Paddy works in our Street Engagement Team (SET) at The Connection. Our SET Team work five days a week, year-round, supporting people to sustain a life off the streets. They go into the streets of Westminster to speak with people rough sleeping, build relationships with individuals and find out what support they need. Many of the people they meet don’t feel ready to access services yet and so the team provide outreach healthcare with Homeless Health Nurses and drug and alcohol support.
A lot of people rough sleeping have had negative experiences with institutions or support services in the past and may find it difficult to build trust. Because of this, Paddy explains, “[forming relationships] is pretty much essential in what we do. The people who we work with have complex needs, and they’re aware of that as well. And many of them have been in many different services and institutions in the past. And, unfortunately, a lot of them have been boiled down to a set of problems. And that’s how they are seen by society in general, and I think it’s really important that we treat people as a human being.”
At The Connection, it’s essential that we get to know each person we work with, and don’t boil them down to a set of problems. Our SET team is the first step in this. They build relationships with people through chatting over a coffee, getting to know more about them and what type of support they are looking for. Sometimes, this can take days, weeks or months.
Building strong relationships is vital so that we can work with people to tackle the barriers that prevent them from building a life away from the streets. Living on the streets is often “a symptom of the problems that occurred, perhaps in childhood, or earlier in life” such as, “childhood trauma, relationship breakdowns, mental health, and being trafficked from other countries”, so it’s no surprise that this negatively impacts people’s mental health and self-esteem. Paddy explains, “[sleeping rough] takes away their optimism about themselves, their abilities and what they deserve in life. I hope we all feel as though we deserve happiness or contentment, but I find that a lot of people that I work with, they don’t have that feeling and have never had it.”
At The Connection, we believe that everyone we work with deserves the chance to have happiness. The first step to this is building strong relationships. From there, we can work with people to overcome the barriers they face and to recover from a life on the streets.
Your donation will help us to reach and support people through Spring and all year round. So we can be there for those who need us most in the weeks, months and years ahead.
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