At the start of the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020, the Government launched the Everyone In initiative, which sought to ensure that anyone who was sleeping on the streets was immediately provided with safe and secure accommodation. Government estimates show that there was a 90% success rate in achieving this and there is widespread agreement that the initiative saved many lives amongst those who were rough sleeping. Research conducted by UCL and published in The Lancet confirmed that during the first wave, 266 deaths were avoided, with 1,164 hospital and 338 ICU admissions also avoided.
This involved unprecedented collaboration between government at central, regional and local levels, alongside work between health and local authority housing colleagues to identify health and housing options for clients in real time.This resulted in immediate assessment of their health needs and positive moves for many clients. In many areas this work has continued with a coordinated approach to vaccinations and GP registrations.
As we move through the pandemic it is essential that the positive lessons of the emergency response and the Everyone In principles of joint working become the norm and part of our everyday practice.
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The Kerslake Commission on
Homelessness and Rough Sleeping
Chaired by Lord Bob Kerslake, The Kerslake Commission on Homelessness and Rough Sleeping has examined the lessons from the emergency response which supported people sleeping rough during the Covid-19 pandemic. Their learnings aim to help all agencies involved in supporting those who are rough sleeping, or homeless and at risk of rough sleeping, to understand what worked during the pandemic and what is now needed to embed the good practice that was shown during the past year. There are lessons for government at national, regional and local levels, and public health agencies, as well as the homelessness sector and providers.
The Commission was launched in March 2021 and has met four times. In March the Commission discussed consensus about what worked well in the ongoing pandemic response for rough sleepers and what some of the more complex issues might be going ahead. In May the Board discussed the early findings from the evidence gathering stage, which invited organisations to submit their views on what did and didn’t work, the challenges, and what needs to be embedded for the future. In July the Board discussed the recommendations to come out of the evidence gathering to inform the Commission’s interim report. In September the Board discussed the Commission’s final report and recommendations as well as plans for the future to ensure that this work is taken forward.
In total, more than 90 organisations and individuals have contributed to evidence gathering through surveys, focus groups and bilateral meetings, and over 100 submissions have been received across public agencies, including health, involved in rough sleeping; across service providers and policy makers; local and regional government; homeless charities; housing associations and people with lived experience.
The Commission’s final report A new way of working: ending rough sleeping together, has now been published and can be read here. The Commission’s interim report When we work together: learning the lessons, was published in July, can be read here.
Lord Bob Kerslake