A charity has revealed the support it is providing to homeless people who have seen the rolling lockdowns imposed in England take a drastic toll on their health.
Research by the Justlife Foundation with homeless individuals from Brighton and Manchester sheds fresh light on the impact of the pandemic on single homeless households, whose experience is often hidden from public view.
In contrast to most other people in England, the majority of research participants said that their living situations were already so challenging that the virus was not the dominant factor in their lives. One compared their room to a prison cell:
It’s like a jail more than anything this hostel, the rooms are the same size as a cell. That’s what it is, like a jail.
One respondent was a man in a wheelchair up a flight of stairs, unable to access the shower room on a different floor. Others told the charity that they were already surrounded by death and did not expect to make it out of temporary accommodation alive:
One of my neighbours on the right side, three months ago I found him dead. A month ago my neighbour on my left side I found him dead…Four people have died there now in the last six months.
The Foundation is addressing the challenges the hidden homeless face by giving people a voice to speak up about – and challenge – their living conditions, alongside working with landlords to improve facilities for residents.
The charity uses people’s lived experience of temporary accommodation to recommend policy changes and share their experience with the local council, landlords and housing policymakers. It also addresses loneliness and isolation through a Social Connection project, that pairs volunteers with an individual who has experienced homelessness to help them establish meaningful relationships, build the confidence and skills needed to sustain independent living, and forge stronger ties with their community.
For more information, visit www.justlife.org.uk.