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Helping rough sleepers to better mental health

Rough sleepers and people at risk of becoming homeless in the West Norfolk area are now able to receive targeted support for mental health difficulties following the appointment of a dedicated outreach nurse.

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) has appointed Barry Ord (pictured) as Mental Health Homelessness Outreach Nurse after working with the Borough Council of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk and NHS West Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group to jointly fund the part-time role. He will be responsible for engaging with people who are currently not accessing mental health services with the aim of getting them help to address underlying mental health conditions.

Barry will work alongside housing providers, charities, the town’s night shelter and other partner organisations to identify the level of need and any barriers which homeless people face when getting help for their mental health.

He will complete assessments and offer short-term interventions for people who are either already sleeping rough or at a high risk of doing so, with the aim of enabling them to access mainstream mental health services.

Barry will also offer training and education to partner organisations so that they are better able to support people with mental health issues.

“I have been a mental health nurse for more than 30 years and have worked with the drug and alcohol service and in the prison service and crisis team, so felt that this role was well-suited to my skills and experience,” said Barry, who has been seconded to the post for two years.

“Often, people who are homeless have very complex needs which means that keeping them engaged with services can be hard. They have chaotic lifestyles and sometimes do not keep appointments, which can make it easy for them to fall through the gaps and get lost in the system. I will be working closely with partner organisations to try to address that through this new role.

“I think this new role gives us an opportunity to make a real difference to people, and hope that we can improve outcomes for a very vulnerable group of service users who historically may have struggled to access support for their mental health issues.”

Cllr Adrian Lawrence, Cabinet Member for Housing at the Borough Council of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk, said: “We’re pleased to be working with NSFT and the CCG to create this position and it should have a positive impact on the community. Barry brings a wealth of experience with him to the role and will engage with a vulnerable group in our community.”

John Webster, Lead Director at NHS West Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “The CCG is really pleased to be continuing our innovative work with partner organisations to improve people’s access to the health services they need. By working together we can help people to get help earlier, and reduce the strain on our healthcare services in the longer term.”

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