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Our Homeless Health Team in partnership with the Welcome Organisation’s Homeless Mobile Health Unit breaking down barriers

Welcome Service

Our Homeless Health Team in partnership with the Welcome Organisation’s mobile health unit are helping to break down barriers faced by vulnerable people who are homeless in accessing adequate health and social care across the Western Trust area.

Paula Devine, who leads the Homeless transformation project at the Western Trust alongside Eileen Dolan, Podiatry Lead explains:

“The Homeless Health Team have developed, and plans to further enhance access to all health services for those experiencing homelessness  and assist in improving continuity and follow-up for homeless clients. Their goal is to break down barriers faced by people who are homeless in accessing health and social care. They offer dedicated accessible Nursing and Podiatry services to those homeless people who would have otherwise fallen through the ‘Gaps’, and signpost to other services.  Their work to date has received overwhelming feedback regarding the positive impact this small team have had on this vulnerable population and their vital support to hostels/shelters and charitable organisations. The continual increase in the volume of those registering as homeless is predicted to rise over the next number of years, therefore highlighting the critical importance of this team and their valuable contribution to caring for this vulnerable group of people in our society.”

“The mobile clinic is another massive step in the development of ‘healthcare for homeless’ in the North west – all made possible by the passion and commitment of a team of two people Michelle and Gareth who are striving to improve access and care for this group.”

Michelle Doyle, Public Health Nurse for the Homeless at the Western Trust said:

“People experiencing homelessness face many challenges and the COVID-19 restrictions has made this even more difficult as they face multiple accommodation moves, loss of belongings and poor mental and physical health.

“The Western Trust Homeless Transformation Project Team are excited to be working in this new dynamic working relationship with The Welcome Organisation’s Homeless Mobile Health Unit. We are grateful to them for working alongside us on delivering health care to people who are presently experiencing homelessness within the Western Trust. Having access to this Mobile Health Unit has enabled the Team new opportunities to deliver health care and podiatry services to people and places that we may have been unable to reach before.

“Our service users have responded very positively to this service being made available to them, they all expressed their gratitude for the Mobile Health Units service.

“This is an extremely positive and ground breaking initiative and we are planning to advance this service even further to ensure we meet the many health needs of our clients. What the Homeless Transformation Project Team have learned to date, is that by reaching out to provide a specialist service to meet the health needs of people experiencing homelessness does work and by having access to this Mobile Health Unit will allow us to continue this and develop further in the future.”

Gareth Cullen Homelessness Podiatrist commented:

“It’s fantastic to see the Western Trust’s Homelessness project grow and develop. By working in collaboration with The Welcome Organisation we have the ability and flexibility to reach vulnerable patients who may have otherwise missed out on their COVID-19 vaccinations.

Jo Daykin-Goodall, CEO of The Welcome Organisation said:Gareth And Michelle On the Bus

“We are delighted that our Mobile Health Unit has had such a positive impact in the Western Trust, and across Northern Ireland, since it was launched late last year. Working alongside Michelle Doyle and her team, the Unit has been providing general healthcare checks, blood borne virus checks, flu and Covid-19 vaccine clinics, podiatry clinics and referrals to other services to homeless people across the Trust area.”

“Having a purpose built mobile unit means we are able to break down barriers to accessing healthcare that homeless people face. This unit allows nursing teams to bring healthcare out of a clinical setting and in to hostels, temporary accommodation sites and on to the streets. It’s a potentially life-saving service that can also help ease pressures on already stretched emergency departments. The Welcome Organisation’s Mobile Health Unit will be working with healthcare teams across Northern Ireland in what we hope will be a transformative new period for healthcare for the homeless in Northern Ireland.”