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22 April 2020 - sent by email
Dear friends and colleagues,
Re: Thank you
Over the last month, together, our ambition has been to give rough sleepers and those in shared sleeping places, such as communal shelters, the very best chance of coping with the onslaught of Covid-19. The key driver has been ensuring that, if possible, they will have the same chances as other vulnerable people to self-isolate and receive the same care, protection and treatment where necessary.
I asked for an unusual effort in response to these unusual times. I asked that, together as central and local government working in partnership with charities and the NHS, we give everybody the offer of safe harbour in the midst of the Covid-19 storm. It has been humbling to witness your response to this call to action – on behalf of the Prime Minister, Secretary of State, colleagues and indeed rough sleepers themselves, thank you.
As of our last stock take, the number of people needing emergency support that had been in the thousands is now in the hundreds. More than 5,400 rough sleepers – over 90% of those on the streets at the beginning of the crisis and known to local authorities – have been offered safe accommodation in just under a month, ensuring some of the most vulnerable people can stay safe during the pandemic. Thank you.
I understand that the government has now announced a further £1.6 billion of new funding to support councils in their response to the Covid-19 pandemic, including vital funding for the vulnerable rough sleepers helped off the streets and from communal shelters. This is welcome news.
There are many people in our homeless population who will find life in lockdown very hard indeed. Many were frightened and wanted to come in, some will want to reach out for the first time in years to their friends or families, some will find the isolation of lockdown simply too much and we need to find ways to help them through this.
There are some people who still find it hard to come in off the streets but the number of those is small. Nevertheless, we should continue to use this time to focus on those most in need on and off the streets. With such uncertain times, there will be people who come to you needing help and we need to continue to protect them from the harmful effects of Covid-19.
For today, though, I want to give you an update and to say a massive thanks. If you could forward these thanks onto anyone who is helping you at this time, I’d be grateful.
Look after yourselves and each other.