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SHOC to reintroduce health check service which could save lives

A health check service which could help prevent homeless people from dying is to be re-introduced by charity Slough Homeless Our Concern (SHOC).

Thanks to a £7,000 grant from the Berkshire Community Foundation, SHOC will be able to pay for a qualified health professional who can perform health checks on homeless people who use the charity’s day centre in Ragstone Road.

SHOC, which helps about 50 homeless people a day, moved its centre to the Quaker Meeting House in June.

Sally Russell, a fundraiser for the charity, said that last year, a semi-retired nurse used to perform health checks, which she attributes to helping reduce the deaths of rough sleepers in Slough to one in a year.

Sally says a larger number of SHOC service users died this year compared to previous years and says this may be due to the health service being cut due to budgetary pressures. 

SHOC says not all of these service users would have been sleeping on the streets.

Slough Borough Council says one rough sleeper died this year.

The health check service will include spotting signs of illness, helping to book doctors’ appointments and putting people in contact with Macmillan Cancer Support.

“All the things people take for granted when they pop down to their GP, homeless people don’t have access to that,” said Sally.

“They don’t have an address so it’s very difficult for them to get support.”

SHOC is trying to secure funding to rent a house which can provide a place for homeless people to sleep and receive 24-hour support.

The plan is to rent a house for four to six people for about £55,000 a year.

SHOC, which is connected to the Trinity Homeless Project in London, hopes to follow Trinity’s supported housing model, which involves multiple houses for people at different stages on the road to recovery.

Stage one homes are designated for people who are still alcohol or drug dependent or are more entrenched rough sleepers and stage three homes are for people who are much closer to living and working safely and independently.

People on different stages are not put in the same accommodation, so SHOC's first home will be based on the greatest need in Slough.

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