Over 60 men have been helped off the streets and into new homes thanks to Gateshead’s only emergency accommodation project, run by homelessness charity Oasis Community Housing, which this month celebrates its one-year anniversary.
The six-bed property has been at full capacity since opening 12 months ago, and the team has supported moves into longer term accommodation for 95% of the 63 men who have walked through their door.
Oasis Community Housing developed the same-day emergency accommodation as a psychologically informed environment (PIE); an approach to supporting people out of homelessness, particularly those who have experienced complex trauma.
Alex Laing, who leads the ’58:7 Project’, explains, “Giving people a roof overhead doesn’t fix homelessness. Many will have experienced trauma in their past that most of us can’t even begin to imagine.
“We always put the person at the centre of what we’re doing, it’s about what they want us to support them with, not what we think is best. From there, we offer the intensive, compassionate, round-the-clock support people really need in order to live confidently and independently in their own home, when the time comes.”
Peter*, a former resident said, “Being in here has saved my life in a few ways. I was feeling low before I came to this project. People who come here can be themselves though, and not feel left out in any way. The staff help us and are there any time we need them, you couldn’t ask for better people.”
Staff are available 24/7 and residents can access weekly services and activities ranging from a nurse clinic to meditation classes, drug and alcohol advice as well as communal home-cooked meals or even outings to the football, thanks to tickets from Gateshead FC. “It’s about helping people find joy again,” adds Alex.
“We’re the most secure relationship a lot of our residents have in their lives, which is why we will always discuss challenging behaviours with them, to try and understand what’s actually happening underneath. We constantly remind them they can come to us if they need advice or support, now or in the future,” adds Alex. As a result, over two-thirds of residents who have accessed 58:7 in the past year still call or text the project to check in.
Oasis Community Housing’s 58:7 Project can be accessed through Gateshead Council’s housing service or via the charity’s Basis drop-in centres at Warwick Street, Gateshead, and Park Road Church in Sunderland.