Established 2005 Registered Charity No. 1110656

Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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Unleash training

May 20 2009
Covering the basics of working with London‘s homeless men and women This January, Unleash held two further training days for volunteers who work with the homeless. The programme, which took place on Saturday 13th and Saturday 27th January, was designed to raise awareness and provide simple guidelines to aid those working in shelters or centres. Alistair Murray, coordinator of Housing Justice's Unleash scheme, said the training had received positive feedback. "People find it covers all the basics in about the right amount of detail, although some are interested in doing more," he said. "The trainers are or have been frontline workers, and so speak from a practical, rooted perspective." Each training session lasted just one day and covered issues such as homelessness law, mental health, dealing with conflict, and drug and alcohol abuse. Between 15 and 25 people took part in the volunteer training days, and Mr Murray said that Unleash aims to run around seven or eight sessions every year. "This year about 120 volunteers from many different organisations have taken part," he added. Benefactors include Thames Reach, the Simon Community, winter shelters (Redbridge, WLCHC, Hackney, Islington, Finchley) and soup runs (ASLAN, Imperial College), the American Church, Watford New Hope Trust, North London Action for the Homeless, Cardinal Hume Centre, Faith in Action Merton and Hope Worldwide. The training is free for any association that is a member of Housing Justice, thanks to funding from the charity StreetSmart. However, Mr Murray was also clear that these day-long briefings only provided a basic introduction to the issues surrounding this line of work. "It does not try to make people into experts, but the aim is to enable them to be effective and safe in their work," he said. "Generally speaking, I think people who are interested and committed have the most important qualities to make a good volunteer. It also helps if people do not have to travel too far to get to projects in which they are volunteering." Mr Murray was keen to encourage more volunteers to come forwards to take part in future training days, but was also in need of suitable venues to host the programme as it grows in popularity. Further information on the Unleash scheme can be found by emailing Housing Justice, where an application form can also be requested.