A charities Homeless Outreach team have won an award from the High Sherriff of Shropshire for their devotion and commitment to the task of ending rough sleeping and homelessness in Telford and Wrekin.
Paul Sansome, Homeless Outreach Coordinator, and Emilea Watts, Outreach Worker, deliver the Homeless Outreach service for Stay, a local homelessness charity. When the pandemic prompted the Governments ‘Everyone In’ initiative, Paul and Emilea worked round the clock as an on-call service to work with individuals found to be sleeping rough to bring them into emergency accommodation through a partnership with Telford & Wrekin Council and other local charities – the Rough Sleeper Task Force.
Rough sleepers have been particularly affected during the pandemic; if an individual contracts the virus, they have no means to self-isolate and recover – also leaving the individual to mix with the community and allow further spread of the virus. However, since March 2020 over 400 individuals have been placed in hotel and B&B accommodation in Telford and Wrekin, many of whom have been long term rough sleepers who struggle to maintain a tenancy due to deep rooted mental health and substance misuse issues related to past trauma. These ‘hard to reach’ individuals traditionally mistrust support services, but the specialist skills that Paul and Emilea posses have broken down the barriers that prevent these individuals engaging in the help they so desperately need to move forward with their lives.
Paul and Emilea are called upon night and day to help rough sleepers access accommodation, and to work with those in emergency hotel and B&B accommodation who may be struggling to engage with the housing, mental health and drug and alcohol services available to find stability in their lives.
Stay CEO Terry Gee says:
“We are not big on singling out individuals here at Stay, as the work that each and every one of our 34 paid staff, and our volunteers, is of such value and importance, but I am so pleased that Paul and Emilea will be receiving this prestigious award. I have never worked with such passionate and dedicated individuals than those who I have met at Stay; Paul and Emilea are no exception.
“When I think of the devotion Paul and Emilea give to this service I literally burst with pride; 6am starts to update partners on the activities of the night before; being onsite across numerous hotels and B&Bs to deliver food, clothing and Covid tests; 2am call outs to meet and support someone on need; visiting victims of domestic violence at their hospital bedside and later walking shoulder to shoulder into court to bring justice against the perpetrator; working 60 hours weeks now – all this before religiously attending the task force partnership meeting each and every morning to update decision makers who sit away from the front line to ensure the team can make the correct decisions based on intelligence only shared with Paul and Emilea. I’m sure Dean Harris, The High Sheriff of Shropshire had very many nominations for these awards – but I am so glad she gave this one the consideration it deserves.
“As a charity, we struggle to resource this most valuable of services. In fact, we are not sure what funds will be in place from next month – but what we never have any issue in providing, is praise and admiration for this team.
If you, or someone you know of is homeless, or are risk of becoming homeless, you can call Stay’s Homeless Outreach service on 07772890017.