At 7.30am I am onboard the train from Northampton down to London Euston. It’s a little quieter this week on the train after the last few weeks of the Olympics! It is always a very pleasant journey each Saturday morning; getting you into a relaxed mood to begin your day and the shift on the Referral Line.
I volunteer at the North Assessment Hub and I have been doing the Saturday shift (from1 0.00 am to 4.00 pm) for 2 months now, very much enjoying the role. It has been everything (and more) that I had hoped for; the opportunity to be working in an environment where you are providing a service to help others and to be working with a group of such kind and nice people who are wanting to do the same.
The North Hub is such a busy place during my shift; however the people there always make time for me – to answer my many questions! I hope to be able to deliver the best service possible to each person calling up the rough sleeping referral line, and with each week, I feel my ability to do so growing all the time as a result of the people around me – the Assessment staff and other volunteers, the visiting support workers from (London Reconnections Team, Mental Health workers) and the Referral Line Officer, creating a great team who are continually striving to ensure the success of this excellent support resource provided by No Second Night Out.
Also today I have been given the opportunity to go out on shift with one of the Outreach teams. After finishing my shift at the hub I head over to the Thames Reach offices where the pan London outreach team, London Street Rescue, are based.
Our shift runs from 8.00pm through to 2.00am, so we get something to eat and plan our evening. The outreach teams are supplied with details of the referrals we have taken previously on the Rough Sleeping Referral Line; some from that day in fact (recognising my own referrals!) as well as referrals from previous days where the person was unable to be located at the site provided. This is an excellent insight into the usefulness of the reporting line and its ability to locate a person – seeing for yourself the description you have received helps you to realise how important it is to relay accurate details about where someone is sleeping rough. This saves the outreach team so much time and enables more people to be visited during a shift – helping more people to be seen the same day.
Tonight we were going out to places in Southwark, Tower Hamlets, Newham, Greenwich and Lewisham; starting locally then heading out further a field before coming back and checking any sleeping sites for people who weren’t about earlier on. This was another insight into gaining an idea of what sort of time a team may be about during a night – locations further a field taking more time to reach / return back from so not usually the first place to be heading for. All of the referrals we were responding to this evening had locations which we were able to locate eventually, although some detective work was needed though as a few of the names of roads were either incorrect or incomplete. Having the inclusion of a contact number for the person helps out when you are attempting to locate them; we had three occasions where the person wasn’t at the address provided, however we found that they were sleeping nearby after calling them.
Overall I enjoyed the occasion and the opportunity to see the outreach team in action. I would definitely suggest to any volunteer to take the opportunity for themselves as it is such an eye opening activity that will help you to take clearer and more informative referrals in the future, and in turn help outreach teams to locate rough sleepers. I feel the role I play as a volunteer goes some way to help NSNO deliver an important service in London.