Homelessness hostel uses psychologists to treat residents in need

  • The Waterloo Project, a pioneering homelessness project, funds full-time psychologists to give treatment to residents in hostels based in South London. 

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    It has resulted in a noticeable reduction of the residents' criminal activity and has improved their general health and well-being, The Independent reports.

    This unique project houses former rough sleepers ranging from drug addicts, alcoholics, prostitutes - many of whom were deemed as ‘too challenging' to help.

    Clinical Psychologist from the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM) who is also an assistant based at the hostel, explained that in the 12 months since the project began, there has been a 51% reduction in residents' interactions with the police, probation and other criminal justice services. According to professionals, this has also meant considerable savings to public services as a result.

    A £1.3m grant from Guy's & St Thomas' Charity has enabled the project to face expansion and will fund five psychologists at three hostels in Lambeth. 

    Dr Williamson explained the hardships and backgrounds of these residents. She stated that many residents have grown up in care, experienced family breakdowns, or had grown up around parents using drugs and alcohol. Most residents have been living in lots of different hostels over a number of years and found it difficult to settle.

    Furthermore, many residents have used different resources to cope instead of having ‘developed a psychological way to cope with it'.

    However, Dr Williamson has played a large role in helping the residents many of whom do not trust mental health services and cannot settle in one place. She has been a focal figure in helping them reach out to the services that they need and will cooperate with so they can start to improve their lives.

    She stated, "Many residents are starting apprenticeships, college courses or volunteering. And what is undisputed is the clinical outcomes. We have been getting dramatic improvements in mental health". She further mentioned that many clients have said this project has transformed their lives and should be available in hostels everywhere. 

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