The importance of healthy homes and saving NHS money
Jacky Peacock OBE shares housing support on offer to social prescribers
Advice4Renters are the only advice agency dedicated to private renters across the capital. They have been supporting Londoners in housing need for over thirty years.
Hear from Jacky Peacock, Executive Director on the social prescribing services provided by the agency:
What support can social prescribing link workers access for their clients?
We have developed a suite of complementary services to support the work of social prescribing including:
- Support for clients with money worries
- A mentoring and befriending service
How does social prescribing fit into your core work?
Our overarching aim is to improve health and wellbeing. We see at first hand the impact on people’s health from living in poor and often damp conditions. Stressed by worry about paying rent or being forced to leave.
When people approach us to report that the roof is leaking and the landlord won’t fix it, resolving that is our priority. But alongside that, we’ll be seeing the person and their potential; working to raise their aspirations for a better life and how this might be achieved.
How did you develop good cross-sector relationships?
We developed the idea of social prescribing even before there was a name for it. So, when a local meeting of Partners for Health was advertised, we turned up with great expectations. However, we saw that there was a mountain to climb just getting the local authority and the local NHS talking to each other.
Fast forward a few years and social prescribing has finally come on the scene. We now have a good relationship with both care navigators and link workers in Brent, though there is still a learning curve for all of us.
How can the voluntary sector support your work, especially are this crucial time?
Covid-19 has demonstrated more than ever the importance of a healthy home. Not least because of the impact of cold and damp living conditions on respiratory diseases. We would love voluntary organisations and link workers to ask private renters about their tenancy and their conditions at home. And to also ask if they and/or their household have had a series of coughs, colds and chest problems. This is a crucial enquiry for people testing positive for Covid-19.
I’m a link worker, how do I refer my client to your services?
Firstly, local authorities have a duty to inspect housing conditions and they can enforce against landlords who do not remedy disrepair. They can also take action against landlords who are unlawfully letting homes with an energy rating below E. There’s an easy way to check energy ratings by signing up to the MHCLG Open Data Community.
Your client might have a local Community Law Centre, who can advise tenants of their rights and help them to take legal action.
We’re happy to take referrals too either by phone 020 7624 4327 or email [email protected] to request a Referral Form.
We know it’s a tall ask but in the longer-term, housing interventions could be saving the NHS millions of pounds and more importantly, supporting the health and wellbeing of local populations. We’d also love to hear about good practice in linking health and housing conditions in other parts of London. We’ve all got more to learn from each other
Jacky Peacock OBE is the Executive Director of Advice4Renters