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New £149k homelessness hospital discharge scheme 'could prolong lives'

By CG_Steve  |  Posted: September 14, 2013

The life expectancy of a street homeless person in the UK is just 42

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THE HEAD of a Cornish homelessness charity has said a new £149,000 scheme to prevent hospital readmissions could help prolong the lives of the county’s rough sleepers.

The average life expectancy of a street homeless person is currently just 42 years – but Steve Ellis, of Truro-based St Petroc’s Society, believes this could soon change, thanks to a government grant.

His organisation has been handed £65,000 to draw up a multi-agency plan to help prevent homeless hospital patients being sent back onto the streets after they receive treatment.

In addition, Cornwall Council has also received £84,000 to fund the provision of flats in Truro, Bodmin and Redruth to house at-risk people once they are discharged from hospital.

Currently, homeless people are more than six times more likely to need emergency hospital treatment than those with homes, while up to 70 per cent are discharged back onto the streets with no thought for their housing needs.

Mr Ellis said it was vital to “break the cycle” of homelessness by ensuring on-going care and accommodation was available to vulnerable people.

He said: “The award of this grant is fantastic news for Cornwall and will allow St Petroc's to work jointly with our colleagues in Cornwall Council and the health service to ensure that anyone leaving hospital will not return to being street homeless, and will receive the best possible after-care.

“We’ve got to break the cycle and make sure people are given every opportunity to get somewhere secure to live.”

He said the grant would help fund a full-time worker dedicated to preventing the discharge of people from hospital onto the streets, which at present happens on average every few weeks.

Almost every week someone is discharged from hospital without the support they need to maintain access or support their tenancy.

Felicity Owen, director of Public Health Cornwall, said: “We are delighted that this money has come to Cornwall and to be working in partnership with St Petroc’s to develop the hospital discharge homelessness prevention protocol. There are between 50 and 90 rough sleepers in Cornwall, and many of these people are admitted to hospital, often more than once across the space of a year.”

Judith Haycock, Cornwall Council’s cabinet member for health and adult care, added: “In today’s society, it is not acceptable that people are leaving hospital with no plans in place to address their on-going care needs. Breaking the cycle of homeless people becoming ill, being admitted to hospital, recovering, returning to the streets and falling ill again, is an important part of caring for these people. Producing and implementing this protocol, and the provision of the three flats, is going to be key to achieving this.”

Public Health, part of Cornwall Council, spearheaded the bid for the government grant.

They worked alongside Coastline Housing, Cornwall Council (Housing and Adult Care, Health and Well Being), Cornwall Housing, Pentreath, NHS Kernow, Peninsula Community Health, Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust, Cornwall Foundation Partnership Trust, Inclusion Cornwall, Faith Forum, Shelter and St Petroc’s.

A total of £10 million has been awarded by the Department of Health’s Homeless Hospital Discharge Fund, across 52 projects in the UK.

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  • josdave  |  September 14 2013, 7:29PM

    If you care to delve into the figures many of the homeless are victims of the recession with repossession making them homeless. In fact most of the homeless are real victims and should not be discriminated against cannonbridge. It is a fact in this day and age that very few of us are more than three pay packets away from being homeless and you should reflect on that the next time you describe them as wasters, scroungers or whatever term you use.

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  • emurfitt  |  September 14 2013, 6:33PM

    To clarify, Raquel Rolnik, UN Investigator, came to the UK to investigate the affect of the 'bedroom tax' on the poor and disabled and for no other reason. My point is that the UN should investigate the full range of human rights abuses directed against the poor by the British Government. There is no-one else.

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  • emurfitt  |  September 14 2013, 6:23PM

    DipStick: The three successive terms of a Labour Government were right-wing - a complete betrayal of the values that gave birth to the Labour movement. It's leader (Tony Blair) a self-confessed admirer of Margaret Thatcher. They even needed a new name: 'New Labour' to distinguish it from its roots. The present coalition is more to the right than any Government in modern British history. It would have been unthinkable to dismantle the Welfare State just twenty years ago. What further proof is needed? The national identity of Raquel Rolnik, is irrelevant. She came to the UK in her capacity as UN Investigator - not as a Brazilian. In any event, the UK is the sixth biggest national economy in the world (measured by nominal GDP) and should not be comparing itself to a third-world country. If the only thing that stands between common decency and the persecution of the poor is the UN and its team of investigators, then power to them. The UK has lost its moral compass and cannot govern itself.

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  • DipStick  |  September 14 2013, 5:05PM

    """ ... His organisation has been handed £65,000 to draw up a multi-agency plan .... "". Hmmm. If someone gave me £65K I could also come up with a plan. I wouldn't need to consult other "agencies" either! Sounds like jobs for the boys to me. As for "negative propaganda by successive right-wing Governments" well, we've just had 3 terms of a Labour government finish and I wouldn't think they'd like to describe themselves as 'right wing'. And there is no way the exising coalition is anywhere but left of centre on the politicalk spectrum. The UN? You mean the organisation who sends over researchers who 'allegedly dabbled in witchcraft and allegedly made animal sacrifices to Karl Marx'? That one? And she comes from Brazil where, according to the Brazil 2000 census: "In Brazil, there is a deficit of 6.6 Million housing units, equalling 20 million homeless people, who live in favelas, shared clandestine rooms, hovels or under bridges and viaducts, or are squatters, in some of the country's largest cities." If you think that someone from that country has even the slightest moral right to give the British "advice" on dealing with homelessness then I suggest you go live there. DS

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  • emurfitt  |  September 14 2013, 3:17PM

    The homeless problem in Cornwall (and the UK generally) is a disgrace. We need the UN to investigate what is happening to the poor in this country. They investigate human rights abuses in other countries and shame the perpetrators on the world stage. They should be here, shaming the British Government. The reason we find it so easy to sacrifice and demonize the most vulnerable is because they cannot speak up for themselves. They are relentlessly targeted by negative propaganda by successive right-wing Governments and the right-wing national tabloids and other media. There is no counter-propaganda. There is no public voice. There is no political representation. These people are disenfranchised. Working class people generally are disenfranchised. With the continued withdrawal of the welfare state, this appalling situation can only get worse.

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  • connonbridge  |  September 14 2013, 12:05PM

    No doubt having a permanent address will enable them to draw loads of taxpayer-funded social security benefits! I hope that these people who seem to be self-inflicted homeless will then have to pay rent. This £149k of government funding is also coming out of our pockets as well. I do sincerely hope that this will break the cycle, or will it be another example of 'do nothing to help yourself and everyone else will fall over themselves to do it for you'.

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