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Tags: Homeless

Hanley week of action

VOICES a week of action
By Steve Willis, Service Coordinator, VOICES   During December PC James Howard of Hanley Police led plans to set up a week of action to help the homeless at Christmas. The aim was to provide a location for people experiencing homelessness to access a warm safe space where they could have a hot drink, food and engage with support services. A mobile Police station was set up on a carpark at the top of Lichfield street, just opposite Hanley Bus station.   Representatives of VOICES, Citizen’s Advice Bureau, Housing Options, Brighter Futures Rough sleeper team and the Macari Centre frequented the location through the week alongside PC Howard. There were a lot of donations made for the van by the Brighter Futures Rough Sleeper’s Team, Hanley Bus Station, Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Stoke Community Drug and Alcohol Service, The Royal Voluntary Service, The Police, Number Eleven and the Macari Centre. These donations included food, clothes, handwarmers, foil blankets and shoe boxes gift wrapped containing useful items. Over 25 people attended through the week (we lost track of the exact number due to times when the van was very busy and literally overflowing). Throughout the week 8 people were accommodated and more were accommodated soon after as a… Continue Reading

Is out of the area accommodation a reasonable offer?

VOICES case study 2
Homelessness in Stoke-On-Trent is on the rise.  Even when you take into account homeless shelters, hostels, supported housing, council housing, social housing, and private rented properties, there is not enough accommodation available for everyone who presents as homeless. People who have been entrenched rough sleepers for many years, who have had regular, short stints in accommodation, but have lost this accommodation for some reason. Often the reasons can be traced back to poor mental health, inability to maintain a tenancy, lack of support, or offending and re-offending.  One solution being offered by Local Authorities that I have experienced when providing support to people presenting as homeless is an offer of accommodation out of the area. This is usually offered when there is no space at local hostels or night shelters or the customer is being refused access to these.   Service Co-ordinator Rachael Quarmby discusses a typical example and questions whether this is sometimes merely the least worst option.   A woman presented as homeless after being evicted from her property.  She was assessed as not being vulnerable compared to an ‘ordinary person’.  This was despite a history of substance use and mental health difficulties. She was offered out of area accommodation and advised… Continue Reading

Homeless people have the right to register with a G.P

VOICES GP access cards
Author: Andy Meakin, Director, VOICES Expert Citizens, Healthwatch Stoke-on-Trent, and VOICES have launched a card designed to help homeless people register with a doctor. The card is designed so that homeless people and their support workers can easily remind GP practice staff that they have a right to access the primary healthcare that they need.  NHS England sets out clear guidance stating that homeless people do not need to provide proof of identification when applying to register with a NHS doctor. Despite this, homeless people are often asked to provide identification documents as a condition of registration with a practice. People experiencing homelessness are among the most at risk of premature death. “Homeless people are more likely to die young, with an average age of death of 47 years old and even lower for women at 43.” Crisis & University of Sheffield (2012), “Homelessness Kills”, page 4.   Andy Meakin, Project Director at VOICES, said: “The support of a GP is often vital for homeless people to secure access to other needed services.  This includes mental health support, drug or alcohol treatment, or a social care intervention, for example.  However, a GP may also be able to help people access housing and welfare benefits by providing evidence of their… Continue Reading

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