More than 1000 London rough sleepers now able to self-isolate
- Mayor and Government commit more than £10m to providing London’s rough sleepers with hotel accommodation and support during the pandemic
- First hotel for rough sleepers with Covid19 symptoms opens in east London
- Mayor praises volunteer workforce working with most vulnerable Londoners during crisis
- #LondonTogether focuses on the work being done to help homeless people in the capital
More than 1,000 homeless Londoners are now self-isolating in hotels and other safe locations across the capital, thanks to the work of the Mayor Sadiq Khan’s rough sleeping team, boroughs and charity partners.
The initiative, launched just three weeks ago, involves City Hall working with Government and charity bodies to block-book rooms, allowing highly vulnerable rough sleepers to follow Government self-isolation guidelines. The InterContinental Hotel Group, Travelodge, Best Western and Accor Group have all allowed their hotels to be used in this way. Black cab drivers have also volunteered their time to transport people between services and catering company Red Radish are supplying three meals a day to residents.
St Mungo’s are overseeing the rough sleeper support aspect of the operation, with support also being provided by Depaul, Thames Reach, Single Homeless Project and Look Ahead. Change Grow Live are providing specialist substance misuse support across the hotels for those residents who require it.
This vital work is being supported by £10.55m of funding from the Mayor and the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government.
Rough sleepers are significantly more likely to have underlying health conditions – including respiratory problems – than the wider population. They are also far less likely to be able to follow Public Health England advice, such as self-isolation, social distancing and handwashing. Much existing accommodation available to rough sleepers, while vitally important, is unsuitable for self-isolation.
Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of those on the frontline, a number of homeless people will develop symptoms of Covid19. From this week these people will be referred to a specialist Covid19 care facility in a hotel in east London where their symptoms can be monitored and they can receive appropriate care and medical support.
As part of the London Together campaign, the Mayor is celebrating the work of charities and volunteers working to help the homeless at this critical time. Their stories can be followed on social media throughout today on the hashtag #LondonTogether.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “As we approach the peak of the Coronavirus pandemic it is more important than ever to ensure the most vulnerable Londoners are supported in clean, secure accommodation. I’m proud that this outstanding coalition of compassionate organisations, charities and individuals have stepped up to the challenge.
“The speed with which we have acted, and the willingness of multinational companies to work with us at this critical time, is testament to what can be achieved when we work together.
“There is still much to do: more money, volunteers and hotel rooms will be required. Looking ahead, my aim is to make sure that the ‘In for good’ principles are applied for all London’s rough sleepers – something that will require continued support from the Government.
“I am confident that by working together we can help save the lives of many Londoners who would otherwise be facing the pandemic on the streets.”
Communities Secretary, The Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said:“This Government is committed to ensuring that those who are sleeping rough on our capital’s streets are protected from this pandemic.
“Today’s news is the result of a real collaborative effort between the Government, the Mayor of London, local authorities, health providers and charities to provide help to those who are most in need during this national emergency.”
Howard Sinclair, Chief Executive, St Mungo’s said: “Our teams are working round the clock to support over 1,000 people who were living on the streets or in emergency hubs into hotel accommodation in London.
“Thanks to the GLA and other partners, these vulnerable people are now in a place where they can self-isolate in safety, and are out of harm’s way. We begin to look beyond the crisis and work out next options for people when they have to leave their crisis accommodation. This will enable us to ensure that support and housing is available to anyone at risk of sleeping rough so people have a home for good.
“I would continue to urge people to contact StreetLink if they are concerned about someone sleeping rough, or to call 999 in a health emergency.”
Thomas Dubaere, COO Accor Northern Europe, said: ”We are proud to be supporting the needs of the Government during this national and global crisis.
“Together with our partners, we have made our hotels available for use as emergency safe spaces for the homeless who are especially vulnerable to this virus.
“Our business is committed to people and hospitality and as such we are pleased to open our doors to those in need during this national and global crisis.”
Councillor Darren Rodwell, London Councils’ Executive Member for Housing & Planning, said: “Boroughs are doing all we can to get rough sleepers off the streets and into suitable accommodation.
"This is a massive challenge in London, where we face both the highest number of coronavirus cases and the highest levels of homelessness in the country, and this crucial work remains a top priority.”
Notes to editors
You can support St Mungo’s work by visiting https://www.mungos.org/how-to-help-during-coronavirus/
London Councils represents London’s 32 boroughs and the City of London. It is a cross-party organisation that works on behalf of all its member authorities regardless of political persuasion. More about London Councils here: www.londoncouncils.gov.uk
The ‘In for Good’ principle was developed by the GLA in the past few years with regard to the pan-London operation of Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) which ensures access to shelter for people sleeping rough during freezing conditions. The principle is that once accommodated (in this case at one of the COVID hotels or similar sites) a person should continue to be accommodated and not be asked to leave until a plan is in place to ensure that they do not return to rough sleeping.