The Everyone In initiative, implemented through the first wave of the COVID 19 virus, took tens of thousands of rough sleepers off the streets and helped them start the transition into a more secure and long term accommodation.
In the space of just 72 hours, this grand plan took thousands of people off the streets. It saved lives and broke the illusion that homelessness was an intractable problem to solve.
Since then, Boris Johnson’s government has noticeably scaled back its ambitions and it’s insisted that the Everyone In programme has continued to support rough sleepers, and while it’s true that numerous people were helped in the first lockdown and have now been moved into more permanent accommodation, lives are still in danger and too many people remain on the streets.
As you read this article, thousands of people sleeping rough are being exposed to unbearably freezing conditions, as well as COVID 19. This makes them extremely likely to become sick, at a time when the NHS is now wavering on the brink of being overwhelmed.
As the temperature plummets, local authorities are activating their Severe Weather Emergency Protocol, which provides emergency accommodation for rough sleepers on extremely cold winter nights.
This will offer interim relief to those sleeping rough, but it will only last as long as temperatures remain below freezing.
A renewed focus on ending homelessness for good is needed to ensure displaced people who are taken indoors can be given support to transition into permanent accommodation.
However, without the resources they need, already stretched local councils will be unable to help everyone and can’t provide long term solutions.
The Government maintains that it’s continuing endeavours to help people off the streets and a recent announcement has outlined its next steps to help rough sleepers this winter. However, these plans are far less ambitious than the programme of help offered last spring.
The housing secretary, Robert Jenrick, has urged local councils in England to increase their efforts to take people off the streets, but councils are being asked to do too much with too little.
And they’re unable to help all those sleeping rough, let alone stop new cases of homelessness occurring, and the £10 million in financial support on offer to councils falls considerably short of what’s required.
It’s also money that will be allocated from an existing pot of £700 million.
In 2018, the homelessness charity Crisis estimated that it would cost around £10 billion to end homelessness for good, but the Government’s total spending to date is a fraction of this, and we’re becoming a Dickensian Britain.
This is the Conservatives operating in a yo-yo fashion, and is Boris Johnson concerned on whether lives are lost or not? After all, why can’t the barracks and hotels be used for our homeless since they don’t seem to be worried about using them for asylum seekers? Or come to that, even churches!
This is shocking, especially in a country that’s so prosperous, that they’re neglecting the homeless.
And it appears that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer and this kind of mentality has to stop, because what happened to the idea that we’re all in this together?
With this cold snap, there will, of course, be many deaths because of the combination of cold and COVID, and after the pandemic, there will be a tsunami of poverty. There’s also going to be issues of mental health, homelessness, addiction, domestic abuse and suicide and the Government just don’t give a damn.