This month Leeds City Council unveiled a new partnership approach to safeguarding and supporting those in need on the city’s streets as well as tackling antisocial behaviour often linked with street based lifestyles.
The new Safer Leeds Street Support team brings together new and existing resources to work more closely with and support those who rough sleep, beg and are living life on the streets and builds on the collaboration and good work that already exists.
Forward Leeds is a key element of this partnership and drug and alcohol worker Chris Christie has been drafted into the new Safer Leeds Street Support Team from Forward Leeds.
Chris’s role is to offer support and advice around alcohol and drugs and deliver some of the services Forward Leeds offer in their hubs directly to people on the streets of Leeds.
Speaking of his role in the team Chris Christie said: “It’s a big challenge, but it’s an interesting one. My face is already getting known and that’s what it’s about, building a rapport with people so they feel they can trust you.”
Chris continued: “It’s great to be working alongside experts from a range of services including a mental health nurse, housing workers, Street Liaison Officers and social workers as well as the police. It allows us to be flexible and adapt to people’s needs whatever they may be.
“All the partners in the team meet up at least once a day and that allows for some really positive information sharing, we can then engage with people on the streets in an informed and coordinated way. There is some good inter-service working happening already and it’s getting better all the time.
“My role is very much about supporting people with alcohol or drug issues and getting them into treatment as efficiently and effectively as possible. That can mean doing assessments and triage on the streets around people’s substance issues to start the process.
“What may surprise some people is that my role continues into that transition period after a service user has got a tenancy. We don’t just think, that’s it, we recognise they need continuing support as they move towards a new and different life.”
“What’s great is we’ve been given the flexibility to work with service users in a way that suits them and treat every person as an individual with unique needs.”
Operations Director Lee Wilson said: “It is great to have Chris providing direct support for those struggling with alcohol and drug issues as a part of the Safer Leeds Street Support team. I’m sure that through this collaborative working the team will be able to make a real difference to the lives of people living on the streets of Leeds.”
The team works with the most vulnerable street users to provide ongoing, tailored, wrap around, support to ensure they can move into accommodation where necessary and access appropriate services to enable them to move away from street life.