Health and care leaders in West Cheshire sign up to homeless health charter

25 January 2016

Health and care leaders in Cheshire West and Chester have made a formal pledge to understand and meet the needs of homeless people in the borough.
Members of the Cheshire West and Chester Health and Wellbeing Board have signed up to the St Mungo’s Charter for Homeless Health.

The charter asks health leaders to drive efforts to tackle health inequalities affecting homeless people, and to promote partnership working between key organisations.

It is part of St Mungo’s Homeless Health Matters campaign which focuses on single homeless people.

The campaign report states that 73 percent of homeless people have a physical health problem, while two thirds experience mental health issues.

Its research found that the average age at which a homeless person dies is 47, and that 53 percent of homeless women and 34 percent of homeless men have attempted suicide at least once.

Councillor Samantha Dixon, Chairman of Cheshire West and Chester’s Health and Wellbeing Board, said: "People who are homeless face some of the worst health inequalities in society.
“They are at much greater risk of mental and physical health problems than the general population and their experiences of homelessness often make it more difficult to access the healthcare they need.
“In Cheshire West and Chester, we are committed to tackling these inequalities and a significant amount of work is being undertaken by the Council and its partners to improve services that support the health and wellbeing of homeless people.
“By signing up to the St Mungo’s charter, the Council, health organisations, the voluntary and community sector are showing a clear determination to work together to help improve the lives of some of West Cheshire’s most vulnerable people.” NHS West Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group Chief Executive Alison Lee said: “The NHS in West Cheshire works collaboratively with partners to help improve the wellbeing of local homeless people and their access to and experience of services.
“Central to this is our work with St Werburgh’s Practice for the Homeless, alongside the Council and local voluntary and community organisations, to ensure that single homeless people have a strong voice in relation to how they access and experience care.
“Signing the St Mungo’s Charter for Homeless Health further enhances our commitment to helping some of the most vulnerable people in our community.”
Addressing the health needs of homeless individuals is a priority in Cheshire West and Chester’s Homelessness Strategy 2015-20.
Activities already underway include reviewing and improving support in temporary accommodation, and improving referral arrangements with mental health services.

In addition, a pilot is being launched in early February to join-up support for individuals with the most complex needs, many of whom are at risk of being homeless.

This will involve a new team which will incorporate support from partner agencies such as Health, Housing Associations, Police and Job Centre Plus.

The Council is currently undertaking a Homeless Health Needs Audit to provide a clear picture of the types of health needs experienced by homeless individuals in the borough. This information will be used to provide more targeted and effective support services.

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