As the temperature drops and dark winter nights draw in, Guildford’s Homeless Outreach and Support Team (HOST) are working extra hard to help rough sleepers in the town access accommodation and leave life on the streets behind.
The Homeless Outreach and Support Team (HOST) is commissioned by Guildford Borough Council and run by Riverside Care and Support, working in partnership with Number Five night shelter, Guildford Action drop-in, local hostels and other statutory and voluntary services during periods of severe weather to offer every rough sleeper a warm bed, food, access to facilities and support to leave living on the streets. The HOST team respond 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 and the special arrangements that are in place for winter, and how they can help us.”
“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 problems.”
One such service is the Indigo Project which provides support to rough sleepers and people at risk of homelessness who are experiencing mental health problems and for whatever reason are unable to receive help from other services. Indigo is funded by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and is run in a partnership with Riverside, Guildford Borough Council, Surrey County Council Adult Social Care and Surrey and Borders Partnership Trust.
Ketan added: “It’s important to acknowledge that although some people resist accepting help from any agency this doesn’t deter us, we persevere and keep in touch until that person decides they want help, then we step in.
“I want to reassure people that rough sleepers in Guildford are offered help all year round and are never forgotten. In winter additional emergency beds are provided and we take every opportunity to encourage people to come in from the cold. There are many ways people can support our work and any help you are able to give is appreciated.”
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 500 0914
If the person needs urgent medical attention please dial 999 for an ambulance.
To contact the Indigo Project please call: 01483 302 495
To find out more about how you can help the agencies working with rough sleepers:
Homeless Outreach and Support Team
Number Five Nightshelter
Guildford Action Day Service