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Help for Cornwall's Homeless in Hospital

Homeless man in Cornwall
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3:42pm 20th March 2014

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A Cornish cancer patient facing life on the streets tells Pirate FM a new project to help the homeless in hospital has turned his life around.

David Hewitt from St Columb Major is one of the first to benefit from the link up with Shelter.

It has teamed up with local homeless charity St Petrocs, in partnership with the council, health services, Coastline Housing and Cornwall Housing Ltd and social housing providers to make sure rough sleepers have somewhere to go once they are discharged.

David has just been evicted. He told Pirate FM it has already made a huge difference: "So much has happened in a few short phone calls. It's all changed since yesterday. I was only given notice this morning and in that time they have made a huge difference. I feel like I'm in very safe hands. I feel like someone has taken the load and pointed me in the right direction."

The advisor and staff also helped make sure he could get married: "I wasn't allowed out so the hospital put their best foot forward and produced an absolutely magical day. They got us a little room and we had twenty people, organised us flowers and cake and drinks and oh I can't stop grinning. It was absolutely perfect."

Advisor Collette Jolly who is based at Treliske said: "They repeatedly use the emergency department because they either can't access health within the community because they're not registered with a GP or they leave it until it gets so severe that they end up having to come to a hospital and having acute care.

"It might be someone who can't return to their home because there's no heating and it's making them unwell. We had a lady who came in recently with pneumonia because her house was really damp and there was no heating. Her accommodation was really severely affecting her health."

Ian Byworth, service manager for Shelter in Cornwall and Devon, said: "This will make a huge difference to people who would otherwise face the daunting prospect of leaving hospital with nowhere to go. We hope to be able to take away some of the stress and worry about where they will find a roof over their head, so that they can focus on getting back to full health."

Anthony Ball, Tackling Inequalities Coordinator, Cornwall Council, said:  "There are between 50 and 90 rough sleepers in Cornwall many of which whom are admitted to hospital, often more than once across the space of a year.   In today's society, it is not acceptable that people are leaving hospital with no plans in place to address their ongoing care and support needs.

"Breaking the cycle of homeless people becoming ill, being admitted to hospital, recovering, returning to the streets and falling ill again is an important part of caring for homeless people.  Producing and implementing this protocol is going to be key to achieving this".

3:42pm 20th March 2014

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