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Thames Reach reiterates need to address mental health problems among rough sleepers

1 September 2016


Fatima Taylor,
Fatima Taylor's work with the Tower Hamlets SORT team to provide mental health support to rough sleepers has been featured on the BBC national news

Thames Reach has reiterated the need to address the serious problem of mental health issues among people sleeping rough in London.

Last year, statistics showed that 47% of those sleeping rough in the capital had a mental health support need, while figures for the first quarter of 2016 show a 9% rise in people on the streets with poor mental health.

This reiteration comes following BBC national news coverage of Thames Reach’s work in Tower Hamlets, where, with the support of the local council, Fatima Taylor, an approved mental health professional, is operating alongside outreach teams to ensure vulnerable people get the treatment and support they need.

Bill Tidnam, director of operations at Thames Reach, commented on the scale of the problem surrounding mental health among those sleeping rough: “At least 500 people sleeping rough long-term are struggling with severe and enduring mental health problems and aren’t getting proper access to appropriate services."

Mental health services haven’t regularly operated on the streets, instead working from their own offices and clinics, meaning people sleeping rough haven’t been able to receive direct support for mental health problems, some of which remain undetected or undiagnosed.

It is hoped that the BBC’s coverage of Thames Reach’s ongoing work in Tower Hamlets can help highlight and address the issue of how people on the streets get access to appropriate mental health support.

“Living on the streets is dangerous and unhealthy,” added Bill Tidnam. “If most of us had a friend or relation suffering from significant mental health problems, we would do what we could to get them help. Many people who are sleeping rough don’t have this, and this can mean that they are left without the help that they need, and stay homeless.

 “More local mental health services need to reach out and work on the streets to offer assessments and aid full access to ongoing mental health support.”

You can view the BBC's coverage of Thames Reach's ongoing work in Tower Hamlets here.