This pandemic has had hidden costs and we’re already seeing a rise in people presenting as homeless to the council; the impact from the loss of jobs, wages, bereavement, poor mental health, poor living conditions and a rise in domestic abuse are all factors and we know that as we plan to come out of this crisis we will need to strategically adapt our services.

Jenna is one of our support team who has been liaising closely with the council and going out with the Barnabus team on outreach. She also works remotely from home connecting people to support and accommodation.

“I’m still working closely with the Manchester City Council in terms of data gathering and getting as much information around the people who have come forward needing help since the start of the lockdown. The numbers are absolutely massive and if you think into it too much it can become overwhelming.  However, knowing the numbers we are looking at and who will need our help after the lockdown ends is good as it gives myself and the team at Barnabus chance to prepare and be better equipped to deal with it.”  

“The virus has given everyone the chance to really look at how homelessness is managed in Manchester and has given the opportunity to rapidly change normal working routines and roll out new, much needed changes to the system so that we can respond most effectively.”

While Jenna was out with our team on street outreach this week she was also able to see and connect with people who are still rough sleeping and may be struggling to connect with the support services. 

“It was good to see there weren’t too many people rough sleeping out on the streets.  I was able to pick up on some people still on the street and offer my support and work towards getting them indoors to a place of safety. 

One guy was only homeless for one week  and had never slept rough before.  He was out of his depths and didn’t know what else to do.  I saw him twice over 3 days and despite intervention and help he still hadn’t had any progress.  I did a referral for supported accommodation and he was accepted.  I spoke with him yesterday and he said he has settled in well and is enjoying getting a good sleep and feeling safe again at night,  if he had of spent any longer on the street he would have hit breaking point.  I am now working with staff in the hostel to look towards a suitable move on plan when it is safe to do so.”

It is always a great moment when a rough sleeper who has been on the streets for many years makes the decision to accept help with accommodation. Through outreach work Jenna was able to encourage one of our friends to accept this help.

“One of our guys who is a long standing rough sleeper made the decision to go into a hotel last week.  I have been having regular phone conversations with him.  He is doing well and is very happy with the hotel he has been allocated and said staff there are very helpful and have helped him set up a bank account.” This is an amazing positive step for our friend and we really hope this is the start of his movement away from the streets into a new life. We know he will need a lot of ongoing support but this is a great opportunity for him.

Sadly people are becoming homeless during this lockdown and because charities and support networks have had to reduce their services due to social distancing people are at a real risk of rough sleeping when they would normally be able to get help. One way people are becoming homeless is when they are released from prison and there’s no housing ready for them. Last month Jenna was able to remotely support a man who was being released from prison by setting him up with accommodation.

“He is still in the hotel that I housed him in and he’s really content I’m so thankful we could get him help.  I have been speaking to Manchester City Council and a supported accommodation about a potential move on for him too but only when it is safe to do so.” Preventing someone from rough sleeping is a great success as it is a dangerous, scary and degrading experience that can have lifelong impacts on someone’s mental health.

We are thankful for all of our dedicated support team and also for your support we know that without it, we wouldn’t be able to continue our work supporting people experiencing homelessness through this Coronavirus crisis and beyond. There are many ways you can support us fundraise,donate and donate practical items or we would love to hear your suggestions.