Changes to support for rough sleepers during the COVID-19 pandemic

We will be offering accommodation to everyone who is rough sleeping in the city so they can be safe during this crisis. 

This is in recognition that many of our vulnerable residents have high needs and we must take every measure possible to look after them during the pandemic. 

Accommodation for all

Right now, our Health and Adult Social Care team and the Housing team are working together to ensure we can offer suitable accommodation and support to meet the health needs of anyone who needs to self-isolate or who has to practice rigorous social distancing. 

We have circulated referral details to all of our commissioned and non-commissioned providers as well as community groups working with people who are rough sleeping or at risk of rough sleeping. This is so they can identify people at risk and refer them to us for suitable accommodation.

Avoid sharing space

To find the accommodation needed for all who are rough sleeping during this exceptional time, we are using council property and private sector property as well as working with hotels and property developers. We need to find places to stay which avoid many people sharing the same space.

We are prioritising those identified as most at risk of harm first. And then we will quickly move to reaching out further to help everyone during this difficult time.

Keeping people safe

To keep people safe, we are also taking immediate action to meet the government’s advice to avoid large gatherings, and gatherings in smaller public spaces, to prevent spread of the virus. This includes our night shelter provision.

We have taken advice from our Public Health team and government. The guidance is that the risks of transmission of COVID-19 at night shelters and the potential impact on the vulnerable health of people rough sleeping are greater than the risks of sleeping out in the current weather.

From today:

  • The weekend night shelter will not be open tomorrow or Sunday, it will now remain closed until further notice. 
  • The Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) shelter will not open unless temperatures drop to zero degrees Celsius (the shelter usually opens at the higher temperature trigger of “feels like” zero degrees Celsius). 

Crisis situation

Councillor Gill Williams, chair of housing, said: “We can and will do all we can to look after everyone who is rough sleeping in the city at this time. We’re finding places for people to stay as fast as possible.

"We take the public health advice very seriously and we are taking the very difficult decision to restrict the night shelters right away as we understand these are no longer safe spaces due to COVID-19. We are dealing with this crisis situation.”

More information 

The COVID-19 section of the website is regularly updated with news about how the council is responding. This includes a page about vulnerable people

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