Being homeless is challenging at the best of times, but rough sleepers have faced even more adversity since the start of the Covid-19 lockdown.
The numbers of people sleeping rough have sadly gone up during the past seven weeks, this is due to economic factors and family and relationships breaking down. There have been additional difficulties for people sleeping rough due to the Lockdown as most public places are closed. Most of the public toilets are closed, cafes are closed, libraries are closed, which means for people sleeping rough it is harder to meet their basic needs. For instance, use the toilet, eat, charge their phone, shower, and wash clothes.
Another factor is the lack of access to the news and media, as people with no home struggle to access information without access to the Wi-Fi which is usually widely available through towns in Cornwall via cafes, libraries and so on. So we are providing our clients with the most up to date government guidelines regarding social distancing measures and health and wellbeing advice and equipping them with hand sanitiser so they can maintain personal hygiene, mobile phones so we and the doctors can keep in touch with them and keep them informed and check on them.
We are currently feeding 170 people a day and have stepped in to replace services which have been suspended due to the restrictions. Services suspended include volunteer led projects such as breakfast and supper clubs, and even some food banks. Many of these projects have been suspended completely as many of the volunteers are over the age of 70, and therefore classed as vulnerable.
This has left a big gap in the food provision for homeless people and we have been having to source and often cook the food ourselves. We have had an overwhelming response from people in Cornwall supporting us with food provisions.
Don Gardner, from the Camborne, Pool and Redruth (CPR) foodbanks, and Brian Honey-Morgan of the Hive Project, have provided us with support and food to keep our clients going, and hope and inspiration to keep us going.
Chefs from Rick Stein’s have been cooking and delivering food for us to give to people sleeping rough. Simon Stallard, from the Hidden Hut has been putting together food boxes with ingredients for our residents to cook at home and the Sail Loft on St Michael’s Mount provided supplies and ingredients.
The NHS Health for Homeless service is operating 5 days a week in both our centres with a GP and Nurse available for people who are homeless to have drop-in appointments. This is taking place with a triage system to maintain social distancing and limiting contact to where it is necessary. Falmouth University and Falmouth School have kindly donated face shields to us to protect our staff and clients.
Nationally, Crisis are providing us with advice and guidance and financial support. Centrepoint and Homeless Link are sharing information and support.
We continue to have admiration for our colleagues who we hold in high esteem as they are working seven days a week and mirroring the incredible work of the NHS, of whom we are proud to be a partner with.
Our Covid-19 Crowdfunder appeal (which closes on Tues 19th May) has gone a long way in helping us to do this work and ensuring all our services remain open and operational. The community support once again has been phenomenal, we are incredibly grateful for all the support and funds raised. There have been so many messages of goodwill from the people of Cornwall which are really helping to keep us all going.