At least 12,000 people experiencing homelessness are missing out on drug and alcohol services ever year – and that shocking figure has urged St Mungo’s to call on the government to end the resulting “health crisis”.
The charity’s comprehensive investigation into how rough sleeping is linked to substance abuse, summed up in their Knocked Back report, uncovered how scaled back public health funding has removed a life-saving safety net for those living on the streets.
The study concluded that rough sleeping and drug and alcohol problems are closely associated with traumatic experiences and isolation which precede someone’s first night sleeping rough.
And with funding for drug and alcohol services slashed by more than a quarter since 2015/16, the end result is there for all to see.
I went on to work in drug and alcohol services, before taking on the role as service manager of the Bournemouth outreach team. I’ve been sober nearly 11 years. I drive home to my wife, my stepchildren and my dog – and I’ve never been happier
It’s a familiar story for Andrew Teale, a St Mungo’s outreach manager based in Bournemouth. His role at the charity came after they helped him to end a spell of five years spent homeless and battling the booze.
He said: “I have seen first-hand the issues explored in this research. I’m a service manager working with people sleeping rough in Bournemouth and Poole. But I also know because I have lived it.