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8 January, 2021 Open access

St Mungo’s calls on government to urgently extend Protect Programme for rough sleepers to all parts of England

Vital that everyone who needs it is provided with Covid-secure accommodation regardless of immigration status or level of vulnerability, says charity's chief executive

Homelessness charity St Mungo's has called on the government to urgently extend its Protect Programme - which provides funding for accommodation for vulnerable rough sleepers in areas that require extra support during the Covid-19 pandemic - to all parts of England.

Further to the government's announcement of the third national Covid-19 lockdown in England on 4 January 2021, St Mungo's Chief Executive Steve Douglas said -

'The principles of the Protect Programme are effective but the scheme needs to be extended to cover the whole country as a matter of urgency, and should encompass all people who are sleeping on the streets who are - by definition - vulnerable.

At this moment we are facing a new emergency: the double threats of severely cold weather and a global pandemic. And we know that people who sleep rough are at increased risk of dying from both.'

Referencing the government's 'Everyone In' scheme that was introduced in response to the pandemic in March 2020, Mr Douglas went on to say -

'The Office for National Statistics reported that 778 homeless people died in 2019, the highest number of deaths since the series began in 2013, but we know from research published in the Lancet an estimated 226 lives were saved between March and May 2020 thanks to the measures introduced to protect people sleeping rough.

We must now see the same energy and urgency applied to the issue of those who are sleeping on the streets that we saw last March. “It is vital that everyone who needs it is provided with Covid-secure, self-contained accommodation which they won’t have to leave without move-on accommodation and appropriate support. That should be the position no matter what the person’s immigration status or level of vulnerability.'

For more information, see ‘This is a new emergency’ – St Mungo’s calls on Government to urgently do more to protect people sleeping rough from mungos.org