Our response to the COVID-19 pandemic
When the pandemic began to take hold in the UK, we quickly realised that the risk to our homeless community was significant. On 10th March 2020 paused everything and redirected all our resources to campaigning and direct emergency support for our community. With our partners the Outside Project, Streets Kitchen and the Simon Community we formed the COVID-19 Homeless Taskforce which continues to operate.
We are currently working with taskforce partners, the Simon Community and the Outside Project in Westminster carrying out mobile street solidarity getting food, hot drinks and essentials to people in the West End and we continue to see many people each week. We are also adding our voice to calls for the Government to re-launch the Everyone In scheme – actions that led to new protections being announced in early January.
Our emergency hub, lockdown 1
The COVID-19 Homeless Taskforce worked from late March to July in a borrowed community centre which we transformed into an emergency aid hub. During that time our volunteers dispatched 8956 hot nutritious meals and care packs across North London.
Popham Community Centre Taskforce Hub, March – July 2020
Seven days a week, working closely with the Outside Project and Streets Kitchen we visited emergency accommodation and our friends on the streets supplying food, toiletries, essentials, referrals, support and friendship whilst many services were shut down.
Creative solutions to loneliness & isolation
As lockdown eased and the council asked for their building back, we launched StreetMuseum in the late summer – an outdoor museum space providing hot meals, conversation and company as COVID restrictions continued. In non-lockdown times was an anchor in the week, at a time when isolation is a problem. We do not have a building at the moment and StreetMuseum allowed us to stay connected with out community and share our museum collection with our visitors and passers by.
StreetMuseum, September 2020
Our winter response
As winter approached we began to work in Central London and handed out hundreds of sleeping bags on World Homeless Day in a bid to offer support to those who are left on the streets as winter approached. This work has continued since the 2nd lockdown was announced in November .
In March, as our grassroots groups came together to respond to the pandemic, our aim was simple – to try to ensure no one in our community would face this pandemic alone. This aim has not changed and the Homeless Taskforce is constantly adapting, responding to needs in real time and developing creative solutions to support our community.
We are so grateful to those who have supported our work in 2020 and beyond: The Linbury Trust, Oak Foundation, Rede Partners, Arsenal Community Foundation, Lund Trust, Quaker Social Action, St James Trust, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, the Fore and many very generous individuals.
COVID-19 Homeless Taskforce by Trafalgar Square on Christmas Morning 2020