Director’s Update August 2021
What’s Homelessness got to do with Healthwatch?
The core function of Healthwatch East Sussex (HWES) is to act as a consumer champion on local health and social care services. We also draw attention to how social determinants of health and prevention contribute to people’s health and wellbeing. It’s hard to imagine anything worse for your health than being homeless, which is why at HWES we are looking into how well the health and care needs of homeless people are being met in the county.
Rough sleeping is an extreme form of homelessness and according to government figures led to an average life expectancy of 46 for men or 43 for women in 2019. However, the majority of homeless people live in temporary accommodation which can be a lonely, isolating experience and often leads to a decline in wellbeing. In a 2021 Just Life report, Hidden Homeless Exposed, 58% of a research group had mental health issues, and 42% had trauma related mental ill-health, many due to their experiences of homelessness and temporary accommodation.
In 2018/19 HWES drew attention to the health and care needs of people living in temporary accommodation in Newhaven, placed there by Brighton & Hove City Council. Since then, larger numbers of homeless people from outside the county have been placed across East Sussex which carries the risk that their health and wellbeing may get worse if they can’t access the support and services they need.
We will do all we can to draw attention to health inequalities and help find solutions. We encourage others to join us in this work at a time when additional support for homeless people made available in the pandemic is coming to an end.