Homeless Link
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Meeting people where they are: outreach principles to support people sleeping rough

Rough sleeping outreach services are designed to meet people where they are, both geographically and emotionally. As FEANTSA states, outreach “is the work done with (not for or to) people experiencing homelessness, which happens outside the traditional settings of homelessness services”. Outreach is a more flexible approach to support compared to building based services, with the ability to target the most marginalised people.

Rough sleeping outreach services can be incredibly diverse in the way they are designed and delivered across England. Many outreach workers describe outreach services to be like “the wild west”; there are no ‘rules’, everyone does things differently, and there is often uncertainty surrounding entitlements to support. As a result of this, Homeless Link, with support from DLUHC, have developed a set of 8 principles for rough sleeping outreach services to ensure services are delivered in line with best practice and have some consistency. Across the principles, there is a real emphasis on flexibility, and adjusting the service to suit the needs of the individual.

Focus groups were conducted with people currently working in outreach services across the country where we asked them what they felt the purpose of outreach was and shared good practice around service design and delivery. We also held focus groups with people with direct experience of homelessness where we learnt about their experiences of outreach, highlighting good and sometimes bad practice. Learning from these focus groups were combined to create the principles which were reviewed again by the lived experience forum, people working in outreach, and DLUHC.

The principles can be used by new and existing outreach services to review policies and practices, and ultimately improve support for people sleeping rough. We encourage all outreach workers, managers, and commissioners to review the principles.

Homeless Link will be hosting a Community of Practice series in February which will be a reflective space for people working in outreach to come together, and think about how they can apply the principles to their work. We hope this will be an opportunity to meet with others working in the field, share common challenges, best practice, and drive change in the way outreach services are delivered.

Download the principles | Register for a reflective session

Channel website: http://www.homelesslink.org.uk

Original article link: https://homeless.org.uk/news/meeting-people-where-they-are-outreach-principles-to-support-people-sleeping-rough/

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