London’s Homeless rough sleepers to be offered hotel beds

By citiesabc news - Apr 01, 2020
Coronavirus UK Cases source data Ravenpack

London’s Homeless rough sleepers to be offered hotel beds

As the global Coronavirus global know number cases reaches 860,000 cases and seems to be doubling some positive news. London city is making a positive effort towards Homeless people. The City announced recebtly that is opening 300 hotel rooms for the self-isolation of homeless people, the Mayor of London announced on Saturday as the UK prepares to enter weeks of social distancing to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Homelessness is devastating, dangerous and isolating and in this times even more dangerous and scary as it affects a big part of the world society and the UK population.

People sleeping on the street are some of the most fragile people and are almost 17 times more likely to have been victims of violence. More than one in three people sleeping rough have been deliberately hit or kicked or experienced some other form of violence whilst homeless and this not mentioning issues with health, psychological and many other.

Homeless people are over nine times more likely to take their own life than the general population and in these times are ssome of the people that need more support and attention.

“Homeless Londoners will benefit from vital protection against the coronavirus, as Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, with the support of the British government, has secured 300 hotel rooms where they will be able to self-isolate over the next weeks”, the London City Hall announced in a press release.

An operation to bring homeless people to hotel rooms started Friday night and will continue throughout the weekend. The 300 rooms are located in two Intercontinental London hotels and the people will be driven there in London black cabs, to avoid using public transport.

The rooms are booked for the next 12 weeks.

The COVID-19 coronavirus has killed 1789 as of 1st April 2020 people in the UK, and the number of cases is particularly high in London.

“The coronavirus pandemic is impacting everyone in London and we must do everything we can to protect everyone’s health, especially the Londoners who sleep outside every night”, said London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

“The COVID-19 threatens us all, but it disproportionately affects the most fragile, including the homeless”, said the British Housing minister Robert Jenrick in the same press release.

Homeless people are more likely to suffer from underlying health problems, including breathing problems, which increases the danger of the virus once caught. It is also more difficult for them to self-isolate and apply social distancing measures, to find shelter and maintain body hygiene, the Housing minister added.

In 2018-2019, London counted around 9,000 homeless people.

The cost of the measure has not been announced, but the hotel rooms were booked at “a significantly reduced price”, the London City Hall said.

Recently, France took similar measures, announcing it would open "self-isolation centres" in empty buildings across the country for the homeless who are sick with the coronavirus but don't need hospitalisation.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “The coronavirus outbreak affects everyone in London and we must do all we can to safeguard everyone’s health – not least those Londoners who face spending each night sleeping rough on the capital’s streets.

“Rough sleepers already face difficult and uncertain lives and I’m determined to do all I can to ensure they, along with all Londoners, are given the best protection possible.

“My heartfelt thanks go to InterContinental Hotels Group for stepping up and playing their part in helping protect rough sleepers during this difficult period.

“We are also very grateful to the black cab drivers from FreeNow and Gett who have offered to transport rough sleepers to these rooms, helping them to avoid using public transport.

“Together, as a city, we will come through this incredibly challenging period.”

The Secretary of State for Housing, Robert Jenrick MP, said: “We must be vigilant in the fight against coronavirus. While it poses a threat to all of us, there is a danger of it disproportionally affecting the most vulnerable people in our society, especially rough sleepers.

“That is why my officials will be working very closely with the GLA to ensure that rough sleepers get the support they need to remain safe and secure at this difficult time.”

The Prime Ministers Rough Sleeping Adviser, Dame Louise Casey, said: “I would like to thank the London Mayor and the Secretary of State for their support in getting everyone in. It is so important that we properly support all vulnerable during this difficult time including people that are sleeping rough.”

Managing Director, UK&I for InterContinental Hotels Group – owners of the Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express and Crowne Plaza brands, Karan Khanna, said: “The current situation is unprecedented and people’s health and wellbeing must be the top priority. We are pleased to be working closely with the Mayor’s office and GLA to use our hotels to contribute to the recovery effort in London.”

 

Director of Rough Sleeping services at St Mungo’s, Petra Salva, said: “Our teams are working round the clock to support all people sleeping rough into emergency rooms where they can isolate and be kept safe during this unprecedented crisis.

“We are pleased to be working with the Mayor and partners on this vital additional accommodation. Once inside, we will also be working with people on longer term options available to them, including housing, health support and job opportunities, depending on their situations.

“But first and foremost, I’d continue to urge anyone who is concerned about someone sleeping rough to refer them via StreetLink to help connect them with local services, or to call 999 in a health emergency.”

General Secretary at Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, Steve McNamara, said: "London cabbies have always been there to help those in need, and this current crisis is no different. Black cabs are the right vehicles for this, designed to be easily cleaned and sterilised, with a partition separating passengers from drivers. I'm delighted so many black cab drivers have signed up, and that we are doing our bit to keep the most vulnerable people on our streets safe."

London Councils’ Executive Member for Housing & Planning, Cllr Darren Rodwell, said: “London faces both the highest number of coronavirus cases and the highest levels of homelessness in the country. Boroughs are working flat out to support rough sleepers, but there’s a severe shortage of suitable accommodation. This is a crucial initiative and boroughs will continue working with the Mayor and other partners to secure desperately needed rooms during the Covid-19 emergency.”

For more information about the Mayor’s efforts to tackle homelessness, see: https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/housing-and-land/homelessness.

8,885 people were seen rough sleeping in London during 2018/19.

Around 1,100 people were sleeping rough in London on a single night in autumn 2019.

News release source:

https://www.london.gov.uk/press-releases/mayoral/rough-sleepers-to-be-offered-hotel-beds-to-isolate

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