Throughout the pandemic, we have been working with our charity partners to help people off the streets and into hotels and other accommodation, providing food, clothing, medical supplies and other essentials.
During the national lockdown in spring 2020, we placed a total of 266 people who were rough sleeping in emergency accommodation, typically hotels and studio apartments, to keep them safe from the COVID-19 outbreak. Our outreach teams also helped hundreds more into hotels and temporary accommodation supported through funding by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and Westminster City Council.
Everyone housed in emergency accommodation received 3 meals a day, thanks to the help of charity partners, The Passage and Connection at St Martin’s, and volunteers through Unity Works, who prepared thousands of meals and organised their delivery around the city.
During the second national lockdown, we dramatically increased services, including opening additional donation hubs, assessment, testing and treatment centres, and organising rapid routes into settled accommodation for the most clinically vulnerable.
Support workers intensively work with individuals during their time in emergency accommodation to understand their needs and develop tailored longer-term solutions to help them move onto sustainable housing.
This enables us to support hundreds of individuals into settled accommodation with ongoing wraparound support, so that they don’t return to the streets.
Working with partners including St Mungo’s, The Connection at St Martin’s, The Passage and West London Mission, we have moved more than 430 people into settled accommodation since the start of the pandemic.
Once someone is housed, we continue to provide wrap around support to help people keep their tenancy, find and hold down a job, and continue accessing treatment for health and mental health issues.
Unfortunately, homelessness persists in Westminster and together with our charity partners, we will continue to do all we can to offer support to individuals who are rough sleeping. Our outreach teams continue to work every day and night to help people off the streets and into accommodation, as well as to make sure people have access to medical treatment, mental health support, drug and alcohol addiction services, and employment support.
We are determined that the lessons learned from the pandemic will shape services for the future. A review will seek to draw in the experiences of all partners and public sector colleagues who have been involved with this work and will be looking at things like whether we can phase out shared accommodation, such as hostels, to give people their independent space as the best foundation to support them away from the streets permanently.