Established 2005 Registered Charity No. 1110656

Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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Oi, mate, I\'m A8: alcohol

September 25 2009
Charities have to pick up the tab for Eastern Europeans who fall on hard times According to a recent report by Homeless Link, nearly half of homeless agencies working with A8 nationals report that their clients have alcohol as a support need. It also stated that overall, 400,000 A8 nationals coming to the UK have contributed an estimated £240m to the economy in the first eight months of arriving here since 2004. Now, it is a generally accepted fact that the homeless and rough sleepers are more prone to drug or alcohol misuse, and mental and physical health problems. Well, of course, this includes the A8 nationals who find themselves homeless and on the streets. So, does the fact that A8s put money into the economy, and have some people in dire need on the streets mean they can expect the same specialist services? The short answer is 'no'. There is, unfortunately, an acceptance by some agencies that funding is not forthcoming, and there is also a reluctance by different local authorities to work with A8 nationals who have support needs. The local authorities and some agencies will argue that resources would be better deployed on existing clients who have access to all the services that are available. The end result is that many A8s - Polish, Lithuanian and many others - are not helped in the same way as British homeless. With this in mind shouldn't we considering using part of the revenue generated by A8 nationals to provide proper services to those who don't go straight into work? Perhaps even an integrated alcohol service appropriate to their needs; help tailored to A8s. Or are we going once again down the road of under-funding, as currently exists within the alcohol sector? At present, it's the charity sector that has to pick up the tab. And the pieces.