Street Support provides an online lifeline for local homeless

11th September 2018

A website produced by Dorset HealthCare and partner organisations that brings local community support services together to help the homeless is having a big impact in the county.

Since its launch back in October 2017, more than 1,250 people have contacted Street Support Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) for assistance with a range of issues related to homelessness.

And the website not only enables those in need to find help, but also gives others the opportunity to make donations.

So far more than 850 people have got in touch to give generously, donating money and clothes as well as volunteering their time.

Dorset HealthCare is part of the Bournemouth Homelessness Collaborative Group, made up of 19 local organisations supporting rough sleepers in the town, which made the Street Support web idea a reality.

Melissa Scott is Service Lead for the Trust’s Homeless Health Service. She said: “We wanted a platform for agencies to share information between themselves, and a ‘one stop shop’ for homeless people to contact depending on their specific need.

“Street Support was originally set up in Manchester and is making a real difference there, so it made sense to adopt the same idea here in Bournemouth, where we have a high number of people living on the streets.”

Bournemouth was the second area to introduce the website, and it now covers 13 locations across the country. There are currently 19 local organisations signed up to the Dorset section of the website, with a further five joining in the coming weeks.

These include Bournemouth University, The Big Issue, Hope For Food, Bournemouth Foodbank and Bournemouth Christians Alongside Rough Sleepers (BCARS).

Project Support Officer Claire Devaney said: “We have had a lot of positive feedback from people who are using it to find the nearest soup kitchen, to organisations working much more closely to deliver joint projects.

“We really feel that this is just the beginning of something great. We are passionate about achieving our ultimate goal of reducing rough sleeping and assisting people to make positive moves off the street and in to safe and sustainable accommodation, so they can rebuild their lives and re-integrate in to the community."

The website proved crucial during the Christmas and winter months, with more than 125 people getting in touch offering their assistance as volunteers.

More than 90 people clicked the ‘give help’ button in just one week between the 16-22 December.

The ‘Beast from the East’ caused an 85% increase in people contacting the site for help, and a 78.6% rise in people offering donations.

You can visit the Street Support website by logging onto www.streetsupport.net/bournemouth

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