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Shining a Light

Some seasonal initiatives are being rolled out this week in Taunton to help rough sleeps. We often rail on these pages against fatuous and perverse “Days” and “Weeks” but Shine a Light week is different. It aims to address the health and wellbeing issues faced by the street homeless.

And for once it looks as if it is backed up by real action. Rough sleepers will be able to find food and shelter at the night café in Canon Street Church being run by volunteers from a number of Taunton churches brought together through the ROC Taunton Deane initiative, from 9pm to 7am.

A mobile clinic manned by triage nurses from Musgrove Park Hospital and Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust is stationed in the car park next door providing free health checks and medical treatment for minor problems. The mobile clinic has been provided by South Western Ambulance Service and Paramedics volunteering their time to support the initiative.

Rough sleepers at the night café will also be able to take away a care pack provided by the Taunton homelessness charity ARC. Meanwhile Taunton Deane Borough Council’s housing options team will also be ensuring that rough sleepers are aware of the help available to find accommodation and access benefits and support.

And each day a Social Worker from Somerset County Council’s social services team working together with a Community Psychiatric Nurse will offer individual appointments for longer term help and guidance on a range of topics including mental health and education.

What a great initiative. It begs three questions:

What is being done in other large towns around Somerset?

Why do we only get to hear about the initiative on Wednesday of the week it is being run in?

And most important, why is it just one week. Shouldn’t we be doing things like this throughout the year?

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