Hope without exclusion for entrenched rough sleepers in Wandsworth

Posted by on 19 February 2014 | 0 Comments

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Equinox Wandsworth’s Floating Support and Outreach service works with adults who are homeless or threatened with homelessness, and dependent on alcohol or drugs.  Working from the Wandsworth Housing Department, Paul Thomas and Muneer Butt work with some of the hardest to reach people in the borough. Many Equinox Wandsworth service users are entrenched rough sleepers, as is the case of William*.

In this article, service manager Walter Boyle explains what happened with William and  how Equinox Care will always stand by their mission to offer hope with exclusion – no matter how many times it takes to get through.

William is 44 with long term alcohol dependence. He is known to be an entrenched rough sleeper, due to years of homelessness in the London area.

William is on what’s known as the 205 rough sleepers list.  This list was compiled in 2009 by London Boroughs, who identified that there were 205 people sleeping rough, with little funding available to support them. As a result, some extra funding was obtained from the London Mayors’ office, specifically to support this group of people living on the streets in London.

William was picked up by the London Street Rescue Team who specialise in monitoring and looking after anyone living rough on London’s streets.  This team linked him to the local Homeless persons unit (HPU) because William is a resident of Wandsworth. Working within the HPU, the Equinox Wandsworth outreach & floating support team, Paul Thomas and Muneer Butt, took responsibility for William. Their first priority was to link him into more suitable and stable accommodation, which started with a local B&B.  However, William soon went missing again. 

For 2 years the Equinox team continued to search for William in all the known rough sleeper hot spots in the borough. Early in March 2013, the London Street rescue team managed to locate William again and brought him back to the Housing team where Paul and Muneer began the process again to link him into accommodation. Still resistant to support, William went missing once again. 

The Equinox Care team made efforts to locate William, including leaving notes and fruit at known rough sleeping sites in Wandsworth. Luckily William responded to these efforts to make contact and as a result was assessed by the Pan London Team which specialises in working with entrenched and difficult to engage people.  

William now began to respond more favourably to Paul and Muneer’s efforts to help him address his alcohol dependence and long term accommodation needs.  This time, William stayed in B&B accommodation while a longer term housing solution was found.

Equinox Care worked intensively with William, during which time he often expressed his wish to return to the streets. He felt ill-equipped and frightened by the idea of paying bills and looking after a home.  The Equinox team carried out risk assessments, which helped William to understand  that for his future safety and wellbeing, his best option was to live in a supported housing scheme. William has now agreed to this option. He has been allocated a place in a supported housing scheme. He will be moving into his tenancy (with his own keys) at the end of February 2014.

William alcohol consumption is now greatly reduced. He is making plans to enrol in a local education college with the help of Paul and Muneer at Equinox Wandsworth.

Find out more here about the work of Equinox Wandsworth Floating Support and Outreach service.

*William's name has been changed for confidentiality reasons.


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