Homeless-Friendly initiative hopes to aid those in need across Greater Manchester

Date published: 18 April 2019

From today, (18th April 2019) NHS surgeries across Greater Manchester will be aiding poverty-struck patients by staging food banks on their premises.

Thanks to an initiative called Homeless-Friendly, which has already fundamentally changed the way practices treat rough sleepers, boxes of food and essentials will be placed in some of the region's surgeries. 

And with recent research with teachers showing that 57% of children were showing signs of hunger, Homeless-Friendly founder Dr Zahid Chauhan believes practices can help alleviate the social stigma of poverty and the dire health problems associated with poor diet.

“I see for myself each day the mental and physical affects of poverty. And that includes in Great Britain in 2019, malnutrition” said national health campaigner and GP, Dr Chauhan. 

“Perhaps people will say that we have come to a pretty point when practices have to try and help feed the hungry. But with community centres disappearing and pubs and places of worship closing, they are one of the last remaining hubs of the community.”

Homeless-Friendly practices as far afield as Ashton-under-Lyne, Bolton, Bury, Gorton, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale and Stockport will be encouraged to place a box within their surgery.

Practices will then Ask their patients and staff to supply food and hygiene products going forwards, Clearly display a poster about the foodbank, stating what kind of items are required (including information on sell-by dates and ring-pulls), Work with their local authority to make sure that food supplied is edible, Nominate a member of staff to manage the food bank.

That member of staff will also discretely note who is using the foodbank and if they have any worries about a particular patient's health and well-being, report those concerns to their GP confidentially.

“It has been well documented what the impact of a non-nutritious diet is in terms of obesity” concluded Dr Chauhan, “but the disastrous results of not eating or poor nourishment also needs addressing. 

More than that, it is morally repugnant that any person should the lack the means to feed themselves. By staging a foodbank, surgeries are not only improving health but taking a lead in raising awareness of the crippling poverty many people are now living in.”

Homeless-Friendly is a charity dedicated to reducing health inequalities and improving services for the most vulnerable, including rough sleepers. Participants are asked to pledge to provide a Homeless-Friendly service, whether they be charities, health carers, hospitals, local authorities or businesses. 

Do you have a story for us? Want to tell us about something going on in and around Oldham? Let us know by emailing news@oldham-chronicle.co.uk , calling our Oldham-based newsroom on 0161 633 2121 , tweeting us @oldhamchronicle or messaging us through our Facebook page. All contact will be treated in confidence.