Local healthcare provider pledges help for homeless
Thursday 23rd November 2017 13:22 Denton & Audenshaw News Posted by Tom Greggan

A Denton-based healthcare concern, that has already run flu jab clinics and distributed dental hygiene packs for rough sleepers, will bring a massive injection of hope to a new national homelessness programme.

GTD Healthcare has been offering out-of-hours and out-of-hospital support to patients in Tameside, Glossop, Oldham and other areas of Lancashire and Merseyside for over 20 years. The organisation’s work with the homeless has included dispatching nurses to the Booth Street day care centre (which gives practical help to those who are homeless) and the Stock Exchange in Manchester, which was used as a shelter, to administer free flu vaccines.

Since around 70% of homeless people have lost teeth due to poor oral hygiene, their work distributing dental health packs to rough sleepers has also proved pivotal.

And it is their expertise with the vulnerable that could guide national thinking around healthcare for the homeless – including away from big cities.

The not-for-profit provider, with its headquarters at Tameside Business Park, is one of the first organisations in the country to pledge to be ‘Homeless-Friendly’. Aside from looking at their policies to make sure they truly cater for those with no permanent home, they are also going to aid the national scheme in its drive to better educate society about the needs of homeless people.

David Beckett, Chief Executive of GTD Healthcare said: “The strength of the pledge we are making is that it will bring organisations together, so we can ensure good practice rather than the current patchy picture.

“For example, people think homelessness is just an issue for cities like Manchester, but in Tameside and Glossop we know there is an unseen population of homeless people including sofa surfers. It is a really diverse area with no large centre and so caring for homeless people can be a difficult challenge.”

Recent figures released by the Institute for Public Policy Research back David’s case -showing that homelessness is moving, with a 52% rise in rural rough sleepers. The Homeless-Friendly scheme is trying to shift cultural attitudes to the homeless by encouraging organisations to pledge to examine their policies and procedures and see if they truly cater for those without a permanent address.

GTD Healthcare is one of the first organisations in the country to make that promise and creator of the programme, Dr Zahid Chauhan, is delighted to have them on-board. “The NHS is a natural choice to pioneer a scheme for the homeless, since they care for them every day,” he said.

“The kind of expertise GTD Healthcare has will be pivotal in educating everyone from banks to local councils about what problems homeless people are facing. These include poor literacy levels, chaotic family backgrounds, addiction and physical, dental and mental health issues. It is worth remembering that the average life expectancy of a homeless person is just 47-years-of-age.”

Cafes, hospitals, surgeries and local councils are amongst those joining GTD Healthcare in pioneering the Homeless-Friendly programme – which was launched by Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham.

Dr Chauhan added: “A recent survey showed that two-thirds of people in the North West were deeply concerned about homelessness and felt not enough was being done to combat it. Here is your opportunity to do something about that. Join with Homeless-Friendly and let us send out a powerful message that everyone in our society matters – whether they have a permanent address or not.”

You can find out more about the Homeless Friendly programme by visiting www.homelessfriendly.co.uk. To learn more about GTD Healthcare, head to www.gtdhealthcare.co.uk.