The charity Sutton Night Watch offers people experiencing homelessness essential support – from showers, hot food and fresh clothing to health services, benefit advice and even cooking skills.
John* walked into the Sutton Night Watch centre in Wallington in a state of trauma. He had been living on the streets and was deep into alcohol addiction. Following a troubled childhood, living in care at times, he had poor mental health and had lost touch with his family.
From that first visit, the charity helped John rebuild his life, starting with a shower, hot food and new set of clothing. The next day he felt confident enough start his journey to recovery. Staff at the centre, many of whom have lived experience of addiction, managed to find a hostel place for him. He then moved into a rehabilitation centre for six weeks. With that support he recovered and has now rebuilt his life and relationship with his family.
We offer everything from expert medical advice to meditation and cookery classes, so they can learn to love themselves again.”
Charity chief executive Andy Fulker said: “His mum and dad came to see me to thank everyone at Sutton Night Watch and all those who were involved for giving them their son back.”
Sutton Night Watch also offers health services, benefit advice and counselling and a restful garden of hope. According to Andy: “Mental ill health and substance misuse are key factors leading to homelessness – which are then often made worse by homelessness. The majority of people who visit the centre have been through drug or alcohol addiction and come here to find a road to recovery. We offer everything from expert medical advice to meditation and cookery classes, so they can learn to love themselves again.”
Many people experiencing homelessness find it challenging to access healthcare and their health is often not their main priority.”
GP Dr Eleanor Barnard from Sutton Primary Care Network added: “Many people experiencing homelessness find it challenging to access healthcare and their health is often not their main priority. They may be facing multiple issues, including complex physical and mental health conditions as well as traumatic and complex social situations.
“Common mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety are over twice as high among homeless people. We directly manage their health concerns and work closely with our social care colleagues to support people to access housing and mainstream health services.”
Over 50 people drop in at the centre on Mondays and Fridays for a meal and help with housing, benefits and counselling on other weekdays. Every week over 150 food parcels are distributed for those in need.
Many of the staff at the centre have life experience of addiction and homelessness and offer peer mentoring to give people hope and confidence and a way forward.
Local artist David Tribe volunteers at the Wallington charity’s headquarters offering popular said art therapy sessions. He said: “Art therapy helps people express their emotions, cope with stress and anxiety – and create meaningful art at the same time. We start by looking at the work of artists – from Picasso to Banksy … even the Mr Men – to inspire our group and they are often painting within five minutes.”
As someone who has lived with anxiety, I can understand how they feel and how important it is to know the group offers friendly support at a difficult time.”
He added: “People who say they have no talent are often amazed at what they can achieve and how good their paintings are. They can relax, have fun and take time to talk about what is on their mind. As someone who has lived with anxiety, I can understand how they feel and how important it is to know the group offers friendly support at a difficult time.”
Find out more on the Sutton Night Watch website.
*not his real name?