First-of-its-kind nursing outreach launched to support people sleeping rough on streets of Bridgend

The work of nurses on the streets of Bridgend has been described as a 'lifeline' for homeless people and rough sleepers.

Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health board have teamed up with homelessness charities to help people get the medical care they need.

It is the first initiative of its kind to help with some of the complex medical needs those sleeping rough may have.

ITV Wales spent the morning with Tracy, a nurse who does her rounds on the streets of Bridgend rather than the traditional hospital ward.

She told ITV Wales: "I just feel this patient group should have the same care as everyone else and I'm not saying that they don't – but they don't engage, so sometimes it's about engaging them with our services to take away the stigma and get them to trust us."

She continued: "Most of them have issues with substance misuse, mental health, physical ailments so they come in line.

"They need bloods, they need health checks, but they're not having them and they're not going into GPs to have them, so by us going out and doing what we do on the streets we're able to have a good working relationship with GP services so we're able to get their health needs met.

"Sometimes it's just about saying good morning and getting them a coffee, it's just getting that trust, and you could be doing that for months and months before they come to you with a problem.

"It's just being normal with them really."

Tracy told ITV Wales that she does this job "because I care." Credit: ITV Wales

According to the latest statistics, there are just five people reported to be sleeping rough in Bridgend, but within two hours of her morning round, Tracy has already seen to 15 people.

One of those is Mike. He lost his business as a painter and decorator during Covid. Since then, he has been living on the streets.

He says the support of a nurse like Tracy makes a "big difference."

He said: "It's the difference between having something and nothing."

Back at the Wallich charity's base, ITV Wales spoke to a couple who'd been helped by Tracy into temporary accommodation.

They met while sleeping rough, and in just over four months time, they are due to have a baby.

The nurse outreach is a a new and innovative service. Credit: ITV Wales

"Without Tracy, I wouldn't have had appointments with midwives, had a scan," the women told ITV Wales.

"I had a scan, we found out what we were having last week."

"We don't have a phone, and it has all got to be done over the phone, so we saw Tracy and she got me an appointment that very day."

Her partner added that since being in temporary accommodation they were feeling "amazing, happier, healthier," and credits Tracy with putting them in touch with the relevant services.

A Bridgend County Borough Council said it contributes funding to the "vital provision" offered by the Health Outreach Service.

A spokesperson said: “The initiative is very much a partnership service, with the Health Outreach Team working in close collaboration with the council and other partners, including the Wallich.

“In more general terms, our Housing Support Strategy adopts a variety of initiatives to address a stark homelessness situation that is mirrored across Wales.

"These schemes range from increasing the provision of affordable and social housing, to working in partnership with other agencies in a bid to tackle homelessness.”

The Welsh Government said it takes a 'no-one left out approach' to homelessness so that people are not forced to sleep rough in Wales.

A spokesperson said: “Prevention remains our priority to reduce the flow of people needing temporary accommodation and we’ve put in place new regulations and additional funding to support this and our wider ambition to end all forms of homelessness.”

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