With less people out and about due to COVID-19, StreetLink is receiving fewer alerts about people sleeping rough. Instead, they are receiving many more phone calls directly from rough sleepers, seeking advice and support to stay safe. They have worked tirelessly to adapt their service to ensure all calls can be answered while offices are closed and are now running a remote 24/7 phone line to provide support to those sleeping rough in these uncertain times.
How StreetLink are protecting people sleeping rough during COVID-19
Matt Harrison, StreetLink’s Director, explains what measures government, homelessness services and StreetLink are taking to support those sleeping on our streets during the Coronavirus crisis - People who are homeless or sleeping rough are typically in the high risk group for COVID-19. Many have long-term health conditions that could result in severe consequences should they or a member of staff providing support become infected with the virus. Some of these long-term conditions can also mask COVID-19, making it more difficult to identify.
In addition, they are often unable to follow the public health guidance around hand washing and hygiene - particularly now that many services, community hubs and facilities have closed – or to effectively social distance or self-isolate.
Actions you can take - The fight against Coronavirus within the homelessness community is undoubtedly a huge humanitarian effort and one that we must all work together on. It cannot be solved overnight, and there are simple ways that you can help support this process that would be greatly appreciated – take a look at 6 recommendations for action here.
How you can help someone sleeping rough - Since the start of the Covid-19 outbreak, Homeless Link, StreetLink and our partners have been contacted by many people asking how they can help those within their communities who are homeless or sleeping rough.
New initiatives are in place to help protect vulnerable people, and on Friday 27 March, the Government wrote to local authorities to ask them to house all rough sleepers by the end of the week, to prevent the virus from spreading and enable them to self-isolate. However, in reality, this process is taking some time.
Here are 6 actions you can take:
1) If you see someone sleeping rough, send an alert to StreetLink, which will enable local services to go out and make contact with the individual in order to house them and connect them with support. www.streetlink.org.uk
2) Stop and have a conversation with people you see sleeping rough. Social interaction and support are more important than ever at this time. Remember to maintain a respectful distance in line with social distancing guidelines.
3) Consider supporting your local homelessness service with a donation, no matter how small. They will greatly appreciate your support at this difficult time as they adapt and continue working to support vulnerable people. Some may be looking for volunteers too. Find local services
4) Volunteer to help vulnerable people in your community by joining your local Covid-19 mutual aid group or volunteering hub, which have now been set up by most local areas. Check out these websites: www.covidmutualaid.org, www.volunteeringmatters.org.uk, www.handsonlondon.org.uk
5) Donate food to your local food bank as they are currently experiencing shortages of essential goods. Find a food bank
6) If you see someone in urgent need of medical attention, please call 111 or 999.
Please remember to help safely by continuing to follow the guidelines set out by the Government and Public Health England regarding social distancing, handwashing and hygiene.
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