News: Westminster Council Launches New Approach to Help the Most Vulnerable

Westminster Council is extending a supporting hand to the most vulnerable people in the city with an innovative new approach that will make a positive difference by focusing and coordinating action where it is needed most.

The pioneering Integrated Street Engagement Unit was conceived as part of the Leader’s #MyWestminster programme to improve people’s lives in the city. It will bring together council services with local charities, like The Connection at St Martin’s, and the police to provide a coordinated and comprehensive support for Westminster’s daytime street population.

A first of its kind, the organisations that make up the unit will work hand in glove to provide social care, health and addiction support in order to provide long term routes off the street, with the goal of helping some of the most vulnerable to turn their lives around. The team will be led by experienced and dedicated outreach workers and will provide the following services:

• Listening to and helping those on the street – Our unit will work with, and support, our daytime street population every day to find out what help they need to turn their lives around.
• Substance abuse support – Charity support workers with specialist skills will be able to provide practical support for those with mental illness and/or those addicted to alcohol or drugs. These specialists will be able to speak directly to people on the street, supported by the back-up provided by more traditional building based services.
• Social care and housing support – With both charity outreach workers and council officials working together in the unit, those on the street will be directly helped through advice about accommodation options and what council services or public funds they can access.
The day to day activities of the unit will be determined through the expertise of the joint team, focusing action on where it will have the biggest impact in helping those who are on the streets.

Charlotte Talbott, Director of Services at The Connection, says

“We’re delighted to be involved in the new Integrated Street Engagement Unit partnership. Together with the Passage and Turning point we’ll offer a new day time street service offering help and support for the most vulnerable people in Westminster.

“Working together means we can pool resources and expertise so that people can address the underlying cause of their homelessness which is a vital first step to moving away from the streets.

“We believe that all of our clients have skills, strengths and assets. We’re looking forward to bringing our tailored support to the unit to help people realise their potential and make positive changes in their life.”

Councillor Nickie Aiken, Leader of Westminster City Council, said:

“Westminster Council already provides the most support in the country for people on the street but we want to do more. That’s why our innovative new Integrated Street Engagement Unit will offer an entirely new level of coordinated help to some of the most vulnerable in our city.

“I am passionate about improving people’s lives and that’s why this pioneering approach should make a real difference, focusing local resources where it really counts. We will be reaching out to people on the street with a range of specialist skills and advice services, so that people won’t have to speak to lots of different people or make many different appointments, which can be daunting.

“I know people in Westminster care deeply about their community and neighbourhood so I am confident everyone will welcome this new initiative that is committed to helping those with some of the most complex and challenging needs of anyone in the city.”