‘Don’t put the homeless at risk’ - Charity bosses’ plea to community

Norfolk councils and charities are scrambling to house rough sleepers, after a national edict to get

Norfolk councils and charities are scrambling to house rough sleepers, after a national edict to get the homeless off the streets. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

A charity which supports the county’s homeless has implored people not to go out onto the streets to give people food, saying it puts both them and rough sleepers at risk of contracting coronavirus.

Dr Jan Sheldon, chief executive of St Martin's Housing Trust. Picture: St Martin's

Dr Jan Sheldon, chief executive of St Martin's Housing Trust. Picture: St Martin's - Credit: Archant

Meanwhile, a Norfolk foodbank says an increase in demand coupled with a loss of volunteers has left it exceptionally busy.

The chief executive of St Martins Housing Trust, which supports homeless people across Norfolk, instead asked people to donate to charities which support the vulnerable.

Dr Jan Sheldon, chief executive, said the charity’s Pathways Service, which goes out into Norwich to support people, was providing Covid-19 information as well as introducing a number of other measures.

She said: “We have been giving out mobile phones and credit to people who need them so we can get information out to them quickly.

“We’re working through a detailed plan and we’re taking advice from Public Health England.”

Dr Sheldon said the charity had also introduced social distancing in its accommodation and removed shared sleeping spaces.

She said St Martin’s realised people wanted to support the homeless but said the most helpful thing they could do during the pandemic was donate to a charity.


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“We urge people not to go out onto the streets to hand out food, people know where they can get food from so we would ask people not to risk that and not to put homeless people at risk but rest assured as our Pathways team are out and about,” she said.

Meanwhile, Matthew Scade, project manager at Waveney Foodbank, which has a number of centres, said the foodbank had been exceptionally busy over the last couple of weeks, trying to meet an increase in demand coupled with an unavoidable loss of some volunteers who were aged over 70.

He said: “Although our donations have gone up our stocks are 80pc of what they would normally be. One of our centre’ gave out 500kg of food last week, most give out 100kg to 350kg a week and we’ve got eight of those across south Norfolk.

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“There’s a lot of food going out at the moment and not is much coming in.”

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