Council and partners ensure every person who is homeless has a place to stay during the pandemic

3 April 2020

The ongoing support being offered to people who are homeless in the borough has increased further during the pandemic and, ahead of Government guidance, the Council offered all homeless people accommodation and support.

It is more difficult for people who are homeless to self-isolate and observe social distancing rules.

To help people avoid spreading COVID-19, the Government last week asked all local councils to ensure everyone has a room along with access to food and support.

The Council, forfutures, voluntary groups such as Northwich in Need and Outside In in Chester, and New Beginnings, a service delivered by WDP for adults or young people with drug and/or alcohol support needs, were already using their well-established partnerships to provide extra support for those who are experiencing homelessness ahead of Government issuing its guidelines last week.
  • Every person who is homeless has been offered a room in supported housing, B&Bs and other types of managed accommodation.
  • Food packages are being provided for those who are self-isolating and for anyone else who needs special assistance.
  • There is personalised support available from drug and alcohol teams for those who need it, depending on a person's individual needs.
Everyone moving into accommodation will receive personalised support, maintaining safe distance requirements for everyone. If people are unable to leave their accommodation due to illness or isolation, we will make sure food is provided. Those who can shop for their own food will be able to do so and other arrangements for those in financial hardship are already in place.

Councillor Richard Beacham, Cabinet Member for Housing, Regeneration and Growth, said: "The Council has been working with partners in housing, health and in the community and charity sector to plan its coordinated approach to supporting the homeless community. As a partnership group, we completed a lot of the latest government guidance before it was issued.

"We produced a plan which includes reducing access to communal areas, identifying additional accommodation for homeless people and rough sleepers, and coordinating care and support for the homeless community in our accommodation in partnership with commissioned services and the voluntary sector.

"Collectively, we have been dedicated to the cause of finding accommodation to allow people sleeping rough the same chance as the housed community to stay indoors, avoid others and survive this pandemic.

"I would like to pay personal tribute to all of the staff and volunteers who are working hard to care for the homeless community in our area at this time. We still have work to do, but their efforts so far have put us ahead of the curve in responding to this crisis and under very difficult circumstances."

People who were staying in our Somewhere Safe to Stay Hub at Hamilton House in Chester have been relocated into self-contained rooms at the start of the restrictions, in order to comply with Government guidelines.

Simon Groom, of Outside In, said: "Despite the unprecedented challenge that we all face, but of course is felt so much more by those who are vulnerable, the Council, commissioned services and members of Outside In have been supporting vulnerable groups and individuals with immediate accommodation, advice and targeted support where possible.

"Outside In member organisations such as Soul Kitchen have partnered with restaurants across Chester to provide meals for over 70 people each evening. Share has provided a sandwich lunch for those accommodated each day and other voluntary and charitable organisations are sourcing food, proving that community does exist in Chester and that it does work. In partnership, we will continue to do everything we can to ensure no-one falls through the gaps and that everyone remains part of our community at this difficult time."

Daniel Pendlebury, of Northwich in Need, said: "With the ongoing situation ever changing, cross party work and coordination is essential. This has been evident recently in Northwich.

"To make sure the most vulnerable in society received the support required and with the help of Rudheath & Witton Together and Northwich Isolation Support, we were able to work with the hostel Victoria House to secure funding for meals for the next six weeks for all our clients.

"This is a time yet again when community support really shines through and the positive benefits of working together can only help to quicken the process. It is heart-warming to see the support of the community at these difficult times and again makes us all proud."

Janet Lawton, Homelessness and Contract Management Lead at forfutures, said: "The forfutures team is continuing to work on the front line ensuring that vulnerable people are supported during this difficult time. We are grateful for the support of all our partners which enables us to continue to deliver the service safely and house people experiencing homelessness in accommodation where they can stay home to help save lives."

David Targett, of New Beginnings, said: "We are committed to supporting the people who use our services during these challenging times. Our staff are working tirelessly to continue to offer treatment and care to some of the most vulnerable people in the local community for their alcohol and drug problems.

"We are working with our homeless service users to make sure we can get them the support that they need and manage the unique challenges and risks they face every day but especially during this unprecedented situation.  Working in partnership with the council and other local agencies has been invaluable in enabling us to keep our homeless service users safe."

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