ARE YOU HOMELESS, SOFA SURFING OR AT RISK?

COVID-19: A Letter To Boris Johnson

Dear Prime Minister,

We write to you as Chief Executives of charities that provide vital accommodation to people experiencing homelessness. We understand the challenges that the government currently faces in ensuring that the whole of society is protected against COVID-19. Vulnerable people sleeping rough or living in homelessness accommodation and the front-line staff protecting them in particular face unprecedented challenges, which are on the cusp of overwhelming them if urgent measures are not put in place. 

While we welcome the £3.2m emergency funding to help people sleeping rough to self-isolate and the confirmation that charities and workers delivering frontline services are designated key workers, we urge you to take action on the additional measures we have set out in the attached briefing, to ensure that homelessness accommodation and outreach services can continue to keep vulnerable individuals and the wider community safe.

Many of the measures aimed at the general population, such as self-isolation or social distancing, will be difficult to implement in homelessness accommodation or for those sleeping rough. A tailored package of support is therefore needed.

We attach a briefing outlining the measures we urgently need the government to take. The starting point has to be keeping homelessness services running throughout this crisis, in the way care services for the elderly and other vulnerable groups must continue to operate. If accommodation services are not able to maintain minimum staffing levels, then thousands more people will be forced to sleep rough.

There is little doubt we need to avoid adding to the huge strain on the NHS and emergency services. We are certain that our sector can do a great deal to support this effort if the following steps are taken:

  • Providing an urgent package of financial support for homelessness accommodation services, for example by mirroring the grants available to businesses
  • Making bloc payments of housing benefit to homelessness accommodation providers
  • Ensuring all homelessness accommodation service providers have Personal Protection Equipment, including thermometers and access to testing facilities
  • Ensuring all homelessness service providers can access emergency self-contained accommodation, allowing service users to safely self-isolate where necessary
  • The support and resourcing needed to ensure all local authority homelessness services remain open, so that anyone at risk has a gateway into support
  • Welfare reform which protects against hardship and increased risk of homelessness.

We ask for the opportunity for a group of us to meet with you urgently to discuss how we can work together with you, and your colleagues in government, to protect people who rely on homelessness services during this time.

Yours sincerely,

Seyi Obakin OBE, CEO Centrepoint
Mike Thiedke, CEO Depaul UK
Howard Sinclair, CEO St Mungo’s
Rick Henderson, CEO Homeless Link
Jo Moore, CEO Accommodation Concern
Simon Ree, Youth Project Manager Bardsley Youth Project
Helena Evans, CEO Brighter Futures
George O’Neil, CEO Cardinal Hume Centre
Mike Pattinson, Executive Director Change Grow Live
Sarah Hernandez, Managing Director Derventio Housing Trust
Carol Gallagher, CEO Doorway
Marie Davis, CEO Falcon Support Services
Shaun Doran, CEO FRC Group and End Furniture Poverty
Sian Elen Tomos, CEO GISDA- North Wales
Malcom Mcarevey, Educational Co-ordinator Inspiring The Young - FSDA CIC
Andrew Redfearn, CEO Framework Housing Association
Hannah Brooman, Director InUnity
Paul Morrish, CEO LandAid
Judith Vickers, Operations Manager Lifeshare
Phil Kerry, CEO New Horizon Youth Centre
Carol Scawthon, Director New Roots Housing
Nikki Burley, CEO Newark Emmaus Trust
Jan Larkin, CEO Nightsafe
Jackie Hooper, Operations Manager North Worcestershire Basement Projects
Robin Burgess, CEO Northampton Hope
Peter Dale, Director Open Door Colchester
David Mcauley, CEO Open House
Eddie Bailey, CEO Park Lodge Project
David Smith, CEO Stepping Stone Projects
Jane Hugo, CEO Streetlife
Steve Ellis, CEO St Petrocs
Frances Duncan, CEO The Clock Tower Sanctuary
Fergal McCullough, CEO The Men's Room
John Holmstrom, CEO Turning Tides
Lisa Bennett, Director of People Services, YMCA Milton Keynes & Northamptonshire
Andy Moreman, CEO Young Devon

cc.

Therese Coffey, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

Luke Hall, Minister for Local Government and Homelessness 

Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government 

Will Quince, Minister for Welfare Delivery