Men­tal health help for home­less

Team fo­cuses on is­sues at Heathrow air­port

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS -

STAFF from an NHS care provider met with ‘Heathrow’s home­less’ to raise aware­ness of men­tal health is­sues.

The Cen­tral and North West Lon­don NHS Foun­da­tion Trust (CNWL) noted that a high num­ber of peo­ple en­tered men­tal health ser­vices in Hilling­don bor­ough, par­tic­u­larly through A&E, from the air­port and wanted to find out why.

Be­tween 80 to 100 home­less peo­ple sleep at Heathrow Air­port on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.

Four Hilling­don CNWL staff, based at River­side Cen­tre, joined po­lice and Heathrow Air­port se­cu­rity staff to talk to home­less peo­ple, to give them ad­vice on men­tal health dif­fi­cul­ties and to help sign­post them The Uxbridge Gazette Se­ries to ser­vices which pro­vide them sup­port if needed.

Kim Cox, bor­ough di­rec­tor for men­tal health ser­vices in Hilling­don, said: “As part of our sys­tems re­silience pro­gramme in Hilling­don, we have ap­plied for fund­ing to pro­vide a street triage ser­vice which means we will be work­ing closely with po­lice and am­bu­lance ser­vices to sup­port peo­ple with men­tal health dif­fi­cul­ties.

“Our model will be slightly dif­fer­ent to other bor­oughs be­cause of Heathrow Air­port.

“We have a num­ber of en­ter­ing our health can with high peo­ple men­tal ser­vices, par­tic­u­larly through A&E, from the air­port.

“Dur­ing my com­mu­ni­ca­tions with the po­lice and air­port staff around our bid, they said that they would re­ally like some sup­port from men­tal health staff when they are en­gag­ing with home­less peo­ple sleep­ing at the air­port.”

So­raya McDe­vitt, a ma­tron, asked peo­ple if they wanted to speak to some­one from men­tal health ser­vices and said “a lot of peo­ple did”.

She said: “It was clear that for a lot of peo­ple, prob­lems were so­cial rather than re­lated to men­tal health and it is amaz­ing how peo­ple cope.”

Ms DcDe­vitt was joined by psy­chi­atric li­ai­son nurses, Gemma Tun­nel, and Itai Mubaiwa, as they scoured three of the air­port’s five ter­mi­nals, and Heathrow’s bus sta­tion.

Ver­ity Berry, pa­tient flow man­ager, thought the day was great to strengthen links with the po­lice, air­port se­cu­rity staff and Thames Reach staff, and help them to learn more about men­tal health ser­vices

She said: “I think the ex­er­cise also helped to raise aware­ness about how we need to break down the stigma of men­tal health; it doesn’t mean you talk to peo­ple dif­fer­ently.

“I was able to take a lot of knowl­edge back to my own job too.

“For ex­am­ple, I learnt a lot about the im­mi­gra­tion process which was in­ter­est­ing be­cause some of the home­less peo­ple we met were ac­tu­ally wait­ing to be de­ported and didn’t al­ways have a place to stay. I think there was a lot of re­cip­ro­cal learn­ing.”

CNWL say they are keen to con­tinue this kind of work in the fu­ture.

Ms Cox added: “This ex­pe­ri­ence also flagged up that we need to look at tight­en­ing governance if we are go­ing to do sim­i­lar work in the fu­ture.”

n TEAM WORK: Above right, Kim Cox, Ver­ity Berr and So­raya McDe­vitt. Above, Heathrow bus sta­tion

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