Health and homelessness
Doctors have an important opportunity to support homeless people
- By: Hamish Findlay, Tom Donaldson, Christine Hugh-Jones
John (not his real name) sits across the table, carefully peeling the loyalty voucher from his McDonald’s coffee. His hands are thin and well tanned and his expression piercing. His addiction is written into his frame; how different from the puffy face and ataxia of those who misuse alcohol. His amusement at the inquisition is evident in the corners of his eyes. We have come to know John, and various other homeless people in Cambridge, over the past few years through voluntary work at a night shelter and a befriending project with the church. Hearing their stories has led us to consider homelessness from a medical perspective and to think about how we can engage with it now and in our future careers, particularly during the foundation years.
Superficially, homelessness seems to be a relatively straightforward, social problem with an obvious solution—more housing. In reality, however, it is complex and