New rough sleeping assessment centre opens in Square Mile

The Square Mile-based residential service opened on March 13 and offers 14 short-stay beds to support individuals rough sleeping in the area.

New rough sleeping assessment centre opens in Square Mile

In collaboration with the City of London Corporation, we are pleased to announce the opening of a state-of-the-art Rough Sleeping Assessment Centre in the heart of the Square Mile. This residential service, operated by Thames Reach, marks a significant milestone in our ongoing efforts to end rough sleeping in the City of London.

Funded by the City of London Corporation, the centre provides 14 short-stay beds to rough sleepers, offering a safe and supportive environment for individuals with complex needs. Our dedicated team will deliver round-the-clock support, 365 days a year, working closely with health and social care providers to establish pathways away from rough sleeping and into permanent accommodation.

Situated within the grounds of the Church of Holy Sepulchre on Snow Hill Court, the assessment centre occupies a former school building that has been meticulously refurbished with the specific needs of the individuals we support in mind.

Bill Tidnam, Chief Executive at Thames Reach, expressed his enthusiasm for the new facility, stating, “The opening of this assessment centre represents a significant step forward in our mission to provide tangible support to those experiencing homelessness in the City. By collaborating closely with the City of London Corporation, we can offer individuals sleeping rough a credible local solution, accelerating the process of assessment and intervention.”

In addition to the new assessment centre, Thames Reach works tirelessly alongside the City Corporation to address homelessness and rough sleeping in the Square Mile. Through commissioned outreach services, we strive to identify and support individuals who are rough sleeping, ensuring that they don’t have to stay more than one night on the streets.

Floating support service now open to Hounslow residents

Designed to help people at risk of losing their independence, the service is now accepting general referrals.

Floating support service now open to Hounslow residents

Floating support involves a named keyworker building a relationship with a vulnerable resident that will help them to learn to live an independent life. Its aim is to help people avoid hospital admissions, having to rely on social care services, or end up in the criminal justice system.

Run by Thames Reach, the Hounslow Reach service is available to all Hounslow residents aged 18 and over who are vulnerable because they have additional needs, such as mental or physical health conditions or a learning disability.

London Borough of Hounslow commissioned Thames Reach to run this service after a competitive tendering process.

You can find out if the service could help you by contacting the Targeted Support Team within Community Solutions at FSTargetedSupport@hounslow.gov.uk or calling 020 8583 2211. The team will get in touch with you to understand the support you need. People can also visit Hounslow Reach to find out more about the service at Hounslow’s Community Hubs at the following times:

– Mondays 10am – 1pm: Hounslow House, Ground floor, TW3 3EB

– Tuesdays 2pm – 5pm: Feltham Assembly Hall, Hounslow Road, TW14 9DN

– Thursdays 1pm – 4pm: Feltham Library, High Street, TW13 4GU.

Bill Tidnam, Chief Executive at Thames Reach, said: “At Thames Reach, we are very conscious of the vital role that floating support can play in helping people fulfil their potential to live independent lives and participate fully in society. We are grateful to Hounslow for giving us the opportunity to bring our 25 years of experience in this work to the borough and we look forward to working with local communities to build a service that meets their needs.

Councillor Samia Chaudhary, Hounslow Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, Public Health and Transformation, said: “I’m delighted to welcome Thames Reach to our family of commissioned services in Hounslow. To have such a fantastic organisation offering support to Hounslow residents fills me with confidence that first-rate support will be available to anyone who needs it.

“The team is already doing fantastic work across the borough and I look forward to working with them further on the excellent Hounslow Reach project. Their presence will make such a difference to our most vulnerable residents’ wellbeing.”

Thames Reach’s Response to the Latest CHAIN Quarterly Report

The latest quarterly report from the CHAIN database has been released, painting a concerning picture of the surge in rough sleeping across London.

Thames Reach’s Response to the Latest CHAIN Quarterly Report

Released on 31 January, the CHAIN Quarterly Report for rough sleeping in London (October-December 2023) exposes a concerning reality: outreach teams recorded 4389 individuals sleeping rough during this period, rising 8% from the previous quarter and marking a significant 23% increase from the same timeframe in 2022. 

Other key statistics are as follows: 

– 2,283 people were recorded as sleeping rough for the first time. This is the second highest quarterly figure ever reported and represents a huge annual increase of 34% and a 9% increase on the previous quarter. 

– The number of people classed as ‘living on the streets’ was at its highest ever quarterly level, at 560, having grown by 24% compared to the same period last year. 

– The percentage of people from outside the UK found rough sleeping in this period was higher than in the previous quarter. 

These findings reinforce the growing need for outreach teams that are well-equipped to engage with both new rough sleepers and those already living on the streets.  

Furthermore, outreach teams need access to accommodation that can effectively support individuals with diverse needs, particularly those from outside the UK. The City and Lambeth Assessment Centres, operated by Thames Reach, play a crucial role in this regard, serving as initial points of support for those transitioning off the streets. 

Focusing on prevention is also pivotal to understanding why people are spending at least one night on the streets and how this can be avoided. Hounslow Reach, a new prevention service delivered by Thames Reach in the London Borough of Hounslow, exemplifies important prevention measures such as providing advice and support to individuals at risk of losing their homes. 

At Thames Reach, we are committed to continue working with local authorities, the GLA, and fellow charities to implement effective solutions and prevent further escalation of this crisis.  

Our Director of Services, Kristian Draper, notes “The increasing number of people rough sleeping is a cause for concern. We’re also noticing shifts in the patterns of rough sleeping, making it crucial for us, as a sector, to ensure that our resources are directed to where they are most needed. This involves providing effective services for those on the streets and collaborating to offer quick alternatives to help them move away from rough sleeping. 

“At the same time, we must use this and other data to come up with innovative solutions and allocate resources to prevent people from needing to sleep rough and support them in quickly and permanently leaving homelessness behind.” 

Read this and other CHAIN reports here.

Assessment Reports from the Rough Sleeping Advisory Panel

The Rough Sleeping Advisory Panel is a collaboration of leading experts from local government and homelessness charities

Assessment Reports from the Rough Sleeping Advisory Panel

We’re pleased to share the assessment reports produced by the Rough Sleeping Advisory Panel—a collaboration of leading experts from local government and homelessness charities, working together to scrutinise, support, and challenge progress on the Government’s Ending Rough Sleeping for Good Strategy.

Thames Reach led the recovery and intervention sub-group alongside Housing Justice, contributing insights on achievements and areas that still require attention. Read the full report at https://www.local.gov.uk/publications/rough-sleeping-strategy-delivery-assessment-roundtable-recovery-and-intervention

The other sub-groups focused on prevention and transparent, joined-up systems. For a comprehensive view of progress and ongoing efforts in each of these areas, visit the links below:

Read the Thames Reach Annual Review 2022-23

We’re delighted to publish a review of the work we’ve been doing over 2022-23

Read the Thames Reach Annual Review 2022-23

The Thames Reach Annual Review 2022-23 is now available to read. The document details how we’ve been helping people experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness in London, between April 2022 and March 2023. The review looks at the positive impact our work has had on the lives of people using our services, as well as providing information on approaches we’ve developed to better support vulnerable people.

This year’s review, with introductions by Chair of the Board Stephen Howard and Chief Executive Bill Tidnam, features case studies and interviews 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 2022-23.

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.