Health Service Focus

22.10.19

Almost £2m Rough Sleeping grant awarded for health of homeless

A Rough Sleeping grant of £1.9m has today (Oct 22) been awarded to 6 projects involving partnerships between Local Authorities (LAs) and Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs).

The goverment funding will go towards testing models that provide better access to health services for people with mental ill health and drug and alcohol dependency.

The six projects will aim their services at people who are currently experiencing, or at risk of returning to, rough sleeping.

People living on the streets have much poorer health than the general population. They tend to suffer mentally, physically and with substance misuse issues – often as a result of severe trauma experienced in their lives.

In 2018 there were an estimated 726 deaths of homeless people in England and Wales, aa 22% increase since 2017, a large proportion of which related to drug poisoning.

Information obtained during the projects will go towards shaping national policy and local commissioning of health and support services.

The funding has been awarded to projects based in Lambeth, Newcastle, Westminster, West Sussex, Portsmouth and Leeds. They are expected to launch in February and run for twelve months.

In Leeds and Lambeth, specialist teams will work directly with rough sleepers to support and find them care.

Rough sleepers in West Sussex will be directed away from A&E and towards more appropriate and suitable healthcare services.

Wrap around and intensive support will be carried out by nurses and other specialist staff in homelessness services in Portsmouth, Westminster and Newcastle.

Rosanna O’Connor, director of drugs, alcohol, tobacco and justice, Public Health England said:

“It is vital that people who experience rough sleeping get access to the health services they need. This grant is funding promising projects that will test models that help people who experience rough sleeping with substance dependency and mental ill health get the treatment and support they need.”

“People sleeping rough on the streets have often been through very traumatic experiences and desperately need to receive appropriate treatment and follow up care. They should be able to look after their health problems instead of facing a ‘revolving door’ situation while their health deteriorates.”

“The 6 projects being awarded funding all explore different approaches to supporting those experiencing rough sleeping. They will help us learn more about what works in improving access to treatment that is right for them and I look forward to the findings.”

Data shows that on a single night in Autumn 2018, 4,677 people were recorded sleeping rough in England.

Of people sleeping on the streets in London between 2019 to 2019, 50% had mental health needs, 42% has alcohol misuse problems and 41% had drug misuse problems.

NHS England has recently announced £30m in additional funding for specialist mental health services in parts of the country with the highest levels of rough sleeping.

A minimum of 20 areas are expected to receive this funding by 2023 or 2024.

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