England: £28m announced to support vaccinations and emergency accommodation for rough sleepers

Councils across England will be able to access £28 million to provide funding to both encourage people who are homeless to get vaccinated against Covid-19 and provide emergency accommodation over the winter.

England: £28m announced to support vaccinations and emergency accommodation for rough sleepers

The funding will be allocated to councils across England as part of the ‘Protect and Vaccinate’ scheme and is intended to help provide mobile vaccinations, supporting outreach work in shelters to educate people about the dangers of the virus, and giving money to councils to provide safe and secure accommodation.

People in hard-to-reach communities are also being supported to get vaccinated through targeted communications from councils, homelessness organisations, faith groups and charities.

Minister for rough sleeping, Eddie Hughes, said: “In the wake of a surge in COVID-19 cases and a new variant, we have an even greater responsibility to protect vulnerable people.

“I’m very pleased to announce this funding today, to make sure as many people as possible are vaccinated and that councils can protect people sleeping rough and put a roof over their heads.”

Jon Sparkes, chief executive at Crisis, said: “This new funding is incredibly welcome and will help to protect the lives of people facing the most vulnerable circumstances this winter. With COVID cases rapidly rising in recent weeks, this is worrying for everyone but even more so for people on the streets. Through our frontline services we know that vaccination rates amongst people experiencing homelessness are particularly low. This could prove fatal for many when also coupled with other health issues and the physical impact of spending night and day on the streets in the freezing cold.

“As this additional support becomes available, it must be based on need, rather than if someone was born in the UK or not. We’d also need to see the default assistance provided to be self-contained accommodation rather than communal shelters wherever possible, alongside the offer of a vaccine. We know that this is already happening in many areas of the country but not all. This becoming the standard offer of support will ensure that lives are best-protected and that people are really able to benefit as a result.”

Cllr David Renard, housing spokesperson for the Local Government Association, added: “People living on the streets are among the most vulnerable in society, with reduced ability to self-isolate safely and are less likely to access healthcare services, with many also having underlying health conditions.

“This funding will help councils build on existing local efforts to reach out to rough sleepers, and those who are at risk of homelessness in their areas, to ensure they can safely and easily receive a vaccination.”

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