Domestic abuse survivor, Andy experienced homelessness when, under complex circumstances, he could not access his home or tools. After losing everything and several months on the streets, Andy’s mental health worsened.
After coming into contact with SPEAR, Andy was assigned a case worker who supported him to find accommodation and get involved with the local community. He quickly engaged in many activities, joined our Service Involvement Group, and completed the Peer Mentoring programme. In 2021, Andy received a Kingston’s Community Award from the mayor for his ”outstanding service to the Royal Borough during the coronavirus pandemic.”
Andy is now a full-time Outreach Worker at SPEAR.
My role as an Outreach Worker
I’ve come a long way personally, but I wouldn’t have been able to without SPEAR. The people are so committed and the job they do is just inspiring. Before being pushed into homelessness, I was a quite successful builder. I would have never imagined myself here, but when SPEAR supported me off the streets, I was fascinated. I thought what a wonderful thing to do and I now feel very lucky because I love my job.
A shift can take any time really. If you get more referrals, it can take longer because you first engage and them take down the details of each person you meet. Once you find someone rough sleeping, they are on their way up hopefully. I love going on my shifts, and would do it every night if I could. At the beginning of a shift, I’m always excited, I always feel proud because I myself have been there and I can go out and do the same thing someone has done for me. I want to find people, and when you find them, you can help them, like it happened to me.
On my first shift I felt really excited and proud because I had turned a corner and I was now doing what someone had done for me.
It’s not always easy. People on the streets are often looked at in a bad way, so you have to build trust. But no one gives up on them. We always carry on working with them and get them to trust us.
It’s the little things that count. I may be standing there for an hour talking about football. We’re the first point of contact and that chat might be the thing that gets them to accept our support.
When I come back with a signed consent form, I always smile because I know the person who signed it is ready for our support. It’s the start of the process. It does not happen overnight, but once we support someone into accommodation, we carry on working with them. At SPEAR, they will have a key worker but they can always come back to us, to me, they always have someone they can talk to.