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‘Routes to Roots’, an innovative project that was pioneered and commissioned by Tower Hamlets Council Housing Options Service, has been shortlisted for a prestigious Andy Ludlow Homelessness Award.

Routes to Roots was launched in 2012 to secure housing for hospital patients who were street homeless and not linked to the borough before their illness.

It addressed one of the key challenges facing many of the capital’s hospitals – the struggle for Hospital Discharge Teams trying to source a rehousing option for their homeless out-of-borough patients.

Routes to Roots works with patients approaching the end of their hospital stay and supports the patient to return to their home borough on discharge. It also assists patients from abroad to reconnect to their country of origin where this is the patient’s preference.

The project reduces the number of patients whose discharge is delayed, prevents hospital bed-blocking and minimises the number of patients who are discharged to the street and to insecure or inappropriate accommodation.

If Tower Hamlets wins the award, the borough will work as a beacon for London to implement the project in other local authorities.

The Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, said: “We know that homeless people have difficulty accessing primary healthcare services in a planned way. Many receive treatment only as a result of emergency admissions to A&E.

“I am pleased that this important project has received recognition for the work that the team do to mitigate the difficulties faced by homeless people upon discharge.”

Councillor Rabina Khan, Cabinet Member for Housing and Development, said: “This project shows that homelessness can affect people at every age and from all ethnicities.

“We will continue to do all we can to support the homeless in Tower Hamlets, and ensure that the delivery of necessary, affordable housing is a priority for the council.”

The Andy Ludlow Homelessness Awards are organised by the London Housing Foundation, London Councils on behalf of the London boroughs, and Shelter.

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