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'What these guys are doing is amazing' - Charity giving out free water and food to homeless during heatwave

PUBLISHED: 14:36 25 July 2019 | UPDATED: 14:36 25 July 2019

Andy Baker, Pathways support worker, (right) and Olly Holgate, mental health nurse for Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, giving out free water and food and sun protection to the homeless community in Norwich. Picture: SOPHIE WYLLIE

Andy Baker, Pathways support worker, (right) and Olly Holgate, mental health nurse for Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, giving out free water and food and sun protection to the homeless community in Norwich. Picture: SOPHIE WYLLIE

SOPHIE WYLLIE

Free water, food and sun protection is being handed out to homeless people as temperatures soar.

Andy Baker, Pathways support worker, giving out free food to Mark Digby, 56, who is homeless in Norwich, during the July heatwave. Picture: SOPHIE WYLLIEAndy Baker, Pathways support worker, giving out free food to Mark Digby, 56, who is homeless in Norwich, during the July heatwave. Picture: SOPHIE WYLLIE

The supplies are being given out across Norwich by the Pathways team, led by St Martins and supported by six other organisations.

Andy Baker, Pathways support worker, who goes out daily to offer help to rough sleepers, said: "A lot of the people we support drink alcohol so that dehydrates you. We are making sure people drink lots of liquid and trying to get them to stay indoors as much as possible."

As well as water, Mr Baker was giving out sun hats and sun cream as well as advice on where people can get help with accommodation and health issues.

Olly Holgate, a mental health nurse for Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Trust who is involved in Pathways, said the main risk the homeless community faced in the severe heat was heatstroke.

He added that there was also a risk of dehydration if people were taking a variety of substances.

"There is harm from dehydration as that will impact on people's mental health," Mr Holgate said.

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As well as food and drink, homeless people can get showers at the Arc on Pottergate and City Reach Health Services on Westwick Street.

Mr Baker added there was shelter available around the cities churches.

Mark Digby, 56, who has been living on the streets of Norwich for nine years, said: "The Pathways team do a really good job. It means I don't have to worry about anything for the rest of the day."

A 46-year-old man, who has been homeless in Norwich for the past five years, said: "The Pathways team is most-needed. What these guys are doing is amazing. It is hard work being homeless."

Pathways was launched in July 2018 and replaced a smaller outreach project run by St Martins to support street homeless.

Staff carry out checks around the city each day, Monday to Friday, as well as two early morning checks a week.

Its main aim is to support homeless people into accommodation.

Mr Holgate said: "There are a few people who I know would be dead if we had not interacted with them. There have been some real success stories of people getting jobs and into lives where they want to be."

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