Call for council to book hotels to protect homeless from coronavirus

As the UK enters a three-week lockdown period, what will North Somerset Council do to protect the district’s homeless population?

Charities have urged North Somerset Council to ‘block-book’ hotels in order to isolate the region’s homeless population during Government lockdown.

Taking such actions across the UK would ‘potentially save thousands of lives’ according to the Museum of Homelessness.

It also warned that emergency shelters will not offer sufficient cover from the coronavirus, and could become ‘death traps’.

North Somerset experienced a 13 per cent rise in the number of households that classify as homeless over the past year, with the number standing at 107.

A homeless household is defined as a household without a shelter that would form within the scope of living quarters.

Matt Downie, director of policy at the homelessness charity, Crisis said: “homeless people are more susceptible to catching and spreading Covid-19, and are more vulnerable to the worst effects of it.”

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He added: “Not just because the advice is impossible if you don’t have anywhere to live, but also the underlying health needs of the homeless making them more vulnerable – you are three times more likely to have a respiratory illness.”

Prime Minister, Boris Johnson announced on March 23 that the UK will undergo a three-week lockdown period that would see draconian measures taken against the nation’s day-to-day lifestyle.

Johnson noted that the public should only leave their homes for reasons such as; one form of exercise per day, travelling to and from ‘essential work’ and to shop for basic necessities ‘as infrequently as possible’.

A spokesperson for the council has said: “We are following government guidance which changes regularly. We have a dedicated Rough Sleeper Coordinator who is working closely with the rough sleeper outreach team to contact anyone we know of who may be rough sleeping.”

The authority added: “they [rough sleepers] will then be offered accommodation.”

The Department of Health and Social Care, along with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has recently announced £2.9 billion of funding allocation for local authorities to support vulnerable people, including people who are homeless during the COVID-19 crisis.