Ali and went out with a third lady, called Fae. We drove around Croydon on Sunday night, hoping to find some people and bring them into housing. Outreach is a program done by the local council in and around London, the main aim is to try and get homeless and other disadvantaged people into accommodation and housing for the night and onto permanent housing.
Ali has been doing this for a few months now, going out once a week or two, I have always heard her talking about it afterwards. The program has intrigued me, I never knew it existed before Ali went on it. I knew there maybe people going out during the day, I sometimes see them talking to homeless people on the street on my way to work. However I never gave them to much thought, hearing Ali talking about the passion some of these people had in trying to find and help these disadvantaged people made me curious.
Ali likes her knew job, which is working for a local government organisation that deals with homeless people. She talks about how nice the people are, the passion they have for their job and how the work is. Over the months I have felt an urge to see this part of London, the helpers and those that need help.
I asked whether I could go out on a night, and was given the go ahead by the company. I was nervous before heading out, I had never met Fae before and was unsure as to how the night would proceed.
Fae is a wonderful person, she has the enthusiasm and drive to do the job well. She wants to truly help the people, whatever their situation. She luckily drove, so we were picked up and on a way to Croydon. We were there from 9pm-1am, driving around Croydon. Finding people that had been referred to the main branch, we had their sleep location and would head over to them and hopefully find the recently homeless.
We met one person outside of a park at around 11pm, it was freezing. This guy was fully dressed up in a overcoat and woolly cap, he told me he would be sleeping on the park benches for the night. Fae did an assessment of him, and registered him back on the system. Unfortunately on that night we were unable to help him fully, but hopefully with the information Fae gave him he will do fine and get back on his feet.
The most surreal thing for me was that he acted so normal, if I had met him at a coffee shop or supermarket I wouldn’t have been able to tell he was homeless. We stood opposite each other and just chatted, I was trying to find out more about him and he happily answered what questions he could. He seemed to accept the situation he was in, and new the path to getting back onto his feet.
Going forward, we were unable to meet most of the people on our list. However, we did find a few new sleep spots for some of the people we were after. Hopefully Fae or someone else will be able to find those homeless on another night.
I think also I have wiped a few misconceptions of homeless people, before at night I would just walk to my destination as quickly as possible. Try to not be engaged by homeless people, or otherwise get their attention. This is because I am always slightly nervous when travelling around, at night that feeling goes up a lot. I don’t like to stop and chat to people at night, though if I have money I would try to give change to any person asking for it.
Now I realise that they are not scary, they are just trying to make their way in life. As I found out on the night, if we go and talk to them they are more then happy to respond. They will chat back, be happy someone is talking to them.
I will be trying to head to more Outreach night, I really did enjoy it and the ability to help people. There are many people that need the help, I am very thankful the Outreach program is there to help these disadvantaged people.
Anyway that is all from me, just a brief overview of how the night went.