Here is how £260,000 awarded by Public Health England will help physical and mental health of rough sleepers in Portsmouth

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A GRANT of nearly £260,000 will fund a new initiative to help improve the physical and mental health of rough sleepers and those at risk of rough sleeping.

Portsmouth City Council has been given £259,230 by Public Health England for a scheme called 'Towards Better Health' which will see healthcare staff including a GP, nurse and mental health worker running clinics within the Homeless day service and Hope House Hostel.

A clinical psychologist will be present three days a week and clients will also have access to peer health mentors and advocates, and specialist rough sleeping health navigators.

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Councillor Matthew Winnington, cabinet member for health, wellbeing and social care, said: ‘We know that people without a permanent roof over their head face greater barriers in accessing healthcare and yet their circumstances mean they are often at increased risk of poor health; both physical and mental.

‘By winning this money and being able to bring healthcare services to rough sleepers in the settings that they're already using, we're confident that we can support people sleeping rough towards better health and wellbeing.’

It is estimated that over 400 people will have access to Towards Better Health and it will also help to reduce the high number of ambulance call-outs to the hostel. There were 28 calls recorded between April and June this year.

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Leader of the city council, Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson added: ‘We take homelessness very seriously in Portsmouth and are doing a number of initiatives to try and reduce the number of people sleeping rough, including purchasing properties, increasing the number of beds in temporary accommodation and outreach work.

‘I'm delighted that Public Health England have awarded us this money so that we can address another important issue, in improving the health of our homeless residents and I think that the mental health support we've built into the project is especially important.’

The initiative is a partnership between the council and a number organisations including Solent NHS, East Shore GP Partnership, Society St James (SSJ), Two Saints Housing Association and peer led substance misuse groups such as Pushing Change.

Government figures show 340 city households were assessed for homelessness by the council between January and March this year.

Of those, 127 needed the council’s help to prevent homelessness, while 201 were already considered homeless.