Jackie Doyle-Price MP, Minister for Mental Health, Inequalities and Suicide Prevention (Department of Health) and Will Quince MP, Minister for Family Support, Housing and Child Maintenance (Department for Work and Pensions) met with St Mungo’s clients and staff in West London today (Thursday 6 June).
The ministers were shown around the charity’s No Second Night Out (NSNO) assessment hub and heard how staff support people who have found themselves sleeping rough on the streets of London for the first time. The team works quickly to assess people’s options and find a safe route away from sleeping on the streets.
Ms Doyle-Price and Mr Quince also visited the charity’s Hope Gardens project and heard about the health inequalities and poor health outcomes facing people who sleep rough, and the importance of specialist services for those with the most complex needs, including substance use and mental health problems. The NHS recently committed to investing up to £30 million extra on improving the health of people sleeping rough, as part of the Long Term Plan.
The ministers spoke to clients about their experiences of the welfare system and how vitally important it is in supporting people’s recovery from homelessness.
Health minister Jackie Doyle-Price MP said:
“Everyone should have a roof over their head and access to the right health services, no matter who they are. It was a pleasure to visit St Mungo’s West London hub today to learn more about the vital support the charity provides to some of society’s most vulnerable.
“I’m determined to stop people from becoming homeless in the first place. Our Long Term Plan for the NHS has tackling inequalities at its heart and commits £30m to rough sleepers over the next five years, taking us one step closer to achieving our goal of ending rough sleeping for good, with the goal of halving it by 2022.”
Minister for Family Support, Housing and Child Maintenance Will Quince MP said:
“We want to take a holistic approach across Government to help those experiencing homelessness to stabilise their lives. It’s been invaluable to hear first-hand from the dedicated St Mungo’s staff, and those who have benefited from their services, how the right help at the right time can transform lives.”
Dominic Williamson, Executive Director for Strategy and Policy at St Mungo’s, said: “Today was a welcome opportunity for the ministers to meet St Mungo’s clients and staff and hear about the vital importance of health services and welfare in supporting people’s recovery from homelessness.
“We welcome the commitment to invest in improving health services for people sleeping rough through the NHS Long Term Plan. This must be the start of a real effort to reduce the shocking health inequalities and premature deaths of people who are homeless. This means investing in specialist services and ensuring people with multiple and complex needs in every area can access vital support and treatment to improve their health, including mental health and substance use problems. We also look forward to working with the DWP to improve welfare outcomes for our clients.
“With the upcoming Spending Review, the Government also has a real opportunity to end rough sleeping for good by committing to providing more social housing; a more secure and affordable private rented sector; and a new programme of long-term, guaranteed funding for homelessness services.”
Photo (left to right): Dominic Williamson, St Mungo’s Executive Director of Policy and Strategy; Amy Rice, St Mungo’s Deputy Manager; Jackie Doyle-Price MP, Health Minister; Will Quince MP, Work and Pensions Minister; and Petra Sohrens, St Mungo’s NSNO Worker.