This article was featured in Richmond Council’s and Sutton Council’s newsletters, and Community Action Sutton’s newsletter.
The Covid-19 pandemic in 2020/21 led to one of SPEAR’s busiest years in its 33-year history. Like other frontline services, SPEAR Homelessness Charity had to react immediately and take on new caseloads of people sleeping rough or without somewhere secure to live. Following the Government’s ‘Everyone In’ directive, offering every rough sleeper accommodation, SPEAR urgently found people a safe living environment, which also prevented the spread of coronavirus amongst the most vulnerable in our community.
SPEAR worked with many partners during this time, who were overwhelming with their support, but there were two organisations that SPEAR partnered with who went above and beyond with the provisions they offered. They were: Enabling Assessment Service London and Lamington Group. For this reason, our Integrated Outreach Manager, Lisa Moodie is presenting them with a Partner or Provider of the Year award, for their unwavering commitment.
SPEAR’s Outreach teams across Richmond, Kingston, Wandsworth and Sutton worked tirelessly to support homeless people off the streets. In 2020/21 they worked with almost 700 people.
One Outreach Worker commented:
“Our caseload grew rapidly, finding more rough sleepers almost every night we went out. In particular, those whose homelessness was previously hidden (using a friend’s floor or the sofa of a family member) have been left with nowhere to go. The social impact of lockdown was incredibly challenging and these challenges are ongoing.”
Outreach Workers persevered and were able to engage with many entrenched rough sleepers who had previously not accepted help, or people who had recently found themselves homeless due to the impact of the pandemic on precarious living environments.
SPEAR’s Outreach Service is just one part of fully supporting a person from homelessness to independence. Staff work closely with multiple organisations and agencies on a range of issues, from mental and physical health needs to accessing benefits, education, training and more. One positive outcome from the pandemic was the formation of many new relationships. As part of ‘Everyone In’, local authorities quickly secured accommodation with hospitality providers so that people sleeping rough could stay safe.
SPEAR is grateful to all its partners and thanks them all for their dedication during the last year. They are particularly proud to present these awards to EASL and Lamington Group for their exceptional work to accommodate and support clients throughout Covid.
Enabling Assessment Service London (EASL) is a team of highly qualified and experienced mental health professionals. They provide mental health assessments as well as structured advice, training and support for staff who support people experiencing homelessness. The multiagency work between EASL and SPEAR has been a successful and strong partnership since it began. This intensified during the pandemic. EASL attend targeted outreach shifts with SPEAR teams to see rough sleepers with suspected mental health challenges, and perform mental health assessments on the streets. The assessment report, and their fierce advocacy, then assists in getting these clients the right mental health support through statutory agencies, when at times this has been difficult for clients to access them in the past. Since the pandemic, EASL have also accompanied SPEAR to the hotels to assess clients in these settings.
In addition to this, EASL attend team meetings with SPEAR to discuss mutual clients and formulate care plans. During these meetings they also give practical advice to SPEAR workers on how to approach other clients who are showing signs of mental distress. They have provided training on topics such as Care Act Assessments, and more recently, SPEAR has begun to access reflective practice for staff through EASL.
SPEAR would like to award EASL: Outreach Partner of the Year.
Lisa presents award plaque to Patrick Goodwin of EASL
Integrated Outreach Manager, Lisa Moodie, praised their efforts:
“Barney and his team have been incredibly helpful, dedicated practitioners, who are willing to both support SPEAR and share their expertise, to facilitate the right outcomes for clients, and we are deeply appreciative of this partnership. SPEAR would like to particularly highlight the excellent work of Patrick Goodwin and Cathy Harwood, who are the lead professionals in the boroughs we service.”
EASL’s Executive Director, Barney Wells, added:
“We have been so pleased to work and to continue to work with SPEAR. As mental health professionals committed to supporting people who are socially marginalised, it makes all the difference to be working alongside SPEAR who share this focus. We really appreciate the dedication to the people they work with and the individual workers’ interest and willingness to reflect on how best to help. We are very grateful to be given this award and would also like to thank the Greater London Authority who fund the work we undertake with outreach teams in London.”
Lamington Group offers a variety of solutions for short, medium and long term stays in London and other UK cities. During the pandemic they provided single occupancy accommodation for rough sleepers, including people who were at high risk of infection needing to self-isolate.
SPEAR would like to award Lamington Group: Apartment Provider of the Year during the Pandemic.
Lisa presents award plaque to Robert Godwin of Lamington Group
Lisa was delighted with the results of the new partnership:
“Lamington Group provides serviced apartments of outstanding quality, but during the pandemic, offered their facilities to Richmond and Wandsworth Local Authorities, to house vulnerable rough sleepers.
On the initial arrival to the apartments, there were tears from some of the clients, because they couldn’t believe that they were being provided such nice accommodation. These people who often live on the fringes of society, and who are often ignored or treated badly by others, felt like they were being seen.
It was a very different group of people than the Lamington team were used to, with their own unique challenges, but we have been so impressed at how Lamington Group have adapted, and have always treated our clients with respect and dignity. A number of the Lamington team (pictured below) even gave up their own Christmas day to organise a meal and give a gift to the clients accommodated there, to ensure they also gave them a Christmas to remember.
In addition to this, as the pandemic eases and clients are moved on to more permanent accommodation, Lamington Group have offered a number of their long-let apartments, to really help some of our clients get back on their feet.
We’re deeply appreciative of the respect and care the Lamington Group have shown our clients during the pandemic, and sincerely thank them for all their support.”
Lamington Group’s Managing Director, Robert Godwin, remarked:
“As a family business who have been based in Hammersmith for over 50 years, we have always been heavily engaged with our local community. We are delighted to be recognised with this award and are pleased to have played a big part in the lives of many rough sleepers during such a difficult time. It has been a challenging yet rewarding experience for the team and it’s been a pleasure working with SPEAR. We look forward to continuing to work together moving forward.”
Both organisations were presented with an award plaque as a token of our appreciation.
Running since 1987, SPEAR is a homelessness charity operating in the London boroughs of Richmond, Kingston, Merton, Sutton and Wandsworth. We recognise that homelessness is more than just a housing issue, so we offer a range of accommodation and support services to help people develop skills, improve their health and wellbeing, and build a fulfilling life. We work closely with support services, volunteers, local authorities, businesses and individuals in the local community to enable sustainable change in people’s lives.
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Get an insight into what Outreach work involves from trainee Rebecca – https://www.spearlondon.org/rebeccas-trainee-outreach-role/