Branch Secretary : suz.muna.unite@gmail.com
  

People still rough sleeping: Read about it, sign the petition

Two articles on rough sleeping and see below for petition.

 

Homelessness worker and branch secretary Jack Jeffrey writes:

 

Homeless people still not able to access accommodation

 

On the 26th March the Government announced that Local Authorities had a duty to house all homeless people regardless of their local connection or ability to access benefits. Homeless people are more likely to have poor health and underlying health conditions and are at greater risk from COVID 19. Only through placing people in accommodation where they have the ability to self-isolate can they reduce their own risk of infection and possibility of transmission to others.

 

It is shocking to hear reports of homeless people some with symptoms of COVID 19 still not being able to access accommodation. The GLA announced that it has housed just over 1000 rough sleepers in hotels since the start of the crisis, but this is only a small proportion of the estimated almost 9000 rough sleepers in London.

 

Barriers to accommodation

 

As a caseworker struggling to house rough sleepers across London, I have found that although most housing options staff are aware of their duties this is not true of the initial triage conversation most clients face. In addition, as council offices have closed down phone waiting times of over an hour are common and outreach teams are so overloaded, they are taking days to respond to referrals. Local authorities have faced cuts of roughly 49% in their income since 2010 leaving them stretched and struggling to cope during the coronavirus pandemic. Although the government has just announced an extra £1.6 billion to local authorities it is unclear if this will be enough. 

 

Lack of knowledge of housing legislation and access to a phone should not be barriers to accommodation. Without the ability to self-isolate clients are putting themselves and others at risk of catching COVID 19. To combat the spread of this virus and protect some of the most vulnerable in society we must:

  • Ensure all homeless people can access accommodation regardless of local connection or recourse to public funds as per government guidance.
  • Ensure housing options duty lines and outreach teams are properly staffed so they can quickly respond to those in crisis.
  • Properly fund local authorities to provide emergency accommodation and floating support so people can fulfil their basic needs.
  • Support all those leaving emergency accommodation when the pandemic ends to access sustainable housing – not just throw them back to the street.

 

Andrea writes:

 

Nobody is helping me

 

A former soldier Mike (85) is currently Rough sleeping with up to 30 others at Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 during the lockdown according to Mailonline. Mike who served in the Canadian armed forces was in the process of applying for British citizenship before the pandemic started. He said his’ immigration status is a bit complicated. I don’t want to tell you too much because I could get into trouble and I have enough problems already.’

 

‘There were a lot more homeless people sleeping at the airport a few weeks ago but most of them were found accommodation. But I think because I’m not British and because of my age, nobody Is helping me.’ Mike is in the at risk group for the Corona virus and should be self isolating for 12 weeks due to his age. It is shocking that a pensioner is being left on the streets with no recourse to public funding. This policy needs to go as it is leaving people on the street longer and not supporting the most vulnerable.

 

Rough sleepers left with no support

 

The Government who on the 29th March told councils and outreach teams to bring Rough sleepers to accommodation. They also provided councils with 3.2 million pounds towards supporting them. According to the Government 90% of rough sleepers have been taken off the street leaving 10% still left on the streets with no support from services. The London Mayor has provided 10 hotels across London to support Rough sleepers.

 

After this Pandemic is over the Government cannot go back to how things were before. They need to provide mass building of social housing to support societies most vulnerable people with somewhere to live. This will ensure they will be able to connect with local services to get the guidance they need to live a fulfilling life. Councils have a part to play by ensuring services are available and staff have up to date training to support these people.

 

Requisition unused property

 

We need requisition of property unused by the super rich as they’re taking homes from people who need them and we desperately need to expand our welfare and social services so they can provide this can be done by the Government reversing the cuts and putting money towards these services so they’re actually doing what they are supposed supporting people who are struggling to make ends meet. This is why only socialist policies can support us moving on from this crisis.

 

Socialism is the only way we can tackle this pandemic by supporting the most vulnerable. Capitalism is not able to do this which is why we need to fight for Rough sleepers alongside fighting to change society for the better. We need a real solution to tackling this issue and we cannot allow for this to be pushed aside. We need Socialism now and for the future so we can all thrive.

 

Sign the petition

 

 

A petition has been set up to support Rough sleepers during and after this Pandemic is over. It needs support so we can hold the Government to account when this Pandemic is over.

 

 

Please sign and share widely here

 

 

 

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