Street medic to be recruited to care for Norwich rough sleepers

A rough sleeper in a Norwich shop doorway. Picture: Archant

A rough sleeper in a Norwich shop doorway. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

A street medic is to be introduced to check on the health of people rough sleeping in Norwich.

Labour city councillor Kevin Maguire. Pic: Submiited

Labour city councillor Kevin Maguire. Pic: Submiited - Credit: Submitted

The NHS medic is to be paid for through part of a pot of almost £1m raised by a consortium formed to tackle the rise in people living on the city's streets.

Last year, Norwich City Council's rough sleeper outreach service dealt with 400 rough sleepers, a 60pc rise in two years.

In April, a new consortium was created to deal with the rise.

The new group is formed by St Martins, the YMCA, the Salvation Army, The Feed, Shelter, Future Projects and the Mancroft Advice Project. It is being funded by the city council, county council, and NHS.

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And, at a meeting of Norwich City Council's controlling Labour cabinet this week, Kevin Maguire, the authority's cabinet member for safe city environment, said: 'We have got interested partners to form a consortium we have a much more powerful spending position than we would have otherwise. We have used that to bring in just under £1m of grants.

'This is a wonderful initiative and it is to be launched soon, led by St Martin's Trust. One of the great benefits is that we are going to see NHS provision pay for a street medic - someone out there looking at the health of these people. Our officers have done a fantastic piece of work here and this is cutting edge stuff.'

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Mr Maguire was making his comments during a discussion about the city council's latest performance figures, particularly one about whether people feel safe in the city.

According to the council's statistics for January to March this year, 57.6pc of people felt safe, below the target of 78pc.

Gail Harris said that was partly due to a change in methodology, but acknowledged that there concerns about drug dealing in some parts of the city, while austerity had led to the rise in rough sleeping.

Mr Maguire said: 'We don't want to discourage people from coming into the city, so we try to do what we can. We do far more than we are required and we should see an improvement in the rough sleeping count in the next 12 months.'

The role is expected to begin on July 20, and will be paid at NHS Band 7.

A spokesperson for Norwich City Council said: 'The creation of this role will bring vital health services directly to people sleeping on the street, some of whom currently have no access to healthcare whatsoever.'

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