London Homelessness Award sees Deptford Reach helping more people in the community

After their win at the London Homelessness Awards in 2022, Deptford Reach have been able to expand their offering to support people in the community

London Homelessness Award sees Deptford Reach helping more people in the community

Back in 2022, Deptford Reach won a £10,000 prize at the London Homelessness Awards for their homelessness prevention work in the Lewisham community. Jordan is the Lead Manager of Deptford Reach, and discusses the impact the prize has had on the people they work with, as well as being a boost for the team.

How did it feel to win at the London Homelessness Awards?

It was a great moment of validation, feeling like we are really being seen. We do this work every day, so having an award that shows everyone exactly what we have been doing, and the difference it’s making in the community, is a great feeling. It helped us take a step back and look at our work as a team and recognise how important it is. The people we work with, and people who fund our work, seeing that we’ve won an award like this is another way of letting people know that we are experts in what we do, and that we really want to help people that need the support.

How was the awards ceremony? 

Celebrating all the hard work that the different winners had been doing was a special moment; it was also a good experience to speak with different, similar organisations, develop new partnerships that can help us move people away from street homelessness. Even just meeting people from different organisations was positive, seeing new services and understanding how different people and teams work.

How has the prize money helped the work you’re doing?

We’re expanding our service into the community, to help people who might feel anxious or unsure about visiting a day centre, so the extra boost to our funding has allowed us to visit more spaces in the community, such as food banks, where people might be struggling and unaware of what we can offer.

People often come to us with issues with their living situation, so we are able to provide funds for small home repairs to ensure their accommodation is safe and secure. With the ongoing energy crisis, we’ve been able to lessen some of the stress and burden of prices increasing by providing energy vouchers to people who are particularly concerned about the cost of heating their homes.

Deptford Reach, and other projects across London, are encountering extra pressure due to increased demand and the cost of living crisis, which is affecting services as well as those using them. Click here to find out how you can support our work by donating or volunteering.



Working towards ending street homelessness in East Surrey

Support worker Boni introduces us to the work being done towards ending street homelessness in East Surrey

Working towards ending street homelessness in East Surrey

East Surrey Outreach Service (ESOS) covers four boroughs within a large expanse of East Surrey. Their work combines outreach and support work to help people sleeping rough in towns including Reigate, Dorking, Epsom, Leatherhead, Redhill, Oxted, Horley, Ewell, Caterham, and Ashtead. 

Support worker Boni talks us through a day in the life of working at ESOS. 

“We are an outreach service attached to the East Surrey area, and cover four boroughs: Tandridge, Epsom & Ewell, Mole Valley, and Reigate & Banstead.  

“I usually start my day by planning my diary, figuring out which appointments I’m having with people in my caseload. As the areas we cover can be miles apart, I try to organise my appointments accordingly, and visit people who are fairly close to each other in the same afternoon, for example. Our team conducts street outreach as well as ongoing casework with the people we are helping. We sometimes work with people who are experiencing different types of homelessness, such as sofa-surfing, so we’re flexible and supportive in our approach. We work closely with local councils and have built strong relationships that allow us to advocate for people trying to access necessities such as emergency housing. 

“Within ESOS, we have regular team meetings where we discuss successes, incidents, and training that we are keen to undertake to help us in our roles. Of course, we are all different and have different strengths, so working in a closely-knit team allows us to learn from each other and make the right connections to work towards ending street homelessness in East Surrey. 

“I really value the face-to-face side of my work, and think it is vital in establishing the trust needed to help people off the streets. When advocating for people with agencies such as drug and alcohol support or mental health services, my approach is to remind these organisations of people’s particular vulnerabilities. There isn’t one single or guaranteed route for helping everyone we meet. I go to hubs across the East Surrey area and speak to people who might be homeless and unknown to us. There is so much stigma around becoming homeless, and a simple friendly conversation can really help people open up about what they’re going through and what they might need. 

“One person I am working with at the moment is Mike*. He is entrenched, which means he has been sleeping rough for a long time and that is now his lifestyle; he makes it work for him, but this does not take away from the fact that sleeping rough is life-threateningly dangerous, regardless of how secure the setup might seem. Mike has been sleeping in a supermarket car park and is known to the local community and has a good relationship with passers-by, as well as employees from the supermarket. Despite having no fixed address, he is known to the adult social care team regarding his own support needs, including high functioning Schizophrenia, but he is refusing help. I travel to where he is to do a welfare check weekly and in severe weather Mike is checked daily. In that time, his engagement with ESOS has definitely improved. We have started to take him a hot lunch, which he now accepts from us, which is a positive step. Helping him come off the streets is going to be a long process, but one thing I know I’m good at is calling people in and speaking loudly for my clients when it’s needed. I’ve started working with a psychologist who is going to meet with Mike during one of my upcoming welfare visits, and I’m hopeful that this will be a big step towards finding Mike the right type of accommodation and support for his needs. 

“I believe in not giving up on people, regardless of engagement. If someone doesn’t want to engage with our services, that is up to them, but I will make repeat welfare checks and try to provide things like food, water, and a friendly face, to make their situation a little easier, until they feel ready to engage and take up the support to come off the streets.”