In this week's article, our Kirklees Outreach Worker discusses the coronavirus outbreak, it's impact on those we support and what needs to happen next:
"The recent Coronavirus crisis has finally forced the government to respond to the ever-increasing number of rough sleepers and homeless people on our streets.
Local authorities have received the necessary funding to address this chronic homelessness problem by providing emergency accommodation in the way of hostels, B&B’s, hotels and interim short-term tenancies. However, this only addresses one aspect of the bigger picture. The real question is what will happen to some of the most vulnerable people in society when this vital funding ends.
Safe accommodation during the Covid-19 pandemic
I am aware of a gentleman who had been living independently in his own flat for many years. He is a quiet man who tends to keep himself to himself as he is very shy around others. Sadly, he was subjected to targeted harassment and exploitation from local drug dealers who were threatening him and stealing his benefits. He had no family or friends that he could turn to for support. He was reluctant to report the situation to the authorities as he was fearful of the repercussions. He felt he had no other option than to abandon his permanent tenancy and flee to the streets as he was desperate to escape.
Due to the pandemic he was placed in a hotel. He told me it was the best thing to have happened to him as he found his stay there to be just what he needed. He enjoys a cooked breakfast every morning and receives a weekly food parcel from the local food bank. He can keep himself clean and presentable. Most importantly he is able to sleep well and feels very safe as the hotel has cameras and twenty four hour staffing. He says his mental and physical health have improved enormously. He feels like he has been given a lifeline and cannot imagine being anywhere else and does not want to leave.
What happens next?
Recently though he has started to become increasingly anxious about his future and is worried where he will be placed once his time at the hotel ends. He is fearful he will end up back to square one, on his own and possibly exposed to more harassment and exploitation.
With this in mind, the question must be asked, what ongoing support is going to be available to this gentleman and countless others to help them deal with the uncertain future should the government decide to withdraw funding? We should acknowledge, it is not enough to merely provide accommodation.
We need to provide the wrap around holistic package of care that is necessary to make sustainable and meaningful change to people’s lives and it needs to happen now."
We need your support
To continue to provide vital emotional and practical support to people who are homeless and vulnerable, we need your help. This is a particularly challenging time for our clients. Your donations really do make a difference.