Sheffield's Street Outreach Network

Sheffield's Street Outreach Network - 20/01/2022

The Sheffield Street Outreach Network, together with Sheffield City Council’s Community Safety Team, has co-produced best practice guidance for groups, charities and individuals supporting people who are vulnerable, begging, or homeless on the streets in Sheffield.

We spoke to members of the Street Outreach Network to find out more about the guidance and what they gain from being part of the network.

Daryl Bishop, CEO of Ben's Centre, said, “Being part of the Street Outreach Network has been a blessing on many levels for us at Ben’s Centre. Not only does the network help us to coordinate a wrap-around support network for our vulnerable clients, it also allows us to offer our own experience, knowledge and expertise to a wider group of services.  

Helping to keep these much needed and valued services safe, encouraged and protected is a big part of the Street Outreach Network. We are able to share and receive best practice policies and procedures and keep a finger on the pulse of this ever-changing cohort of vulnerable people. 

We all have different perspectives and origins but the core of our aims are the same, together we can make a bigger impact on the people out there who truly need us.”

Tim Renshaw, CEO of Archer Project said, “We’re a sizable group of representatives from services who all support a similar cohort in the city. When Covid forced the closure of many services, and gathering in groups was no longer safe, we were forced to devise solutions to enable support to be offered, while still following the public health guidelines.

The Sunday Centre started their Walk & Talk sessions first, and reported good results from street outreach, with many clients responding well to informal but regular conversations on the streets, away from people they perhaps didn’t want to engage with. As a service, we do low level outreach, taking out bottles of water and snacks, all while building important relationships and helping people to address whatever they have going on. 

The guidance we are developing is important on many levels. The general public may not see the provision that already exists, so the guidance clarifies everything that is currently being offered. It highlights key considerations, such as food hygiene, and how to ensure the safety of both volunteers and those receiving the support. There’s information about lone working, and about how to have the right conversations with people, which can be something that volunteers struggle with at first. It’s all about ensuring the support is required, delivered in a coordinated way, and that everyone involved is working safely.”

Michaela Suckling, Parish Nurse from St Matthews said, “The last year has seen a growth in our multi agency outreach teams with new members joining the outreach forum. Building these relationships helps us to ensure we're giving the best care and signposting to the most appropriate services. It also means we can follow up on our referrals and encourage clients to attend appointments. We can also provide targeted support for our partner agencies. 

I was recently contacted by the outreach nurse who had a client without a phone but needing to access support via telephone appointments, the generosity of our donors meant we could provide a phone for her client. The development of the best practice guidance has been inclusive of all agencies. This reflects our strong commitment to ensuring best practice and ensuring a preferential option for the communities we serve.”

Aimee Lowe, Team Leader from Framework Street Outreach Team, said, “we work with the rough sleepers of Sheffield. We complete outreach 365 days of the year and have a good overview of the streets and the issues at any one time. I learn from the network what others are doing and I hope my contributions can also help others. 

It is a good way to network with others. We have linked up with the university and hope to get some volunteers who are interested in working with our client group. I hope we are also able to improve people’s knowledge on rough sleeping and have an overall understanding of the true numbers of rough sleepers.”

Meredyth Hayler from University of Sheffield Students’ Union, said, “Helping Hand is a student led volunteering project at the University of Sheffield. Student volunteers provide outreach support to people on the streets and also raise awareness of the Help Us Help campaign across the university, aiming to empower students to take action on issues of homelessness. The group also organises fundraising and donation campaigns in support of local homelessness charities. 

Being a part of the Street Outreach Network has been invaluable for the development of the Helping Hand project. It provides the team with opportunities to connect with all the charities and organisations working on the ground and to learn about the latest developments in the city regarding homelessness and rough sleepers. Network members share knowledge and expertise which really helps the students coordinate their volunteering work and campaigns to be as effective as possible.”

You can read the guidance in full here.


Alison Wise for Help us Help, January 2022.