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'Homeless' people are trying to catch coronavirus, report finds

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 20/12/2020 Mason Boycott-Owen
The report found that many homeless people's lives stayed largely unchanged during the pandemic, unlike millions in the UK - Jeff J Mitchell  © Jeff J Mitchell The report found that many homeless people's lives stayed largely unchanged during the pandemic, unlike millions in the UK - Jeff J Mitchell 

People in temporary accommodation are trying to catch coronavirus, a report has warned.

Research conducted into those sleeping rough and without accommodation during the pandemic found “saddening” results of the lengths many would go to.

The report, published by the charity Justlife, spoke to people across the UK and found that some would even try and catch coronavirus if it helped them get accommodation.

One person told researchers that although he wouldn’t “wish it on anyone”, he would be happy catching coronavirus as he thought this might help him get access to housing

Others stressed that despite Government updates throughout the pandemic, little or no information about testing or vaccinations had made it through to those living in temporary accommodation.

One person said: “I haven’t heard about virus checks yet. I think we’ll be the last, because I believe we’re the undesirables of the world that live in hostels.”

These conditions in hostel accommodation are often unsanitary, especially during the period of Covid-companiance.

One homeless person told researchers: “The bedbugs are outrageous, they’re passing on transmitted diseases when they bite other people.

“If the Covid 19 virus comes, we will all get it, we will all be transmitted, it will be transmitted to us easily.”

Christa Maciver, Head of Research at Justlife, and author of the report, said: “People living in temporary accommodation are always waiting and hoping for somewhere to call home.

“For some, after living somewhere for so long that is often inadequate, they look anywhere for pathways into better housing.

“It doesn’t surprise me that we found someone hoping that if they contracted Covid-19 that it might give them more of an opportunity to be better housed, but it is saddening.

“It highlights how temporary accommodation is not a solution to homelessness, but a hidden form of homelessness that in no way gives security or a sense of home to those stuck there.”

Research by Shelter found that more than a quarter of a million people in England are homeless and living in temporary accommodation in the midst of coronavirus, half of which are children.

The latest figures released this month (DEC) by the ONS showed that even before the pandemic, the estimated deaths of homeless people reached the highest on record of 778 - an increase of 7.2 per cent since 2018.

Two in five deaths were related to drug poisonings, while suicides increased by 30 per cent, up to 112.

Paul Noblet, youth homelessness charity Centrepoint's head of public affairs, said that they had seen double the number of calls during lockdown than they had seen before coronavirus hit the UK.

“Sadly the findings in the report echo a lot of what we’ve seen over the last few months,” he said.

“Earlier this year our own research found some young people had been told to sleep rough in order to access support. It’s clear that simply needing housing is in itself not enough to be accommodated, even in a pandemic.

“Unfortunately, most councils are pretty powerless in this situation. They’re operating on very limited resources with instructions from central government to prioritise support for older, more entrenched rough sleepers.”

The report also revealed that while millions of people in the UK had their lives fundamentally changed, for many homeless people their day to day lives in isolation remained unchanged.

Almost half of participants surveyed said that Covid-19 did not impact their lives at all, while some told researchers that they were already effectively self-isolating before the pandemic.

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