Updated 8 April 2020
Efforts are being made to ensure everyone who is found rough sleeping across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole is assisted into temporary accommodation during the Covid-19 crisis.
St Mungo’s, the Council’s Street Outreach Service, and the Council’s Housing Options team are currently working around the clock to ensure everyone who is rough sleeping in the area is supported into suitable accommodation for self-isolation as soon as possible following the latest government guidance.
By the end of the first week of lockdown w/c 23 March, the council with support of its partners, had temporarily accommodated around 100 people in total – a combination of those rough sleeping and many others who have been on and off the streets due to precarious housing conditions such as those who were sofa surfing.
The additional risk of Coronavirus has prompted many to now accept the accommodation options offered and rooms in bed and breakfast establishments are now much more readily available due to the national lockdown. In addition, the government is committing additional funds to help provide what we need to at a local level. This has all led to a radical shift this week for rough sleeping both nationally and locally and a positive outcome for many of our most vulnerable residents.
Councillor Kieron Wilson, Cabinet Member for Housing, said:
“We are doing all we can to support those people who are rough sleeping and who are particularly vulnerable at this time. Large numbers of the people assisted had lost their accommodation, particularly where precarious, as a direct result of this current pandemic and many of these individuals were not previously known to our street outreach team.
“With help from our partners we are working closely with those who’ve been accommodated to ensure they get the additional help and support they need and we will be using this time to work with them to support them to move on in to longer-term and sustainable housing where possible and stay inside. We’re also working with central government homelessness specialists to help maximise the opportunities this situation presents to keep people housed and in regular accommodation going forward.
“I’d like to thank all the teams who’ve been involved so far with the incredible and unprecedented amount of work and focus at such a challenging time.”
Andrew Teale, Outreach Manager at St Mungo’s said: “I am incredibly proud of our team who have worked tirelessly on the frontline this week, ensuring people who are rough sleeping are supported into accommodation for self-isolation.
“This is an extremely difficult time for our clients, who are worried and anxious about everything that is happening. Our team have responded heroically, making sure everyone has clear information, somewhere safe to stay and continued support once they are in self-isolation. I am also thankful for the vital partnership working that has been taking place with BCP council and other services to coordinate such a huge and unprecedented operation.”
The team is continuing to support everyone who is in accommodation throughout this period, contacting them regularly and ensuring they have everything they need. The outreach team will continue to work with people who continue to rough sleep to encourage them to accept support. There are some who continue to not accept the housing offers available.
If you are concerned for someone who is rough sleeping, please call St Mungo’s team on 01202 315962 or report to: www.streetlink.org.uk