Local leaders for health, housing and the voluntary sector came together on 1st March at a High Level Round Table on Health and Housing, hosted by Healthwatch Camden.
The discussion was prompted by a new Healthwatch Camden report which explores the role played by poor or insecure housing on the health of local residents. Five themes emerged from interviews with residents:
One – housing issues in Camden are contributing to high levels of stress and anxiety which are detrimental to mental health.
Two – these housing issues are equally likely to be about poor relationships with neighbours or landlords as they are to be about health and safety issues within the property.
Three – private renters are less likely to seek out support or to be connected to people or networks that can introduce them to services.
Four – there is poor recognition and uptake of the range of support available in Camden.
Five – residents sometimes experience a lack of responsiveness from both landlords and from Camden’s services which has a negative impact on wellbeing.
Robert Taylor from the Camden Federation of Private Tenants said the meeting was unusual in bringing together senior figures from different sectors.
Joined up thinking is an essential step towards addressing the connections between poor health and poor housing. The participants (who included Camden’s Cabinet Members with responsibility for housing, health and social care. The voluntary sector as well as the Director of Public Health, the Chair of Camden’s NHS Clinical Commissioning Group, heads of voluntary sector organisations and top local authority housing managers) discussed recommendations that will help strengthen the integration of health and housing at both the strategic and the practical level.
We talked about how to make Camden’s services easier to find and use and also about how to better support vulnerable residents who are living in private rented accommodation and isolated from some services that are offered to council tenants. Emphasis was placed on the importance of using every opportunity, including through GP practices, to connect people to a range of local support networks.
The report, “Health and housing in Camden: experiences of local people” will be published next month.
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