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Homeless health: new fund to help rough sleepers

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Many people rough sleeping experience ill health Many people rough sleeping experience ill health

A new £1.9 million fund to support initiatives aiming to improve the health of homeless people has been launched by PHE.

The funds will be given to local authorities and Clinical Commissioning Groups that test models aimed at improving access to health services for people who are sleeping rough.

Successful projects will focus on improving access to health services for people with co-occurring mental ill-health and substance misuse problems who are currently, or at risk of returning to, sleeping rough.

‘We know that people sleeping rough, particularly those with mental health and substance misuse problems, often find it difficult to use local health services,’ said Rosanna O’Connor, Director of Drugs, Alcohol, Tobacco and Justice at Public Health England.

‘Without getting the vital help and support they need to look after their health problems, some of the most vulnerable people in our communities face a ‘revolving door’ situation where they are repeatedly in and out of stable accommodation, while their health deteriorates. This funding will enable the testing of models that are effective in breaking this pattern and in helping people to turn their lives around.’

Many people rough sleeping also experience mental and physical ill health and have substance misuse needs. Of the people seen sleeping rough in London in 2017 to 2018, 50% had mental health needs, 43% had alcohol misuse problems, and 40% drug misuse problems.

‘People should not face barriers to accessing healthcare simply because they do not have a roof over their heads,’ said Minister for Housing and Homelessness, Heather Wheeler.

‘Our £100 million-backed rough sleeping strategy aims to ensure that people experiencing rough sleeping can access the health care they need, when they need it. The funding announced today will help local authorities and NHS services work together to improve access to services for those who have mental ill-health and substance misuse needs – helping them break free of the challenging cycle of health issues and homelessness.’

The deadline to submit an application is Friday 5 July 2019, with successful projects announced later this year.

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