Extraordinary action taken across Great Britain to get thousands of people into safe accommodation during the Covid-19 pandemic has shown that it is possible to end rough sleeping and other forms of homelessness.
Since March, in Westminster, over 350 people have been helped off the streets and into safe accommodation. This is an incredible achievement and one we should be very proud of. The Connection at St Martin’s is very thankful for the way partners have worked together to make this happen so efficiently.
During the pandemic, The Connection is managing an 80 bed apartment premises for people with complex needs, as well as another much smaller hotel in Westminster. The support we provide has included:
• preparing and delivering three meals a day, providing laundry services, and delivering medication, toiletries and other essentials;
• working with nurses and psychologists to help with physical and mental wellbeing;
• helping clients to access support for drug & alcohol addictions;
• continuing regular casework to help people to get their lives back on track – such as support to find more permanent accommodation, access benefits, or resolve immigration status.
Pam Orchard, Chief Executive of The Connection, says “We’ve seen some huge successes in hotels so far. For some people, this is the first time they have had the stability of a roof over their heads and regular meals for many years. It’s given us a solid foundation from which to work with them to provide the support needed to move into longer term accommodation.”
So far, we have helped eleven people to move from hotels into more suitable accommodation. We would like to see this happen for everyone we are supporting, but it isn’t always easy. Suitable and affordable housing is scarce, and many people need ongoing support.
It is crucial that we do not lose the hard work and progress that has been made. Everyone who has been accommodated in this pandemic needs a safe and settled home, and support to maintain it. Achieving this is necessary and within our reach.
The Connection at St Martin’s is therefore supporting Crisis’ campaign Home For All, details of which can be found here Home For All Policy Briefing
Home For All will call on the Westminster Government to commit to a plan that will enable everyone across Britain to have the security of a safe and settled home; and to implement the immediate policy changes and funding needed to continue to protect people experiencing homelessness and prevent homelessness for the duration of the pandemic.
We welcome the government’s recent commitment to provide 6,000 new supported homes as part of their plans to end rough sleeping, but more needs to be done. Home For All calls on the UK government to:
• Fund housing-led services, including Housing First, so that people do not have to return to night shelters and other emergency accommodation;
• Ensure no one is left without a safe place to stay because of their immigration status, or because they fall foul of homelessness legislation;
• Prevent people from becoming homeless by ensuring housing benefit covers the cost of rent, lifting the benefit cap, and continuing to suspend evictions from the private rented sector.
The Connection’s experience during the pandemic highlights the incredible progress that can be made when people have stable accommodation and the right support, both now and beyond the pandemic. This is why we are joining the call for Home For All.