Published: 13:00, 17 April 2014
A builder injured in a freak accident is one of more than 370 people saved from possible homelessness in a pioneering link between GPs and a charity.
Jason, 36, from Herne Bay, turned to the Primary Care Community Link Service after a bungee strap came loose from a van roof rack and hit him in the eye.
As he faced the fact he would never work again in the construction industry, Jason started suffering from depression and sleeping all day.
It was when he went to his GP for help that he was told of a service provided by charity Porchlight, dedicated to helping those at risk of homelessness.
He said: “The bungee strap came loose and hit me in the eye; I was sat by the side of the road, covered in blood and going in and out of consciousness.
"I’ve never experienced pain like it. I had three operations but eventually there was no more that could be done and I lost the sight in my left eye completely.
“I’ve worked all my life and never asked for help from the government. In the year that followed I spent all my savings and things at home had fallen apart. I had to move out."
Jason said he went to the council and job centre, but got very little support.
As he spiralled into depression he was just days away from rough sleeping.
Jason added: "I was suffering with depression and just sleeping all day. If it wasn’t for my two children I could have been tempted to say enough is enough."
He heard about Porchlight through his GP.
By contacting the Canterbury-based charity he was able to access the right benefits and secure an affordable rented place.
He added: “They did all the nitty-gritty paperwork and liaised with people like the lettings agency on my behalf – the kind of stuff that can seem daunting if you’ve never had to do it.
“The main thing has been securing accommodation to open all the other doors for me. I’ve got my confidence back and I can see my children again but I’m desperate to get back into work.
“I was facing living on the streets before Porchlight came along and I would tell anyone in a similar position to me to seek help as quickly as possible.
"You need to put some effort in yourself but Porchlight is there to fight your corner.”
Jason was one of more than 370 people helped by the service in its first three months.
The Primary Care Community Link Service, run by leading homelessness charity Porchlight, was jointly commissioned by Kent Clinical Commissioning Groups, Kent County Council Families and Social Care (Adults) and Public Health last year to work alongside GP surgeries in reaching people who are making repeat visits to their GP because of low-level mental health issues.
Chris Coffey, head of youth and community services at the charity, said: “We recognised that people will sometimes visit their GP with what seems like a medical issue but is often linked to their circumstances at home such as debt, housing issues and isolation.
"If we can step in to sort out those issues then it may remove the need for medical intervention.
"This takes the pressure off GPs and in many cases can prevent someone’s situation from deteriorating.
“This is intensive support built around the specific needs of the person.
"This takes the pressure off GPs and in many cases can prevent someone’s situation from deteriorating" - Chris Coffey
"It can last for up to eight weeks, but in many cases just a few days of professional help is enough to make the difference.”
The charity says it aims to help 2,000 people a year with the service and is encouraging anyone visiting their GP because of depression, low self-esteem or because they are struggling with day-to-day life to contact them as soon as possible.
Support is completely free, open to all adults living in Kent and can last for up to eight weeks.
Professional support workers can provide help and advice in a range of areas including money, housing, education, training and volunteering, community involvement, health, drugs & alcohol and confidence.
You can ask your GP about the Primary Care Community Link Service or contact the charity directly on 0800 567 76 99.
To find out more about Porchlight
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