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Supporting homeless people in Exeter

Hospiscare nurses are working with Exeter-based charity St Petrock’s to support homeless people in the city

If you live locally, you’ve most likely heard of St Petrock’s. The Exeter-based charity provides a vital service for homeless people in the city, whether that’s by offering a hot meal and a shower, or by giving advice on debt, welfare and housing opportunities.

Watch this short video or read on to find out how Hospiscare is working with St Petrock’s…

Tony Maguire, Senior Project Worker at St Petrock’s, explains, “We try to work with, engage and support rough sleepers and ideally provide the opportunity for them to move on, get out of that lifestyle and lead a more comfortable life.”

Many of the people the charity works with have significant health challenges. Tony shares, “Rough sleepers are a marginalised group, so they find it hard to access many services in society, whether it’s housing, drug and alcohol services or health. They may get to a point where they ignore symptoms and may find it intimidating to go into a clinical setting, so a lot of the time they won’t address things until a late stage. A lot of our clients will end up accessing hospital services through a blue light service.”

According to the national charity Shelter, the average age of death for a homeless man is 45 and for women it’s just 43. That’s over 30 years’ younger than for non-homeless people. At Hospiscare, we want to reach as many of the people who need our help as possible. So, back in 2019, we contacted St Petrock’s to ask how we could support local homeless people. Tania Davies, an advanced nurse practitioner at Hospiscare, explains, “Often when people hear the word ‘Hospiscare’, they say, ‘I’m not there yet. I’m not dying; I don’t need you’. Our role is not just about somebody who might sadly be nearing the end of their life, it’s also about trying to support people whose lives may be cut short to live life to the full.”

Hospiscare nurses now accompany St Petrock’s outreach team once a month. Tania shares, “We walk around with them to show our faces, and to show that we’re here for everybody. We go to St Petrock’s centre if we think there’s anybody there we can support, and people can come to see us at the centre or we’ll go to them.” We’re also working with the Clock Tower Surgery – a GP practice for patients who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. The surgery refers patients to us who it feels would benefit from our support. Because we’ve already met many of these patients
through St Petrock’s, they feel more comfortable about the referral as they’ve built a rapport with our nurses and learned to trust us.

If you would like more information on St Petrock’s work, visit www.stpetrocks.org.uk.