"What’s going to happen to us after this?"
Updated: May 25, 2020
Uncertainty breeds contempt. To restore hope, those experiencing disadvantage must be part of the solution.
The last few months have seen over 5000 people moved from the streets and in to temporary accommodation. Many people are thriving. Many people have hope.
“There’s a majority of people that are in temporary accommodation and they’re actually capitalising on it. Moving into recovery and feeling like they’ve got a future.” Member of National Advisory Panel
But for many, there has been anxiety, uncertainty and unease.
Whilst 'Everybody In' has responded to a public health crisis by giving people an opportunity to socially distance, the Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy suggests that hotels, some of which are currently used as temporary accommodation, may open for tourism in early July.
There are clearly questions relating to this. What will happen to those in temporary accommodation? Are we going to loose this opportunity to end rough sleeping?
Local authorities are concerned about resources. Sector organisations are concerned that move on options that didn't exist in February may still not be available. Many are concerned about who will take responsibility and accountability towards those of us with no recourse to public funds.
“In their words, it’s ‘What’s going to happen to us after this? Are they going to forget about us, like they usually do? Are we going to be back on the street? We’re the last they think about.’” Member of National Advisory Panel
“What happens when they’re discharged from the hotels? They’re doesn’t seem to be any pathways for when this goes away, and I have grave concerns that people are going to end up street homeless.” Member of National Advisory Panel
“It’s really sad when people are in a prime opportunity to get the help and support and the intentions they need for recovery, and for that to be pulled from under them. It’s a great concern.” Member of National Advisory Panel
We know that many, including Government officials, local authority staff and those working in the health and homelessness sectors have been working tirelessly to support people in increasingly difficult circumstances. Priorities have been to save lives and respond to a public health crisis.
But we also know that there have been a lack of communications about these pressing questions - as noted previously by our National Advisory Pane and also recently MP's working through the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee.
'Despite this positive move, there is not yet an exit plan from what is a temporary measure.' Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee - Protecting rough sleepers and renters: Interim Report
“There is literally no strategy for those people (people with No Recourse to Public Funds) - even the private sector (if it were viable) relies upon people being able to claim benefits.” Member of National Advisory Panel
Without clarity over these questions, without a clear plan that people have been involved in, we have run a risk of exasperating mental health challenges and failing some of the people that many have worked hard to support. Whilst recognising the immediate health response has been important, we must also recognise that support for some is also required immediately.
“They’re all worried sick…They’ve had no communication. They’re travelling back to [LOCATION] just to talk to me. They just have no idea.” Member of National Advisory Panel
“We are worried that they’re going to walk, and they’re not getting the support and help that they need.” Member of National Advisory Panel
“Individuals that haven’t been engaged for years... what support are they getting with budgeting their money, cooking their food? You know the basic life skills. They need to be getting that support now, because ultimately they’re going to need it when they stop getting the 24-hour support they’re getting now.” Member of National Advisory Panel
Part of a plan
It is clear that the focus has been on emergency temporary measures. But it is also clear that a lot needs to happen to respond to a multi-faceted challenge, a lot of changes that many have called for for years.
And although yesterdays welcome announcement highlights the availability of accommodation and support by the end of the year, for many support needs to be in place now. For many pathways need to be in place now.
And critically, people with lived experience must be involved in these plans now.
“The voice of the person who is entering a service does not get to the people who are making the decisions… Is anyone actually having conversations right now, asking what that accommodation looks like, what that support looks like?” Member of National Advisory Panel
“Are they getting the right support? Are their thoughts and feelings being listened too? ... If people don’t get listened to now, they’re going to be mis-placed again, and then we’ll all be in the same boat.” Member of National Advisory Panel
We know that the lack of a voice for those experiencing disadvantage has historically led to many not engaging with offers presented. We also know that the offers presented did not meet many peoples requirements. But if we ensure that the plans contain these voices, we know they can be effective, can meet the needs of individuals, will increase buy-in and trust of all involved.
Expert Link’s response to the ‘HCLG Committee Inquiry: Impact of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) on homelessness and the private rented sector’ can be found here