Tackle addiction and mental health to end rough sleeping

published on 29 Apr 2022

As new figures show 70 per cent of rough sleepers in London need support for mental health, drug or alcohol problems, The Salvation Army is warning the Government can’t end rough sleeping unless it tackles the causes.

Major Hilarie Watchorn, Assistant Director for The Salvation Army’s homelessness services, said: “The Government has made a welcome pledge to spend at least £640m a year tackling homelessness and rough sleeping by 2024. This could be a game-changer, but only if the money is invested in the right places.

“As a major provider of both homelessness and addiction services, we know from experience that it takes more than a roof over their heads to help people break the cycle of rough sleeping. At our hostels, known as Lifehouses, and our pop-up accommodation, we combine shelter with therapeutic and emotional support to help people transition from the streets to a permanent home.

“Mental health and addiction problems can be both the cause and the result of living on the streets. Worryingly, more people are sleeping rough today than ten years ago while local authority funding to tackle mental health and addiction has gone down.

“The Government has yet to lay out how the money it has committed to end rough sleeping will be spent. If it is to succeed in keeping people off the streets, it’s critical the Government invests in the services that can change lives for good.”

The Salvation Army provides a variety of schemes for rough sleepers, as it believes there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. Services for mental health and addiction problems are embedded in its Lifehouses and community programmes.

This includes:

  • Housing First, which provides supported accommodation for long-term rough sleepers who have addictions or mental health problems.
  • Lifehouses, which are hostels that offer counselling and practical courses to help homeless people get a job, manage their money and look after themselves.
  • NAPpads, which are temporary, one-person self-contained shelters that offer rough sleepers a warm and safe place to sleep with technology to raise the alarm if they stop breathing.
  • Gloucester House, a residential substance misuse service rated as outstanding by the CQC that has been treating people for drug and alcohol addiction for fifty years.
a man sleeping rough

Support our work

Help us to continue to be there for people in their hour of need.