SEPTEMBER 2018 

Rough Sleeper Successes

over the last eight months
Sept2018

In January Devizes Opendoors was in frequent contact with nine people who were regularly sleeping rough. By the end of August five of these homeless people had a roof over their heads at night. Most had been sleeping rough for several years and had little hope of things changing but, thanks to the combined efforts of several different agencies and the resolve of the rough sleepers themselves, they are now looking ahead to a brighter future (and a warmer winter!). The other four are still homeless and one or two more are known by Opendoors to have started rough sleeping in the meantime.

Through its four weekly sessions (with cooked meals at three of them) Opendoors has been providing a welcoming, supportive, non-judgemental environment to any who feel marginalised. Alongside the 1582 meals it has served in the last six months, it has helped to restore people’s self-belief, to get back in touch with relevant agencies and then to try again when arrangements break down. What makes volunteers at Devizes Opendoors really happy is to finally see someone move into a flat of their own or into a room in a supported housing scheme. The individual’s eyes are shining as they tell you about it. It isn’t exactly a ‘happy ending’ but it is a new chapter in their lives; one that stands a good chance of being better that the last.

Those in the Council’s Housing Options team are collaborating with staff from Turning Point, the Probation Service, the NHS and the Police. They are also working closely with Devizes Opendoors. There is more joined up thinking going on these days and those involved in supporting local, homeless people feel more confident that things can change for the better and people will not be left out in the cold for so long this coming winter.

Night Shelter Update:

Opendoors would like to be able to offer the possibility of overnight accommodation for the coldest part of the year, to those would might otherwise be sleeping rough here in Devizes.  However, finding a venue to act as an emergency shelter is proving harder than first imagined. The place needs to be suitably equipped, scarcely used by others and acceptable to those living in the area. There is a premise currently being considered. The likelihood of shelters in Trowbridge and Salisbury are looking more certain. Opendoors might set up a transport scheme over the coming winter to get homeless people to these shelters, rather like the Link Scheme gets people to hospitals in Bath or Salisbury.

Opendoors wants to work with local people and, through this, increase the general level of understanding of what Opendoors is and how it helps. It is often only when people step outside of their own comfort zones and into a different environment, that they discover that many of their assumptions are questionable and most of their concerns can actually be addressed. Opendoors invite you to consider joining them in their annual sponsored sleepout at St. Mary’s Church, New Park Street. This year it will take place on Saturday night 1st December. If you would like to take part, get in touch by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

JUNE 2018 

Double boost to Night Shelter plans 

This month we have had two bits of good news.

Firstly, we heard that the Big Lottery, Awards for All programme have granted us £10,000 towards the costs of this coming winter's Night Shelter. Thanks David for doing the work to get this application in. 

Then we heard Wiltshire Council had been successful in their bid for £300,000 of central government funds to help reduce the numbers of rough sleepers in Wiltshire towns. Devizes gets a fair slice of this because we had made a good case for a winter Night Shelter in the town.

St. Andrew's Church can now go ahead and make alterations to their premises. Opendoors can draw up a job description for Night Carer and then advertise for two people to job share this post. Volunteers will also be needed to help with cooking and with evening and night shilfts.

 

MAY 2018 

 A task group has put together a draft Handbook for running a Winter Night Shelter for rough sleepers next winter. However, funds are needed to pay for alternations to the upstairs area at St. Andrew's Church and to pay for a co-ordinator and without funding the plans 'stay on the table'. Please get in touch via the Contact Us tab on the Menu Bar if you would like to get involved. 

Our application to become a partner of Green Pastures has been accepted. They are a national Christian organisation providing homes for those most in need. We are now putting a team of people in place to take ongoing responsibility for the Supported Housing Project (property yet to be acquired) and for the welfare of the occupants. If you have money to invest, Green Pastures give a good rate of return. The more that local people invest, the bigger the benefit to this Opendoors project. 

 

APRIL 2018 

Planning has got underway for a befriending scheme we are calling Trinks. For an idea of how this might work please click on the word Trinks (Three-way Links). A task group is meeting every three weeks on a Tuesday morning. The emphasis at the moment is very much on the sort of training we should be offering not only those considering becoming a Befriender but also for those volunteers who have recently joined us. A member of Working Links (in the probation service) and someone from Turning Point (substance misuse advisory service) are proving to be a great help. Please get in touch via the Contact Us tab on the Menu Bar if you would like to get involved. 

A task group has started putting a plan together to provide a Winter Night Shelter for rough sleepers next winter. It is meeting every two weeks on a Tuesday and hopes to have a Handbook ready in teh next month or two. Several more grant applications have gone in during the last few weeks.  Funds are needed to pay for alternations to the upstairs area at St. Andrew's Church and to pay for a co-ordinator. We hope to appoint him or her in the early autumn to help organise not only teh Shelter but also the current ongoing Opendoors activities . Please get in touch via the Contact Us tab on the Menu Bar if you would like to get involved. 

Our application to become a partner of Green Pastures has been accepted. They are a national Christian organisation providing homes for those most in need. We are now putting a team of people in place to take ongoing responsibility for the Supported Housing Project (property yet to be acquired) and for the welfare of the occupants. If you have money to invest, Green Pastures give a good rate of return. The more that local people invest, the bigger the benefit to this Opendoors project. 

 

 

SPONSORED SLEEP OUT A BIG SUCCESS

Sleepout2017

A group of adults and children recently got an idea of what it must be like to be homeless at this time of year. They took part in the Annual Sponsored Sleep Out at St. Mary’s Church, Devizes over the week-end 2nd/3rd December. There were seventeen in the group, their ages ranged from 7 to 70 and they came prepared for a cold night. Before settling down, many spent time crafting Christmas cards and a lot took up the challenge of creating structures from newspaper (that could support a raw egg at the great height!)

 

At about 11 o’clock, after soup or hot chocolate, people started bedding down. Most chose to sleep outside in the church yard. Others took the more comfortable option and settled down in the church itself. It turned out to be an undisturbed night for many, but some did find it difficult to sleep because of the noise of traffic and the uncertainty of who might be about.

At about 7 o’clock people woke to the smell of cooked bacon and the realisation that a reporter from BBC Radio Wiltshire had arrived to ask them about the experience. Several said that it had had quite a sobering effect on them and they had now got a lot more sympathy with those who are sleeping rough night after night, without a bed to go home to.

Sally Rhodes, who helped organise the Sleep Out said, “What a great privilege to be involved with Opendoors, seeing first-hand the support and enthusiasm from volunteers. Our supporters and our sponsors are amazing and have made this year’s sleep out a real a success”.