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Havering’s homeless charities battle on despite mounting pressures

PUBLISHED: 12:00 29 March 2020

An estimated one in 105 people are homeless in Havering, with rough sleepers thought to be particularly vulnerable during a pandemic. Picture: Hannah Somerville

An estimated one in 105 people are homeless in Havering, with rough sleepers thought to be particularly vulnerable during a pandemic. Picture: Hannah Somerville

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Two organisations providing frontline services to the homeless in Havering have said they will continue for as long as they can amid the coronavirus outbreak.

There With You - the Romford Recorder's campaign to help everyone get through coronavirus crisis.There With You - the Romford Recorder's campaign to help everyone get through coronavirus crisis.

Upminster-based charity Hope4Havering is keeping its 20-bed Catalyst Night Shelter open until further notice.

No service users at the shelter in Romford’s Atlanta Boulevard are thought to have been in contact with a person with the virus.

But if necessary, Hope4Havering could turn one of the venue’s four dormitories into an isolation room.

CEO and founder Kim Merry told the Recorder that the charity’s biggest concern is now keeping afloat financially in the next few months.

“We can’t hold any events,” she said. “Very few people are coming into the shops at the Brewery car park and South Street, which we just opened.”

The charity has an online Justgiving page for people who want to support its efforts without physically going into one of the venues.

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In an open letter to prime minister Boris Johnson this week, 10 charities including Crisis, St Mungo’s and Centrepoint urged the government to recognise rough sleepers as a vulnerable group during the pandemic.

Due to their vulnerabilities, they said, rough sleepers should be provided with the same self-distancing guidelines as the over-70s.

They also called for frontline workers in homeless organisations to be recognised as an emergency service.

Hope4Havering is also still providing support to 50 people in supported accommodation in the borough, and taking referrals from Havering Council.

Ms Merry said: “The government has not advised us to shut. Our people are often very poorly and for them a return to rough sleeping would be disastrous.”

In Romford High Street, the Salvation Army church is also still running vital services for people without a secure home – but with adjusted opening hours of 10.30am to 2.30pm.

Community organiser Dave Chuck said the charity had already seen a surge in new requests for food bank referrals from people in financial hardship.

To donate to Hope4Havering visit justgiving.com/hope4-havering


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