New Year Message from Rick Henderson, CEO of Homeless Link

Rick wrote to all our members at the beginning of 2021, acknowledging the challenges of the year ahead and the important role the sector has played so far during the pandemic.

Dear Homeless Link Members,

I hope that many of you were able to enjoy a well-deserved break at some point over the festive period, and have returned refreshed and with a reinvigorated sense of determination, as I have.

We understand that such exhaustion and burnout as built up last year is not so simply erased, and believe that a focus on staff wellbeing and resilience will be vital throughout the winter and beyond. We stand ready to support our members with the necessary training and resources, so please do let us know how we can help.

While the COVID-19 vaccination programme continues to roll out, we are still living with the virus, the severity of the situation is increasing, and things are likely to get worse before they gets better. This will inevitably make our roles harder, but I am confident that the sector’s commitment, abilities and dedication will ensure that the people you support will be well looked after.

It will be even more important that health, homelessness and housing partners collaborate over the next few months, making the most of tight resources to protect people from the virus as well as from the cold. We urge local areas to take a common sense approach to activating SWEP, as a variety of weather extremes sweep the country, so that everyone has a safe and warm place to shelter.

Homeless Link will be kicking off the year with a campaign to ensure that people without homes are recognised as being clinically vulnerable, are included on the vaccination priorities list, along with the workers who support them, and are able and encouraged to register with primary care services. We will continue to act as an information hub, work flexibly to respond to new developments and support our members in any way that is needed.

We hope that government will support our sector’s efforts, not only by providing clear, timely guidance, but in finally prioritising sustainable funding for homelessness services so that people can be offered lasting solutions to end their homelessness for good.

We look forward to working with you in 2021.

Yours sincerely,

Rick Henderson