Reading’s Walk-In Health Centre Initiative

Since October 2017, the Museum of Homelessness and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism have recorded the deaths of almost 1000 homeless people. From January – June 2019, at least 235 people affected by homelessness have died – an average of one person every 19 hours.

When someone is homeless, they are often living chaotic lives. Between trying to find a safe place to sleep, find food that will nourish them, secure work, claim benefits or overcome debt, their health is not their main concern.

Reading’s Walk-In Health Centre has set up a homeless outreach and medical service initiative which aims to provide a focussed clinical drop-in

service to anyone who is rough sleeping or homeless. Although the Walk-In Health Centre can be accessed by any Reading resident at any time without the need for an appointment, from September 2019, the Health Centre will open a targeted clinic with a two-hour drop-in window, on one set day each month where those who are rough sleeping or homeless can access the service and receive an attentive and fast-tracked response from staff. This offer will be reviewed and has the potential to have its frequency increased if there is local demand.

The Health Centre will focus on:

  • Treatment of acute illnesses; 
  • Dressing changes and wound checks;
  • Health checks;
  • Medication requests;
  • A registered GP or Nurse Practitioner on-site, specifically for this initiative;
  • A fast track registration service for referrals that need to be made or specialist external input (mental health services or hospital-based treatment);
  • Assisting patients with completing registration forms and documents.

Verena Hutcheson Homelessness and Housing Pathways Manager at Reading Borough Council says:

“We believe that this will be a helpful resource for us, as well as Homelessness Support Services. We are particularly pleased to see the fast-tracking process and support with registration for patients as we hope this will encourage more people to use the service and get the support they need around their health”.