How Coronavirus is affecting the homeless
With COVID-19 worsening, this puts in question how homeless people are meant to cope with the situation, as homeless charities face cuts and churches and drop-ins are forced to close their doors.
The Coronavirus pandemic has and continues to spread severely, as according to The Guardian, there are currently over 250,000 cases worldwide and 3,983 confirmed cases in the UK, with people being advised to self-isolate at home and avoid staying out on the streets.
But what happens to those who don’t have a home to self-isolate in?
The pandemic puts forward a new threat to those who don’t have direct access to food, homing and basic sanitation, and therefore places them at a greater risk of potentially contracting the virus.
“The Coronavirus has hit many homeless hard as obviously, they struggle to self-isolate, and even if the government give some homeless people office spaces or hotels to self-isolate, many will still be left on the streets” – Andrew Mcley, worker at Ealing Soup Kitchen
Those who live on the street don’t have the chance to wash their hands for 30 seconds several times throughout the day and they are unable to stockpile on food and hand sanitising gel, like the rest of us privileged ones are.
The Church of England made the decision of shutting down all churches as places of worship last Tuesday evening 17th of March, therefore also affecting the homeless as services are cancelled, and charities running soup kitchens within churches are denied access to the kitchens.
Certain homeless charities including Ealing Soup Kitchen in West London are facing cuts and are currently only able to provide one service a week from four which they were able to provide before.
Andrew Mcleay, a current worker at Ealing Soup Kitchen comments: “the Coronavirus has hit many homeless hard as obviously, they struggle to self-isolate, and even if the government give some homeless people office spaces or hotels to self-isolate, many will still be left on the streets.”
“The devastation of this will lead to many more problems down the line, as many will feel even more isolated and alone as drop-ins and churches are closing around them and even night shelters are forced to close. So they really are on their own. It will mean that some who may not have otherwise may now turn to drugs and alcohol which will lead to an increase in services needing to cater for that.”
Ealing Soup Kitchen would serve around 400 homeless people weekly and with other services shutting down, they are looking into how they would be able to provide somehow else.
The charity’s workers are currently looking into how they will be able to serve the homeless in other ways by doing outreach on the days which they have lost, and find those on the streets to see how they can help them.
Similarly, other charities including Brixton Soup Kitchen in South London are also adapting their services to still be able to help the homeless during the coronavirus crisis, making it able for people to pick up food and essentials whilst restricting physical contact.
In a video posted on March the 16th via Twitter, they report how they will be needing more essentials and encourage people to donate, as they are running out due stockpiling leaving supermarkets short of supply.