Roots to Roots, Providence Row’s hospital based reconnections programme, has for 6 years supported homeless patients at the Royal London Hospital. Last year the service prevented 82 rough sleepers and those at risk of homelessness from leaving the hospital with no home to go to by helping them to access support and find a safe and secure place to live.
The service has now been contracted by the London Borough of Hackney and will roll out in Homerton hospital over the next couple of months. A new team of three support workers will work with hospital staff to identify those who are at risk of homelessness with physical or mental health needs. The team will then work to support them in finding a place in an area they have connections to or within a community and country where they have a better chance of accessing and sustaining accommodation.
As well providing initial crisis support, the team will also provide ongoing practical support for up to 6 months. This includes helping people in settling into their new home and ensuring they have the right financial support in place as well as more practical assistance such as setting up gas and electric accounts and managing equipment needs such as wheelchairs and phones. The aim is to put the right level of support in place to break the cycle of homelessness that many hospital patients who are rough sleeping and insecurely housed find themselves in.
The impact of Roots to Roots is far reaching, both in terms of its positive effect on the individual but also the knock-on effect to health care services. It is estimated that rough sleeping makes a return to A&E up to 7 times more likely so people receiving support from the service are much less likely to be readmitted to A&E and more able to start making progress towards creating sustainable, independent lives.