Paul manages The Connection’s Emergency Accommodation, which is open every night of the week accommodating 75 people so they are prevented from rough sleeping. It’s unique in being the only free, immediate access service and people are referred in by the Street Teams, and other homelessness services. Paul explains a bit more about how valuable it is and what he enjoys most about the job.
How does Emergency Accommodation help?
One of the basic things is giving people respite so they can come off the streets. It also helps people to start to gain a bit of dignity and to make sure that they are accessing basic services like the laundry, have a shower, that they feel safe and get some rest.
It also helps to improve engagement and encourages people to engage in their support plans. With every person we’re well aware what the action plan is, and part of our role is to encourage people to work with us. For example, people often access the computers and look up details of what hostel they’ve been referred to.
What’s an average night like?
Doors open at 9.30pm and lights go back on at 7am– we’ve extended the service by an hour which has been well received by the clients. We’re split over the two floors. Women sleep in the basement at the back of the centre. The activity room is generally quieter – that’s the exclusive suite!
We now provide hot food which has been well received particularly as winter is approaching.
It’s the little things which count, like doing people’s laundry through the night and we fold it up nicely and put it on people’s beds for the morning. These small things really mean a lot to people and they remember it for years.
Tell us more about how the service operates
We’re working more closely with the Street Outreach and Rapid Response team and they refer people into the service. We’re flexible so if someone hasn’t got their referral into onward accommodation for a week or so we’ll keep them in the night centre.
We also work with entrenched rough sleepers and can provide an open referral and there’s no limit to the number of nights they can stay. Just to get someone in to the night centre can be an achievement and trying to improve their engagement with services.
What’s the best thing about the job?
The best thing about the job is the characters you meet. Our clients are the most interesting people you’re ever going to meet and to have that opportunity to spend a bit of time with them, having a laugh, talking about their history and what they’ve been doing is brilliant. It’s great when you start getting to know them, the complex mix of their issues, their points of view. They can be very vocal, very intelligent, very articulate and mixed with quite severe mental health issues but it doesn’t mean people don’t function.