Sanctus is an independent charity which aims to provide a service different to other local provisions available and to avoid overlapping or duplication with statutory services. The charity is highly accepting of all and has built a community based around the Café. People are attracted to Sanctus through the provision of free meals and hot drinks in fixed premises with seating. Service users attending have continuity with staff, they are able to build relationships and trust that encourage them into support sessions and wider assistance once ready to take that next step.
As we open every day of the year, we are always there for those who need us, meaning we are well-placed to respond to the needs of those who we support. Our work closely ties into Maslow’s theory of the hierarchy of needs. Through our Café, we provide people with food, clothes and essential items. This is then a gateway to access the wider support services offered by Sanctus Hub where we work in conjunction with other support services both statutory and voluntary to help secure accommodation, good health and employment opportunities.
Service users are confident to tell the Sanctus staff what they really need, and what they are feeling. Sanctus’ independence means they can adapt to the individual needs of the service users and not be constrained by targets or single areas of focus. The team work with people at their hardest times and over time build trust and the confidence to take the next step. This leads to them living a better life, where they have support networks, and self-esteem, and they can achieve so much more.
Person Centred Approach
Sanctus provides support in an ongoing, person-centred approach, standing alongside each person. Sanctus has a different approach to the traditional situation of people attending a street kitchen or being asked to attend ad-hoc appointments in environments (which they may be late to, may not find the location or may not feel welcome) where they do not have established relationships.
Sanctus understands the importance of working as a wider team including the government department and charity and recognises that success is only achieved through a network of integrated support services. This innovation means many external agencies utilise Sanctus space to provide their services making engagement with service users more successful. Sanctus is trying to pioneer the way to engage with the vulnerable of our society, so they build trust in the associated services offered.
We work with some of the most marginalised people in our community who come to us with a range of complex needs. Some of the challenges they face include homelessness, hidden homelessness, isolation, significant mental health issues, disabilities, addiction, financial vulnerability, domestic violence, and ex-offending the list goes on, in many if not most cases individuals are struggling with multiple issues. We help those who are living on the edge of society and who really struggle with interacting with other services.
Sanctus has been operating for over 10 years, and we play a vital role when it comes to supporting those in need in our area. Through our years of experience, and lessons learnt, we are well-placed to respond to these complex needs and the challenges that our clients face.
Our work is designed to support extremely vulnerable individuals with a range of complex needs. We support people of different ages, different disabilities, genders, race, religions and beliefs, sex, sexual orientation, as well as marital status and pregnancy. We find that those who use our services have a lack of trust in different agencies, organisations and statutory bodies which often means they are not fully interacting with support. We work alongside each person to build trust which helps them to begin interacting with us and other services. Many of our clients do not have support networks and Sanctus operates in a way where we initially become that support network. We work with many people whom other sources of support have failed, been inappropriate or are simply not available.
As well as the longer-term work that we carry out with our clients, which is focused on long-term sustainable solutions, we also support people in a moment of crisis and provide emergency help. Some examples include someone who has found themselves newly homeless, has no clothes, or food and has nowhere to stay, they can come to us at Sanctus and we will provide them with the initial sustenance and support. This then leads them to access our wider support services as well as referrals to other agencies. Another example would be, someone who is fleeing domestic abuse, they have no clothes, furniture or essential items and no access to funds. We will provide them with the items they need whilst also working alongside them to sort benefits and banking, as well as wider support. Our work does not replicate other services of statutory bodies, but instead fills a gap and complements the work of other agencies.
Enabling Wider Support
There is no doubt an improvement in circumstances once support services are successfully accessed, the difficulty is people individuals begin to interact with such services or have trust in them to engage. Often this lack of trust is based on poor experience, hence the need to be supported and guided into the wider processes.
56% of people who require access to support services to assist with accommodation, addiction or other vulnerability issues, report that they find it either ‘extremely difficult’ or ‘not possible to interact with such services. Sanctus sits alongside people to engage with such services.
On a scale of 1 to 10 where 10 was “a great deal of stress” and 1 is “little or no stress,” it was found that the average stress level for vulnerable people, with emotional support in place, was 5 out of 10 compared to 6.3 out of 10 (25% higher) for people without emotional support. Sanctus represents that emotional support and works to take stress and chaos out of lives.
94% of addiction clients, 86% of self-esteem clients, 76% of anxiety clients, and 74% of depression clients confirmed their issue had either “Improved” or “Significantly Improved” when they had access to support services. As well as offering direct support Sanctus also makes wider support services effective.
(Data sourced from the Mental Health Foundation and Does Counselling Work? Survey.)
Reporting and Analysis
We track and report the activities at Sanctus, both in the Café and Support Hub. We keep secure records of who accesses our services, the types of support that have been given and the outcomes of such support. We keep records, for instance, attendance numbers in the Sanctus Café, any new individuals to use our services, the number of Support Hub sessions delivered and the types of support. This data is reviewed regularly which means we can monitor the need for services and any new or growing trends. From this data capturing, we are able to tailor our services to meet the needs of those who we support.
We also record qualitative outcomes of the services we deliver, as we appreciate that outcomes cannot always be assessed by numbers but actually by the experiences of our service users. We operate on a basis that each individual will need different kinds of support, so it can be difficult to quantify an outcome for an individual and make comparisons to others. This is why we record case studies of our service users, so we can view how different measures were successful and what the tangible outcomes were. We also monitor any verbal and written feedback we receive as this gives us an indication of how people feel when using our services.
All the information that we collect is reviewed and the successes and failures of interventions are discussed. This also allows assessment of where funding has the most positive impact. As a team, we are able to work closely to make appropriate changes to improve services. We try to involve the service user’s thoughts and suggestions as much as possible. This makes us extremely responsive to evolving needs.
In addition to the impact on the service user base, staff and volunteers, the local community also benefits from Sanctus.
Sanctus has directly contributed towards the Essex County Council Organisational Strategy 2017-2021 for the strategic aim of ‘Help People Get the Best Start and Age Well’. Sanctus is an essential service for Chelmsford and wider areas, engaging and rebuilding the lives of many of the most vulnerable of the community. If Sanctus did not provide this service, the wider community, charities and varying government departments and agencies would be under more pressure. Sanctus provides the ideal opportunity to create optimum conditions for change, alongside a community environment for cohesion, tolerance and bridging barriers.
At Sanctus, we have shown that by offering people a welcoming space that assists them and reverses trends, this frees up other services. So, in addition to the recipients receiving benefits, there is also the positive impact on society, on over-stretched resources, minimising work-load, and spillover to services such as the NHS, police, social services, housing, other charities and the ability to spread the load between specialist agencies. In addition, the charity’s service benefits the general public in the recognised impact that Sanctus has, on lowering crime levels including petty crime and aggressive begging.
Through conversations with the Local Authority as well as Councillors and other local organisations, Sanctus is viewed as part of the wider solution to ending rough sleeping and other vulnerabilities in Chelmsford and neighbouring areas. This approach is viewed as a multi-organisational solution, with Sanctus providing key support services to help people with their challenges, including housing whilst also offering ongoing support to help to sustain their tenancies.