Resolve to make 2018 the year of the homeless, says Dr Zahid Chauhan
Date published: 27 December 2017
GP Dr Zahid Chauhan
The UK Government should use the beginning of a New Year to end a plague of homelessness that is killing people before they reach their 48th birthday.
That is the view of Greater Manchester health campaigner Dr Zahid Chauhan, who has created a new scheme to make businesses and organisations more homeless-friendly.
He also started a parliamentary petition to persuade politicians to pledge to find a sustainable solution to rough sleeping.
Dr Chauhan said: “The UK Government is totally behind-the-door when it comes to homelessness. The Welsh Assembly Government and the Mayor of Manchester have already made firm commitments on homelessness, but what has Westminster done?
"Simply thrown a few quid to Manchester and Liverpool in the Budget as a sop to shut them up and promised a task force.
"I see the physical, emotional and mental torment homeless people are going through on a daily basis and am minded that the average life expectancy of a rough sleeper is just 47 years-of-age.”
The dcotor set-up 'Homeless-Friendly' with NHS Greater Manchester practices after homeless people reported that they could not get health care because they lacked a permanent address.
GP practices (like The Strand and Bowness Road Family Practices in Middleton), out-of-hours services such as BARDOC, walk-in centres and hospitals have since amended their practices because of the scheme – persuading Dr Chauhan to expand the scheme to other organisations.
Charities (including the Sanctuary Trust in Rochdale), councils and even eateries have since joined the ranks and he now wants this “cultural change towards the homeless” to pervade throughout society.
He said: “We have seen all kinds of initiatives across Rochdale during the festive season, including many Christmas dinners and presents for the homeless, but random acts of kindness and giving money to street beggars makes very little change.
“Backing campaigning charities and giving time to actually speak to the homeless is more beneficial as is badgering politicians to come up with a quick but robust solution to the problem.”
In his petition to the UK Parliament, Dr Chauhan calls for:
- A proper enquiry into the roots of homelessness.
- The creation of more affordable housing.
- Training programmes to prepare homeless people for life and work.
- An end to cuts to addiction services and mental health provision for rough sleepers.
- Laws giving homeless people the right to the same public services the rest of society enjoys.
Dr Chauhan added: “Primarily, I want to see homeless people recognised as part of our society. I want them to know they have a voice and are valued by all of us. At this moment in time we do not even have an accurate picture of exactly how many people are actually homeless.
"There are not just rough sleepers, but young people escaping domestic violence and staying at friends’ houses and families living in often squalid temporary accommodation because of high rents.
"Until a survey pointed out the growing number of homeless people in the countryside – there were myths that this was simply an urban problem.
"It is time we got to the core of the problem and solved it, and that process could begin by politicians actually engaging with homeless people, talking to them and giving them a voice in the democratic process.”
Homeless-Friendly requires 10,000 signatures to get a response on the plight of rough sleepers from the government and 100,000 names to get the problem considered for debate by MPs.
Names can be added to the petition by visiting: