SST and Resources for Autism celebrated two years of joint working in December 2015 by providing a workshop based on their work at the Homeless Link National Conference.
During the last couple of years the two organisations have worked closely together to raise awareness of Autism Spectrum disorders (ASD) amongst the street homeless and hostel populations and to develop new ways of working that enable outreach workers and key workers to engage more effectively with this client group.
Resources for Autism has delivered eight training sessions to professionals working in the homeless sector. SST has used its new found knowledge to change working practises when autistic traits are identified in their clients, which has enabled better engagement with some very hard to reach rough sleepers. This has resulted in two if Camden’s most entrenched rough sleepers accessing and maintaining accommodation. One man entered accommodation after 30 years on the street, another after 4 years of rough sleeping and persistent non engagement with services. Both these men are still in accommodation months after leaving the streets and both say they have no intention of returning to rough sleeping. One has even begun a work placement.
The partnership started when a number of workers at SST, who had experience of working and/or living with people on the autism spectrum noticed autistic traits among a small but significant number of clients who the team were having particular difficulty engaging. We contacted Lisa Dresner, Direct of Resources for Autism, who was interested in what we were saying and expressed similar concerns that some vulnerable people on the Autism Spectrum were ending up street homeless, especially when family relationships broke down. We discussed the clients that we were concerned about and she agreed that ASD was a possibility we should explore. She gave us some helpful tips on how we may change the way we work in order to help these people more effectively.
New care plans were put in place using techniques recommended by Lisa. Very quickly we began to get results. We fed this back to Lisa who put a training session together which she delivered to our team. The training was very well received and Lisa adapted it and began to offer it to other homeless services.
Due to the success of the work we have done with Resources for Autism we have not only improved the way we work with a previously very resistant group of people but we have also started to look at improving techniques for working with people with other neurological disorders such as ADHD and ADD as well as those suffering from learning disabilities.
For more information on the work of Resources for Autism please visit their website at: http://resourcesforautism.org.uk