An innovative new outreach service to address rough sleeping was launched in Norwich on Friday July 20. Pathways is a collaborative project between seven local organisations which aims to offer a creative and effective response to the current homelessness situation in the city. The project is led by St Martins.
The Pathways service is delivered by one team, employed by the different consortium organisations of the project; St Martins, Shelter, YMCA Norfolk, The Salvation Army, City Reach, The Feed and Future Projects.
Commissioned by Norwich City Council in March, Pathways offers a new partnership approach to addressing rough sleeping and supporting people with complex needs. The project will ensure that partners work together to deliver a joined up service. During the past four months, the Pathways team has been recruited and has started to offer services on the streets as well as support and advice from ‘hubs’ at various accessible locations around the city.
A safe and secure place to live provides a strong base from which to tackle other issues so as part of the project housing has been placed at the top of the agenda for those with complex needs. Housing options will include a range of accommodation within the consortium network.
Colin Martin, who was sleeping rough in Norwich 18 months ago shared his experiences at the launch event at City Hall on July 20. He said, “When looking at or working with a homeless person, try not to judge. Remember we are human beings with feelings and there are mainly good people behind the mask that is being portrayed. It’s hard to admit when you’ve reached rock bottom and need help so a bit of compassion is always good. No one in this world is perfect; we all make mistakes at some point in our lives. Some of us can cope, others don’t, and that makes us human.”
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Dr Jan Sheldon, Chief Executive of the lead partner St Martins said, “Pathways has been formed with the rough sleepers and those at risk from homelessness in mind. For the first time, support workers will step out of their organisations to provide a robust and unified approach.”
“Pathways doesn’t place expectations on people to follow a prescribed route out of homelessness, but rather provides them with targeted support with the goal of a positive outcome for each person.”
“In the past it was sometimes difficult for people to navigate through the appropriate services. People bounced between services and risked falling through the gaps. Pathways will take this stress away by providing a seamless and integrated service, so whether a person needs housing, healthcare or benefits advice, the Pathways team are equipped to provide this.”
Cllr Kevin Maguire, Norwich City Council’s cabinet member with responsibility for rough sleeping, said: “Today marks the beginning of a ground-breaking approach to homelessness and rough sleeping, and I am pleased to see the Pathways team come together to tackle these issues.
“As part of Norwich City Council’s strategy to reduce and, wherever possible, prevent homelessness, we have commissioned these specialist charities to collaborate to provide intensive, tailored support for those most in need.
“I would like to thank everyone involved for getting this project up and running, and wish the team the very best as they embark on this collaborative work.”
The Bishop of Norwich, The Rt Revd Graham James, has issued a statement of support for the project.
“Pathways is an inspired initiative to help rough sleepers and other homeless people to find their way to a more stable and secure life. The way in which so many organisations, all devoted to improving provision for the homeless in our city, have come together is a good news story in itself. What’s even better for rough sleepers themselves is that the creation of hubs around the city will mean a range of services can be accessed more readily.
Pathways has only be made possible by the public sector and voluntary agencies working together. Such generosity of heart and spirit is shared by many people in the city of Norwich whose compassion is frequently demonstrated by their gifts and donations to the charities involved in helping rough sleepers.
Pathways is deliberately in the plural. There are many ways out of rough sleeping and homelessness. The focus of Pathways will always be on the individual and access to it will be as easy and straightforward as possible. I am sure Pathways will be a blessing to many. I know the churches of the city will do all they can to support it.”