Sidmouth Homelessness Action Group talks about the tragedies that led to its formation - Appeal issued for new caseworkers

  Posted: 15.09.20 at 16:26 by Joseph Bulmer

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If you've got some free time, some compassion and like meeting new people Sidmouth based Homelessness Action Group, Gateway, would like to hear from you.

Gateway is looking for volunteer caseworkers, willing to assist people who need help with housing, homelessness, debt, welfare rights, employment and disability.

Working in the Sid Valley, Gateway aims to help homeless and vulnerable people in the area to access and make best use of the resources available to them.

The organisation also acts as an advocate for homeless and vulnerably housed people in the community.

The support is aimed at reducing social isolation by helping clients integrate better in their community, connecting them to local facilities and groups.

Sidmouth Gateway's Richard Barrett spoke to Nub News about the tragic incidents which led to the creation of the action group, he said: "Terry froze to death alone and homeless in a Sidmouth bus shelter on a January night in 2015 when the temperature as well below zero.

"Shocking in itself, a few weeks later a second rough sleeper lost his life to hypothermia in the porch of the Unitarian Church, Sidmouth. From these two tragedies was born the Gateway charity under the umbrella of the Church of St Giles and St Nicholas, Sidmouth.

"So, how does the charity work? Contact with a rough sleeper or with someone about to be made homeless for any one of a number of reasons is made either directly with the caseworkers, through the police, members of the public or other charities.

"A caseworker will meet the person and, if possible, take them to the Mustard Seed Cafe where, over a cup of tea and a meal, an assessment of need can be made.

"It’s important to be clear on a couple of points: we will work with anyone needing help who is prepared to be helped. Not every person wants to find accommodation - perhaps a new tent or pair of boots will see them on their way; this the charity will provide. Health matters can be attended to thanks to an arrangement with the Beacon Medical Practice.

"Secondly, Gateway is not an accommodation agency. We have an excellent working relationship with East Devon District Council from where two full time ‘navigators’ dedicated in particular to finding accommodation for the homeless will take over that aspect of care. I cannot overemphasise just how fortunate Gateway is to have this facility and how important these two staff members are."

In a housing crisis?

If you or your family are in danger of becoming homeless or if you are actually homeless, and would like help from the Gateway Team, please contact on their caseworkers.

-Tim Swarbrick -- 07740 067252
-Ann Worthington -- 07980 023202

Caseworkers can also be reached through:

-The Parish Church, Church Street, Sidmouth.
-Mustard Seed Cafe, All Saints Road, Sidmouth.
-Sid Valley Food Bank, Unitarian Chapel, All Saints Road, Sidmouth. Open Friday 1pm until 3pm.

Getting help for a rough sleeper

If you are concerned about sleeping rough, send an alert to StreetLink by calling: 0300 500 0914.

Alternatively, Devon's Assertive Homeless Outreach service is available on 01392 284287.

Or contact one of the Gateway Caseworkers on the numbers above.

Prior experience as a caseworker would be an advantage but is not essential. If you're interested in finding out more call Richard Barrett on 07970 203712.

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