Rough Sleeper Successes
over the last eight months
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.