Tue, 07 Apr 2020
CHARITIES, groups and council staff have pulled together to accommodate more than 20 rough sleepers and homeless people in the district during the Covid-19 pandemic.
West Berkshire Council said it recognised early in the pandemic that a small number of homeless people and rough sleepers were unlikely to be able to safely self-isolate, which would need to be addressed given Government advice.
The council said its priority was to respond to the Government’s advice and ensure that all rough sleepers and people sharing accommodation at Two Saints, the council’s emergency hostel, were housed as soon as reasonably possible.
Working together in unprecedented times and with increased effort, charitable volunteers and council staff made sure everybody was inside and safe by the weekend.
Executive member for housing Hilary Cole (Con, Chieveley and Cold Ash) said: “We have been fortunate to form strong relationships with local hotel providers in the area who were keen to support vulnerable members of the community.
“Together with increased support from local charities and voluntary services, we have successfully accommodated 22 individuals into self-contained rooms.
“The 22 people comprised of 12 who were sleeping rough, two who presented as homeless and eight individuals who were being accommodated in shared hostel accommodation.”
Newbury charity Loose Ends has been continuing to help feed vulnerable people during the challenging circumstances.
Based at Morton Hall, near Newbury Baptist Church, Loose Ends is providing food and toiletries to around 50 people, five days each week.
The charity said that clients have been housed in temporary accommodation in three locations across the area.
Food parcels are made up each day, plus a meal on five days, and delivered by outreach workers to those in temporary accommodation.
Vulnerable clients not in temporary accommodation are attending Morton Hall to receive a takeaway meal, a food parcel and toiletries.
Loose Ends chairwoman Linda Fergusson said: “Providing nutritious food to the homeless and vulnerable is our number one priority.
“Volunteers are working hard every day, not only at the hall, but also behind the scenes too, keeping supplies coming and preparing meals and food parcels five days a week with many of the meals and food parcels being delivered by outreach workers to the temporary accommodation housing the homeless.
“I am immensely proud to be chair of such an amazing charity.”
Mrs Cole said the council and task group would do everything it could to ensure that on-going support was available to those needing it.
She said: “They have access to mental health services, telephone support and food is provided by a number of charities on a daily basis, with regular contact being maintained between support workers and housing staff.
“Moving forward, we are taking this opportunity to ensure that everyone who has been accommodated has a personal housing plan agreed with a member of the council’s housing team.
“This will promote better relationships with each individual and allow for a more effective moving-on process when Covid-19 is no longer a risk to the population.”