Ensuring people don’t miss out on the Covid vaccine
Work is underway to get people who are homeless vaccinated
Work is underway to ensure that people Porchlight supports are offered the Covid vaccine.
We know that lots of rough sleepers and people in our properties are on the vaccination priority list because of health issues they experience.
On Friday (12 March), we worked with councils and other organisations (including those in the Kent Homeless Connect network which also includes Porchlight) to get rough sleepers to vaccination sites across Kent. We provided travel arrangements for anyone that needs help getting to a vaccination site, and our staff were be onsite providing drinks and food.
We also opened the doors of our homelessness properties so that residents, who are classed as vulnerable, could be vaccinated.
This work was largely possible because the last month has been spent ensuring rough sleepers are registered with a GP and have up-to-date contact information. A database has been created to keep track of who’s been vaccinated and the possibility of a roving vaccine service for people who are homeless is also being explored.
Our community mental health teams, who support people that may be cut off or isolated from others, are also making sure that everyone is registered with a GP and have up-to-date contact information.
Struggling households at further risk of mental health issues due to pandemic stress
Covid-related job losses, housing issues and loneliness are to blame
The pandemic has put struggling households across the county at further risk of mental ill health.
People facing greater disadvantages in life – surviving on low incomes, living in insecure housing or experiencing difficulties with employment – are also likely to need support for depression, anxiety and feelings of isolation.
They are being pushed closer to mental health issues because of the extra emotional strain caused by Covid-related job losses, worries about money, housing, heating and food, and being cut off from support networks.
We understand that when problems are mounting up, it can feel difficult to take the first step and reach out for support, but you don’t have to cope alone. We are here to listen to your concerns, help you manage your mental health and start to work with you on any other problems you might have such as housing worries, loneliness or debt. If you are struggling, please don’t suffer in silence – reach out to us.
We work to prevent people from falling further into hardship and give them the tools to manage their mental health.
We've supported more than 9,000 Kent residents in similar situations over the past year but believe many more across the county will need help as the full impact of the pandemic becomes clear.
We're also determined to step up efforts to tackle the social causes of mental ill health.
We know that factors largely beyond our control, such as the housing we can afford, welfare policy and the buoyancy of the job market, all affect our mental health and emotional wellbeing.
People in deprived areas are disproportionately affected by mental health issues. We're working in these areas to help people address all of the challenges they are facing so they can stay well and manage their own lives.
Government says it will focus on health & social care and housing this year
The government has said health, social care and housing are on its agenda for the coming year.
They were both mentioned in the Queen’s Speech which sets out the government’s plans for the next term of parliament.
With thousands facing homelessness and mental health emergencies as a result of the pandemic, we’ve examined what this actually means for people we support.
Health and social care
The government announced a renewed focus on preventing people from developing avoidable health issues.
We know that struggling households – those surviving on low incomes, living in insecure housing or experiencing difficulties with employment – experience inequalities that affect both their physical and mental health. The extra emotional strain caused by Covid-related job losses, worries about money, housing, heating and food, and being cut off from support networks, is likely to have increased these issues.
The government must tackle the social inequalities that are linked to poor physical and mental health. It must take urgent action to improve the conditions of people’s everyday life: a fairer welfare system and investment in education, employment and housing. Doing so will prevent a legacy of poor physical and mental health as a result of the pandemic.
The government also said it would bring forward measures to reform social care but there were no further details about what this will look like and there were no details on how they are going to address the crisis in social care funding.
Social care is essential in improving the conditions of people’s lives and addressing population health needs. Unless it is properly funded, the government will fall short of its ambition to ‘level up’ communities.
The government announced plans to enhance the rights of renters. Covid-related job losses and financial uncertainty has left thousands of renters at risk of eviction and homelessness, so we look forward to seeing new proposals to protect them. These must be delivered urgently to prevent an upsurge in evictions once the government’s protection measures end.
There was also an announcement to change the planning system so that more new homes can be built. We welcome this decision and urge the government to use the opportunity to improve the system so that it is more effective at delivering affordable homes.
Public finances and economic recovery
The speech said that public finances will be ‘returned to a sustainable path’ once the country’s economic recovery from Covid is secure.
This must not mean a return to austerity measures which will hit deprived communities, people who are already struggling and the services which exist to help them the hardest.
We understand that the country is facing enormous financial challenges, but now is the time to protect the most vulnerable and ensure that people are not pushed further into hardship by this crisis.
Without a real and meaningful pledge to fund social care, especially for those not deemed vulnerable enough to receive help, the problems of homelessness and all it causes will continue.