StreetLink community spotlight - Igor

Igor is an outreach coordinator at St Mungo’s in Bristol. Here he tell us about how Streetlink alerts are used, and what to expect on a typical outreach team shift.  

Are the alerts helpful, do they contain the right information?

The alerts are very helpful at locating people in hidden and isolated areas. There are many people who are visible in Broadmead (in Bristol),  and we know of the hotspots in the city. Where the public making referrals can really help us is if they see someone in an unusual location. We would ask people to give as much information as possible, such as location, what the person looks like and is wearing, the colour of the sleeping bag or tent.

How often do you go out overnight?

We have a number of teams and they cover night and day shifts. People in tents and make-shift shelters are harder to reach than a person who is sleeping in a sleeping bag on the streets. The tents are a barrier and people sleep in longer so we have adapted our shifts times to reach as many people as possible.

How do you plan your route?

We have specific teams who look after the Streetlink alerts. We go through the lists and identify the people we are not currently aware of. They would be our priority and plan our route accordingly. The other teams will continue to connect with the people we have already began building a relationship with.

How do you approach rough sleepers, are they happy to see you?

We give people space, we are careful not to overwhelm people. We offer a coffee and we introduce ourselves as the outreach team. Sometimes people are happy to chat, at other times we will leave them a cup of a coffee and arrange to come back later in the day when they are awake and have had time to gather their thoughts. It can be a slow process, but we meet people where they are and work with them at their pace.

Are a lot of people who are rough sleeping known to you?

Yes, because we are out so often and build relationships with people.

Is it about building up a relationship rather than just taxiing people to a local hostel etc?

It’s never just taxiing someone to a local hostel. We have a one city approach in Bristol and work in partnership with many agencies. The night shelter is the start of the recovery process. At St Mungo’s we pride ourselves on our holistic approach, supporting people off the streets and into appropriate accommodation but ensuring they have the right support in place to reduce the risk of returning to the streets. However, if people do return to the streets, we never give up on them, we will continue to meet with them and to support them.

What are the reasons that lead people to be rough sleeping?

In Bristol the top three reasons for people rough sleeping are:

  • Eviction 
  • Relationship breakdown
  • Leaving prison/remand                                                            

What are the kind of outcomes that you see?

In the last year we have worked with approximately 700 people with a positive outcome for 69%. Three quarters of those positive outcomes were moving into new accommodation (supported or unsupported) – and the other quarter was made up of helping people to travel to access help or accommodation in an area where they had connections, helping people to keep accommodation they had just left or thought they had been evicted from, and a small number of people who we helped who had not been sleeping rough but were at very high risk of sleeping rough.

Would you encourage people to use StreetLink?

Yes, if you are concerned about someone who is rough sleeping anyone can make a Streetlink alert the app or via the website giving the following information.

StreetLink is a brilliant resource but isn’t an emergency service, and if it is an emergency people should call 999.