Written by Pelumi Kolawole.
A nationwide dilemma unfolded during lockdown which was faced by many homeless people. The government urged everyone to stay at home. However not having a home was the sad reality for some people during the pandemic.
On February 27th, 2020, the government gave unprecedented destitution to local councils giving them 48 hours to find emergency accommodation for all of England’s rough sleepers. It is part of the national effort to curb coronavirus by emptying public spaces and isolating the population. The government announced a £3.2 million emergency fund available for all local councils in England to fund emergency housing. The pandemic presented a unique chance to tackle homelessness.
A new report by homeless charities shows that across the UK places such as Brighton, Leicester and Croydon have been labelled as making “extraordinary efforts” in supporting homeless people during COVID- 19. Subsequently, the government has made some strides in housing the homeless, but there are no permanent solutions, and urgent challenges remain. The damaging effects that COVID-19 has on the economy is lethal with business shutting people are losing their jobs, which means people are one step closer to becoming homeless.
Help the Homeless Leicester is a Leicester-based charity founded by Arif Voraji. He implemented emergency steps to help the homeless. This includes distributing food across the city, setting up support networks and carrying out health and safety checks at properties.
Arif said: “What we now do is that those people who have been accommodated due to the legalisations passed down by the local government we are making sure that the food parcels get delivered to them.”
“In fairness we are quite adaptable from the way that we were operating before.”
“We used to support homeless people that were on the street struggling to get food through food banks.”
“We are getting an influx of people into housing.”
“Due to the pandemic people are definitely at risk of become homeless especially if it’s related to jobs and paying rent. The biggest causes of homeless are usually addictions.”
In Luton, a charity called Noah Enterprise runs a homeless shelter, they have also faced challenges during the pandemic.
“The hardest thing about running in a homeless shelter in the current state of the world is keeping distancing between the workers and clientele. It makes working with the vulnerable a lot harder.” Said Maxine Edward a welfare worker at Noah.
“Although the council is currently attempting to house the homeless by putting them in hotels and hotels the problem is a lot of these facilities have become full and it is not easy getting homeless people off the streets right now.”
“People should keep helping and donating for those sleeping rough the fight is important we need to bond together to support those in need.”
Problems faced by the homeless due to social distancing and keeping safe is a social issue that desperately needs a solution.