Ahead of World Homeless Day (marked on 10 October) 13 charities and organisations from across Ipswich are coming together to promote the message that help is available for people experiencing homelessness and for those at risk of becoming homeless.
On Friday 8 October, these 13 organisations, which include Emmaus Suffolk, Salvation Army, Health Outreach NHS, Help our Homeless Ipswich and Ipswich Outreach Bus, will all showcase their support offers on The Cornhill, Ipswich.
Throughout the day there will be the opportunity to speak to representatives of these organisations, access support and find out how to help people experiencing homelessness in Ipswich.
There will also be performances throughout the day from the spoken-word performer, Amy Wragg, who has performed at festivals across the UK, including Bestival. Amy will be reading a selection of writings about homelessness, community and overcoming adversity, including poetry from Seamus Fox’s book ‘No Homeless & Other Poems’.
According to the most recent stats from the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, last year there were 1,827 people in Ipswich assessed as either homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
At the beginning of the pandemic, agencies across Ipswich worked together to implement the Everyone In scheme, and many of those sleeping rough were provided with emergency accommodation during the pandemic. However, this scheme is now coming to an end and there are fears that the number of people sleeping rough will start to rise again.
There are also many individuals and families experiencing “hidden homelessness”, which can include sofa surfing, sleeping in cars, staying in hostels and those living in unsuitable temporary accommodation. With many people already struggling to pay rising rent costs, and the uplift to Universal Credit coming to an end, it is predicted that more people will face homelessness by the end of the year.
The good news for people in Ipswich is that there is support available for those experiencing homelessness. Organisations such as the Outreach Bus, Salvation Army and Health Outreach NHS provide essential frontline support, while other organisations are working hard to try to prevent people from becoming homeless.
One of those is Emmaus Suffolk, a charity that works with people facing social isolation, long-term unemployment and those at risk of homelessness. Its Chief Executive, Claire Staddon, is also the Chairman of Help our Homeless Ipswich.
“The Everyone In scheme worked well here in Ipswich, and we saw many of the people who were previously sleeping rough housed in emergency accommodation. Sadly, that scheme is coming to an end, and we are watching to see what will happen in terms of the number of people sleeping rough.
“We must also be mindful that not all homelessness is visible. We are aware of families and individuals across Ipswich who are living in unsuitable or temporary accommodation, and they also need support.
“The good news here in Ipswich is there is support available to those experiencing homelessness and for those at risk of homelessness. Organisations like ours are working with people to try and prevent them from becoming homeless through training and support with issues such as budgeting and job hunting, and there is a great network of outreach organisations who work tirelessly to ensure those who are experiencing homelessness get the support they need.”
Sean Truman is now a Support Worker for Emmaus Suffolk, supporting people at risk of homelessness in Ipswich. Before working with the charity he experienced homelessness and accessed local organisations for support.
“I know what it’s like to sleep in doorways and go around to soup kitchens to ask for food.
“I ended up living in a tent, but at times I didn’t even have a tent, I was just sleeping in doorways. There were times when I would be able to get off the streets but then I would spiral again and find myself back there. I couldn’t seem to break the cycle. It was bleak, I was dying.
“I was able to turn my life around, but because of my life up until then I found it very hard to find work. I had lots of lived experience, but I had no qualifications, and trying to put together a CV was really hard.
“In November 2019 I started to volunteer at Emmaus Suffolk and really enjoyed it. I liked the atmosphere; everyone was really welcoming. I am now a Support Worker for the charity, using my life experience as an asset, rather than something to shy away from. People seem to want to talk to me because they know I have been where they are. When someone can talk to you from that place, from personal experience, it makes you want to open up more.”
On Friday 8th October, the following organisations will be showcasing the support available to homeless people in Ipswich:
Health Outreach NHS
Sanctuary Supported Living
Work Well Suffolk
Help Our Homeless
Ipswich Borough Council
Ipswich Outreach Bus
About World Homeless Day
World Homeless Day is marked across the world on 10th October every year. The purpose of World Homeless Day is to draw attention to people who experience homelessness and provide opportunities for the community to get involved in responding to homelessness, while taking advantage of the stage an ‘international day’ provides.