Former rough sleepers helping others off the streets

A group of former rough sleepers are being trained as outreach workers to help get homeless people off the streets. The Street Buddies project, run by housing and care provider Riverside English Churches Housing Group, began in January this year.

The group is being trained on issues such as substance use, mental health, professional boundaries and knowledge of the range of care services available. The scheme is being run in partnership with Westminster City Council and is being funded by the Homeless Transition Fund.

Last Wednesday Cllr Rachael Robathan, the council’s cabinet member for adult social care, congratulated the first group to go on the course and presented them with certificates at the Connection at St Martin’s-in-the Fields, Trafalgar Square.

Cllr Robathan said: “I’m very proud of this project and particularly proud to welcome you to the team of people working with us to help homeless people across the borough.

“As a group you have unique skills and your experience and the way you have turned your own lives around will, I hope, enable you to engage with many other rough sleepers and provide a powerful example of what can be achieved.”  One of the group to receive a certificate on Thursday was former rough sleeper Mariusz.

Mariusz began sleeping rough after his life spiralled out of control following the end of his marriage. He became addicted to drugs and stole to feed his habit. He said: “Because we’ve all been there ourselves. We know how to relate to people on the street. I really do want to connect with these people and tell them there is an alternative.” Natalie Lodge, Street Buddies coordinator, said: “This is a very exciting project that has the potential to change the way services are delivered in the future. We are using the expertise and knowledge that already exists on the street. Homeless people are part of the solution not the problem.”

Source: Feb.2013

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