Two formerly homeless men who spent many years sleeping rough on the streets surrounding the South Bank area of London realised one of their dreams last week when they were given the chance to ride the London Eye.
Peter Riley and George Russell, who slept rough for many years in the Lambeth area, battling with an alcohol dependency, were recently helped by Thames Reach’s Lambeth Street Outreach Response Team (SORT) outreach team into a Lambeth hostel for the homeless. Here, the Lambeth Council commissioned staff, are encouraging them to break away from their street lifestyle, tackle their drinking, boost their self-worth and take part in the activities most of us take for granted.
Charlene Taylor, a lead worker on personalisation at Thames Reach, said: “‘It was a great day out and they both really enjoyed themselves. We went for lunch afterwards along the South Bank and sat outside watching the world go by. There was lots of laughter and the shared experience helped cement the working relationship that could prevent the two men slipping back into homelessness.
“Giving George and Peter the option to choose an activity in which to participate helps them to start challenging the barriers they face being on the fringes of society, as well as help raise their self-esteem. This is essentially the basis of personalised case working.”
Peter Riley, who now plans to visit local museums and gardens, said “It were brilliant. It was so good to finally go on the London Eye after seeing it for so many years as I drank out locally on the streets with my mates.”
George Russell, who now volunteers at City Farm in Vauxhall, said: “Fantastic! I am a Londoner and I know all these landmarks, so it was amazing to see them all.”
Thames Reach’s Lambeth SORT have helped over a hundred homeless people off the streets in 2012. The Personalisation scheme was set up in 2011 to help the most entrenched rough sleepers in the borough get their lives back on track. All of Thames Reach’s staff use a person centred technique to find the individual solutions that mean former homeless people don’t end up back out on the streets.