To mark #WorldHomelessDay we are sharing with you some of the work we are doing to support local people in finding homes and getting off the streets.
Sleeping rough in Teignbridge
Last year we supported over 20 individuals into alternative accommodation after they were reported to be sleeping rough in Teignbridge. This is one person’s story of sleeping rough:
“I have been rough sleeping on and off for over 15 years and have had drug and alcohol issues for over 30 years. I have had two placements in detox/rehab facilities and also had a few prison sentences.
"Prior to where I live now, I had poor physical health and issues managing my anger which made me not want to accept the support being offered. Life felt mundane and I couldn’t see a way out of it. I was accepted into a rehab placement last year but unfortunately, I was asked to leave after a few weeks due to my behaviour and returned to rough sleeping in the Teignbridge area. It felt like I was starting from the beginning again and began to drink heavily.
"The outreach team would come to see me regularly, but I was not interested in engaging with them and struggled to attend appointments they arranged for me with services such as the GP and drug & alcohol services. I found appointments awkward, there were a lot of them and it wasn’t a priority for me at that time. I felt like I was getting nowhere and hadn’t realised just how bad things had got.
"Due to my increased alcohol use, ambulances would regularly be called out and eventually I was taken into hospital where I was placed on a ward with older gentleman and put under a detox. The hospital made contact with the outreach team, who came to visit me at the hospital and it was at this point my mindset changed as I felt like people were fighting my corner and wanting to help me.
"On discharge from the hospital, I was placed in a Housing First property and have been here for over a year. I am visited regularly by the outreach team and they help me to fill out forms, book appointments and are there if and when I need them. I now feel ok with appointments and feel better health wise. I have also signed up for an IT course which starts early next year.”
Sam, Housing Caseworker
Sam explains the work involved in supporting people to remain in their homes, move into settled accommodation or from street homelessness into specialist temporary accommodation until they are ready to move on into their own tenancy.
“I’ve been a Housing Caseworker for Teignbridge since April 2019 and it can certainly be said that no two days are the same in this role due to the wide variety of people who come to us for help.
“Although this role can be very challenging and stressful, it can also be extremely rewarding when we are able to have a positive impact on people’s lives. Quite often it’s not just about housing, it’s also helping people to engage with other support services in order to help them obtain and sustain suitable accommodation.
“One young man I’ve worked with recently had been evicted by his landlord due to the impact his mental health and his issues with drugs and alcohol was having on other tenants. The young man had stopped engaging with mental health and drug and alcohol support following the death of a close friend and he was self-harming on a regular basis. He had been in prison in the past, has a history of rough sleeping and has struggled to maintain accommodation for any length of time.
"We were able to provide temporary accommodation for him and I referred him to Sanctuary Supported Living for basic support while I worked on a longer term plan. I referred him to Teignbridge’s STAR project and he was placed on the waiting list. STAR is the Supported Temporary Accommodation and Resettlement (STAR) scheme and it has been designed to help entrenched rough sleepers with high support needs where other housing options have been unsuccessful in providing suitable accommodation. The aim with our STAR project is to provide a stable, independent home with intensive personal support and case management to homeless people with multiple complex needs.
"The outreach team and myself met with this young man on a regular basis and set him a list of achievable tasks each time, whilst we waited for a STAR placement to become available. He made an appointment with his GP which led to him being reconnected with mental health support and he also reconnected with drug and alcohol support.
"He went into a STAR property in May this year and receives continued support from the outreach team and from CCP (Caring for Communities and People), who are a charity we work with. He still has a way to go before he can move onto completely independent living, but he continues to engage with support and services and is doing well."
Rowan, Specialist Change Practiction
Rowan is a specialist Change Practitioner working with our housing team. She explains her role and how she helps rough sleepers.
“Hi, I am Rowan, and I am the Specialist Change Practitioner in a new project joint funded till March 2024 between Devon Partnership Trust and Livewell around improving access to Mental Health services and support for people who are rough sleeping or experiencing homelessness in the South Hams, West Devon and Teignbridge area.
“We are piloting in this area so we can better understand the challenges of a rural area, learning from this pilot will go alongside work in our urban areas, such as Exeter, Plymouth, Torbay and Barnstaple, to develop approaches to improve access to support and treatment across Devon.
“We want services and systems to be designed in partnership with the people using and working within them. We need to do more than guess what is needed and what they want.
“We are mental health professionals and peer researchers working together to get out and meet with people with experience of homelessness and mental illness and the people who work with them. We want to hear what matters to them, and what could make things better.
“We are also trying to build a clearer picture of what support is out there, joining up the dots and making sure everyone has access to this information in a simple, clear and accessible way. There is some great stuff going on in our communities and we need to shout about it!”