Funding for rough sleepers with substance abuse

Adults who are sleeping rough and living with mental illness and substance misuse are set to benefit from £1.9 million of funding to improve their access to vital healthcare.

Rough sleepers tend to face more barriers accessing health services, particularly those living with mental illness or substance misuse. Research shows that many people who are sleeping rough experience mental and physical illness and have substance misuse needs.

In fact, of the people seen sleeping rough in London in 2017 and 2018: 50 per cent had mental health needs; 43 per cent had alcohol misuse problems; and 40 per cent experience drug misuse problems.

The Health and Social Care Secretary has announced that £1.9 million will be given to councils by Public Health England to help improve the health of rough sleepers. This will mainly fund projects that improve access to health services and continuity of care for people with mental ill-health and substance misuse problems who are sleeping rough or at risk of returning to rough sleeping.

This includes: ‘in-reach’ care models where specialist substance misuse or mental health workers run sessions in hostels or day centres; ‘outreach’ models where specialist workers support rough sleepers at street level; and targeted interventions such as peer health advocacy that supports individuals to access and attend health appointments.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Most of us can only imagine what it is like to sleep rough and it is devastating that so many aren’t getting the right access to healthcare. Living with a mental health condition or substance misuse while homeless can lead to a vicious cycle of crisis where people can’t get their lives back on track and their health issues remain unsupported.

“Today’s announcement, along with our NHS Long Term Plan, will provide a crucial lifeline to those at risk of being left with nowhere to go and is an important step towards achieving this government’s goal of ending rough sleeping for good.”

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