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Rough sleeping project in Norwich helps 122 people in its first three months

PUBLISHED: 15:13 22 October 2018 | UPDATED: 15:13 22 October 2018

Pathways support workers on early morning outreach in Norwich. Picture: Dominic Gilbert

Pathways support workers on early morning outreach in Norwich. Picture: Dominic Gilbert

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A scheme to help rough sleepers in Norwich has supported more than 120 people in need in its first three months.

The launch of the homeless project Pathways at City Hall, with the team, and councillors Kevin Maguire, left, and Alan Waters, right, council leader. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe launch of the homeless project Pathways at City Hall, with the team, and councillors Kevin Maguire, left, and Alan Waters, right, council leader. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The Pathways scheme, a partnership of seven local organisations, was launched in July with a goal of supporting those in the city who find themselves without a roof over their heads.

Now, three months on, the team - which includes St Martins Housing Trust, YMCA Norfolk and The Salvation Army among others - said it has had 122 positive outcomes for people who are rough sleeping or who have complex needs.

A positive outcome can include rough sleepers finding accommodation or others being supported to remain in their existing homes.

The team said prison release with no accommodation and relationship breakdown were very common reasons for homelessness, while mental health and substance misuse remained issues for many of the people assessed by the team.

They lead a street count several times a week to identify who is bedded down outside and to respond to reports of people sleeping rough, or in vehicles or tents outside the city centre.

From July to September, Pathways said they found 51 people bedded down, with 17 new to the streets. Fifteen of those were found suitable accommodation by the Pathways team.

MORE: Innovative scheme to help support rough sleepers in the city launched

Fourteen of those sleeping rough already had accommodation, but stayed sleeping rough “due to entrenched behaviours around drug and alcohol issues”, they said.

Dr Jan Sheldon, chief executive of St Martins and spokesperson for Pathways, said: “The service is still in its early stages but there are already many examples of how the multi-agency approach is working.

“Pathways is not simply about getting people off the streets but about offering ongoing support so they have the best chance of a positive outcome.”

The vast majority of rough sleepers the team met were men, with just 18pc women. But the ages varied - one person was aged under 18, and three were aged 61 or above.

Roughly two thirds of people, 66pc, had a local connection to Norwich, while 15pc were from elsewhere in Norfolk.

The team delivers a daily outreach service to offer support to people engaged in street activities, primarily street begging.

Who has the scheme helped?

The Pathways team found Matt, 27, during an early morning street count.

They returned to find out more about his situation, and he was later rehoused at Bishopbridge House, run by St Martins.

He has since, with the support of Change, Grow, Live managed to come off drugs and stop drinking.

Today, his long term ambition is to live independently and rent his own flat, though short term his main focus is remaining drug and alcohol free.

Twenty-four-year-old Ben had been sleeping rough in Norwich city centre.

His situation was so severe he was admitted to A&E and completed an in-patient detoxification from drugs and alcohol at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Since, he has received medical care from City Reach and has a support worker to help with his drug addiction.

He uses computers and training at Under 1 Roof in Norwich, and has now started playing football to improve his fitness.

Both the men were admitted to Pathways’ post-detox dry house facility for extra support.

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