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GUIDANCE TO HELP TACKLE DRUG PROBLEMS OF HOMELESS PEOPLE

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A new handbook published today for Drug Action Teams (DATs), local...
A new handbook published today for Drug Action Teams (DATs), local

authorities and other agencies, aims to ensure better support and

easier access to drug services for homeless people.

The handbook will help the DATs understand the nature of homelessness

and drug misuse as they develop drug services at a local level.

The new guidance highlights how existing mainstream services can be

adapted to ensure homeless people can access them and explores the

potential to develop specialist services for them. These services

range from housing support and family mediation through to harm

minimisation, detoxification and rehabilitation.

Research has found that homelessness and drug misuse are often

closely linked with around 75% of single homeless people misusing

drugs. As the DATs develop their commissioning plans for the coming

year, and local authorities develop homelessness strategies, it will

be essential that there is local co-ordination between them to ensure

that services are joined up, so that this vulnerable group of people

is not excluded from services.

Barbara Roche, minister for social exclusion and equality, said:

'This handbook will prove extremely helpful to drug action teams and

local authorities in their work to provide services for homeless

people addicted to drugs. Tackling drug misuse is a key part of our

work to tackle homelessness more effectively.' Home office minister,

Bob Ainsworth added:

'I urge the drug action teams to read this handbook and to learn from

the good practice within it. There is already much good work going on

around the country, so DATs do not have to start from scratch in

developing services. The important thing is that they consider the

needs of all people in their area when commissioning services - and

that includes homeless people.'

The other partners in the development of the handbook - the

Department of Health and the National Treatment Agency - also

welcomed its potential to help DATs and other commissioners of

services ensure that treatment is effective and appropriate for

homeless people.

Chief executive of the NTA, Paul Hayes said: 'The government has a

commitment to increase access to drug treatment services for all

people. Homeless people have, in the past, often been excluded from

treatment through the lack of understanding of this client group and

their needs. This handbook shows that steps can be taken to ensure

that homeless people can not only access treatment, but that the

treatment is effective and linked in to appropriate aftercare support

and housing.'

Notes

1. The handbook has been jointly commissioned and produced by a

cross-departmental team including the homelessness directorate in the

ODPM, drug strategy directorate in the Home Office, the National

Treatment Agency and the Department of Health. It has been written by

Geoffrey Randall, a specialist in homelessness issues, and DrugScope,

the leading researcher on drug policy in England.

2. DATs are the local delivery partnership of the drug strategy. They

work at area level to develop a range of effective services on the

ground to tackle the use and supply of drugs. Made up of key local

bodies such as police, probation, social services, education and

health, they commission and monitor services, set local delivery

strategies, and report to central government on progress and

performance.

3. The document will be sent to every DAT and local authority, as

well as other interested homelessness and drug agencies. It is

available free of charge on the ODPM website.

4. From 18 December it will also be available in hard copy, free of

charge, from the ODPM's Free Literature base. Telephone 0870 1207

405. Address: PO Box 236, Wetherby, West Yorkshire, LS23 7NB.

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