Helping rough sleepers in Stroud

helping rough sleepers in stroud - Helping rough sleepers in Stroud
helping rough sleepers in stroud 2 - Helping rough sleepers in Stroud

AS TEMPERATURES start to fall, information has been issued about helping rough sleepers in the area.

Last week, shoppers rallied to care for a young homeless woman who was asking for help at Morrisons in Nailsworth.

But many passers-by said they struggled to know what to do for the best.

The issue of homelessness was also mentioned at Thursday night’s Sub Rooms hustings, with figures showing around five people are currently rough sleeping in the Stroud area.

With this in mind, Marah, which supports vulnerable men and women in Stroud, has shared advice about what to do if you are concerned about rough sleepers.

Drop-in manager Michael Athienites believes striking up a conversation is a good way to start.

“Rough sleepers are often treated with hostility, so a friendly and respectful approach is often welcomed,” he said.

“You can offer to buy a person food and a drink and also ask them if there is anything they need.

“It may be they may need toiletries or other items. Your kindness will be appreciated.

“Rough sleepers often tell us how people don’t acknowledge they exist when they see them and that they are often verbally abused and physically attacked.”

Michael also recommends using Streetlink, a website, mobile app and phone line which enables people to send an alert when they see someone sleeping rough, to connect them to local support services.

The service can be contacted online via StreetLink.org.uk, on a 24-hour hotline: 0300 500 0914 or by downloading the app.

“You don’t need to pass on much information, just the location and a basic description of the person,” said Mr Athienites.

“Other local services should take a referral from you if you prefer not to use the Streetlink app, including your neighbourhood warden and local PCSO, and they will pass your concern on to the outreach team who will aim to make contact with the person and offer support, advice and access to accommodation.

“Marah will not refer anyone to support services without their permission. Some people are wary of officialdom and reluctant to work with outreach, but they will often do so following their contact with us.

“We then work closely to ensure rough sleepers are supported in their relationship with support services.”

Marah runs drop-in sessions in Stroud on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, where people can have a free hot meal and access advice and support services.

“As well as providing a hot meal, we can also provide sleeping bags, toiletries and food,” said Mr Athienites.

“And you can always call the Marah office for advice on helping a homeless person.” See marah.org.uk

A spokesman for Stroud District Council agreed that StreetLink was a good first port of call.

He added: “During bad weather, a Severe Weather Emergency Protocol is actioned and emergency accommodation made available for people sleeping rough, and they will be offered support to find more permanent housing.”

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