Council houses tens of city’s rough sleepers due to fears of virus spread

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 Norfolk council has provided temporary accommodation for tens of rough sleepers after a government edict called on local authorities to shelter homeless people from the virus outbreak.

It comes after councils and charities across the county spent Friday scrambling to offer housing after fears over the spread of coronavirus sparked a national call to get the homeless off the street and out of shelters.

Councils were asked to ensure all homeless people had access to somewhere they could self-isolate if necessary.

And authorities were set to house people in accommodation ranging from temporary units and B&Bs to a Travelodge hotel.

Norwich City Council reported providing housing for 20 homeless people, despite reports of rough sleepers still being spotted in the city centre over the weekend.

READ MORE: ‘Everyone in’: Councils told to house homeless people by the weekend

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The council said the 20 people who had been housed since the government instruction to close down shelters and encampments had been placed in a range of temporary accommodation.

Those given council housing are also being provided with food, as well as clean bed linen.

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A spokeswoman said: “Working with Pathways and other organisations, we continue to engage with rough sleepers, secure additional units of temporary accommodation and deliver food to people directly.

“Adapting these services safely and quickly requires a collective effort across the council and community, and we thank everyone involved in helping to coordinate this response.”

But she added: “The situation evolves constantly as new people appear in the city centre, as is the case throughout the year.

READ MORE: Fury as food stall for homeless removed ‘due to coronavirus’

“In each case, members of the Pathways team seek to make contact and engage with the individual, and a find a solution for their circumstances.

“Not everyone will choose to accept our offers of help. Even if someone refuses we will continue to offer them accommodation when they are ready. As with any normal allocation of temporary housing we make sure the individual is supported to help them stay in the accommodation for as long as is required.”

She added that the city council is continuing to work closely with the police, but is not aware of any arrests having been made.

It follows outcry over the removal of food stands for the homeless from the city centre, due to social distancing measures.

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