Kat Agnew and Alex Lavin, our Scottish Outreach Workers, have extensive experience working with rough sleepers in London. Based at the Connection at St Martin in the Fields in Central London. Homeless Scots are referred to them by all London boroughs. They regularly go out to meet clients on the streets.
The duration of his interventions can vary from 2 weeks to 18 months. This depends on the client’s ability to address root causes, which can include substance misuse and availability of suitable accommodation. In some parts of London, the shortage of housing available to clients can lead to several months of waiting for an offer of accommodation. This partnership benefits both organisations: it provides the Connection with extra staff to work in a more innovative way with Scots, and enables Borderline to reach some of the most vulnerable homeless Scots in London.
Our original target for this project was to help 15 homeless Scots each year. In the first year we supported 26 clients, 51 in the second year, 59 in the third year. This past year (April 2017-March 2018), we were in contact with 68 clients, nearly four and a half times our original target. Of these, 7% were female.
Our clients have multiple needs. Our assessments showed that 66% of them had mental health support needs, 47% of them had alcohol misuse issues, 56% had drug misuse issues and 65% were considered to have physical health needs. In addition, 71% of the assessed clients have been in prison and 6% have served in the armed forces. This shows the complexity of the work carried out by our Scottish Outreach Worker, often requiring engagement over long periods of time with each client.
Our projects provide access to Borderline’s free helpline for general information and advice as well as a walk-in service where homeless Scots can speak confidentially to one of our team.
Borderline also provides household starter grants for tenants who have previously been homeless and may not have basic necessities to set up home. We offer clothing grants of up to £150. If a client has a history of substance misuse, our client support workers will support the purchasing of clothes. We provide birth certificates for identification purposes and help to access employment, training and volunteering opportunities.