Guest column: Changes made to focus on those who actively choose to be helped

Cooking is one of the successful workshops now being offered to service users at HOPE
Cooking is one of the successful workshops now being offered to service users at HOPE

Recently at HOPE we have undergone operational modification, changing the way we operate and support those who are homeless.

Just before Christmas we were experiencing high levels of antisocial behaviour and nuisance, particularly around our hostel on Queen Street.

It was affecting local people using Queen Street, too many reporting to us that they felt physically threatened by groups hanging about.

This put a lot of pressure on our staff and volunteers as they came to and from work and it was impacting on those staying with us and who wanted to deal with their issues and tackle the things that lost their home in the first place.

We had to be able to give them enough time to support this personal journey.

As a result, we shifted focus to those who actively chose to engage and tackle their chaotic behaviour and deal with their challenges.

It was a difficult time and very hard for our team to manage as, to be able to do so, we had to move away from those who didn’t want to participate, nor modify their behaviour and lifestyle.

Due to the physical threats of violence and intimidation by a small minority of those living rough, we worked with the police and local council to take restraining action.

Ending our support for those who chose to maintain a chaotic lifestyle was a tough decision – not something we really wanted to do but, we were left with no choice.

One example of the shift is that we have stopped distributing food to those congregating on the street, due to this anti-social behaviour.

It is such a shame that we have to go down the Injunction route with former service users, and although extremely rare, it has been effective in stopping incidents.

We had no choice but to act to keep our people safe.

The charity’s overall aim and mission is to support those who want to change, and help them to get the right support to rebuild their confidence and, eventually, integrate back into society.

The new focus has allowed us to invest our time more effectively.

We now run workshops each day, which all service users committed to attend, and they engage in a variety of skills based courses such as cooking & baking, budgeting, DIY, health & wellbeing and interpersonal skills, to name but a few, all designed to help them get ready for a home of their own.

Feedback has been extremely positive, they are actively involved in decisions about what we do and how we do it – it’s their home and they shape its direction.

Emma Longmore is a development worker at HOPE in Worksop