REACHing out to the Weymouth Street homeless community

REACH-Out team raising awareness of overdosing

Yesterday marked World Homeless Day, time for us all to reflect on the many people who do not have a safe and secure home to go to at the end of the day. The constant pressure of homelessness can leave many feeling like a burden and has devastating effects on people’s mental health. That is why this autumn and winter team members from REACH Drug & Alcohol Services will be on the streets of Weymouth engaging positively with the homeless community in a new initiative called REACH-out. 

Drug related deaths in the UK during 2020 rose by 3.8% compared to the previous year, so the services of REACH and initiatives such as REACH-out have never been more essential than they are right now. People in Weymouth will by now be familiar with REACH who operate their vital recovery services out of the Weymouth’s Coffee Tavern, but there has also been new funding to enable them to take their services out into the community where it is most needed. 

Fiona Dunbar, from Shelter Dorset, is the REACH Out Project Co-ordinator. She is keen to raise awareness, in the light of World Homeless Day of how important it is to listen, understand and respond in a way that works for people; so that services are shaped to people rather than the other way around. Shelter Dorset and Nationwide partnered up yesterday to mark World Homeless Day, by raising awareness in Nationwide’s community space at their branch in Bournemouth, highlighting the work of services such as Shelter and REACH-out in Dorset to tackle homelessness and the complex issues surrounding it.

Chris from the REACH-out team said “we have a wide remit to do whatever is needed to help people change their lives and outcomes. There are many reasons why people are on the streets and why they may have an alcohol or drug dependency. Complex childhood trauma is a big factor in many people’s lives. People need a chance and the support to live differently.  This is an amazing opportunity to support people with really complex needs who are often the most difficult to help”.

The REACH-out team, Chris, Chancy, Donna and Corienne are taking harm reduction advice and vital recovery services direct to those that need it on the streets. 

“It’s good to see people where they feel comfortable and where they spend most of their time “ said Donna. “You get a better idea of the problems they’re facing and they seem happier to talk with us”.

Other partners in the initiative include Lantern, the Bus Shelter and Julian House who will be working together to offer practical help and assistance, as well as ensuring vital prescribing needs and harm reduction to the homeless community. From early comments and feedback, this agile approach to helping people with complex lives seems to be going down very well.

“I’d rather speak to staff on the street or in a café than go into the office” said one person who is receiving REACH-out support. “It’s easier and you can talk easier if it’s on my patch” 

REACH Out is the first of two specialist projects which has launched this summer, aimed at supporting people who are homeless or who have unstable or unsafe living conditions, with their substance misuse. Partnership work is seen as the key to the success of these projects, offering targeted, appropriate and joined up support.

More information about REACH-out or to get in touch with REACH phone for free on 0800 043 4656 or visit their website

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