A HOMELESS charity is aiming to survey 500 homeless or formerly homeless people for a project to improve the health of people on the street.

Harp is leading a detailed research project into the health of homeless people, which will contribute to a national survey of homeless health needs.

People who become homeless – including those sofa surfing – have some of the highest and costliest health needs.

But Harp believes those needs are often overlooked when healthcare and social care services are planned and commissioned.

The audit aims to collect detailed information on homeless people’s health straight from the source, in a bid to vastly improve local services for vulnerable people.

Harp, which supports more than 1,100 people each year who are either homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, report making in excess of 3,800 medical interventions on behalf of over 1,000 people between 2014 and 2018.

Gary Turner, Harp’s service operations manager, said: “Sadly, poor physical and mental health, loneliness, and alcohol or substance misuse often accompany homelessness.

“All of our work focusses on improving the health and wellbeing of the people we work with, but there is a gap between the services available and the actual needs of local vulnerable people.

“We hope that this ambitious project will help us and our partners to improve the services that we offer, and inform local health commissioners too, so that ultimately health outcomes can be improved based on the feedback of the people who will actually use the services.”

The last national Homeless Needs Audit, which was published by Homeless Link in 2014, highlighted “the extent to which people who are homeless experience some of the worst health problems in society”.

Harp are working with Storehouse, 57 West, The Salvation Army, Stars, Trust Links, Southend Adult Community College, Off the Streets and Southend Churches Winter Night Shelters.

To be involved in the survey, or as a survey champion, contact admin@harpsouthend.org.uk or call 01702 615 000.