This Good Practice Guide recognises that contact with EEA nationals may take place in a range of locations, including in a street outreach setting or in day centres.
To support EEA nationals to move away from rough sleeping, contact needs to be built upon a relationship of trust. Workers should start by introducing their role and the purpose of their team and organisation. It is important to clearly explain your Confidentiality Policy and explain the circumstances where information will be shared. Information about your organisation, including confidentiality and consent could be provided in writing in the client’s language.
It is helpful at initial contact to explain that your role is to help people understand their rights and entitlements here and in their country of origin. It is important that people understand you will assess all their options and support them to find the safest most sustainable route off the street. Focusing on options in the country of origin before thoroughly assessing an individual’s circumstances and entitlements in the UK can create a reluctance to engage and is best avoided. There may also be reluctance to engage with services due to fears of being arrested or deported.
Every interaction can shape a perception of your service, so it is important to provide well-balanced support and alleviate fears by being clear on your organisation’s data sharing protocols and working practices.
A decision to make a change, whether that is rebuilding your life in the UK or returning to your country of origin, requires work to explore and build motivation and to understand barriers. This needs to be supported by a good quality assessment. Depending on the complexity of the case this may need to take place over time. Where it is possible to find a safe place to stay (e.g. an assessment or emergency bed space) this should be used in order to conduct a thorough and effective assessment and giving the client space and stability away from the street to understand their situation and make informed choices.
An initial assessment should include:
- Basic demographics, ensuring name and date of birth are correctly recorded and any alternative names used are known.
- Any form of ID held.
- Detailed employment history (in the UK and elsewhere) and whether the person has made contributions (including if they have or can obtain evidence of this). Where and when they have been entitled to any benefits.
- The length of time they have been in the UK and other countries they have lived in. This is best recorded as a ‘housing history’ and should include dates, full addresses and the local authority/district areas these fall within. It is important to include any periods of no fixed abode in this too, as they may still be counted towards any future application under the EU Settlement Scheme.
- What skills and training someone has and what they have been doing while in the UK.
- An overall narrative about life so far and their hope for the future.
- Support needs (such as medical conditions, mental health and substance use issues) and if relevant what support has been useful in coping with these.
- Important relationships and connections – and whether support is required to rebuild these.
High quality assessment will enable you to formulate a tailored plan with a person to resolve their homelessness, including the enquiries that need to be made about accommodation and support options available here and in their home country.
Assessment should aim to help to build a picture of peoples’ rights and entitlements here and in their home country. If it emerges that an individual is willing to return home and/or will not be entitled to support in the UK, then further questions related to this option should include:
- The barriers to returning to their home country. This may include outstanding loans/ debts, issues with family members, peer pressure from others, misinformation about availability of services and support in home country, issues with the law.
- Supportive people and organisations in their home country that they have had contact with in the past.
Good practice tips
- Use motivational interviewing skills during assessment: ask open questions, use active listening skills and recognise positive skills and abilities – such as focusing on positive help seeking behaviour or good memories.
- Use the assessment process to uncover the positive connections or memories – family, friends, familiar places, support that has been helpful in the past as well as support services that are available now.
- Ensure the assessment is accessible to non-English speakers by using interpreters and employing or developing a network of volunteers who are native speakers of EEA languages. Bear in mind that Russian is still widely spoken as a second language and some languages, such as Polish and Czech, are sufficiently similar to make it possible for speakers of one language to be understood in the other. However, please make sure you always discuss with your client in what language they would like to communicate.