Friday, March 13, 2009

Homeless going 'home'?

Two charities in Poole have joined forces to help reintegrate people who have been homeless back into the wider community.

Quaker Homeless Action (QHA) and Routes to Roots have launched a befriending scheme specifically designed to help homeless people who are moving into accommodation or who have recently moved into accommodation.

QHA Project Co-ordinator Kate Mellor explained that many people are surprised how easy it is for someone to become homeless over the long term.

An individual who has been homeless for more than 30 days has a "greatly decreased opportunity to ever return to what we might call normal society," she explained.

Each team of four people will include three befrienders and one participant, who has previously been homeless.

Social contact is a crucial element, Ms Mellor says, whether it's meeting for a cup of coffee, going to the cinema, taking a walk in the park or having a meal together.

Ms Mellor reveals how "it's a very vulnerable time, a very, very lonely time and a very isolating time to move into a tenancy if they have become entrenched in a way in the life of a street homeless person."

In addition, the person will be without the network of other homeless people living on the street.

Once the participant identifies a special interest or hobby, the befrienders try to assist and finding a local group, which arranges activities.

By getting involved with local groups, the participants can try ease the move into more traditional society.

Befrienders can also help participants with practical needs including how to open a bank account, how to access government benefits, how to write letters and how to begin a tenancy.

Both the QHA and Routes to Roots are keenly aware how difficult a transition it can be from street homelessness to living in a house.

"It may seem to us as if that would be the most desired place to be, some place firm and stable," Ms Mellor says.

There is already demand for the project with some expressions of interest since the official launch by Mayor Joyce Lavender earlier this month.

The pilot project is being funded by Quaker Homeless Acton and will run for two years until the end of January 2011.

No comments: