HomeArrow NewsArrow Homelessness and coronavirus: An update from St Martins

Homelessness and coronavirus: An update from St Martins

We are all working differently at the moment and today, 20th April, our CEO Jan recorded a message for our supporters to update you on how things are at St Martins.

Jan outlined the procedures we are following, including handwashing, cleaning, infection control and social distancing.  She said, “It’s all paying off because everybody we support and all our team members are well and safe. As a CEO I could ask for no more at the moment.”

“Our services are in lockdown so we haven’t got visitors going into them and, as you would expect, some of the people we support are really struggling with the social distancing. Now that the weather is a little bit nicer, we’re able to get out there in the gardens – so at Highwater we’ve got the swing ball out and the outside gyms at Dibden and Bishopbridge House are making a difference too.”

Norwich City Council was asked by the government to get people sleeping rough into accommodation. Jan said, “We’ve been working really hard with them to make sure that people on the streets are actually placed in hotel accommodation. We’re also doing outreach four hourly and daily and we’re making sure that when people arrive who are new on the street they know exactly where to go and what support it available.”

The Kings Centre, Soul Church, The Feed and others are supplying deliveries of food to homeless people in accommodation.

We are, however, seeing people new people arrive on the streets during the lockdown period. This is often a result of people whose sofa-surfing arrangements have broken down.

We are currently unable to use any shared sleeping space – so the No Second Night Out service is not running at Bishopbridge House as it normally is, and our project at Recorder Road is not operating yet.

The Coronavirus situation will have a financial implication for us. We know that donations will be down because our volunteers simply can’t collect in the supermarkets. However, we are grateful for the continuing support of people who donate regularly by direct debit. So we know that donations will be down and our costs are up. We’re having to spend a small fortune on PPE and mobile handwashing stations and just making sure that we’ve got sufficient staff. Some of our team members have underlying health conditions so are not able to work so we have an increase in the use of agency staff at the moment.

We know that we are going to take a financial hit in terms of donations down and costs up. However, we are applying to relevant grants and funds available.

Our top priority is to keep people safe and well. We couldn’t do our work without our wonderful supporters – we extend our heartfelt thanks to them.

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