Ben's Centre outreach during Covid-19 - 18/03/2021
Ben’s Centre’s outreach team aim to patrol the streets of Sheffield city centre each week-day for a period of around 3 hours per day, this has been reduced due to covid 19 restrictions. We are currently seeing between 10 and 30 clients per day and during those interactions we try to provide a consistent presence and a listening ear in a safe and non-judgemental way. Our outreach workers are the ‘swiss army knife’ of street-based support and can provide clothes, food, hot drinks, access to phones and the internet as well as encouragement and an escort service to appointments.
We attend city wide support and information sharing meetings and ensure that we are informed and equipped to support all individuals whilst on the streets. In this respect we are a part of the existing safety net provided by many services in Sheffield and this helps us to ensure that no individual slips through the cracks and is left without access to services, food, shelter, comfort and connectivity.
We work towards ‘small victories’ and recognise that trust and relationship building is key to any progress. Some examples of these victories are building the trust of an individual to the point of them agreeing to attend our day centre for further support. Arranging delivery of keys to newly acquired accommodation and being a listening ear to individuals who feel alone and frustrated with systems that are out of their comfort zone.
Often individuals will not accept items of food or comfort until they feel safe and trust the worker in front of them. The streets and compounded life trauma can often leave individuals feeling threatened and mistrustful of anyone trying to help them, they feel ostracized, in some cases, unworthy of the support they are being offered. Only repeated interactions and gradual relationship building can help to reduce this state of mind.
Daryl Bishop, Ben's Centre CEO, March 2021