RISK AND HOW TO REDUCE IT


Don’t be terrified of everyone who approaches you for help. The majority of callers are polite, co-operative and appreciative of help. But you need to be aware that homeless people are by definition under stress, and by the time you see them may already be frustrated and angry that other agencies have not been willing or able to help them.

 A minority of callers may present a risk to you, to your colleagues or to members of the public, or to the security of your property. Generally speaking though the most serious risks are those faced not by you but by the homeless person living on the streets.

Make yourself aware of the potential risks and think through how best to minimise them:


  • Draw up and implement a clear policy about whether or in what circumstances you allow people into your building or home.
  • Remember if there are plenty of people about you are generally likely to be safer than if alone. But don’t do anything which would increase the risk to other people especially if they young, old or vulnerable.
  • Be aware of the layout of your premises and use this knowledge to enhance your own safety. Don’t get yourself trapped into a room without an exit etc..
  • Make sure you always have some way of summoning help in an emergency,  (e.g. phone, panic alarm) and a plan for doing so when needed.
  • Look out for the signs of people who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol or who appear to have mental health issues.
  • Don’t be naïve about people who use religious language. While some are genuine and sincere, others may use it to win your sympathy, and for some it indicates a dangerous psychotic state.
  • Observe and learn to interpret body language and take note of tone of voice as well as words spoken.
  • Learn how to be clear and firm in stating the limits of what you can offer, without sounding aggressive.
  • Think about the difference gender makes in the dynamics of interactions between people.
  • Don't leave valuables, money, keys etc in places where they are open to view and present a temptation.

 

 There is helpful further information  aimed specifically at clergy at  National Churchwatch http://www.nationalchurchwatch.com/index.php  especially under their publications page.

 

 

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