Emmaus Salford is a charity that supports formerly homeless people by providing a stable home, meaningful work and support for as long as they need it.
Now, the charity is pioneering a new approach to community health by hosting a weekly pop-up GP service at its Pendleton base.
The Inclusion GP Service is provided by Salford Primary Care Together (SPCT) to give people supported by Emmaus Salford the chance to access health services more easily.
As well as companions – formerly homeless people supported by Emmaus Salford – the GP service is also open to people who are street homeless and accessing The People’s Pods.
Health professionals offer a friendly consultation service, referrals to other health specialists and have provided flu jabs to those who require them.
“We know that homelessness is associated with enormous health inequalities, including shorter life expectancy, higher morbidity and greater usage of hospital services and even when people have a temporary address there are still barriers to accessing primary health care,” said Becki Smee, case manager at SPCT Inclusion GP Service.
“Our service aims to break down those barriers and ensure that all the people we support are accessing the right care that they need and are entitled to.”
The Inclusion GP Service partnership with Emmaus Salford started just after the first lockdown back in April 2020.
“Often when people have experienced homelessness they lose that connection to a local GP and some people can have anxiety about engaging with health services again,” said Rachel Richardson, community director at Emmaus Salford.
“The weekly GP service has been a fantastic success and greatly improved the health and wellbeing of people supported at Emmaus Salford.
“I would like to give huge thanks to the staff at Salford Primary Care Together for working positively with our team and ensuring this new approach runs smoothly.”
Jane Galbraith, health navigator at SPCT Inclusion GP Service, says that working with staff and companions at Emmaus has been “a real privilege”.
“The staff there work so hard to empower and enable the companions to live fulfilled, independent lives,” she said.
“Our role within that is to make sure that all their primary health care needs are met for both physical and emotional issues.
“We have been received and welcomed in a really positive way.
“Companions are happy to engage and a number of them have registered with our service.
“We are looking at future ventures such as setting up a companion led support group and visits from health professionals to talk about various health matters once we are able to.
“I always look forward to my visits and never really know what to expect! The companions are always busy with various tasks but never too busy to make me a nice brew.
“Hopefully, we will have a long, positive and happy partnership.”