CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Homeless living in hotel told to stay in rooms after resident falls ill

Order for rough sleepers put up during Covid-19 outbreak comes after guest tested positive

30 April, 2020 — By Bronwen Weatherby

Vulnerable rough sleepers have been put up in hotels across London amid the pandemic

HOMELESS people who have been put up in a Belsize Park hotel during the lockdown have been told not to come out of their rooms after one resident tested positive for coronavirus.

Camden Council struck a deal with the Britannia Hotel as part of a bid to give temporary accommodation to rough sleepers during the lockdown, many of who need extra shielding from Covid-19 due to their age or underlying health conditions.

The infected guest has been moved out of the building to special accommodation, but residents are now being asked to self-isolate in their rooms to cut the risk of further cases.

They have been told essential items such as tobacco, alcohol and prescribed medication will be delivered to their door along with three meals a day so they do not have to leave their rooms.

The Single Homeless Project (SHP), which is managing the hotel with Camden Council and the NHS said: “Our first priority at this time is to keep our clients safe. Clients in the Camden hotel are being asked to self-isolate and remain in their rooms to reduce any potential risk of the virus spreading.”

It added: “Our clients present with a range of needs including substance misuse and alcohol addiction. To allow them to remain in their rooms and self-isolate, essentials such as food and toiletries are supplied to their rooms. This includes providing medication to those on methadone scripts as prescribed by their doctor, and alcohol for those suffering from alcohol dependency, in accordance with NHS guidance. The effects of alcohol withdrawal for severely dependent people can be very serious and even potentially life threatening.”

The new residents are being supported by an on-site team of NHS staff from UCLH, Camden Health Improvement Practice and the Margarete Centre. SHP said they are working with individuals during their stay to try and tackle the underlying causes of their homelessness, including addiction.

“The opening of the Camden hotel has allowed us to keep a significant cohort of vulnerable people safe from the pandemic, who would otherwise have been exposed due to rough sleeping or being in accommodation where they could not self-isolate,” said SHP.

“In addition to meeting their immediate needs, we are continuing to work with them to support their recovery so that they can break the cycle of homelessness.

“For those who are ready, this includes supporting them to move on and live independently.”

Over the past three weeks hotels across the capital have been block-booked to allow highly vulnerable rough sleepers to follow government self-isolation guidelines.

More than 1,000 homeless Londoners are now self-isolating in hotels and other safe locations.

A Camden Council spokesperson said: “Coronavirus can affect any of us but those who are facing homelessness at this time are some of the most vulnerable in our society with the poorest health outcomes. “At this difficult time they need our support more than ever and together with Single Homeless Project and the NHS we are providing self-contained accommodation to ensure they receive the best possible protection against the spread of the virus. “We will also seek to use this opportunity to work with them to establish a route out of homelessness for good.”

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