Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Homelessness and Health

There are several debates about the average life expectancy of a rough sleeper but what are the real issues affecting their health.

Maintaining general good health on the streets can be difficult, as there is little chance to rest in order to recover from an illness. Health issues can creep up slowly in the form of diabetes (which is often hard to recognise at first by an individual) hep B or C, or HIV. Due to the nature of services provided it may not always be possible to get healthy and nutritional food, so inevitably overall health is affected. 

Accessing medical services should not be too hard as most areas with a recognised homeless population should provide suitable support services. These may include drop in sessions at a day centre, hostel, or in some cases,  a designated surgery for homeless clients.

Managing medication can be tricky, especially if there is nowhere to store it. Many day centres dislike handling or storing medication and GP surgeries are reluctant to provide daily prescriptions. Depending on the medication, it can be very valuable on the streets and can quickly be stolen.

Whilst not all rough sleepers will experience these problems, Outreach Workers need to be aware of these issues and thoroughly asses rough sleepers in order to identify appropriate support services.

Please comment and share your knowledge.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Patronising or Publicising?

Last year we saw something called 'homeless chicenter the fashion arena. Then we began to see more and more organisations fund-raising by organising 'Sleep outs'. It now seems that some people have begun to take time out of their everyday lives to experience life as a 'homeless person'.

On the one hand I realise these people may have good intentions, but are they misguided. Surely this is patronising to those that are forced into this way of life, or is it an honest way of publicising the issue and breaking down stereotypes?

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Helping rough sleepers and homeless clients throughout the year.

During the Christmas period, homeless organisations received great and valuable support from the general public. Many received donations of clothing, food, bedding, and money. But will this support continue as the year progresses? I fear that whilst the cold weather and life on the streets continue the levels of support will quickly dwindle. 

  How can we encourage the general public to help rough sleepers and homeless clients throughout the year? What can the public do as part of their every days lives, regardless of the time of year, to help tackle homelessness? 

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

How effective has SWEP provision been?

Most of the country has been affected by the cold weather over the last several weeks and as a result many local authorities have set up SWEP (Severe Weather Emergency Protocols) to accommodate rough sleepers.The quality of accommodation can vary dramatically depending on the location. Local authorities have different services available and accommodation can range from purposely set up cold weather shelters, Bed and Breakfast accommodation, crash beds in hostels to a space on the floor of a hostel.
Has this SWEP provision been used by genuine rough sleepers and does it reflect homeless statistics and street count results, or are we finding more rough sleepers than we initially thought?