities in mind in a way that is inclusive and builds trust so that they can achieve their aspirations. Staff genuinely share the Thames Reach ethos, and strive to operate in a people-focused manner, communicating well with those using our services and being sensitive to different life experiences.

What has it been like working for Thames Reach?
I’ve been working with Thames Reach a long time; I started as a support worker and gradually progressed into the area manager role, which is my third or fourth management post, so I’m fully committed to Thames Reach. One of the things that initially attracted me was its reputation, the way the work is person-centred, flexible, and focused on clients’ needs. The element of establishing positive working relationships with local communities and local authorities is really important too. As an employer, Thames Reach is generally a supportive organisation; I’ve always been encouraged to undertake personal and professional development. If you say you want to develop in a particular area or develop a particular skill, managers are likely to embrace that. We challenge ourselves as professionals as well as challenging others in the sector. Our advocacy for the people we work with is also hugely important. It’s definitely one of our strengths as an organisation. 

A Day in the Life of an Assistant Support Worker

Lindsey started her traineeship with Thames Reach in 2020. A year on, she reflects on her current role as assistant support worker, and how the trainee experience helped her gain confidence in the role

A Day in the Life of an Assistant Support Worker

Lindsey Shepherd, Assistant Support Worker, Martha Jones House

“Two days are never the same at the hostel. One constant however, is that shifts always begin with a handover from the previous team. This provides an opportunity to highlight any clients who we are concerned about and may need to monitor throughout the day.

“The morning is usually focused around reminding clients of their appointments and ensuring that they are supported to attend them. Although most of our work takes place in-house, we sometimes accompany clients to probation, drug rehabilitation services and to the job centre. As a trainee, I had more time available to visit local services, including day centres and support groups, which gave me a more holistic insight into how the local authority are able to support those experiencing homelessness. A lot of our role includes liaising with other agencies to advocate on behalf of our clients, so it helps to establish a rapport with them. 

“At midday every day, we enter every room to do a welfare check, to ensure that all of our residents are safe and that the building is secure. We will also do a sweep of the local area to identify whether there are any rough sleepers and report these to the outreach team. The building has an in-house surgery, so once a week a GP and nurse from the local practice come in to provide medical assistance to our residents, reducing the barriers for them to access mainstream healthcare.

“There are normally several activity groups that run in the hostel throughout the week, which trainees take a leading role in running. For example, I helped to facilitate an arts class with a local creative group called Duckie. It was a space for clients to express how they were feeling through a range of different mediums such as: dance videos, flick-through sketchbooks and joke books. We also ran a cooking group, in which we would accompany clients to the supermarket to buy the ingredients for a dish of their choice.  

“We’re a high-needs hostel, which means many of our residents have complex support needs, including difficulties with their mental health and substance use. Much of our work is therefore focused on encouraging them to reduce their dependence on drugs and alcohol, maximising and budgeting finances, preparation for employment, increasing their living skills, encouraging a meaningful use of time and addressing physical health needs.

“As a trainee I had less clients, which meant that I had a lot more time to spend with them. Ideally, we have at least one in-depth key work session per client each week. This is a space for clients to discuss any grievances and consider how to work towards their move on. Where possible, I try to have the sessions outside of the building to reduce distractions.

“The traineeship was a gentle introduction into working in the homeless sector. I was able to shadow at many of Thames Reach’s other projects including hostels, outreach and floating support. This gave me the opportunity to develop my understanding of what services are available and to decide where my skills would best fit in before applying for a job.  My manager is really supportive and encouraged me to focus on what I’m interested in. I had expressed an interest in working with women, so she has allowed me to take the lead in this area. I have attended multi-agency meetings on prostitution, outreached sex workers on the streets and will run a women’s space once the lockdown measures have ended.

“The benefit of working in a hostel is that you can work very closely with clients within their own home and can therefore follow their development closely. It also means that you always have your team by your side. We have bi-weekly Reflective Practice sessions as a space to discuss any challenging situations we have faced and to decide a collaborative approach of how we can best support a client. Ironically, the most rewarding part of the job for me is seeing people leave. Martha Jones House is only intended to be a temporary solution to rough sleeping and prepare them for their next chapter.”

Thames Reach’s traineeship programme is open for 2021. This year’s cohort will start in May 2021, and the deadline for applications is 7 February. Click here for more information on becoming a trainee.  

Inaugural Volunteer Hero Awards celebrate essential support to services over lockdown

Our star volunteers have been presented with their Volunteer Hero Awards to say thank you for months of dedication to helping end street homelessness

Inaugural Volunteer Hero Awards celebrate essential support to services over lockdown

This year has seen not only an unprecedented increase in demand for many of Thames Reach’s services, but also the need to adapt as quickly and effectively as possible. Volunteers across different projects have helped enormously with these efforts, and to say thank you earlier in the year we asked staff and service users to nominate their star volunteers for our inaugural Volunteer Hero Awards, marking those who have gone above and beyond to help our projects and services across London. Although social distancing guidelines meant we were not able to host a full ceremony with all winners and staff together, over the past few weeks, winners have been presented with their Volunteer Hero Awards by chief executive Bill Tidnam.

From supporting outreach services to gardening projects at a residential project, each winner was nominated by either a staff member or service user for their outstanding contribution to Thames Reach’s vision of ending street homelessness. There were twelve winners overall, this is what some of them had to say after finding out they had won:

“It is my privilege to be able to volunteer for such a dynamic charity. I am always excited to get out there working alongside fantastic staff who have such dedication and passion for the work that they do. Everyone at Thames Reach have shown me nothing but kindness and patience and that is replicated with the poor souls who they meet living on the streets. I am struggling to get my head around the fact that i was even nominated as i think that i am simply doing what most other people would do if they were given the opportunity. Each time that we get someone off of the streets feels like a great moral victory to me as it does to all of the wonderful people who i work with. I would recommend that everyone should try volunteering at least once in their lives.”
– Paul, Rapid Response Team

“For me, volunteering is a snack for the soul. It’s a way to give back to my community and contribute in my own way. The pandemic was more of an incentive for me to get out there and help out. To quote Billy Ocean, ‘When the going gets tough, the tough get going’.”
– Manos, Rapid Response Team

“Back in March I was lucky enough to do the TRaVEL (Thames Reach Volunteering and Employment for Life) course as a learner, I thought that with PTSD and anxiety I was no longer able to help anyone let alone myself. The course rekindled my desire to encourage others to reach full potential and I was accepted to volunteer for the next TRaVEL course. The course has rewarded me immensely, not only am I gaining invaluable skills from working with Lisa and the learners but also find that this experience has changed me for the better. I want to push myself towards a career that involves helping others. This experience has opened my heart. It was an honour to be awarded one of the Volunteer Hero awards and the recognition really humbled me.

“I have learned that job satisfaction is more than money. To be given this opportunity to help in a time of crisis has made me realise there is no lockdown on hope.”
– Joe, TRaVEL

A selection of nomination comments from staff and service users:

“Faye has been with us since 2019 and has been a fantastic volunteer throughout. She is consistent, committed and is always willing to be flexible even when we have had to make last minute changes. Faye was fantastic during the pandemic and recently supported Jamie [Lead Manager, Rapid Response Team] in explaining the role of volunteers within our team at a volunteer Streetlink event. She was particularly good at explaining the realities of outreach on the ground and this is a testament to her sound communication skills and empathy. She is a perfect volunteer!”
– Nomination for Faye, Rapid Response Team

“During the pandemic, often we were short staffed and Vicar Rob stepped up many times so I could complete early shifts and day shifts. It was an eerie and scary time, yet he remained calm and professional and never once let me down in sometimes manic situations. All the services you take for granted i.e coffee shops, cafes and loos (!) were all shut down and his church St Barnabus became my beacon of light.”
– Nomination for Vicar Rob, Newham SORT

“During lockdown Clare continued to make weekly contact with her clients and support them via the phone; she was keen to remain in contact with them and support the SI [Social Inclusion] service during these very difficult times. She is consistent, extremely enthusiastic, reliable, approachable, friendly, understanding, compassionate and selfless and has created invaluable bonds with her clients. I have received great feedback about Clare from her clients; they look forward to her visiting and calling them, she helps them feel motivated and focused and often gives purpose to their week. She always has a non-judgmental attitude and accepts them for who they are.

“One of her clients has progressed hugely, which is down to the support she has received from Clare; they now have a small support network they didn’t have before and get out for weekly walks with a group which she would never have considered before.”
– Nomination for Clare, Social Inclusion Project in the Tenancy Sustainment Team