Since starting in January 2020 as Stevenage Haven’s Outreach Worker, Ava (name changed to protect her privacy) has been able to work 1-2-1 with 15 individuals on the streets of North Hertfordshire who are dealing with homelessness; building their confidence and helping to work through their individual issues to find a more positive outcome. Of the 15 she has worked with, 11 are now in secure or temporary accommodation, and 4 are engaged with substance misuse services and have been practising abstinence. Since the outbreak of Covid19 she has been working with rough sleepers and Stevenage Haven residents to get them into hotel or sheltered accommodation to ensure they are protected from the pandemic as best they can be. It is clear that Ava is incredibly proud of the work she does and wants to continue to expand the services she and Stevenage Haven are able to provide.
Working within Stevenage Haven’s key values, Ava emphasises the importance of working with each person as an individual, working out what has caused them to become homeless, and what needs to change in order to break that negative cycle.
“My first aim is to build a rapport and trust with the individual. The first five minutes are crucial […] Every individual I meet responds differently […] the key is finding out what they want help with and going at their pace […]”
Ava’s passion stems from her own personal experience with homelessness, “I was 15 years of age when I found myself homeless and alone, because of this I understand there are many factors which influence where we end up in life […] I remember being on the street and feeling completely invisible to those around me and thinking no one really cared […] My purpose in life will always be to motivate others to better themselves”
In order to attempt to end homelessness, Ava believes it is the day services in the community available to homeless people that factor in their rehabilitation. “[Stevenage Haven] is amazingly run and enables individuals to develop their life skills before moving back out into society. This is vital to breaking the cycle of homelessness”
It is clear that it is the increased support of services like ‘Stevenage Haven’ and ‘Resolve’ which Ava thinks will help the fight the issue of homelessness specifically in North Hertfordshire but also in the UK as a whole. Without directly addressing and supporting the reasons a person becomes homeless in the first place, the cycle of homelessness is going to keep going and the issue in the UK is never going to end.
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