More than 1,000 homeless Londoners are now self-isolating in hotels and other safe locations across the capital, thanks to the work of the Mayor Sadiq Khan’s rough sleeping team, boroughs, black taxi drivers and charity partners.
The initiative, launched just three weeks ago, involves City Hall working with government and charity bodies to block-book rooms, allowing highly vulnerable rough sleepers to follow government self-isolation guidelines.
The InterContinental Hotel Group, Travelodge, Best Western and Accor Group have all allowed their hotels to be used in this way. Black cab drivers have also volunteered their time to transport people between services, and catering company Red Radish are supplying three meals a day to residents.
St Mungo’s are overseeing the rough sleeper support aspect of the operation, with support also being provided by Depaul, Thames Reach and Look Ahead. Change Grow Live are providing specialist substance misuse support across the hotels for those residents who require it.
This vital work is being supported by £10.55m of funding from the Mayor and the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government.
Rough sleepers are significantly more likely to have underlying health conditions – including respiratory problems – than the wider population. They are also far less likely to be able to follow Public Health England advice, such as self-isolation, social distancing and handwashing. Much existing accommodation available to rough sleepers, while vitally important, is unsuitable for self-isolation.
Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of those on the frontline, a number of homeless people will develop symptoms of COVID-19. From this week, these people will be referred to a specialist COVID-19 care facility in a hotel in east London where their symptoms can be monitored and they can receive appropriate care and medical support.
As part of the London Together campaign, the Mayor is celebrating the work of charities and volunteers working to help the homeless at this critical time. Their stories can be followed on social media throughout today on the hashtag #LondonTogether.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “As we approach the peak of the Coronavirus pandemic it is more important than ever to ensure the most vulnerable Londoners are supported in clean, secure accommodation. I’m proud that this outstanding coalition of compassionate organisations, charities and individuals have stepped up to the challenge.
“The speed with which we have acted, and the willingness of multinational companies to work with us at this critical time, is testament to what can be achieved when we work together.
“There is still much to do: more money, volunteers and hotel rooms will be required. Looking ahead, my aim is to make sure that the ‘In for good’ principles are applied for all London’s rough sleepers – something that will require continued support from the Government.
“I am confident that by working together we can help save the lives of many Londoners who would otherwise be facing the pandemic on the streets.”