A new initiative has been set up aiming at getting help to rough sleepers who aren’t currently accessing mental health services, to help them address their underlying mental health conditions. Senior Mental Health Practitioner Jonathan Dickson is the leader behind this initiative. 

In a piece of research by Clinical Psychologists at a hostel for rough sleepers, it was found just over 80 percent of individuals were found to meet the criteria for a diagnosis of personality disorder: just under eight percent actually had a diagnosis of personality disorder. With this in my mind its been found that there just isn't suitable treatments and care for people sleeping rough and this is something Mr Dickson hopes to change.

They are starting with a yearlong pilot study, which begins this month, and is currently being tested on rough sleepers in Ipswich and Suffolk coastal areas. Here they are giving individuals assessments and short term interventions to individuals to find the most suited mainstream mental health services for the individual. Dickson will hope to achieve this aim by working alongside partner organisations to identify the level of need and barriers to these individuals getting help for their mental health. A similar scheme is due to launch in west Suffolk within the next few months, once recruitment has taken place.

“I have always been very keen on working with the most disadvantaged, marginalised and hardest to engage people in our community, which is why I applied for this job.” 

This scheme was made possible after Ipswich Borough Council and Suffolk Coastal District Council successfully secured funding for the role from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

In addition, Mr Dickson will assist other organisations, such as housing support organisations and health outreach services, to support clients with mental health issues once they have been placed.


“I have always been very keen on working with the most disadvantaged, marginalised and hardest to engage people in our community, which is why I applied for this job,” said Jonathan, who moved to the role from Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust Access and Assessment Team.

“Many rough sleepers tend to bounce around between different services. They can be very complex, chaotic and spend a lot of time in crisis. This means they could be seen by a variety of different teams without really engaging with any service on an ongoing basis.

“My aim is to help get them into mainstream services, or to offer support and guidance to the teams already working with this client group. I will also be trying to build up trust with individuals and break down the barriers which currently exist so that individuals and services can work together more effectively.

“Although the role will be challenging, it also has the potential to make a real difference to people’s health and wellbeing, which in turn could reduce the numbers sleeping rough by helping them into stable, permanent homes or by preventing them from rough sleeping in the first place.”

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