BE IT finding a bed for the night, surviving without household necessities, or even being too scared to open the post for fear of eviction notices, one charity has seen it all.

But thankfully Blackbird Leys charity Connection Floating Support has a growing team of volunteers who can reach out to those who are homeless or struggling to find long-term housing.

A year since it started a volunteer recruitment drive to support full-time support workers and outreach volunteers, its team is going from strength to strength.

And ahead of next week’s national Volunteer Week, the charity, based in Dunnock Way, has praised the people who give up their time for free to make sure its services reaches those in need.

Co-ordinator Angela Dormon said: “We have 15 volunteers, a few more coming through induction now, and we’re always looking for more. They are a great and dedicated group, a wonderful bunch, and they give so much time and effort to help our clients.

“They provide extra support to our workers, bringing with them extra skills and experience. They can help alongside workers in areas where they are already stretched thin.”

Volunteers help with both helping to introduce homeless people to the charity and also to help support people who find it difficult to become long-term tenants.

Clients are referred from organisations such as Oxford City Council and district councils, churches, charities and other homelessness services.

Candice Greig is one of a team of volunteers and frontline workers who track down homeless people from across the county so they can be helped.

The 27-year-old, with the charity for a year, said: “I verify the rough sleepers.

“When the referrals come in it says where someone is supposed to be sleeping.

“We go in pairs and find them and take their basic details, their name, date of birth, whether they have any local connections.

“That then goes to the council and is assessed to see who should get temporary beds across the county.”

It comes as the Oxford Mail revealed the number of rough sleepers in the city has hit an all-time high and shelters are full up.

Figures from Oxford City Council in March revealed there were an estimated 43 people sleeping on the streets of the city.

It follows a spot check – which directly counts the number of rough sleepers on one night – in November last year identifying 26 people, which was up from 19 in 2013.

Pam Sutherland has been volunteering for more than six months, helping people who are in housing but are still struggling to cope.

The 56-year-old said: “I spend a lot of time filling in grant applications for people who have a flat, but no bed, cooker, washing machine or whatever. I help them appeal to charities to get those essential things.

“I also help people who are scared of opening the post. With people who have had negative experiences with the Department for Work and Pensions or evictions, it can become a real problem.

“Becoming homeless is one of the worst things that can happen to someone, so being able to help people keep their homes is quite powerful.”

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