Groundswell’s vision is of an equal and inclusive society, where the solutions to homelessness come from the experiences of people who are homeless. We believe that lived experience of homelessness and using support services brings unique insight that creates change. Everyone on our volunteer team has been homeless, over half our staff too.
These are the four core beliefs that drive our unique approach.
4 Core Beliefs
The whole community benefits when we effectively tackle homelessness and social exclusion.
We believe in people. People are society’s most valuable resource, and everyone has the capacity to make a contribution.
There is no “them” and “us” – only us. Groundswell brings everyone together to create genuine solutions to homelessness.
Participation works. Supporting homeless people to participate creates more effective services and policy – and crucially enables people to move out of homelessness.
Homelessness and Health Inequalities
Homelessness is a national scandal. Rough sleeping in the UK has increased by a devastating 169% since 2010, Homeless Link estimate that 4,751 people sleep out every single night. This figure hardly scratches the surface as many people are not counted, the national homelessness charity Crisis estimate that 62% of people experiencing homelessness are ‘hidden’. In addition to rough sleeping many of Groundswell’s clients live in temporary or unstable accommodation such as hostels, night shelters, squats, or staying with friends and family short-term.
People experiencing homelessness have highly complex health needs resulting in an average age of death of 47 years, over 30 years younger than the general population. Homeless Link discovered that 80% of people experiencing homelessness have unmet mental health needs and 70% have physical health issues. Over the past seven years the number of recorded visits to A&E departments across England by people with no fixed address has increased by 65%. During 2017/18 nearly 32,000 patient visits of this nature were recorded, costing the NHS over £4.7million.
The level of recent media attention on homelessness and early preventable deaths will have not escaped many people. The reality is that deaths of homeless people have increased by 24% over the past 5 years. On average the age at death was 44 years old. Poor health and the experience of homelessness are inextricably linked yet this connection is rarely made when designing and running support services.
Groundswell believe that the solutions to the issues affecting homeless people, such as health inequalities, are only effective if they involve people with experience of these issues. Those who have experienced the problem have the best solutions which is why our volunteers deliver our services, to address these problems.
HHPA began in 2010, this service supports homeless people to access healthcare. Delivered by volunteer peer advocates with personal experience of homelessness, HHPA enables homeless people to overcome the practical, personal and systemic barriers preventing them from addressing their health needs. Peer advocates help homeless people across London address their physical and mental health issues, improve clients’ confidence and increase their ability to access healthcare independently.
In the nine years HHPA has been operating Groundswell’s peer advocates have helped over 8,000 homeless address their health problems through a combination of 13,000 one-to-one appointments and more than 4,000 health promotion sessions. They have trained over 120 people with experience of homelessness to become peer advocates.
Where to Get Help if You’re Homeless
Temporary Accommodation and Day Centres
Homeless Link run a database of accommodation and other support services. You can search for what is available in your local area.
The Pavement magazine also has a list of day centres, accommodation and other services.
Many hostels and shelters only give beds to people who have been referred to them by other services. Read this advice from Shelter if you are in England on how to get into a hostel or a night shelter.
Help with Housing
Shelter’s free Housing Advice Helpline can provide advice on housing and related issues. It’s open 365 days a year from 08:00-20:00 on weekdays and 08:00 to 17:00 on weekends.
Telephone: 0808 800 4444
You can also find help and advice on their website: www.england.shelter.org.uk.
Groundswell partner with the Pavement magazine to report on issues that are important to homeless people and explore solutions. These articles are written by peer journalists, all who have lived experience of homelessness. Most London based homelessness services will have hard copies.
Groundswell have produced a whole range of ‘action updates’ on a whole range of health and wellbeing issues. These are written by people with experience of homelessness, therefore the advice and solutions are tailored to someone in this situation.
So that’s why working with Greenhouse is so great, health with homeless patient group at the centre!
Our work with you will be based on this model – as I said details of exactly how/what TBC!