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Homeless people facing challenging times due to pandemic

More rough sleepers could be out on the streets this winter due to coronavirus, according to a Winchester homeless charity.

Winchester Churches Nightshelter (WCNS) , a charity that provides temporary homes for rough sleepers, says the second lockdown could be challenging.

During the first lockdown, government regulations meant that capacity at shelters had to be reduced to keep residents safe. WCNS Chief Executive, Michele Price, said: “This was a difficult decision, as it meant accommodating fewer residents. Thankfully, no existing residents lost their bed.”

When the country first went into lockdown, rough sleepers everywhere were very quickly put into temporary accommodation through charities, hostels, and hotels. However, the pandemic has delayed the possibility of rough sleepers finding their feet quickly after temporary accommodation.

Earlier this week, Winchester Churches Nightshelter hosted a webinar to discuss how homelessness has been dealt with during the pandemic with other shelters across the country.

At the event it was revealed that many rough sleepers had lost their bed spaces during lockdown and some shelters had to close.

Previous resident, Howard, speaking on a video that was screened at the event said: “The shelter really helped me. Helping me with a passport and getting me a room to rent.

“If I didn’t have them, I’d probably be getting paralytic. I don’t know where I’d be, probably dead – maybe prison.”

Adaptations were made to fit the government guidelines for Covid. Staff and residents are now always stay on site, with a limited number of people allowed in areas to ensure that social distancing can be maintained. They adapted “overnight” to allow this to happen and “acted as one large household.”

With winter looming, and a current second national lockdown, it is even more important that people remember to look out and care for rough sleepers. Ms. Price said: “It’s certain that without your loyal support, we would have struggled through lockdown one, so here we go again.”

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