Northern Ireland's first health hub for homeless to open in Belfast
NORTHERN Ireland's first health hub for the homeless is to open in Belfast city centre bringing services out of clinics and onto the streets.
The £225,000 pilot project is the biggest cash injection by the Department of Health for the homeless in more than 20 years.
The department said the "aim of the hub is to bring services out of the clinic setting and into the community and on to the streets, to wrap care around the people who need it most, where they need it".
Services including dental care, nursing, podiatry and mental health counselling will be on offer for those sleeping rough or in hostel accommodation.
It will first run for 18 months with an investment of £225,000 provided by the Department of Health's transformation fund. It is anticipated that premises for the hub will be identified in the near future.
The initiative is being led by nurse Susan Semple from the Belfast Trust, who has worked with homeless people for more than 20 years.
"This is a wonderful opportunity to have secured funding to transform health and social care services for societies most vulnerable population," she said.
"In over 20 years this is the biggest investment we have ever received that will enable us to enhance service delivery, provide timely meaningful services and improve access to secondary and allied health care services.
"This new approach will ensure a future voice to advocate for the health needs of this population."
It is hoped that the pilot project will provide invaluable evidence and learning to help inform future service development for people who are homeless across Northern Ireland.
Dr Gillian Armstrong, senior medical officer at the Department of Health, said: "People experiencing homelessness have complex health and social care needs, but face real challenges in accessing services.
"This new homeless hub will deliver joined up services and care in the community, ensuring that homeless people can access care when and where they need it."