TWO Oldham surgeries are among the first nine in the country to take part in a pioneering campaign to make Britain Homeless Friendly.

The scheme asks organisations to examine their policies to make sure rough sleepers, sofa surfers and others without a fixed abode get proper access to services and are reminded that they are valued members of society.

It is by local social enterprise Beacon GP CARE, created by Oldham councillor Dr Zahid Chauhan and supported by Oldham West and Royton MP Jim McMahon and Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham.

It was created after Dr Chauhan spoke with homeless people and discovered that some had been turned wrongly away from surgeries because they didn’t have a permanent address.

Whilst assisting the Oldham Street Angels on weekend night-time shifts, he also learnt the heart-breaking health problems facing homeless people.

He said: “We want to see a cultural shift towards the homeless in the way that everyone from banks to supermarkets has changed their attitude to those with dementia.

"Largely from dysfunctional families, with low educational achievement and perhaps tackling addiction, homeless people face huge daily crises.

"The NHS is a superbly compassionate organisation with a real zeal for improvement, so where better to start than in our surgeries?”

Royton Medical Centre and the Medlock Medical Practice in Failsworth are among the first nine concerns in the country to put that ethos into practice after pledging to become Homeless-Friendly.

They have made a public pledge to; Train staff so that they can meet the needs of people who don’t have a fixed address; Work with charities and voluntary sector organisations so that homeless people (including children) can be signposted to those who can help them; and Encourage other organisations to become community spaces where people can learn about the causes and consequences of homelessness and even host foodbanks.

Previous research by homeless charities found that 73 per cent of homeless people said they had experienced recent physical health problems, while 41 per cent said they were dealing with a long-term health problem.

Dr Chauhan added: “Local surgeries like ours’ are still at the hub of many communities and understand its needs in a way other organisations do not – and so I passionately believe that they are the best flag-bearers for this campaign. But it is my great hope that Homeless-Friendly extends beyond the surgery into our whole society. When it comes to homelessness, a sense of pity only goes so far. We need to take action, tackle its roots and consequences and also remember that there but for the grace of God, go we.”

Learn more about Homeless-Friendly and how your organisation can pledge to ensure homeless people feel a properly included part of our society by visiting