With each passing year, the record of homeless people found sleeping rough on the streets of London is rapidly rising. Recently released figures by the Combined Homelessness and Information Network charity suggest that there has been a 28% rise of rough sleepers since last year. Their report states that 3103 people were found sleeping rough in the streets in London between July and September of 2018.
The sight of homelessness and having to deal directly with homeless people is something which most guards are undoubtedly familiar with, whether it be dealing with squatters in residential buildings and abandoned construction sites or rough sleepers in public use spaces such as libraries, community centres, retail stores and malls among many others.
Sites such as these are often misused by homeless people and though we can sympathise and try to understand the difficult situation they are in; their misuse of public such facilities can cause both a disruption and a sense of unease amongst other users of the public facility. It is for this reason amongst others that many public use buildings like libraries and community centres take on security services to ease the issue.
Due to the sensitivity of their circumstance the task of removing them from sites such as the previously listed can prove to be a morally daunting task even for security personnel. Therefore, guards must be trained to deal with them in a specific manner that preserves the dignity of the person with which they are dealing whilst ensuring that they are successful in the removal of the person from the site.
- Be informed- The security guard should be aware of the local support groups which are available to homeless people such as the salvation army, local homeless and rehabilitation centres. This information can be used when approaching homeless people.
- Watch before acting- Before acting the guard must be sure that the person with whom them are dealing is misusing the facility. In order to avoid discrimination of any sort is best to wait and watch.
- Approach- When instructed to remove the homeless person from the site the guard’s personal approach towards the situation must be empathetic but stern as they are the bridge between the client and the person. Thus, when confronting the person, the guard must adopt a polite manner and should under no circumstances manhandle. Professional persistency always pays off in such situations.
- Inform- As previously stated, in a polite but professionally stern manner make the person aware of their misuse of the facility and why they must leave the premises. Additionally, inform them about local support groups and rehabilitation centres which are available to them.
- Often the people in question are under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Therefore they may not be able to process what is going on around them and may react in a violent way when told to leave. In such situations the guard must refrain from reacting harshly and should remember that the use of drugs and alcohol for homeless people is often a coping mechanism. The guard should react by calling the police if the homeless person gets violent.
If the guard notices that dealing with homeless people is a reoccurring issue on the site which they are working, they can raise the issue with their management by asking management to hold either coffee mornings or events which help give back to the local community. Management can be advised to hold events where donations can be made to contribute to local homeless shelters. This will help the organisation to participate in improving the local community and is the best practice for quality management.
Always remember to treat each and every person you meet with respect and dignity regardless of their situation.