The end of the pandemic might be in sight for some
– but for many the nightmare is just beginning
This April Turning Tides have launched a Crisis Appeal for public support as escalating numbers of local people become homeless.
We are seeing unprecedented numbers of local people lose their livelihoods and their homes, as a result of Covid. We work across the county to support men and women who have become homeless or who are at risk of losing their home. Our services are now under huge pressure and we are appealing for urgent public support as a ‘homeless crisis in our community’ unfolds.
In recent months, an upsurge across the north and south of the county has been reported in the number of people presenting as homeless and those at risk of becoming homeless. In Worthing, for example, the number of people reporting as homeless doubled last year. Further north, Horsham has received a 216% increase in people sleeping rough in the district during the pandemic.
The Government’s ‘Everyone In’ initiative sought to find every person sleeping rough and bring them into temporary emergency accommodation to protect them from the virus. This historic initiative exposed the true enormity of homelessness in the UK – it is nine times worse than the previous official government estimate – and it is getting worse. In West Sussex, a record number of some 1,000 homeless men, women and families are in temporary emergency accommodation and more are reaching out for help all the time.
Turning Tides’ Chief Executive John Holmstrom explains: ‘Our services are under enormous pressure as more and more people need our support. Many of the temporary arrangements found for people as part of ‘Everyone In’ are not suitable or not available longer term, so some of these arrangements are now starting to break down. Moreover, we are dealing with increasing requests at our community hubs as more and more people are becoming homeless for the first time, from all walks of life. Homelessness can – and is – happening to anyone. While the end of the pandemic is in sight for some, for many others the nightmare is just beginning. There is a Homeless Crisis unfolding in our community.”
Our charity is currently supporting almost 500 men and women throughout our countywide services. We are appealing to the community to donate whatever they can afford to enable us to provide the support that is so desperately needed by a growing number of people.
Claire Halford-Dale, Manager at St Clare’s Community Hub in Worthing affirmed; “We are starting to witness the full – and frightening – cost of Covid. Every day, we see real distress from local people losing their livelihoods and their homes. They are people just like you and I and they are rapidly losing their place in life as Covid takes away health, jobs, relationships, and eventually homes. There has never been greater demand for our services or greater pressure on our frontline keyworkers. Every time I see another store close in town, I know the knock on effect that will have on local livelihoods and I worry what this increase in demand will have on our services.”
Simon, like so many others, lost his job as a result of Covid and had to live out of his van for months.
“Last year was the worst year of my life, within just a few days everything completely fell apart when my long term relationship ended. I was devastated and had absolutely nowhere to live. At the same time, the country went into its first lockdown – frightening for everyone. Worse still, work dried up and I found myself having to live out of my van. I can only describe that time as feeling completely shell shocked and very afraid that this was happening to me. It was absolute hell. I never want to sleep rough ever again… I am proof that becoming homeless can happen to anyone – especially now.”
Turning Tides were able to support Simon at their local Community Hub where he accessed hot showers, clean clothes, hot meals and emotional help from keyworkers. Simon is now in accommodation provided by the charity and is beginning to rebuild the future he longs for.
Turning Tides are committed to finding lasting solutions for local people, like Simon, who just need the chance to rebuild their lives – but cannot do this without the continued support from our community.
John Holmstrom talks further about his concerns; “Since the start of the pandemic, numbers of local people becoming homeless has relentlessly increased. The numbers are set to spike again once the true economic impact of Covid is realised and short term measures cease. Unless each and every one of those men and women are supported into proper housing and, crucially, given support to rebuild their lives, many will have no choice but to try and live on the streets. We cannot stand by and watch people, who have already lost so much, find themselves without a home and hope for a better future. We already have a shortage of temporary accommodation and limited affordable housing in the country and whilst we are exhausting all our resources to cope with the influx, the homeless crisis brought by Covid has only just begun.”
“You and I want nothing more than for our community to recover from this awful pandemic – we have to make sure everyone gets a chance. Please consider giving as much as you can afford to those who have lost so much.”
We urge you to find out more and share the Crisis in the Community Appeal