Studies have reported a higher prevalence of mental health problems in the homeless population compared to the general population, including major depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
Our Rough Sleepers team, based at the Homeless Health Exchange (HEX), William Booth Lane, exists to support the mental health and wellbeing needs of this vulnerable marginalised group of people in Birmingham.
Made up of four Community Psychiatric Nurses, Gemma McGeown, Mark Woods, Caroline Maclaren and Elliott Gillings, and two psychological therapists, Inderjit Pandha and Monika Borchadt the team work closely with our partners to support those with mental health problems who are rough sleeping and work together to get them in to accommodation and off the streets.
A typical day for colleagues Gemma, Mark, Caroline and Elliott begins at 6.30am, where in rain, hail, sunshine or snow, they walk approximately 10-15 miles to locate rough sleepers across the city centre. Approaching people, the team will offer help with housing, food or drink, healthcare, substance use and mental health support.
A lot of the time, it can be difficult to locate rough sleepers, which is why the team rely on their combined 63 years of experience as well as a handy app called ‘StreetLink’ that is free to download on all smartphones. StreetLink exists to help end rough sleeping by enabling members of the public to help send an alert to our services, pinpointing where someone in need is located.
“Some of the rough sleepers we speak to will engage well, however, others do take a little more time, so we will try and build up trust and relationships with them. We have regular meetings with our partners to ensure we are all working in sync to get the very best outcomes for our service users.
“Following our meetings, we usually aim to locate service users with identified mental health needs, or with suspected mental health needs and link them up with our consultants Dr Hossain or Dr Ekanayake who are always flexible to offer their assistance.”
The team are sometimes joined by Mark’s four-legged companion Monty the dog, who can be a great way of brightening up someone’s day, particularly if they find it difficult to socialise.
The team work closely with our partners to locate service users with identified mental health needs, or with suspected mental health needs and link them up with consultants Dr Hossain or Dr Ekanayake who are always flexible to offer their assistance.
Download StreetLink today.
Published: 11 January 2024