ROUGH sleepers have been homed in Worcester to save lives during the coronavirus pandemic with ‘no reason’ for anyone to still be on the street.

The majority of Worcestershire’s 45 rough sleepers have been housed during the Covid-19 crisis with 30 units of accommodation found in Worcester itself, including in B&Bs and hotels. This follows work by the city council, local charities which are part of the Worcester Cares group and Worcestershire County Council to support homeless people, considered one of the most vulnerable groups to coronavirus. Not only are they unable to self-isolate in their own accommodation, but many have underlying health issues that put them at increased risk.

Jonathan Sutton, chief executive of St Paul’s Hostel, said: “Following generous offers from city landlords and local hotels, the city council has been able to make some additional accommodation available to offer to people from the city and across the county in order to provide a roof over their heads.”

Staff from St Paul’s Housing First team, CCP and Maggs Day Centre are ‘working hand in glove’ with the drug and alcohol service Cranstoun and the volunteers from Worcester Street Café, Sunday Street Kitchen, Salvation Army and Good Soil Trust to make sure those on the street are given help to come inside. Canon Dr Stephen Edwards, chairman of the Worcester Cares Steering Group said: “There is no reason why anyone needs to sleep rough in the city after this weekend. Additional accommodation has been found and everybody has a room, good food and plenty of 1-2-1 support. These are difficult circumstances but I encourage you to make a report if you see a rough sleeper by calling the Streetlink service on 0300 500 0914. We have to work within the existing legislation and we must remember noone, unless they are a danger to themselves or others, can be forced to accept the help. Worcester City Council and homeless charities are working together to persuade as many people as possible to take up this offer of emergency accommodation, and to keep those who refuse it as safe as possible.”

Cllr James Stanley, chairman of Worcester City Council’s Communities Committee, said city council officers had been working ‘flat out’ with the Worcester Cares group, neighbouring councils and other partners to find accommodation for rough sleepers across the city and county.