Safe Places in Poole

by Gerry Lynch last modified 17 Sep, 2015 02:25 PM

Church-supported charity offers supported accommodation for three rough sleepers

Safe Places in Poole

Gabi Sanger-Stevens and Susan Gittins noting work to be done in the kitchen of the new supported living maisonette.

A charity founded on Christian principles is to offer a safe place to stay to three rough sleepers in Poole.

Routes to Roots, originally an initiative of Churches Together in Poole, is working together with the Green Pastures charity to support some of the most vulnerable people in the Dorset town. Green Pastures has bought a maisonette, which will house three Routes to Roots’ clients. Routes to Roots is now in the process of repairs, redecoration and furnishing to enable them to move in.

The three clients will each have their own bedroom and share bathroom, kitchen and living space. Routes to Roots will work closely with them to support them as they take this first step back into society. The charity is conscious that, in order to maintain their accommodation once housed, many people require significant support if they are not to fall back into homelessness because they are unable to cope alone with paying their rent and bills, making benefits claims and job applications or are still struggling with alcohol or drug addictions. 

Housing shortages for homeless people with addiction problems are particularly severe in Poole. Many of those who sleep on the streets in the town are long-term rough sleepers or people who recycle into homelessness. Although the official Poole street count in November 2014 found just seven rough sleepers in the town, Routes to Roots has records on 17 people who were either rough sleeping or sofa surfing at that time – and they were only the people who came to the charity for help. 

This new venture has already won support in the community with Highworth Insurance employees undertaking a wide range of fundraising activities to be able to provide some of the white goods needed for the kitchen. A team from the Footprints Life Works Project and a local professional builder have agreed to help with the renovations at minimal cost and the charity is approaching other local groups for volunteer help and donations in cash and kind.

The Revd Pat Southgate, a priest at St Peter’s, Parkstone and Routes to Roots Chairman, said, “For Routes to Roots this is, of course, pastures new and we go into it with our eyes open and well aware of the challenges ahead. Compared to the stone cold concrete of a town centre car park, where they are most likely to currently reside, this accommodation is a major step forward. We have been assured by Green Pastures that they intend that this property will be the first of many they are willing to obtain for us and we are grateful to them for their faith in us and commitment to the rough sleepers of Poole”. 

Routes to Roots is also offering a number of new services at its base at Skinner Street United Reformed Church, with the aim of helping its clients live independently and successfully.

From this month, Poole Addictions Community Team (PACT) will be offering a service on a fortnightly basis at the Monday afternoon drop-in, including testing, vaccinations and medical advice, and hopes to include visits from their specialist alcohol nurses in the near future.

In addition, Poole Citizens Advice will be attending R2R Thursday afternoon drop-ins to engage with clients to inform them about the wide range of areas in which CAB may be able to help, such as benefit applications, housing, debt, family matters. Clients who need specific advice and help will be able to make an appointment to see a CAB Adviser in the R2R office.   

The charity also plans to provide health provision for homeless people from later in the year. 

Gabi Sanger-Stevens, responsible for management services, said, “We know that engaging with services such as the CAB and PACT in their offices can be daunting – it is not easy to keep appointments when you have a chaotic life of rough sleeping or making ends meet. We really appreciate the support of these organisations in bringing these vital services to our clients at a place where they feel safe and can easily make use of them. It will positively affect their general wellbeing as well as contributing to their ability to move back into society.” 

Learn more about the work of Routes To Roots with homeless people in Poole at www.routestoroots.org.

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