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Colchester Probation staff in Sponsored Sleep-out

Posted: 21st May 2013 by Essex CRC.

Reducing homelessness reduces crime, say Probation staff:

As part of a recent ‘Poverty and Homelessness Action Week’, a team of Offender Managers from Essex Probation’s Colchester office braced the plummeting temperatures by sleeping rough on February 1st at Castle Park, Colchester. All monies raised went towards a local homelessness Charity, Beacon House based on East Hill, Colchester, which has been providing essential healthcare and support services to the homeless for 16 years.

Probation staff were joined by staff from Beacon House, and other supporters – around ten people in all. Probation’s Robert Gourlay, the sleep-out organiser, said “My personal experience with Beacon House has been extremely positive. Working with a recovery alcohol and drug user, they supported him by providing him with a place to be, somewhere for him to leave his possessions and a level of support that gave him the opportunity to progress in his recovery. From this he has recently been to an alcohol rehabilitation centre and is doing well. This means that a high risk of re offending individual is not causing problems to his local community, also allowing for resources to be allocated to others.

Why are Essex Probation staff involving themselves in the sleepout? Crime can play a big part in rough sleepers’ lives. National research shows that nearly 30% admitted to committing a “minor crime such as shoplifting or anti-social behaviour” in the hope of being taken into custody for the night.

During November and December 2012, 20% of the clients accessing Beacon House services were rough sleeping.

“Homelessness usually means joblessness, and not surprisingly both situations figure heavily in Probation’s assessments of each individual’s risk of reoffending. Where offenders have a roof over their heads and food to eat, they can begin to work towards a more settled existence and taking more responsibility for their behaviour,” said Martin Lucas, one of the Probation Managers working in Colchester.

If you would like to sponsor this event, even retrospectively, please go to: www.localgiving.com/charity/beaconhouseministries

To read more about the causes of homelessness, read our article on the subject