Antifreeze "House-Reach" Initiative

After a summer where our Antifreeze team saw clients die by suicide after they had been housed, the team decided that getting people off the streets and into accommodation alone was not enough. In August, the new initiative “House-Reach” began. Unlike Outreach, where our teams go onto the streets in the evening to reach those sleeping rough, our House-Reach team visit the newly housed.

The main purpose of these weekly visits is to see how the clients are doing. This includes checking they’ve got gas and electricity, that they’re OK for food and that they’re taking care of themselves. It also includes making sure their benefits are coming through and, if they aren’t, providing any assistance needed with forms or appointments.

Sometimes health problems can prevent those recently housed accessing the services they need, especially as money is often spent on food and therefore not available for travel to appointments. Being unable to travel can also lead to isolation, which compounds the mental health problems often already present. It’s these problems that are key, according to one of our House-Reach workers:

‘It’s so important just to have the chance to say, “Are you ok?” as well as to check on all the practical stuff. It’s good to have a chat and to see if there’s anything in their behaviour that’s out of character. This also helps us identify any further needs they may have.’

Antifreeze was set up with the vision of preventing deaths on the streets of Brighton, and this work is very much an extension of that. These visits continue, according to Steve, Antifreeze manager, until:

‘They have the basics in place, they are linked into a community, and they are linked into health support.’

This service is about empowering the clients and encouraging them to engage with the services available. We can’t undo what’s happened this year, but we can listen to the community and we can do what we can to prevent further tragedies in our city.

Jo Henderson