Outlook Issue 26 Winter 2018
News and Views from St. Mary's Woodbridge
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Help for rough sleepers
We have all noticed a number of people who appeared to be sleeping rough in our town this summer. Although the size of the problem is nothing like the situation in Ipswich, concern amongst the churches and others prompted a special meeting of Churches Together in Woodbridge and Melton (CTWM) at the Salvation Army Hall on 5 September. The invited speaker was Julia Hancock of the Selig Suffolk Trust which manages the Ipswich Night Shelter. Here’s what came out of the meeting: If you come across someone rough sleeping, report it on the Streetlink website: www.streetlink.org.uk, including details of where and when you have seen them and any other information they have given you (e.g. name, circumstances etc). It is fine to send a report every time you see this person, even if the circumstances are the same. These details are sent to the local authority which has a dedicated homeless outreach worker, who will then try and locate the person and see what help can be offered. It is a myth that if you are homeless you cannot claim benefits. Building a relationship If someone says they have no family or friends to help them, it may be because there are underlying issues in their lives. Rough sleepers may not wish to share their stories with you, as these can often be long and complicated and may bring back many bad or sad memories. Also, if they decide to seek help from the local authority or charities, they will have to explain their situation to them. Many rough sleepers have not had any healthy relationships in their lives and it takes the Selig workers time to build up a good relationship with each person. Some rough sleepers may have mental health issues which may sometimes be caused by substance abuse, so remember to keep ourselves safe as well. In Woodbridge we did for a short time have five rough sleepers, but presently there is only one. Some rough sleepers will travel around an area, but many will stay where they feel the safest or get the most help. Although there is more help available in Ipswich, it may not be helpful to take people into Ipswich. If they have connections in Woodbridge they are more likely to be considered for accommodation here. The Selig Trust requires all sorts of help and donations, but if you wish to give something other than money please ask them first what they need. They are also looking for people to volunteer at the Ipswich night shelter. All they ask is a commitment of once a fortnight. For more information or if you think you can help, please contact them via their website: www.iwns.org.uk. Peter Wintgens