In our previous post, we found how Emily joined SPEAR as we launched Fresh Start, our Homeless Prevention Programme.
So what followed Fresh Start?
So, then SPEAR was offered funding for rough sleeper Navigators, another pilot scheme.
We still have Outreach workers helping those entering our programme, but Navigators offer wrap-around support for people with more complex needs. These might be clients who suffer from substance abuse, mental health issues, experienced domestic violence or legal problems- people with multiple issues, two or three at once.
Navigators offer more intense support and look at wider needs. Outreach workers focus on housing, and Navigators support their vital work while helping with anything else that might affect a client’s ability to maintain their accommodation.
We were working with people who had not experienced structure for some time, so it wasn’t just a question of signposting clients to different organisations but also getting them to touch base with the client. A Navigator builds a relationship with the client so they can feel safe and supported.
One time, I was responsible for a client getting their medication for their Schizophrenia. It’s humbling how much responsibility we have to link clients to statutory and medical services. Thanks to my knowledge of their circumstances as well as them trusting me, the process of getting assistance was made easier. Without Navigators, I don’t know how outside agencies would find those needing their help or if clients would even accept their help.
After about six months or so, SPEAR needed an interim Team Leader for Wandsworth Outreach which I did for a couple of months alongside my Navigator role.
So then you were a Team Leader?
Yes, it happened quite quickly, as I took over the team I was a Navigator for. It was in 2019, so pre-Covid.
This was my favourite job at SPEAR. The team was just the best, the drive within it was incredible – my colleagues were so collaborative. It was really dynamic, everyone cared about thinking outside the box. I learned the most there.
Until being a team leader, I had never really fully considered what we ask our frontline staff to do. To walk into a dark park at two in the morning is the opposite of what your body is telling you to do. Or watching someone struggling with a serious mental health crisis, and having to stand with them for hours while waiting for an ambulance. These are amazingly dedicated people who put the needs of those they are helping first.
It was a huge honour to work with these dedicated people. Clients can’t take the journey from homelessness to independence without taking that first step, and Outreach Teams make that first step possible. The Outreach Teams aren’t able to do this without the help of SPEAR supporters, so if you see someone in need of their help, please go to the Street Link referral tool and help us change lives.