Mutiat’s story

Mutiat discusses the support she has received towards getting better, more suitable housing, now that she is retired

Mutiat’s story

Mutiat has been receiving housing support, including advocacy for better, more suitable accommodation. Through an introduction to our team in Lewisham, and subsequent conversations, her key worker has been able to identify other areas of support she might need, including physical health support and digital skills classes.

“I met the team at Lewisham IHASS after I was referred from the council. I needed help with filling out forms for my housing.

“I really appreciate them; when I first needed their help, I needed an interpreter because my first language is Yoruba. My key worker could also speak Yoruba, so the process became much easier. When I was able to fill out the forms I needed for my housing, I was then offered support for a few other things. This came out of a conversation I had with my key worker, who was so nice.

“Through our conversations, I learned about the other kinds of support I could get help with.”

By having a good working relationship with her key worker, Mutiat realised that there were other things she could get support for; she didn’t need to struggle alone.

“I started a digital skills class a few weeks ago. It’s going well, and I’m learning how to do things on my phone that will make it easier to stay in touch with different people. I found out about the class when my key worker mentioned it to me, saying that there would be free classes in Deptford for people wanting to be more confident using phones and computers.”

Now she is gaining digital skills, what does the future look like for Mutiat?

“I am retired now, but the thing I like to do most is going out and meeting people. I have problems with my knee, but I am going towards being able to contact people and go out and see them.

“The team have been fantastic; they have really helped me with my housing. I’m very happy about them; they’ve been so nice and welcoming towards me. If anyone I know needs help, I would definitely introduce them to Thames Reach.”

Reflecting on homelessness prevention at Brent Reach

Sade, Martina and Kef at Brent Reach discuss their holistic approach to preventing homelessness

Reflecting on homelessness prevention at Brent Reach

Sade, Martina and Kef from the Brent Reach team reflect on its fifteen years of service in the Brent area supporting people to prevent homelessness.

What Brent Reach offer the community

“We support people in the community to sustain their tenancy, and empower them to be independent. We signpost to different services depending on their needs, as well as advocating for people regarding issues such as their housing.”

Helping prevent homelessness

“We help people integrate into their communities, so that they have the network and skills to navigate different challenges, and ultimately we support people to prevent them becoming homeless. We link people up with training, volunteering, or employment, depending on what they want to do, and sometimes help with the paperwork to maximise their benefits, all arming people towards living more independently. Putting things in place for people and intervening as quickly as possible is essential to stop homelessness occurring for an individual.”

How homelessness prevention work has changed in recent years

“Demand for our support has increased since the pandemic; particularly in 2020 and 2021, so many organisations and services closed, and as people became more isolated, issues often intensified.

“I’m really proud of the team’s efforts during the lockdowns. We did amazing work at that time, considering we have such a client-facing position, and we learned so much about the reality of isolation. We were distributing supplies to people when they couldn’t leave their homes, taking it in turns to buy food parcels, and making contact with food banks to make sure people with particular vulnerabilities weren’t going hungry. We carried out essential visits to those most in need, and helped people top up their gas and electricity. Our work was recognised by the Mayor of Brent, and it was such a rewarding experience to see how we could come together and help people directly.

A unique project in the heart of Brent

“There’s been no one like us! We’re a really unique project. Of course, every stage of homelessness support needs funding, but if you’re only funding the point at which a person loses their home, then the numbers of people becoming homeless are only going to increase. Once someone has become homeless, the problems multiply; an individual’s mental health can deteriorate, for example. If there were more services like ours, whereby we can help people where they are and with the exact support they need, we would see a real reduction in homelessness.”

Jasmine’s story

Jasmine’s mental health was suffering when she was struggling to feed her family. Through support from Deptford Reach, she was able to lessen the strain while her husband was unable to work

Jasmine’s story

Jasmine recently came into contact with Deptford Reach through their community outreach, making sure people in the community are receiving the support they need, such as maintaining tenancies, keeping track of financies and mental health. Deptford Reach are making a huge impact in Lewisham by being visible at food banks and other hubs in the area. In her own words, Jasmine talks about the support she has received from Deptford Reach, particularly support worker Shana.

“For over two years I have been struggling day-to-day. I had recently got married to my husband who isn’t from this country, so it took a long time for him to get authorisation to work. Eventually this took a toll on me as I was working part time with two children and a husband to feed. Due to the fact I was married, all my benefits were reduced even though my husband was not earning and he wasn’t entitled to benefits. I was left in despair and this affected my mental health to the point I would spend all day crying and feeling suicidal.

“I began visiting a food bank in Lewisham, but would just take my food and go, until one day I couldn’t contain my emotions and burst into tears. Someone working there took me to one side and asked how they could help.

“Then I was referred to a staff member from Deptford Reach called Shana. As a sufferer of mental health, namely depression, I was in tears and felt in a low mood, but Shana put me at ease straight away. Because of my financial struggle I explained my situation and was relieved to be told I could claim Universal Credit, which I wasn’t aware of. I was booked in the following week where I was assisted in completing the claim.

“My claim was accepted and I now have help paying my rent and still have a small amount of spare change to feed my family.

“I am very relieved that I now finally have extra financial support which has taken the stress away, that had been pushing me down for so long. I have Deptford Reach to thank for that.”


Read the Thames Reach Annual Review 2021-22

We’re delighted to publish a review of the work we’ve been doing over the past year

Read the Thames Reach Annual Review 2021-22

Today, we are officially launching our Thames Reach Annual Review 2021-22, highlighting the impact of the work our organisation has been doing between April 2021 and March 2022. The new document, with introductions by Chair of the Board Stephen Howard and Chief Executive Bill Tidnam, goes into detail on how our various services have ben helping homeless and vulnerable people across London, and features case studies and interviews and with staff members, volunteers, and with the people using our services.

For all this and more, take a look at the Thames Reach Annual Review 2021-22.

Tech Lending Scheme takes steps to close the digital exclusion gap this winter

The Essentials Skills team, in partnership with Hubbub, Virgin Media and O2, are helping people gain digital skills and bridge the digital exclusion gap

Tech Lending Scheme takes steps to close the digital exclusion gap this winter

A tablet lending scheme, which sees people who are facing digital exclusion given access to a digital device for up to six months, is being trialled at Thames Reach. This has been made possible thanks to funding from Hubbub, in partnership with Virgin Media O2.

Managed by the Essential Skills team, 300 tablets will be lent out to people living in temporary accommodation, while they are receiving support to end their homelessness. Devices come with free calls, texts and data allowing beneficiaries to use them for anything they need, from accessing emails and messenger apps to online materials for education and drug and alcohol programmes.

The scheme has already been rolled out in Thames Reach hostels in Lambeth and will soon be expanded to other forms of short term and emergency accommodation. Feedback from the initial pilot has been highly positive, with hostel staff seeing improvements in self-care and increased independence for residents.

When device recipients were asked how they are getting along (via text), they said:

“I am really pleased with the tablet, it is really useful in my recovery. To have the minutes and texts and data is useful. Thank you for the trust.”

“The tablet is brilliant, it is really helpful. I’m thinking of running, as I was in hospital for 6 months and had to learn to walk again. And the Mind app is great.”

“I’m loving it, I use it 24/7. I’m really grateful for the opportunity to have one.”

Alongside the scheme, all recipients will be able to develop their digital skills through Thames Reach’s in-house digital training programmes delivered by specialist staff.

Jobs Fair supports the Latin American community into employment

A jobs fair for the Latin American community has been one way in which the Southwark Works team are helping people access support and employment

Jobs Fair supports the Latin American community into employment

On 16 November, the Southwark Works team ran a jobs fair at Thames Reach’s Employment Academy, specialising in opportunities and support for the Latin American community in South East London. Employers from a range of sectors were in attendance to meet with people in the Latin American community who were looking for work in the capital. 

The fair was a unique event; from two years experience working with Latin American communities in and around Southwark, the team had established the need to connect people looking for work with potential employers. This is not always a straightforward task, given challenges including language barriers, right-to-work documentation and a sufficient understanding of welfare systems, and accessing a GP.

Opportunities available in construction, care, cleaning and hospitality were shared with attendees, as well as specialist advice from Southwark Works, support services and education providers. 

We spoke with Alvaro and Julia, originally from Colombia who attended the fair in Camberwell. 

Julia said, “I was really happy to get information on the English courses, as I am looking to improve my English; it was also interesting to find legal advice here around immigration.”

Alvaro said, “We came today to look for work opportunities, and to try and find new opportunities to improve our lives in London. Now we have taken contact details and will be hopefully receiving some support to get into work and test our English, to see where we need to improve our skills.”

The fair was very well attended, with almost 100 people in the local Latin American community coming to the Employment Academy. It was an incredibly positive event for attendees, employers and Southwark Works alike. 

Giovanni, support worker in the Southwark Works team, said: “This event has been a great opportunity for the Latin American community to find out about opportunities in South East London, whether they need general support, training or employment. Similarly, it has also been a chance for support services, employers and training providers to network together, find out more about each other’s work and create the basis for long-term collaborations, and possibly a development of a hub of professionals that liaise together in order to offer specialised and tailored help to this fantastic and hard-working community.”

New grant for Deptford Reach will support five years of community outreach

A new grant from City Bridge Trust will see Deptford Reach providing community outreach support for five years

New grant for Deptford Reach will support five years of community outreach

We are pleased to announce that Deptford Reach, our service offering prevention support across Lewisham, has been awarded a grant that will fund five years of outreach in the community. This new model for Deptford Reach, which has been piloted for several months, will allow the team to work with people at risk of homelessness in the wider community, through food banks, churches, and other hubs, to ensure that support is directed where it is most needed. With the cost-of-living crisis, Thames Reach acknowledge that new people will require the service, so it is important that the team are expanding outside of the day centre model. New figures showing an increase in people sleeping rough for the first time highlights the need to take action to stop the existing crisis of street homelessness escalating further.

This funding is thanks to a partnership with City Bridge Trust, the City of London Corporation’s charity funder, and will allow people to access support who may be affected by the social stigma of homelessness. With the support given by the Deptford Reach team, the objective is to help as many people as possible, through casework and engagement to help issues around accommodation, mental health, employment, and immigration.

Having been recognised with a £10,000 prize at the London Homelessness Awards in October, Deptford Reach will now secure its place as a valued service in the community by expanding into the wider Lewisham borough, reaching people who won’t have had contact with the service yet. With a presence at food banks, for example, people using this service will be able to receive practical advice on maintaining their tenancies and preventing homelessness as well as essential food supplies.

Fiona Sutherland, Area Director, said: “Thames Reach are delighted for the recognition and funding from City Bridge Trust in order to continue to work to resolve issues which lead to homelessness for people in Lewisham. We know street homelessness is traumatic, and this intervention will allow us to be visible and accessible in the local community, and offer resolutions to issues which commonly lead to homelessness.”

Jordan McTigue, Lead Manager for Deptford Reach, said: “This new funding will make sure we are delivering the best service for people at risk of homelessness, providing real options to help with specific issues being experienced. From experience, we know that being out in the community is an effective way to help people who may be feeling they are running out of options.”

New rough sleeping figures show a worrying increase in demand for homelessness services

Our Chief Executive, Bill Tidnam, breaks down the new figures on homelessness released today by City Hall

New rough sleeping figures show a worrying increase in demand for homelessness services

“New figures released by City Hall today show a worrying increase in people sleeping rough across all groups recorded, with the most significant increase in people sleeping rough for the first time, and non-UK citizens experiencing street homelessness. The data covers the period June to September, so before much of the increase in costs of living, which are likely to have a particular impact on people who receive benefits and are on low incomes, and on people who are moving away from street homelessness.

“The reasoning behind this increase is complex and will depend on the individual’s situation, but increasing pressure on the housing market has meant that private renting has become more expensive and precarious. The capping of benefits has also added to this pressure, particularly in London, where this means that much of the capital is unaffordable to people on benefits.”

Numbers increasing for the second quarter in a row

“A 33% increase in new people coming to the streets is a real concern. Our prevention services have been working with people in the community who are at risk of street homelessness as a result of low-quality housing and employment, immigration status or mental health support needs compounded by increasing costs, but we need to make sure that these services are funded and expanded to engage with people as early as possible to avoid the trauma of street homelessness.”

Numbers of non-UK citizens sleeping rough increasing

“The challenges facing people with limited or unclear eligibility and no recourse to public funding are not going away. We call on the government to continue reviewing their stance on non-UK citizens, so we can support people in a range of situations to get back into employment, secure their immigration status and move away from street homelessness.

“While we are all noticing the changes and strains under the current crisis, the same issues we have noticed for years remain the key issues in tackling homelessness: access to housing that is good quality, secure and affordable; employment; mental health support; substance use treatment, immigration advice and prevention measures. This includes direct engagement with different communities who may not feel comfortable accessing homelessness services themselves.”

Thames Reach Volunteer Fair

Our volunteer fair on 1st November offers you the chance to learn more about volunteering with Thames Reach

Thames Reach Volunteer Fair

At Thames Reach, we’re looking for volunteers to help us deliver vital services across London to help end street homelessness. This includes working with our outreach teams to help people off the streets, helping out in local communities to prevent people from becoming homeless, and supporting our Employment and Skills team as they provide job and training opportunities for the people we work with.

If you want to learn new skills, get workplace experience, and make a real difference to the lives of people experiencing homelessness, then come to our volunteer fair.

Hosted by our Volunteering and Employment and Skills teams, this event will offer insight and opportunities for getting started as a Thames Reach volunteer.

Tuesday 1st November 2022
11.00am — 3.00pm
Employment Academy, 29 Peckham Road, London SE5 8UA

To book your place, please visit: Thames Reach Volunteer Fair Tickets, Tue 1 Nov 2022 at 11:00 | Eventbrite

Deptford Reach wins at London Homelessness Awards

Deptford Reach’s work preventing homelessness in Lewisham has been recognised at the London Homelessness Awards

Deptford Reach wins at London Homelessness Awards

Three projects from across London have been named as winners of the prestigious London Homelessness Awards for 2022.  They will share cash prizes totalling £60,000. The London Homelessness Awards are sponsored by London Housing Foundation, London Housing Directors, The Mayor of London, Crisis and Shelter.

The prize winners are: Greenwich Winter Night Shelter, Pathway Partnership Programme, and our Deptford Reach project, which has won a £10,000 prize at the award ceremony which took place at North London’s Union Chapel on 12 October. The awards were presented by Deputy Mayor Tom Copley.

Jordan McTigue, lead manager at Deptford Reach, says: “Winning this award means so much for both the people we work with, and us as a team, and will be a real boost to the work we are doing in the community. The prize money will go directly towards helping people facing homelessness, allowing us to reach them before they come to the streets. Being able to continue helping people where they are, through food banks, faith hubs and other community spots, is so essential as we start to face the reality of the cost-of-living crisis.”

Margaret Malcolm works with the London Housing Foundation and assessed all of the applicants.  She said: “With a strong field of over 30 applicants, each of these projects did well to get to the last six and are doing excellent work.  The presentations and stories they told were very powerful.   The winners all provide high quality services to a wide range of clients and showcase just how vibrant and innovative the homelessness sector in London continues to be.”

Bill Tidnam, Chief Executive at Thames Reach, said: “We welcome the London Homelessness Award’s recognition of the Deptford Reach community project.  If we are to meet our ambition of ending street homelessness we need many more services like this, which aim to intervene to find people at risk and work with them to help them stay in accommodation.”

Deptford Reach has recently expanded its service from a day centre to community outreach, working with people in Deptford and the surrounding Lewisham community to prevent homelessness, offer advice and guidance and signpost to other services. They do this in hubs across the borough such as food banks and faith centres, after finding that the stigma of homelessness and its surrounding issues mean that people are more likely to engage with support where they are, rather than coming to a day centre. The £10,000 prize will help Deptford Reach to continue this work and reach more people, as we face the additional challenge of the cost-of-living crisis.