Volunteers help rough sleepers adapt to coronavirus rules

Some rough sleepers are said to be struggling to settle into new accommodation and follow social distancing rules.

Brighton and Hove City Council said that it was moving people off the streets as quickly as possible.

This week it took over the Youth Hostels Associations (YHA) building in Old Steine.

However, workers at Sussex Homeless Support, a community interest company (CIC), said that they were working to find ways to keep people occupied.

They said that those they were helping would usually have companionship on the streets or through day centres and other services currently closed because of the coronavirus crisis.

The CIC’s team is trying to find radios, books and other items to keep people occupied as well as running its street kitchen.

Jim Deans, who manages Sussex Homeless Support, said: “All the day centres have now closed. There is no food support set up in the city for homeless.

“The council is getting rough sleepers into accommodation but there is no support. The rooms are bare. They are coming straight out and joining groups just like before.

“The rooms have no soap, towels, bedding or ways to cook. They have a microwave but no food. That’s where we are.

“We have continued with street support, including a street kitchen and three soup runs.

“We have learned very quickly how to make this as safe as possible. It’s no more dangerous than a visit to Tesco.”

The council said: “The government asked us to find accommodation at very short notice for all rough sleepers for their own health and safety due to the coronavirus crisis and we have done so.

“We are using a variety of accommodation, including existing supported housing and hotels.

Sussex Homeless Support volunteers at work

“We are now delivering hot meals to those former rough sleepers most in need and are working on getting breakfast and lunches and personal items for everyone unable to access these themselves.

“We very much welcome Galvanise Brighton and Hove’s work sourcing old Kindles, game devices, etc, to be shared with people who are self-isolating to relieve the boredom and loneliness this can cause. Their website is www.galvanisebh.org.

“Overall, our rough sleepers have been pleased to be offered accommodation, and we’re really sad that some have struggled to adapt to their new circumstances and new accommodation.

“We recognise that for those with personal needs, such as mental health and substance use misuse issues, it is a particularly difficult time.

“But we are working hard with other agencies and groups across the city to offer all our rough sleepers the support they need.

“We are also working closely with agencies in the city to set up a citywide food distribution service for vulnerable people.

“This is being led by the city’s Food Partnership, which has been doing fantastic work in this area for many years.

“We would welcome support for this initiative. Please contact the Food Partnership to be part of this citywide response, details are on their website bhfood.org.uk.

“If you are concerned about someone who is rough sleeping, contact Streetlink at www.streetlink.org.uk with the details and the information will be passed on to an outreach worker.”

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