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Sleep out gives mental health staff insight into plight of homeless

PUBLISHED: 17:37 23 April 2018 | UPDATED: 18:09 23 April 2018

The Early Intervention Team based at Northgate Hospital in Great Yarmouth held a sleep out.
Picture: Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust

The Early Intervention Team based at Northgate Hospital in Great Yarmouth held a sleep out. Picture: Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust

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Mental health trust staff have held a sleep out in Great Yarmouth and handed out clothes and food parcels to people in need of help.

The Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust early intervention team based at Northgate Hospital in Northgate Street wanted to highlight the effect homelessness can have on service users and the barrier it can pose to recovery from mental ill-health.

The group of mental health nurses, social workers and therapists, including one who works with young people, slept rough overnight Friday to Saturday after offering support to people living on the streets.

Charlotte White, community manager, said: “We are familiar with the challenges faced by service users who not only have mental health problems but also no home to go to, which is why we wanted to highlight the issue by doing a sleep-out.

“But it was still an eye-opening experience for all of us to sleep out on the streets ourselves, and to hear the stories of the people who sleep rough all the time.

“It was also very moving. A homeless man even came and joined us outside the hospital after he had heard about what we were doing.

“We were there to support him, and he came to support us. He didn’t have much but offered to share what he had.

“He told us about his mental health issues and how he came to be homeless. One of the reasons he joined us was for safety.

“We were fortunate to be in a group, but we got a clear sense of how lonely and dangerous it is for people living alone on the streets.”

The team met two girls who were on the streets through no fault of their own and gave them food parcels and clothes.

They also collected donations of food and other essential supplies for Great Yarmouth Foodbank in the run-up to the sleep-out.

They have also raised about £500 for local foodbanks and Tribal Trust, a support network which helps people in Great Yarmouth who are homeless or in need.

The team thanked everyone who supported them.

To donate via the team’s JustGiving page, visit www.nsft.uk/sleepout

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