Operating principles for commissioners and providers of night shelters for people experiencing rough sleeping

Tuesday, 13 October 2020 - 11:05am

The Government has published a document setting out operating principles to support commissioners, staff and volunteers of rough sleeping accommodation (night shelters) as well as rough sleepers themselves during the COVID-19 pandemic, should the decision be taken to open a shelter. 

Nightshelters carry a high risk of covid-19 transmission and settings should only be used as a last resort to protect against the risk to life.  

The Government has also announced a £10m Cold Weather Payment for councils to help to keep rough sleepers safe this winter, and £2m which will go to faith and community groups to help them get rough sleepers into accommodation. 

Homeless Link will be administering the £2m fund to provide funding to voluntary and community sector groups to transform spaces and make more self-contained emergency accommodation locations available. Many frontline organisations are operating on extremely tight budgets, and additional funding is needed so that vital support can be provided for people sleeping rough over the winter. 

Rick Henderson, Chief Executive of Homeless Link said ‘The Government is clear that this guidance for night shelters should be used as a last resort. Managing infection risks in shelters during the pandemic is key to addressing the risks to users and workers.   

Therefore the guidance for communal shelters should only be implemented where it is not possible to provide self-contained provision, where the balance of risk means lives might otherwise be lost, and where a local decision has been taken that this is the right thing to do.  It is important to have this guidance available so those operating shelters can be ready for any such emergencies. 

We are pleased to be administering the £2m funding to ensure it reaches the local services who need it most. But this funding does not take away the need to ensure Local Authorities have the resources they need to provide the wider package of support needed to help those at risk of homelessness this winter. Particularly for areas on high alert, it is vital that Local Authorities and their partners can provide the accommodation and the support needed to keep people safe.’ 

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Caroline Bernard

Head of Communications and Advocacy

Caroline leads Homeless Link's communications, campaigns and information team.

Telephone: 020 7840 4458
Email: Caroline.Bernard@homelesslink.org.uk