Priority vaccination to protect those working with people experiencing homelessness

The Connection at St Martin’s has written to our local MPs to ask them to urgently add frontline homelessness staff to the health and social care workers priority group for Covid-19 vaccinations.

We are adding our voice to the call alongside Crisis, Homeless Link, St Mungo’s and others. You can read the letter here…

Priority vaccination to protect those working with people experiencing homelessness

The Connection at St Martin’s helps thousands of people every year to move away from, and stay off, the streets of London.

During the first lockdown, we remained on the frontline running two hotels as part of the Everyone In initiative; preparing and delivering regular meals, offering access to nurses, psychologists and treatment services, and more. We have since resumed our day time outreach, re-opened our day centre and opened a new interim hotel project for rough sleepers in need of emergency accommodation, as well as continuing to support clients in our long-term housing project at St Martin’s House. Our staff have worked incredibly hard to provide this vital support, sometimes at great personal risk.

People without a home are at high risk of harm from COVID-19. They are substantially more likely to report having chronic diseases such as asthma, COPD, heart problems and stroke. Research has also found that people with no home have an average of seven long-term health conditions, far higher than people in their 90s.

In addition, just as residents of care homes are at higher clinical risk of severe disease, so are those who use single homeless hostels and other shared homeless accommodation for rough sleepers.

Correspondingly, frontline homelessness staff are at increased personal risk of exposure to infection and of transmitting that infection to the vulnerable people they work with.

We therefore ask that working with people experiencing homelessness is, as a matter of urgency, treated as a priority occupation for vaccination. At The Connection, this would require approximately thirty members of staff receiving the vaccine.

I would greatly appreciate if you could raise this issue with the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for COVID-19 Vaccine Deployment.

Yours sincerely,

Pam Orchard, Chief Executive The Connection at St Martin-in-the-Fields