Lowestoft charity’s drive to help those left homeless

Jenna Brock, access outreach team coordinator at the Access Community Trust.
Picture: James Bass

Jenna Brock, access outreach team coordinator at the Access Community Trust. Picture: James Bass - Credit: James Bass

A Lowestoft-based charity for the homeless has launched a new project to help some of the district's most vulnerable people.

Access Community Trust (ACT) has been awarded funding to run a pioneering 12-month scheme targeting the most complex cases of homelessness.

The charity has set up a new outreach team at its Bridge View drop-in centre in Commercial Road to work with clients who, in addition to sleeping rough, are battling other problems including substance misuse and mental health issues.

The money for the project has come from the Homeless Transition Fund run by the Homeless Link charity. It has enabled ACT to employ one full-time outreach coordinator and two support workers for 32-hours per week.

Outreach coordinator Jenna Brock said the project came about as a result of monitoring rough sleeping in Waveney.

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She said: 'From Bridge View observations and statistics from Waveney District Council we identified that we had this client group that we couldn't do anything with.

'We were seeing the same faces over and over again and they were the most problematic individuals.

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'Some individuals reporting homelessness were also experiencing mental health and drug and alcohol problems.

'Our service was working directly with these individuals and other agencies were aware of them. They were in an out of A&E and were known by the police but there was no cohesion of all the support services.

'We are set up now to work one to one with these individuals to produce a more cohesive support package.'

The outreach team works with clients to help them access drug and alcohol services and mental health support through the trust's dual diagnosis team. Staff can accompany clients to appointments and coach them in interview skills to support them all the way from sleeping rough to finding a home and a job.

Bridge View drop-in centre also has showers, access to food packages, a clothing exchange and offers courses to improve life skills and confidence, including cookery. There are also art and craft classes, a football team and a 'singing for wellbeing' choir.

The outreach team carries out early morning and evening 'walk-abouts' in Lowestoft and works closely with police, Waveney's anti-social behaviour team and alcohol and drug recovery services to identify people in need of help.

It has also been running information stalls in Beccles, Bungay and Halesworth to raise awareness of homelessness and social housing in Waveney.

The scheme was launched in April with the aim of helping at least 60 people. The outreach team achieved that within two months and has worked with 130 so far.

Miss Brock added: 'The good thing about the trust is we really do support throughout the whole journey and are not cross referring. We build up that relationship, which is so important for engagement, particularly if people have lost faith.'

?For more on Access Community Trust and its work, visit www.accessct.org

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