We have written this brief explanation about how we do our street work to ensure the safety of all our volunteers and also to maximise the resources that we have. Of course, we are also here for any questions or feedback you may have….
When we go out we give out food (usually sandwiches, ice tea, cookies), toiletries and any clothes/blankets we may have. Each one of us usually take responsibility for carrying one or more of these and then distributing them as follows:
Giving out essentials
- Once person asks if they are hungry or would like a sandwich or drink.
- Once these have been given we can also offer toiletries and clothes (depending on what we have and the perceived need).
- We aim to give no more than 1 bottle of shampoo/ 1 soap/ 1 toothbrush/ etc to each person to ensure we have enough for each person we meet.
- Assessed on a case by case basis we can offer any clothes we have. For example, if they are in shorts and a t-shirt we can offer a jumper and/or blanket to help with their basic needs. If they are well-dressed we try not to give out the limited clothes we have, as we have found these can be sold on to fund a drug habit.
We collect key statistics when we are out for our research purposes and also to help when applying for grants, etc. We aim to get this information as informally as possible and when 1 or 2 people are around to make it easier and less confrontational. One person will be making note of this and it is important we collect this information:
– Any other information they may be willing to offer (so we can get an idea of background and have stories for our website/social media)
– Have they seen any children on the streets? (So we can know any other areas to target).
Suggested way to do this:
‘ My name is David…….what’s your name? How old are you? How are you doing?’
You can then assess from there whether to take the conversation further or not.
When it’s determined possible, Scott or one of the trained volunteers will stay with the person to have a more detailed conversation about how we can help. This may require the rest of the group to move on, so as not to intimidate the person.
- What if someone asks for more clothes or toiletries?
It is hard to say no to someone and we do need to assess on a case by case basis, but if someone is asking for more we can just say “No, sorry we have to have enough for the other people down the road/over there’.
- What if someone asks for money?
We request that no one takes any valuables with them and this also then makes it easy for us to say: ‘We have no money with us, we are just sharing food and other essentials’. This answer is usually taken without any animosity.
- What do we say if someone asks where we are from?
We are often asked which church we belong to. We usually just say we’re not from any church or religion, but a group of people who just want to share with those in need.
When we are more established with the drop-in center we can also offer for them to come to visit us there.
Finally, we are very happy to add that we have never experienced any issues whilst out on the streets – generally encouragement and appreciation and nothing more. Remember you will always be accompanied by someone who has been out there before and knows where its at and you are always very welcome to ask any questions!!
Thanks again for helping give inspiration and hope to this vulnerable community!