Relationships matter - the work of the HALT team

Relationships matter - the work of the HALT team - 23/03/2022

The HALT team is part of the Sheffield Treatment and Recovery Team (START) who provide support and treatment to people living in the city who are struggling with addiction to alcohol and drugs.

The HALT team’s remit is to provide support to difficult-to-engage people who are homeless, have a history of homelessness, or are at risk of homelessness, including those rough sleeping and sofa-surfing. They provide wrap-around support, including drugs and alcohol support, harm reduction advice, liaising with housing services, charities, and services working with this client group in the city; their work is another example of the partnership working that takes place every day.

The HALT team was set up during the pandemic and provided a vital service by visiting clients at hostels and hotels during the lockdown, ensuring they were able to access the support they needed by bringing it to them, so everybody could stay safe. Since restrictions have eased, HALT workers still visit clients at their accommodation, but much of their work is done on outreach in the city centre, which takes place daily. HALT workers accompany Framework on their early morning outreach, talking to rough sleepers about the support they can provide and encouraging people to access the help.

Framework often refer clients to the HALT team, as do drug and alcohol teams, and other charities and services in the city. Once a client begins working with the team they are assigned a worker, whose role is to provide the specific support that the client needs, from organising them to attend medical appointments to liaising with other services to ensure wrap-around support is in place.


Since the team was established, they have engaged with over 60 clients. Many of those clients were already accessing opiate replacement treatment, but with HALT’s support, a further 27 clients have now started accessing the support available.

Of the 27 service users who were found rough sleeping, sofa surfing or were homeless, 21 have been housed in temporary accommodation, supported accommodation or their own tenancies since engaging with HALT, in collaboration with partners at Framework, RSI team, Sheffield City Council and Shelter.


Help us Help spoke to HALT Recovery Workers, Jo Allott and Mary Brown, and Harm Reduction Lead, Dave O’Rourke, about some recent client successes from within the team.

“We have one male client who was very resistant to engaging with us or any other services. He was agitated and defensive whenever we spoke to him, and seemed to be a loner in the city centre. He was rough sleeping at the time, and the only place he would go for any support was Ben’s Centre. 

We kept on speaking to him, offering advice and encouraging him to engage. Then one morning on outreach he reluctantly accepted that he needed support, and worked with us and housing teams to find a space in a hotel. He was adamant that he would only stay for one night, then he would be back sleeping out again, but four months on he’s still there! He’s started accessing treatment services too, and is making good progress.”

“There’s another client who’s making good progress too. He is a serial beggar, always out in the city centre whatever the weather. He has been accessing our mobile needle exchange for years and has built up a good rapport with the team on the van, who have been continuing to offer support and harm reduction advice every time he attends. 

One day he said to the team on the van, ‘I’ve had enough, I’m ready for the help now’, so we rang our brilliant prescribing team straight away, and they responded immediately by getting him on a script. He’s much more stable now, and is doing well.”

“Our secret weapon is our relationship building. That’s what makes all the difference. We are out there all of the time, and our clients get to know us and trust us, so when they’re ready to accept the help we are there to put everything in place that they need. That’s why the Street Outreach Forum is so useful because we all meet regularly to share information and updates about clients, so everyone is up to speed on what’s happening, and who is engaging or not in the support.

Our joint outreach sessions are really useful too. Once our clients trust us, we can introduce them to colleagues from housing, or another service, and because they trust us, they start to trust another person too. We’re all there for the same reason, and that’s to provide that wrap-around support that helps people move away from a life on the streets.”


Alison Wise for Help us Help, March 2022