This week, the whole Church Housing Trust team attended the re-opening of a newly refurbished scheme for homeless men in Westminster.
First built in 1924, King George’s is a supported accommodation project for men affected by homelessness and substance misuse in Westminster.
The project has recently undergone a £450,000 redevelopment, focusing on remodelling its communal kitchens, bathrooms, and training facilities for the 68 people who live there. The building features nine flats where formerly homeless people benefit from one-to-one support.
The scheme is owned and run by Riverside Care and Support, which also runs Street Buddies, an outreach service working with entrenched rough sleepers. Church Housing Trust is proud to support Riverside with funding for Street Buddies and its Westminster refurbishment projects.
Street Buddies is a peer mentoring programme made up of volunteers, themselves former rough sleepers, who are trained in dealing with substance misuse and mental health issues. They help others to take their first steps re-engaging with support services and build the confidence and skills to transform their lives.
For David*, who had been on the streets for almost forty years, the idea that anyone could offer him a way out of homelessness seemed impossible until support worker Gary, a former rough sleeper himself, spotted him.
Gary says: “In my job as a part of the Street Buddies team I am able to use my own experience when I make contact with rough sleepers. David had refused help from many outreach agencies, but once I won his trust I could work with colleagues to get him into one of our specialist care and support centres, where we could help him look at the support he needed.”
Making connections with long-term rough sleepers was just one of the successes described to MPs, housing heads, and local agencies at King George’s on Wednesday. At the event, Riverside’s senior team and frontline support workers spoke about innovative new services that are regularly funded by Church Housing Trust.
Riverside’s Executive Director of Care and Support, Leann Hearne, said: “Each year we work with over 9,000 vulnerable people many of whom have mental health or addiction issues, or have experienced abuse, been in prison, are care leavers, or are even homeless veterans.
“With legislation currently going through Parliament that could dramatically affect care and support services, we are taking this opportunity to demonstrate the impact these services and our Programme of Support have on helping people transform their lives, develop skills and become productive contributors to their communities.”
Steve Davies, Riverside Area Manager, said: “Everyone at King George’s completes a six-week programme of intensive work around promoting safer use of drugs, harm reduction and treatment options. We follow this up with a designated pathway through the project with each flat providing an environment that is developed to meet peoples changing needs. Working with our customers, we address their support needs to plan their progress through King George’s and into addiction treatment or independent living.”