Thames Reach
Friday 17 November 2017
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Tam's story

Tam spent nearly 20 years sleeping rough on London's streets.

A pioneering Thames Reach project has helped hundreds of long-term rough sleepers to escape homelessness.

The Thames Reach Ace project, which was set up in autumn 2012, was tasked with helping 415 named people with a long history of sleeping rough in the capital – a remarkable 369 or 89% of them have now moved away from the streets.

Some have moved into private rented accommodation, others are in hostels for the homeless and many have been reconnected back to their homes where they have been linked in with their families and services.

Ace is based on a groundbreaking model of funding involving payment by results and social investors putting up large parts of the money to meet running costs.

It was commissioned by the Greater London Authority as a Social Impact Bond, has attracted investment from a number of sources including a £250,000 loan from Big Issue Invest.

The Thames Reach Ace service is staffed by ‘personal navigators’ who engage with the homeless men and women and negotiate on their behalf with support agencies.

The scheme is coming to an end on October 31 2015 but Thames Reach staff will continue to support those with the highest support needs and at risk of losing their accommodation.

Tam Hughson spent nearly 20 years sleeping rough on London’s streets, struggling with an addiction to super-strength lagers, heroin and crack cocaine.

Homelessness charities offered support to Tam, helping him into a rehabilitation centre, but Ace’s Dean Tucker got in touch with him after he had relapsed and returned to the streets.

Dean, a personal navigator, set things in motion for Tam to get the support and help he needed for his drink and drug problem.

Dean, said: “I first met him after joining an outreach shift having heard concerns from charity workers at the charity Turning Point around Tam’s physical health due to the damage alcohol was doing to his system. When we met he was completely intoxicated and unable to stand up.

“I managed to help him walk across the capital to hostel accommodation we had organised and then secure funding for a detox and another spell in rehabilitation.”

Tam said: “I’ve been clean now for 20 months. Dean became part of my life during my recovery and he still does things for me.”

Tam is now living in a project for people who formerly had substance misuse issues in Newcastle. Most encouragingly, he is back in touch with his family, including his daughter Jessica who lives in the city and who he hadn’t seen for 20 years, and his granddaughter Skye, who he had never met.

“It’s lovely to be reconnected with my family. My daughter Jessica welcomed me with open arms and gave me the chance to be a father again.”