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Routes to Roots: Tower Hamlets helping homeless people in hospital

The Tower Hamlets Routes to Roots project works with homeless or potentially homeless people who are in hospital.  By helping them to reconnect with their home borough they help prevent homelessness and reduce unnecessary stays in hospital.  The project has been shortlisted for this year’s Andy Ludlow Awards.  Alexis is one of their Advice and Support team and this is her story.

When I was first told about the ‘Routes to Roots’ project by my manager I was really excited to be involved.  This is a service that supports hospital patients at risk of rough sleeping before they are discharged from hospital.

Often when clients first come to us they are already sleeping rough; a very difficult and desperate situation. With this project I really feel we are getting ahead of the issue by reaching out to some of the most vulnerable people in the community and working with the hospital before they are discharged.

In the past I have seen homeless clients fall into a vicious cycle of becoming ill, going into hospital, getting better, but then going back out onto the streets where their health is once again compromised. This project is about preventing this from happening again and again, and I can already see it’s really working.

We visit the patients at the Royal London Hospital and offer them support and advice on housing and benefits. Going through a period of illness leaves people very emotionally and physically vulnerable.  They are often unable to tackle some of the complicated systems needed to connect them to services or find accommodation. Having someone there, to talk to, and to help them work through all the information, can make a huge difference to a vulnerably housed patient with nowhere else to turn.

Some of the clients I’ve worked with have had complicated and complex situations which makes the job a real challenge, but seeing all the positive outcomes makes this a truly fulfilling experience. One man I worked with recently had been in and out of hospital many times and was really struggling to get back on his feet. We helped connect him to his local Borough and now he is in accommodation. It’s amazing to see him now, compared to when I first met him in hospital. He is finally able to rebuild his health off the streets.

He is one of the 26 people we have connected to accommodation and services in their local area since the project began. That’s why I love my work here at Providence Row – because through services like this we are able to be part of someone’s recovery and help turn their lives around.

Alexis, Personal Advisor, Advice and Support team – Providence Row

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