This page contains good practice information for organisations planning to set up or improve their response to EEA nationals who are rough sleeping.
Staffing: Staff or volunteers that are committed to building relationships of trust with EEA nationals. Key attributes must be professional curiosity about people’s individual journeys and future hopes and a willingness to research options available to them in a open-minded way. Organisations need to recognise that complex pieces of work can take time and an overemphasis on targets can reduce staff ability to build relationships.
Training and support: this needs to foster non-discriminatory practice amongst users of the service and a willingness to explore people’s options regardless of nationality. Team members need a good knowledge of rights, entitlements and legislation such as the care act. Training in Motivational Interviewing can be helpful in setting the right tone for engagement and assessment. Staff and managers need to feel confident to challenge partner organisations and to convene case conferences when necessary.
Immigration Advice: Access to accredited immigration advice – for example having a service level agreement with a law centre or other accredited immigration advice organisation. Access to good quality, regulated advice on immigration is essential to enable people to understand their rights and entitlements. It is important specific advice is only provided by an organisation or practitioner who is regulated by The Office of the Immigration Services Commission (OISC): www.gov.uk/government/organisations/office-of-the-immigration-services-commissioner
Access to temporary bed spaces: Bed spaces in shelters or use of voids while you undertake assessments and ongoing work can enable people to be available for meetings and give them rest and thinking space in order to consider their options.
Confidentiality and consent: Clear organisational guidelines around confidentiality and consent about sharing information. If possible, these need to be translated into common EEA languages so that they can be shared with users of the service.
Accessibility to non-English speakers: Language should never be a barrier to providing a service. The following are some suggestions for how this may be achieved:
- Develop a network of contacts (staff, volunteers, partners) who speak different languages and dialects.
- Provide translations of referral and other information in EU languages.
- Using interpreters/interpreting services to assist with assessments and communications with services in EU countries. Telephone interpretation can be quick and accessible.
- Employ people from other EEA countries as volunteers or as members of the team.
- Be willing to be creative, using signs, symbols and online resources
- Please note: it’s unlikely that you will need to employ staff/utilise interpreters who speak all EEA languages. Russian is still widely understood as a second language or there is sufficient commonality between some languages, e.g. Polish/Czech for a speaker of one language to be understood in the other in simple conversations.
- Where relevant make sure that statutory organisations are providing translation services where appropriate for example during assessments or where someone is receiving medical treatment.
Therapeutic support to make change: Consider ways to support people to access services such as counselling or other forms of therapy – whilst this can be challenging due to the language barrier and distance to be travelled, use networks such as faith-based groups or volunteers.
Referral Process: Develop a clear process which establishes eligibility criteria and manages referrals effectively. Keep this process quick and simple by asking only for essential information on the referral form. It is important to publicise the service as widely as possible, e.g. to Police and hospital staff.
Build relationships with staff in UK consulates: Consulates can be useful for providing emergency travel documents, carrying out checks and helping you to understand local resources. Links to the Consulates contact details are here: https://www.routeshome.org.uk/countries/
Make links to accommodation and support services EEA countries: Don’t be deterred from bypassing the consulate in order to support people from EEA countries – for example going straight to support agencies, local councils or districts. In developing your project think about arranging visits to projects in EEA countries or learning from exchange visits that have already taken place. For example, Providence Row and Thames Reach launched an #EU10Homelessness exchange project and have developed relationships with key organisations in Bucharest, Romania: http://www.providencerow.org.uk/news/eu10homelessness-exchange-final-report-37612#.WG9uZ1xbTIU. Routes Home have also developed a number of partnerships with partners abroad for example with MONAR in Poland: http://www.monar.org/
Develop local partnerships: Discuss with local authorities what support they are willing to provide for EEA national in their area. This might cover funding for bed spaces in hostels, travel costs and other welfare payments. Liaise with local partners to make sure they understand the benefits of supporting people from EEA countries to fully understand their rights and entitlements, including in their home country.