Coronavirus (Covid-19) is now well and truly the hottest topic of the moment, social media feeds and timelines are littered with stories and accounts from those in the community either infected or worried about infection of the Coronavirus.
The government have announced measures for ‘at risk’ groups to self isolate for the next three weeks, so this has gotten me thinking about the homeless people across the city and country who will be in lockdown and staring at four walls. This is mostly for those in Emergency or Homeless Hostels but also those living in Temporary Accommodation and Vulnerable.
Back in 2016 I lived in Percival Terrace, which is an Emergency Accommodation self contained hostel in Brighton. We had very little in our rooms, their was no access to the internet and the property was quite unhygienic. Thankfully I’ve since moved on, but those still in emergency accommodation still need a voice; sadly I am getting contacted by people living in homelessness accommodation across the city worrying about the Coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis and how this could and in some cases, already is affecting them. So I thought I would blog again and I hope this helps.
We already know that hardly anyone nowadays qualifies for homelessness accommodation unless they have some vulnerability, in my time I have seen people suffering with cancer, those with addictions, people with mental and physical disabilities and loads of smokers with pre existing respiratory issues. This means they are currently high risk.
Along with this demographic we also have parents with young children some with newborns. So this is a concern.
The mental health side to homelessness is complicated, many are at risk now of contracting the Coronavirus. But many will suffer more from the poverty and stress related to the coronavirus crisis and this is what worries me.
Coronavirus (Covid-19) – Is Bleeding The Homeless Dry
With many in homelessness accommodation living on low incomes or disability benefits, but also lots likely now off work, they will be using more utilities such as electricity, which in some accommodations such as Baron Homes, will hit already cash poor people even harder. I call on all private landlords to suspend Service Charges with immediate effect. This will put more money in the hands of those people living in Emergency Accommodation and Hostels in and outside of the city.
Landlords should not evict any tenants at this time, they should work with the council and community groups to better inform residents on the Coronavirus (Covid-19) Crisis. We need to be able to provide support as and where residents need it. It would be good for the council to adopt to Brighton and Hove Housing Coalition Demands for the Homeless.
The Discretionary Social Fund needs to be utilised to help those in need. Our local charity groups could make up survival packs and stock vital items such as nappies, baby food and cleaning products for those in most need.
Coronavirus (Covid-19) – A Lockdown will Leave Residents Bored to Death
We want people to listen to the best advice, we all want to see this nightmare end but lets remember another one starts for those living in Emergency Accommodation, our cities accommodations can already be a dreary place to live and spend your time at the best of times. Most people if they are lucky enough to have friends and family living nearby will leave during the day and often only sleep or spend time in the accommodation at night.
Some refuse to shower there and opt for friends and families help due the the conditions in shared bathrooms or lack of facilities and hygiene. If and when a lockdown comes though I am extremely worried about the residents’s general mental health and mood, we are hearing day centres are closing and food banks have run out of food, leaving residents in panic already. What are they do also do with boredom?
Homeless people don’t have much, especially to leave in insecure emergency accommodation rooms. Many will go mad, no Television, nothing to keep them occupied, Some will be lucky enough to have a laptop or smart phone, but may not have access to internet.
With an already high risk of self harm, suicide and issues around addictions, it begs belief what a lock down will do? who will be supporting people during this crisis? what do the parents do? The council have been very quiet as have the cities councillors but these issues need to be acknowledged.
Coronavirus (Covid-19) – Residents Are Starving Hungry
Its already a challenge to eat properly in emergency accommodation, most rooms only have a Microwave, Fridge ( No Freezer) and Sink. The everyday person right now is in the position to buy frozen food for back up supplies, but those in emergency cant do this. They often have to shop each day and are struggling right now, maybe much more so than the average Brighton and Hove resident.
The Council Must ensure landlords supply residents with freezers in their rooms in addition to a fridge.
The Council Must get financial resources to the vulnerable.
Coronavirus (Covid-19) – Equipping our Most Vulnerable
Looking back if I was living in emergency now, today during this crisis, I would be having anxiety and panic attacks about the hygiene in the buildings and crisis unfolding. I cant imagine how everyone is coping. I would like the council and landlords to equip staff with the protection equipment and step up regular cleaning. Give residents masks, make sure people can open their windows. If we can get them Antibacterial Gels.
If there are cases of Coronavirus (Covid-19) reported within an emergency accommodation building, then there needs to be a council action plan, reviewed and agreed by community groups and councillors on housing committee. This needs to be briefed out urgently!
Coronavirus (Covid-19) – Local Support and Useful Information For The Cities Homeless
Times will be tough but there is hope and if you are reading this and living in emergency or temporary accommodation and need help here is a list of services you can access right now. There is also a Facebook Group Mutual Aid Covid-19 Facebook Group here.
Coronavirus (Covid-19) – Staying Fit During The Lockdown
Staying fit will be essential to keeping you occupied and healthy during the anticipated lockdown, knowing rooms are often small, here is a handy 16 Minute Low Impact coaching video to help you stay in shape.
Coronavirus (Covid-19) – Things To Do For Children in Emergency
Free YouTube Childrens Play Sessions
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Coronavirus (Covid-19) – Help Others
Stay safe all and remember you cant help others unless you help yourself first.