Newcastle charity say first year of project to get rough sleepers off streets is massive success

CJ Lewis and Simon Dodds

A charity that has been going onto the streets of Newcastle to help rough sleepers say they have engaged with 74 people in the last year.

The Lyme Trust set up an Outreach Team 12 months ago, after being concerned about the number of homeless people in the town.

The charity, which has been providing supported accommodation for people living with mental health problems since 1974, is using its own staff to go out and speak to those on the streets.

When the team go out, they carry out an informal interview with the people they speak to, with a view to helping them find somewhere to stay.

Senior project manager Simon Dodd says that it was something they started as the temperatures dropped in 2018, but had no idea how it would go.

He said: "When we originally started this project we knew there was a problem in the town centre, but I don't think any of us imagined we would see 74 different rough sleepers.

"We have directly accommodated 14 of those into the Trust, and referred many others to other accommodation providers."

Today the charity have been given a massive boost from a local business, which they say will make a massive difference to the support they can offer.

Simon said: "There is a company in Talke Pits called Reliance Medical, who want to make a difference to the rough sleepers as well.

"They have actually donated a brand new Volkswagen Campervan, so it means we can now go out in a morning and we can offer a warm space for them to come and sit and have a chat and a warm drink.

"It is phenomenal generosity." 

The Trust have a Facebook page and phone line for members of the public to let them know where they have seen people who may need their help.

They have also been given donations to pass on.

Simon said: "The reaction from the public has been phenomenal.

"We still have a supply of hats, scarves and sleeping bags that were collected last year.

"Throughout the winter period last year we were getting donations on daily. 

"The support of the public has just blown us away." 

As the nights again get colder, the Trust are asking for help to put together packs to give out to those who need them.

Senior project worker CJ Lewis said: "They will contain what we call life essentials.

"In there, there will be something warm to wear, a drink and a snack.

"There will be a basic first aid kit, toiletries and wipes.

"Just little things that will help get them through the day."

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