Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic our team have continually been supporting the homeless population in Aylesbury. When I say homeless, I mean the people who were homeless and have now been temporarily or permanently housed under the national ‘Everyone In’ model , as well as those new homeless people who are beginning to increase in number.
As part of the Rough Sleeper Initiative team, since its inception three years ago, we have been looking at innovative ways of engaging service users, which is where the idea for Karma @ Oasis came about. Karma is our weekly partial booking drop in facility held at our site in Walton Street. Partial booking means that people are invited to come down and use our facilities, they are given a two hour window to come down and book themselves in. This helps us manage capacity and ensures we can support people without being overwhelmed.
Karma offers space for one-to-one support, plus hot food, a shower, warm clothes, a place to wash and dry clothes, as well as the use of our portakabin for activities such as art or just somewhere to chill for a bit, and we are able to stock people up with essentials and access to clothes from our small charity shop-like basement. Karma is used by all the multi-agency partners on the RSI, as it is so convenient to engage with people. Service users also said they love it and are grateful there is somewhere better than on the street for us to engage with them.
Being based on the same site as One Recovery Bucks (ORB) is ideal as we are able to gradually introduce and motivate people into treatment. The Covid-19 pandemic has obviously restricted this opportunity, but as soon as ORB can safely open its doors and provide drop in sessions again, we will be able to do the gradual introductions. In the past this has worked well as service users are able to meet the person who would be their key-worker and barriers to engagement in treatment can be broken down at a pace led by the individual.