Jo Dawes is encouraging physiotherapy staff to help homeless people over the festive period
As preparations for Christmas and seasonal festivities escalate, we should reflect on the challenges and hardships vulnerable and excluded people in our society face.
Current figures show that more than 320,000 people are registered as homeless in England, however this overlooks the ‘hidden homeless’.
It is thought that for every recorded homeless person, as many as 17 may be missed, living in temporary accommodation (hostels or B and B), unsuitable housing or moving between friends and family. So, arguably as many as five million people may actually be homeless or vulnerably housed. In the 1970s, the inverse care law explained that society’s poorest and most vulnerable people were those who need healthcare most, but could access it least. Nearly 50 years later, sadly this remains the case.
If you would like to join us this year:
- We are recruiting qualified and student physiotherapy volunteers to help run the physiotherapy service at Crisis at Christmas
- Shift dates: 24 to 29 December inclusive
- Qualified volunteers must be HCPC registered and have professional liability insurance to practice
- To find out about your potential role and to sign up: christmas.crisis.org.uk
The homelessness charity Crisis works year round to campaign and support people experiencing homelessness. They are particularly busy at this time of year, preparing to open their doors over the Christmas period, so they can offer shelter, food, clothes, entertainment and healthcare to people who would otherwise be sleeping on our streets.
In London, the Crisis healthcare team includes a physiotherapy service, which is staffed by volunteer qualified and student physiotherapists. The service provides homeless people with assessments, treatment and advice, and this year we again reach out to our colleagues who have time to offer.
A physiotherapist who worked with us last year described his first experience with the service. He said,
Working in outpatients in my day job, my skills were very translatable, and it turned out to be the most humbling and rewarding work I have done recently.
Jo Dawes senior lecturer in physiotherapy, Kingston and St George’s Universities London
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