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 rather than to move straight into a discussion about reconnection. Some people may be immediately open to discussions about a return home. However, experience tells us that focusing on a return before an exploration an individual’s circumstances can create a reluctance to engage amongst some communities of EEA nationals. 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.
A decision to make a change, including a return to home country, requires work to explore and build motivation and to understand barriers. This needs to be supported by 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 EEA national space and stability away from the street to understand their situation and make informed choices from. An initial assessment should include:
- Basic demographics (ensuring name and DOB are precise) and 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.
- 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 enquires 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 will include:
- The barriers to returning to a home country. This may include outstanding loans/ debts, issues with family members, peer pressure from other, miss information 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 .
Alongside an assessment get written and signed consent to speak to other agencies to make enquiries and refer for support.
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 in home countries – 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.
- If you know you are making referrals to services in home countries try to mirror the questions they require for referral, such as local ID numbers, district of birth etc.