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Coronavirus: Camden and Haringey councils respond to pandemic fears for homeless people with dedicated task forces

PUBLISHED: 11:00 18 March 2020

People are being advised to maintain personal hygiene to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Picture: Yui Mok/PA

People are being advised to maintain personal hygiene to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Picture: Yui Mok/PA

PA Archive/PA Images

Emergency groups have has been assembled in Haringey and Camden to address the needs of rough sleepers in both boroughs amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In Haringey, representatives from the NHS and police, adult social care and housing workers, members of the voluntary sector met with Haringey Council on Tuesday to create an action plan to protect rough sleepers.

Camden has also set up a “response group” to take on a similar role.

This comes after charity Homeless Link called on local authorities to establish task forces to support people rough sleeping, who are particularly vulnerable to the virus.

On Friday representatives of homeless charities and Islington Council attended a summit in Islington:

and set up the first London task force according to Streets Kitchen coordinator Jon Glackin.

Jon told the Ham&High: “As we have illustrated in Islington, there is a desire for community action to tap into. The rulebook is gone. We must do something.”

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Now Haringey Council is preparing for Covid-19’s impact on homeless people in a number of ways.

Guests at Mulberry Junction homelessness centre in Tottenham have been contacted with advice, and shower and washing facilities prioritised for those who are rough sleeping.

Outreach groups are also distributing packs of wipes, hand wash and water, as well as providing mobile phones so that rough sleepers can contact 111 if they start to feel unwell.

Individuals living in shared services such as night shelters are at particular risk as they are unable to self-isolate, and many suffer from long-term health conditions.

The council also says it is “identifying appropriate buildings and spaces that can be used for self-isolation and convalescence”.

At the Islington task force meeting on Friday, volunteers questioned whether empty spaces such as hotels and student halls could be opened up – pointing to the temporary accommodation of Grenfell Tower fire survivors as a precedent.

A Camden Council spokesperson said: ‘We have set up a Public Health Response Group to address the specific needs of the borough’s rough sleepers who may need to self-isolate, as well as working with Public Health England who have issued guidance for services that work directly with rough sleepers or those at risk of rough sleeping.

“We are working with Islington Council, as well as charities active in both boroughs to maximise our combined efforts.’

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