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Coronavirus Kent: Government calls on Kent councils to house all rough sleepers by the weekend

The government is aiming to find accommodation for all of Kent's rough sleepers by this weekend in a further bid to tackle the spread of coronavirus.

It has reportedly written to all local authorities across the UK saying they need to ensure everybody is inside and safe as the Covid-19 pandemic continues.

KMTV reports on the government's announcement

Ministers have described it as a 'landmark step' to protect people during the outbreak. The move was announced by Crisis, a national charity supporting homeless people.

According to the charity, a letter sent by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to local authorities said: "These are unusual times so I’m asking for an unusual effort.

"Many areas of the country have already been able to 'safe harbour' their people which is incredible.

"What we need to do now though is work out how we can get 'everyone in'."

Councils have been asked to find accommodation for all rough sleepers
Councils have been asked to find accommodation for all rough sleepers

The government is yet to confirm the announcement.

In response to the news, Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: "The Government’s insistence that everyone sleeping rough should be housed by the weekend is a landmark moment, and the right thing to do.

"Questions remain about how local councils will be supported to do this, and whether additional funding, or assistance securing hotel rooms, will be made available.

Terry Gore, general manager of homeless charity Catching Lives in Canterbury, said the government should to encourage the owners of hotels to allow charitable organisations to take over and house rough sleepers.

He said: "It's great that the government has made this announcement, but they need to push the people that actually own the properties.

Terry Gore said some homeless people were not even aware of the pandemic
Terry Gore said some homeless people were not even aware of the pandemic

"Locally we can't find anywhere to put them.

"The Premier Inn that's in Canterbury is closed and staff are out - give us that, we can staff it and you only need to supply us with the building."

Mr Gore said one of the biggest worries for the charity during the ongoing crisis is that services will shut and rough sleepers will be difficult to keep in contact with.

He said: "How are we going to keep in contact with all of them, because we need to monitor where they are and how they're doing, particularly whether or not they might need medical assistance."

Mr Gore also found that the rough sleepers he spoke to did not seem very worried about the current outbreak.

"Locally we can't find anywhere to put them..."

He said: "I've come across a few of them that didn't even known about it.

"A lot of them are not engaged with the media like the rest of us are, they're not sitting watching the TV or sat at home on their laptop.

"We're also then trying to get the information out there about hand washing, trying to supply them with hand sanitiser and hygiene products."

Local councils across the county have been contacted for comment.

For the latest coronavirus news and advice, click here.

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