Emergency shelter for rough sleepers to come in from the cold

As nights turn colder, Guildford’s Homeless Outreach and Support Team is working extra hard to help rough sleepers to access accommodation and leave life on the streets behind.

The Homeless Outreach and Support Team (HOST) run by Riverside.

The Homeless Outreach and Support Team (HOST) is commissioned by Guildford Borough Council and run by Riverside, working in partnership with Number Five night shelter, Guildford Action drop-in, local hostels and further services during periods of severe weather, offering every rough sleeper a warm bed, food, access to facilities and support.

The HOST team responds to reports from the public if they have seen a person sleeping rough. They visit locations and offer immediate practical and emotional support and a bed. No-one in Guildford is excluded from using the service through eligibility or status.

Ketan Patel, Riverside’s Area Manager for Guildford, said: “Before weather conditions worsen, we want to let people know about the HOST service which operates all year round, the special arrangements in place for winter and how the public can help.

“We are fortunate to have a range of services and a supportive council in Guildford to help homeless people, but we cannot be complacent. Tackling homelessness is a huge challenge; every person is unique and a key element of our work is to listen carefully and remain non-judgemental. It is challenging work, in what is sometimes a difficult environment, but there are specialist services out there to help with all kinds of issues.”

One such service is the Indigo Project, which provides additional support to rough sleepers and people at risk of homelessness who are experiencing mental health problems. Indigo is funded by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government and is run in partnership with Riverside, Guildford Borough Council and Surrey County Council’s Adult Social Care Team.

Riverside and Catalyst are also working in partnership on the newly formed Amethyst Project, supporting rough sleepers with specialist outreach support for substance misuse, aiming to reduce use with a view to achieving abstinence in the future. Indigo and Amethyst work together to overcome dual diagnosis barriers and to ensure a balanced approach to treatment and housing.

Ketan added: “I want to reassure people that rough sleepers in Guildford are offered help all year round and are never forgotten. Rough sleeping is now very visible in our town centre, so if you see anyone rough sleeping please don’t hesitate to contact the HOST team. In winter, during periods of severe weather, additional emergency beds are funded by the council, in partnership with local homeless agencies, to ensure that no one has to sleep rough. We take every opportunity to encourage people to come in from the cold.”

Real Change Guildford is a community initiative raising funds generated from local businesses to end homelessness and to prevent people as risk of homelessness in Guildford. For more details visit: www.realchangeguildford.co.uk

You can help rough sleepers in Guildford by reporting any sightings or sharing any concerns you may have to the HOST team: [email protected] or call 01483 302495.

Alternatively contact Streetlink, the national rough sleeper reporting line: www.streetlink.org.uk (you can also download an app). Tel 0300 5000914

If the person needs urgent medical attention please dial 999 for an ambulance immediately.