Policy Press

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Julian House emergency appeal

What is the impact of COVID-19 on homeless people?

The impact on people experiencing homelessness is huge. Very early on in the Coronavirus crisis rough sleepers were identified as a very vulnerable group. Underlying health issues, the rigours of a street based lifestyle and simple impediments such as no access to washing facilities, all meant that they were particularly at risk. Likewise the difficulty of not being able to safely self-isolate was another major threat. On top of this, many support networks who help people suffering with addiction and mental health issues have had to close down or reduce their services, putting such vulnerable people at greater risk. 

What government policies are being put in place and what actual effect are they having on the ground? 

The government has supplied extra funding to help local agencies support people off the streets and into safe accommodation (more info). Many agencies have turned to hotels and properties owners to find these extra provisions. 

Over the last few weeks, we, alongside BANES Council and DHI, have managed to support 40 men and women with a history of rough sleeping into additional safe accommodation – something which was achieved in double quick time. Then in just a few days these properties were made ready to receive their first occupants. This required a huge effort from the two charities’ staff teams and some amazing support from the wider community, to provide some of the essentials to make empty properties become homes.

Life on the street is still really critical though and our work doesn't stop there. Our emergency access hostel (equipped with pod style bedrooms) is still open and supporting people and we've doubled our outreach sessions. Becci Miller, Outreach Team Lead said:

"Things are really critical on the street at the moment and clients are fearful of what will happen to them.  At present, we are doing a three hour outreach sessions every weekday morning, and a two hour outdoor drop in at the back of the hostel every weekday in Bath. We continue to see new homeless clients, which has really shocked us given that we are in a global pandemic."

What is the best thing members of the public can do to help at this time?

We'd really appreciate support from the public at this difficult time. The coronavirus has had a massive effect on the people we support and our life saving services. On top of this, it’s had a devastating effect on our fundraising efforts and our ability to fund our services. All of our forthcoming events have had to be postponed or cancelled and our charity shops and bike workshops have closed. Due to this, we’re expecting an income loss of at least £200,000. This is vital income, needed to fund our life saving services.

In response, we've set up an Emergency Appeal, and would appreciated any donations to this. We're also running various virtual events to bring the community together and raise vital funds.