Nov 02, 2020
We are supporting Southwark Law Centre and Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust to provide legal advice and representation to hospital patients experiencing homelessness for a second year.
The extension of the grant will help the Trust continue its Homeless Patients Legal Advocacy Service, as well as explore how the project can be sustained beyond the Charity’s funding. This support is through the Samaritan Fund at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital, reserved for the Trust’s most vulnerable patients. The fund allows the hospitals to support a patient or their family above and beyond clinical care.
Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospitals receive a significant number of homeless patients because of their locations in central London, cuts in local authority services and a stark increase of over 250% of ‘street homeless’ people in England since 2010.
Alongside complex medical needs, we know that homeless patients often have long-standing legal challenges that significantly impact their physical and psychological health. These can include access to public funds, immigration matters, asylum claims and eligibility for benefits. It is crucial that these patients have support available to them when leaving a hospital to reduce the likelihood of them needing to return. Legal advice is key to ensuring this.
The Trust’s homelessness team considers several factors when referring patients for specialist legal support. These include the safety of discharge destinations, the reoccurrence of hospital admissions, the patient’s access to benefits, vulnerabilities from substance use, addiction or mental health conditions and the patient’s long-term health needs.
Southwark Law Centre is a charity that provides free advice and representation for those that could not otherwise afford legal services. Their support helps patients experiencing homelessness to get legal services without the need for referrals to several different agencies.
Our funding has allowed specialist lawyers to directly support over twenty ‘street homeless’ patients, with significantly more assisted through advice given by the Trust’s team. Support from Southwark Law Centre has resulted in a number of patients having their visa fees waived, permitting their immigration status to be regularised, refugee status being granted and patients being given access to Universal Credit. Several patients struggling to manage their health conditions have been placed in secure, long-term accommodation following representation from legal specialists.
During the project’s pilot, alongside providing advice directly, Southwark Law Centre built the capacity of Trust teams as it delivered training on types of immigration status, avenues to public funds, homelessness law and improving referrals to local authorities. These sessions have been attended by the homelessness teams from Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust as well as colleagues from King’s College and South London and Maudsley hospitals.
By December 2020 we expect that 30 homeless patients will have received legal advice from specialists with a further 50 patients supported by the Homeless Patients Legal Advocacy Service. Our aim is to ensure that there is sufficient evidence to advocate for the project to be sustained beyond the Charity’s direct funding.
We are able to support projects to improve the clinical environment, patient outcomes and staff welfare at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust through generous donations. Find out more about how you can support our work to drive better healthcare for all in our communities.
17 November, 2020
An update on our planning applications relating to the statues of Thomas Guy and Robert Clayton.
07 October, 2020
Expanding our support for the physical and mental wellbeing of staff at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust during the COVID-19 pandemic.
28 June, 2020
Supporting the Simulation and Interactive Learning Centre at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust to purchase a more reliable, state-of-the-art patient simulator and several airway manoeuvre training manikins.