Say hello to our new outreach worker

Say hello to our new outreach worker

We’re delighted to welcome a brand new Outreach Worker to the team, thanks to funding from West Midlands Combined Authority. Derek Clarke has joined our team and will help us support even more rough sleepers across Birmingham.

This brand-new position sees Derek building relationships with people who are homeless and at risk of homelessness across the city; referring people directly into Tabor House but also identifying their needs and providing advice and support. Since joining us, Derek has already helped over 30 people; identifying their priority needs, from substance misuse through to accessing Universal Credit. He describes it as helping to “untangle a web” of needs and get them on to the next stage of their journey.

“Having been on the streets myself for six years, I know how hard it is to start paving a way to a new life. I was really entrenched at one stage and struggled with addiction, so it was a long road for me. I understand what these guys have ahead of them, so being able to build a relationship, start improving their self-worth and get them what they need is crucial,” Derek said.

For those referred to Tabor House, they have an initial assessment and then, once they’re in they are provided with a self-contained pod, daily meals and essential supplies. As well as a mentor who works with them one-on-one to help them secure employment, housing and benefits support through our signature strength-based mentoring programme. Since opening, we’ve helped over 100 in this way, half of which have moved into employment and permanent accommodation.

We originally opened as Birmingham’s only permanent night shelter in 2017 and then adapted during the global pandemic to become a 24-hour accommodation project. In addition to transforming our open plan living area into Perspex ‘pods’ (thanks to funding from The Edward Cadbury Charitable Trust), we’ve also reduced volunteer numbers, have shift workers in ‘bubbles’ and have introduced a wave of new Covid-compliant measures.

Derek’s role at Tabor House has been funded by the West Midlands Combined Authority for nine months, funded beyond that by us directly and we know that his role is key to seeing a reduction in numbers on the streets.

“Having worked for Shelter and, prior to that, CGL (Change Grow Live) I have seen the impact that can be made when you approach rough sleepers in the right way. I never would have come off the streets had it not been for someone like me who saw the good in me and knew that I deserved more. At that time, I didn’t feel that way and my confidence was so low. I could read but not write, and had I not received hands on support, I wouldn’t have changed my life.

 I think that having ‘lived experience’ with an organisation is the key to really helping people. I understand what that lifestyle is like, I know the chaos and I know how low you can get, so I’m able to connect on that level and start working with them to move things in the right direction. That’s what I love; being out there and going through the journey with someone, especially getting someone really entrenched into a place to live. Once that happens, things start falling into place,” Derek continues.

Sharon Fear, our wonderful Project Manager at Tabor House, adds:

“Although he’s only recently joined us, we can already see the incredible impact that Derek is having. As well as referring new people into Tabor House, he’s helping even more of the homeless community by getting them additional help they need too.

The work we’re doing is so crucial, especially at this time of year, and as we see more people ending up on the streets as a result of the economic pressure of the pandemic.”

iShelter, which is managed by Father Hudson’s Care, is funded by contributions from trusts, foundations, sponsored events, and donations from organisations and individuals. The charity receives little Government funding and relies heavily on the kindness of others. If you’d like to support us, please donate here.