Around 180 delegates attended the Faculty’s first international conference last week. Breakout sessions focussed on addiction, recovery, mental health, brain injury, infection, housing entitlements, intermediate care, street sex worker’s health, psychological support for staff and much more. Main platform speakers included Junior Health Minister Anna Soubry MP, who spoke with passion about the priority she attached to the health of the poorest; Sir Michael Marmot, who described how the health chances of homeless people and others at the bottom of the social scale are both unfair and unjust because we know what the causes are; and international speakers from the US and Ireland, who inspired delegates with examples of their commitment to homeless people’s health and welfare. Homeless people at the conference talked about the passion they saw in health workers. All agreed that services should never give up on anyone, and that the most successful health services for people on the margins of society first and foremost treat patients as people, and invest energy, time and emotion in truly getting alongside their clients.
Dr Peter Buchman, specialist homeless GP from East London sent a message after the conference:
“Just want to send a big congratulations to all of you who organised the wonderful conference. So inspiring. The two American Jims are shining examples of how to stay motivated & compassionate. Thanks for an exhausting, stimulating, action packed but strangely spiritually uplifting couple of days. Very well done. “
The Faculty issued a press release to co-incide with the conference calling on the Government to commit to the Faculty’s core standards for health services for homeless people, and expressing profound concern at the long term health consequences of the Government’s welfare reforms, especially the changes to housing benefits.
At the Faculty’s next full meeting members wiil reflect on the conference and how to follow it up. Many people have already said the Faculty should organise another one next year. The full programme for this year’s event is still available on the Neil Stewart Associates web site here, and delegates have permanent access to all presentations, and video of all the plenary sessions by entering the voucher code on the back of their delegate pack in to the Policy TV homepage. We will be producing a fuller review of the event shortly, including a report from our service user group who attended all the sessions.