Dean Bell: A knight and a day sleeping rough on the streets of Lincoln

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Column by Dean Bell:

The Nomad Trust, part of YMCA Lincolnshire, works with the homeless in the city. We operate a direct access emergency accommodation, which opens 7 days a week, 365 days a year between 8.30pm and 8am in the morning.

Twenty three beds are available to those over the age of 18 years in dormitory style rooms and we provide a warm evening meal and a breakfast to those in need of support.

Whilst what we provide is a lifeline to those who find themselves homeless, we need to do more.

The Nomad Trust is honoured to be the nominated charity of the Lincoln Knights’ Trail 2017 which reaches its conclusion on Saturday, September 30 with an auction in the magnificent Lincoln Cathedral.

Two thirds of the funds raised at this amazing event will go directly towards our appeal to open a new specialist day centre and emergency overnight accommodation within the city.

Earlier this year we took our Nomad Knight to various locations to illustrate the harsh realities of homelessness – we explain here about the work we do in the city to alleviate this growing problem.

A safe space

Photo: Stuart Wilde

It is a natural human reaction to seek sanctuary somewhere that feels safe. Rough sleepers, or those who suddenly find themselves homeless, sometimes take refuge in the shadow of Lincoln’s most famous building – the Cathedral.

The expanse of this incredible building and the belief that they will be accepted there is something that comforts many people.

However it is cold, it is not safe, it is lonely and to see people in the elements is heart breaking.

The harsh reality is there is nowhere for the homeless to go during the daytime where they can access specialist help for a multitude of needs – in 2017 this should simply not be the case.

The creation of The new Nomad Centre Project will provide this sanctuary and safe haven where people are accepted and helped. With community support we can create a safe space where people can go 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. They will receive specific support for their needs and advice on what to do next; a solution that aims to keep people off the streets and break the cycle of homelessness.

Health and homelessness

Photo: Stuart Wilde

Being outside for the majority of the day, battling the elements, can be very detrimental to a person’s physical and mental health.

During the winter months it can be difficult for someone without a roof over their heads to keep their feet dry. Their shoes may not be fit for purpose and can cause many problems.

Walking the streets 12.5 hours a day can have horrific effects on peoples’ feet – frostbite and trench foot, which was commonly seen in World War 1 soldiers, are incredibly painful conditions that are common in those who are homeless and require urgent medical help.

At The Nomad Trust we can help people access this vital support as well as providing a shower, clean socks and suitable shoes through donations sent to our charity shops.

Our health and wellbeing staff are on hand to assess people’s needs who come through our doors – each and every person is offered a health and wellbeing assessment so we can identify the support needed and any problems being faced.

Without the Nomad Trust the situation in the city, the impact on other agencies and the numbers of those on the streets would increase. Where would people find emergency shelter, wash and eat until more permanent solutions can be found?

Within our new facility, we will work with key partners to provide more specialist medical support for both physical and mental health needs – both of which are key to helping people progress into more stable accommodation.

Volunteer support and donated goods

Photo: Stuart Wilde

The Nomad Trust relies on a fantastic team of loyal, caring volunteers.

Our volunteers work in The Nomad Trust charity shops and warehouse, serve meals in our shelter, help to collect and sort donated food and also assist with raising awareness and much needed funds. Without volunteers it would be very difficult for us to provide crucial care to the homeless community within the city.

Loneliness is often something those who find themselves homeless experience, and having the opportunity to sit down and talk to someone can be priceless. Volunteers who work in our shelter are often one of the first faces people see when they come through our doors every night.

As one service user told us: “The volunteers are a like a lamp, guiding us back to the light from the dark place we have found ourselves in”

The meals we serve 365 days a year, are provided thanks to food donated from the local community – we simply could not have fed nearly 300 people last year without this support. Move in food packs are also provided to those going into supported accommodation as people often have limited resources whilst they get settled.

These donations from the local community also give hope. It means a great deal to those who access our services and shows that people care.

Collaborative working

Photo: Stuart Wilde

Once someone’s needs have been identified, we can then begin to help them. Sometimes the help an individual requires is not something The Nomad Trust can provide directly, which is why collaborative working is fundamental to helping someone escape homelessness.

Everyone The Nomad Trust works in partnership with has a passion for helping people. The Nomad Trust has connections with the local authorities in Lincoln including the housing team at City Hall. We also work with other charities including P3 (pictured above) and Framework Housing Association, who each offer unique services to those in need.

Supported and independent living

Photo: Stuart Wilde

The Nomad Trust’s main aim is to help people get back on their feet and living independently. The Nomad Trust’s Direct Access Emergency Accommodation, commonly referred to as the Night Shelter, on Monks Road and YMCA Lincolnshire’s Hostel on St Rumbold’s Street are just stepping-stones on the way to independent living for those who seek our support.

Those who access the Shelter are all offered a health and wellbeing assessment by one of our specialist team, individual support is available from our housing officers and drop in sessions are offered to prevent isolation.

Residents who live in our supported housing also received tailored support, all with the aim of assisting people to live independently.

The Nomad Trust hopes that by understanding the circumstances we can all be more informed to help stop the crisis of homelessness escalating to unmanageable proportions.

All we ask is that you take a minute to think about the struggle homeless and vulnerable people face on a daily basis.

If you see somebody that may need support or would like to help us in any way, please call us on 01522 883703 or visit our website.

The Nomad Trust is fundraising £1.2m for its Capital Appeal Project to create a new Day Centre for homeless and rough sleepers in Lincoln.

Tickets for the Knights Auction at Lincoln Cathedral on Saturday, September 30 cost £15 and are available online here or by emailing [email protected]