The Open Road street drinkers project is a project that has been set up to help the homeless within Essex. We have a small team who work with these individuals, working alongside Essex police, the local councils ASB team, the zone manager of the local council as well as many other organisations. The idea of this project is to engage, assess and signpost the homeless into treatment & accommodation.
We aim to help the individuals in whatever way they may need. This can include a variety of things such as helping them find accommodation. The team will allow the individual to use their phone to make appointments, follow up information and will also attend meetings with them if they wish. As well as this they will keep a diary of appointments for the homeless community and visit them on the morning of the appointment to remind them of it as they often forget days/ times.
The team also have a harm reduction and relapse prevention measure. This is rolled out in many different ways such as: visiting individuals at their ‘normal spot’ and providing them with groups that may be happening that day or the next, giving drug users clean equipment and sharps boxes to prevent shared needles and used needles being left in the street and taking away existing used sharps boxes to be disposed of correctly.
Very often it is hard to engage with these individuals as they are not willing to share information about themselves to somebody they see as a stranger so we will visit them numerous times to build up a good rapport with them. Once this relationship has been formed we can begin to help them and signpost them to places such as the local food bank, homeless shelters/buses, churches that offer a place for them to sleep in the cold weather and support networks.