People in the homeless community very often have additional challenges in their lives beyond the fundamental issue of having nowhere to call home.
One service which very few homeless people use is a local GP.
Equally, the GP charged with providing a service to the homeless community faces challenges engaging with homeless people and, as a result of their often chaotic lifestyle, ensuring that they return for follow up appointments.
With these challenges at the forefront of our thoughts, we at Partick Thistle Charitable Trust partnered with the NHS GP and Prescribing Service, to provide regular football sessions for homeless people where the GP and other NHS services are present.
The initial reaction to the football sessions has been very positive with around 25 players having taken part and at least 16 of these players returning every week. This kind of regular attendance has meant the people can be seen by the GP, issued a prescription and seen at a follow up appointment, ensuring that the GP gets to work properly with the patient to provide a suitable positive outcome or is able to refer them to other services within the NHS.
The project is in the pilot phase and started in July. The early successes in the project, both in terms of the number attending and those in attendance now accessing NHS services demonstrate to us that this is an area where we can help make a difference to people’s lives and, as such, we are very hopeful that a recently submitted Awards for All application for funding to continue the project will be successful.
This funding would allow us to prove the concept and open the service up to a great many more people.
A side issue to this project is the fact that very few of the participants had appropriate footwear to take part and David, one of our senior coaches put out a social media appeal for old boots that people were considering throwing out. As usual, the Jags fans have responded and we have managed to kit out all of the players and still have boots to spare for new players coming on board.
Thanks yet again to the all you Thistle fans who support the work of the Charitable Trust.