On Thursday 1st November I went to visit Norton House, the rough sleepers centre for Cyrenians. Here I met Karen Grannon, a social worker who assesses the needs of the rough sleepers and helps them find accommodation or a more suitable means to living.
She said that Norton House opens at 8am daily when often the rough sleepers are queuing at the door for a warm place to relax. At the house there are hot beverages, cereals and toast; not only this but the staff organise cooking days to give the rough sleepers a sense of achievement and skills to look after themselves as well as being rewarded with a hot meal. Karen says that “Norton House is the only place they can go”.
Downstairs in the living room there is a television, pool table and sofas. On my visit there was one resident who was having a kip; to which Karen explained that he was one of the longest running rough sleepers in Coventry with few prospects of ever finding accommodation. This is because his alcohol abuse is detrimental to suitable behaviour for the organisations who had offered to house him.
Upstairs, as well as the main offices of the social workers, there is an Arts and Crafts room. Karen told me that in this room, the residents like to make cards: this struck me that they have sentimental reasoning for wanting to give a card, possibly a family member or friend. Having something that the residents can make and be proud of is something that Cyrenians feel is important for giving them the motivation to change their lifestyle.
On arrival, a homeless person’s needs are assessed; whether they just need someone to talk to after a family dispute or a bite to eat, they can be accommodated for straight away. However, had the rough sleeper have more psychological or health issues such as drug and alcohol addiction then they must be referred to a social carer so then a ‘plan’ can be made.
I have returned today because Norton House was surprisingly quiet, with one resident in; however, today was a similar story. So now Karen will contact me during a busy time for me to speak with the homeless directly.