A specialist team have supported 290 vulnerable people in Southend to get vital mental health care.
The Southend Rough Sleepers Mental Health Team (RSMHT) launched in January 2022 and supports vulnerable people who sleep rough, are at risk of becoming homeless or are in temporary accommodation.
The multi-disciplinary team from Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUT) includes specialists in nursing, occupational therapy, psychological services and psychiatry.
They assess rough sleepers who have complex needs and ensure they receive personalised care and support, not only for their mental health but also for their physical health.
Operational team manager Ann Currid said: “The vulnerable people we help are marginalised and often live chaotic lifestyles. This means they can find it difficult to engage with services and build sustainable working relationships.
“As a result, they are often reluctant to visit surgeries, clinics and health services.
“Not having access to support can have a detrimental impact on their health, especially as they will have all at some point suffered trauma and deprivation.
“This makes it even more vital they receive the right support.”
The RSMHT do this by working closely with specialists from across mental and physical health services at EPUT, charities, drug and alcohol services, and Southend-on-Sea City Council.
The team base themselves at day centres, soup kitchens, and supported accommodation, and also visit people on the streets – wherever rough sleepers feel comfortable and safe.
Daniel Cauchi, centre manager for The St Vincent’s Centre, which supports vulnerable people in Southend, said: “EPUT staff have been able to work with people at their level.
“This has been amazing as this has given clients the confidence to get the support that they need.
“This service has been very reliable so that people know it is available when they need it.
“The team have been able to help reduce people’s mental health challenges by giving them ways forward.
“It is a very powerful and impactful service.”
In one example, staff from RSMHT, Southend Treatment and Recovery Service and the St Vincent Centre helped a vulnerable man to find and move into supported accommodation.
This had been challenging for him due to his mental health difficulties, which had been further affected by a relationship breakdown and losing his previous home as a result of anti-social behaviour.
Ann said: “We are committed to ensuring rough sleepers receive the holistic care and support they need, and empower them to feel hopeful about recovery.
“We treat everyone as an individual and work with them to improve their health and wellbeing.
“The whole team are passionate about improving their quality of life and see every opportunity to speak to someone as a chance to make a positive difference.”