Homeless charity struggling due to people stock-piling asks 'how do you self-isolate if you don't have a home?'
Simon on the Streets has also missed out on thousands of pounds in donations due to coronavirus
This doorway on Albert Yard in Huddersfield town centre is often occupied by rough sleepers. Throughout the evening, people sleeping there hang a sheet to provide themselves with some privacy. Photo by Oscar Hunt
How do you self-isolate if you don't have a home?
That is one of the questions homeless charities are grappling with as more and more of the UK's population is infected with coronavirus.
Simon on the Streets, a charity supporting rough sleepers in West Yorkshire, has asked the government for more guidance on the matter, as they struggle with this and other issues brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.
Development manager, Fahad Khan, said: "Homeless people can't self isolate and they are some of the most vulnerable in our society and many have serious underlying health conditions.
"More guidance is needed around this and what to do if the country goes into lockdown.
"We are trying to stay ahead of the curve but it's very difficult, it's changing all the time."
Current guidance, provided through the government-backed national charity, Homeless Link, says homeless people who need to self-isolate should be placed in a 'safe zone' within a hostel, shared accommodation or hospital ward.
But space is already severely lacking in these facilities and will only get worse in the coming weeks.
It has been suggested that hotels closed, due to the virus, could be used as shelters. Fahad welcomed the idea.
He agreed: "Hotels or empty buildings that are set up for that sort of thing would be very useful.
"You wouldn't really have to do anything, just put the person in there, because they have a bed, a bathroom and everything already there.
"It is one of the options being discussed but it would take the government to make it happen."
Homeless charities have also been badly disrupted by the wave of people panic-buying from supermarkets.
Outreach workers at Simon on the Streets have struggled to get hold of enough sanitary products to work safely with their clients on the street.
"We can't get the sanitary products we need to safely support our clients because everyone's stock-piling"
Fahad explained: "We are not so worried about our outreach workers because they are young and fit and healthy, but some of their clients have serious underlying health issues.
"We are keeping contact minimal and at a distance and limiting the amount of time we stay in contact with them.
"A big problem though is that we can't get the sanitary products we need to safely support our clients because everyone's stock-piling.
"We had to put out a message to some of our corporate sponsors last week asking if they had any spare.
"Luckily 12 bottles have been sent and that should keep us going for now but when that runs out, who knows."
The charity is not currently asking the public to donate sanitary products because they don't want a deluge of donations to divert essential supplies from where they are needed elsewhere.
They are in serious need of the public's financial support though.
Coronavirus has severely limited the money coming in through donations as fundraising events are cancelled and people's attention is monopolised by the virus.
Simon on the Streets was hoping to raise between £5k and £10k as the main fundraiser at last weekend's Yorkshire Choice Awards, to be held at Elland Road, but the event has now been postponed due to coronavirus.
"It's impacting us in a very big way," said Fahad.
"We're trying to change the guidance on fundraising so people can do it from their homes."
One of the ways they are doing this is with a plan to bring their annual sleep out event, where people raise money by sleeping in groups outside, to people's homes and gardens.
"They could put up a tent in the back yard instead," explained Fahad.
"People will need something to stop the boredom at home if we are all self-isolating and it is about changing how we raise money.
"The key message to the public is that we have highly vulnerable people on the streets. We are continuing to do everything we can to support them but we need the public to keep helping us.
"Together we can all get through this."
SOURCE EXAMINER LIVE