Council pledges support for rough sleepers

West Berkshire Council has announced measures to support rough sleepers during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

According to an announcement on Friday, rough sleepers will be given extra support during the coronavirus pandemic thanks to a new task force set up by West Berkshire Council and partner agencies.

The group has been set up to ensure that rough sleepers continue to be given help especially when services are impacted by the response to coronavirus. Working alongside the Council are groups including Two Saints, Eight Bells for Mental Health, Newbury Soup Kitchen, Loose Ends, the Community Furniture Project, Healthwatch West Berkshire and West Berkshire Homeless.

Among the support will be:

  • Distribution of health packs to rough sleepers who would otherwise have little access to washing facilities. These will include items such as hand gel, wipes, soap and advice about how to access services during this time.
  • Food provision by charities including the Newbury Soup Kitchen and Loose Ends. These charities have enhanced their service to protect and accommodate vulnerable residents.

Local residents are invited to donate to these services through the Newbury Foodbank and through new food bins being introduced in West Berkshire Council’s Market Street offices from today (Friday 20th March).

Plans are also being made to accommodate rough sleepers who may need to self-isolate.

Councillor Hilary Cole, Executive Member for Housing, said: “We recognise this is an anxious time for all our communities but particularly our most vulnerable. Together with our partners we are determined to support rough sleepers and ensure that they are protected and cared for during these challenging times.”

Donna Brooks from Two Saints added: “Two Saints are working closely with the council and voluntary agencies to minimise the impact of coronavirus to rough sleepers in the local area.  Our staff are continuing to support rough sleepers during these difficult times and with our partner agencies we are ensuring that food, medical and sanitation supplies are available. Our approach is being reviewed daily alongside central government advice. We encourage members of the public to use food donation bins to ensure that we can continue our efforts.”

Stephen West

Stephen is a Broadcast Journalist with previous experience working on print and online publications and on local TV. He is interested in politics and economics.

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