Residents are being asked to support the work of St Helens Borough Council to address homelessness and rough sleeping in the borough as coronavirus lockdown restrictions begin to ease.
Covid-19 presents a greater threat to the homeless and rough sleepers without access to medical advice, a prevalence of underlying health conditions, and the inability to self-isolate from others while living in shared sleeping spaces and night shelters.
Residents can report people they suspect may be rough sleeping via the StreetLink website www.streetlink.org.uk, or through the council’s Contact Centre online or by phone on 01744 676789.
If you think the person you are concerned about is under 18 please do not contact StreetLink. Instead call Merseyside Police on the non-emergency 101 number.
In March, the council responded to a national request from government to get everyone sleeping rough off the streets and into safe and suitable accommodation by securing a number of rooms in local commercial hotels, after exploring various options.
During the lockdown period St Helens Borough Council and its partners have assisted more than 70 individuals and supported 30 people into safe accommodation on a temporary basis, while working to secure more long-term accommodation to reduce the risk of people returning to life on the streets.
Aiming to prevent homelessness, the council’s Housing Options & Advice Service has operated throughout these difficult times and has placed a number of families into emergency accommodation while helping them to secure long-term housing solutions.
Throughout this work, the council has partnered with a range of agencies including the Salvation Army, St Helens YMCA and Whitechapel Assertive Outreach, which carries out daily street checks within borough to identify and assist rough sleepers.
The council has also worked alongside and provided additional funding to the Teardrops and Hope House charities, while commissioned services such as CGL have continued to support people placed in emergency accommodation with food deliveries and access to health, wellbeing and recovery services.
Councillor Jeanie Bell, St Helens Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Safety, said: “Coronavirus has shown more of us than ever how easily the stability in our lives can be shaken, how the possibility of homelessness is never as far away as we like to think when our job security is threatened.
“In the immediate danger of Covid-19 our priority has been to get these vulnerable people off the streets and into safe, but temporary accommodation.
“With the emergency of the pandemic beginning to pass, we have a chance now to secure sustainable, long-term solutions for the homeless and rough sleepers in the borough and achieve real change.
“All of our council officers and our partners have worked incredibly hard during this period and I want to thank them all for their dedication and commitment.”