Outreach worker Teresa talks about her day

Outreach worker Teresa talks about her day

Posted on: 25 July 2018 in

As it has been so hot, Clare and I went out at 6am to hand out water to rough sleepers and one of the clients we saw told me that he had met a man who needs help and has been in Mcdonalds for two weeks.  So, we went there and spoke to a member of staff and asked if they were aware of anyone who may be homeless -  the staff member said yes and told us that he was downstairs.  We went downstairs and Clare and myself introduced ourselves and invited him to come with us to the Prop Day Centre for some breakfast and a shower which he seemed very happy about. 

When we got to the Prop he had some breakfast and a shower and we gave him some clean clothes as he was only wearing slippers and dirty clothes.  We then sat down and had a chat about his situation.  

He told me he was 19 years old and originally from Nigeria but moved to London around a year and a half ago where he stayed with his parents for 6 months before going to college in Cambridge where he was a boarder. He said he had finished college and travelled to Guildford to find his sister but when he arrived it was late and he couldn’t find anywhere to stay so he decided to come to Woking to get a hotel.   En route to Woking he was attacked by a group of males who stole everything he had including his luggage which had inside his wallet, passport and sim card so he had no way of contacting anyone and no money to travel anywhere.  He had gone into McDonalds as it was open 24 hours and was safe.  He had been there for nearly two weeks.  I informed him that he would move into the night shelter today whilst we work together to resolve his situation - he was very grateful. 

He said he didn't know his parents phone number or address and I got the feeling that he did not want me to contact them.  He said they will say he is a growing man and needs to make his own way and that he needs to get a job before he sees them. He couldn't remember his national insurance number and agreed I could call the college to see if they had it.  I was put straight through to the principle who was over the moon to hear that he was ok and told me that he had been reported missing three weeks ago after he left because he thought he had failed his exams and his family would be disappointed in him.

The principle said this was not the case and he had been awarded a place on a foundation course at university.   He asked if he could call me back which he did and told me that he has spoken to the client’s sister and she was on her way from Guildford to Woking and suggested that I didn't tell him this in case he runs.  Trust is important between client and worker and so I couldn't agree to this.  When I spoke to the client he was very happy that his sister was coming.

His sister arrived and it was a very emotional occasion.  They were both over the moon and most of the staff team shed a few tears - even the Chief Executive!  He left with his sister and plans to head to university in September.  For all the best reasons, we really hope we don’t see him again.

Being an outreach worker isn’t just about finding people in tents - it is also about finding people the second they hit the streets as the quicker we know, the faster we can provide support.  Outreach is a demanding and sometimes soul-destroying role but it is also the best job in the world.  I get to meet some of the most amazing people who are simply surviving a difficult time.