What to do when someone is referred to the night shelter, who is not only homeless but also destitute, without possessions other than the clothes that they stand up in?
No paperwork, no possessions, no family
There is no support from friends or family and a complete absence of any documentation and evidence of identity.
He has not seen a GP or a dentist for several years and has difficulty when prompted to recall the details about the dates and events that led to him sleeping in the stairwells of blocks of flats.
He remembers being threatened by a ferocious dog in the block of flats and how he took to sleeping on the commons after that.
Homeless after the death of a parent
In time it became clear that he did not succeed to a tenancy following the bereavement of his only elderly parent.
After getting to know him in the shelters it was easier to understand how his journey to homelessness began with a succession of problems arising many years ago.
Structure at a time of confusion
The shelter was an opportunity for the guest to start to turn his fortunes around, a place which provided hot meals, companionship and a daily structure at a time of confusion and reduced circumstances.
It took six months before this guest was found accommodation, when all feared that efforts to find accommodation would be fruitless.
Getting through a really tough time
Working with other agencies included trying to establish his personal identity and eligibility for benefit payments, registering him with a GP and being referred for a succession of health scans and checks.
We had a disheartening experience of being bounced between contesting local authorities over a social services assessment.
In the shelter the focus was on helping the guest get through a time of low mood and expectation that life had nothing to offer.
Now, eight months on, the guest has a room in a shared supported house, a keyworker who is organising a personal care package and overseeing plans to deal with the problems related to his health and lack of identity documents.
Without the help of the volunteers and the shelters the outcome might have been very different.