Homelessness: it makes you sick

St Mungo's supports and cares for vulnerable people who either have been or are at risk of sleeping rough. Each year we help thousands of people and our hostels, care homes, emergency shelters and housing projects provide safe and supportive housing to 1,500 people each night.

Many of our clients have multiple health problems such as alcohol and drug dependency and physical and mental health issues, which have often been left untreated, causing chronic illness and in many cases shorter life expectancy. On average one person dies each month in our hostels.

Our Health Report, St Mungo's research into interactions between clients and primary health services, highlights the need for better health care amongst the homeless in London. The case studies within the report show how homeless people are often treated as third class citizens and a nuisance by some healthcare professionals.

Homelessness It makes you sick Health Summary Report is a brief guide to the findings in the health report combined with the Health Strategy and underlines the key points and the changes that we believe are needed to provide better health and support services for homeless people. Field work for this project was carried out by independent peer researchers from Groundswell.

These findings lead us to produce a Health Strategy with the help of PHAST, public health specialists, outlining our vision of health service delivery which we believe is necessary to improve quality of life and wellbeing as a whole. With this in mind we will be developing a Training course for Healthcare workers, that gives a better understanding of the needs of homeless people while accessing health services.

We produced a Hostel workers journal, a real life account of the weekly problems of a client with chronic health problems, in a St Mungo's central London hostel.