Rough sleepers are being helped to get their COVID-19 vaccines and move into safe accommodation over the winter thanks to a £28 million government funding boost, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities announced today (20 December 2021).
The Protect and Vaccinate scheme will help to increase vaccine uptake among people who are homeless and sleeping rough, supporting those who are hesitant about getting their vital booster jabs and funding emergency accommodation to get people off the streets.
This means delivering mobile vaccinations where people are sleeping on the streets, supporting outreach work in shelters to educate people about the dangers of the virus, and giving money to councils to provide safe and secure accommodation while their level of vaccination is increased.
It is the latest part of the government's mission to protect everyone from the threat of Omicron, with people being urged to get their vaccines and booster jabs - which continue to be the best way to protect against COVID-19.
The UK has one of the highest uptake rates in the world, with more than 85% of adults double jabbed so far. However, two jabs is not enough to protect us from the new Omicron variant, and there are still thousands of people who haven't yet come forward.
People in hard-to-reach communities are also being supported to get vaccinated through targeted communications from councils, homelessness organisations, faith groups and charities.
Minister for Rough Sleeping, Eddie Hughes, said:
In the wake of a surge in COVID-19 cases and a new variant, we have an even greater responsibility to protect vulnerable people.
I'm very pleased to announce this funding today, to make sure as many people as possible are vaccinated and that councils can protect people sleeping rough and put a roof over their heads."
Today's announcement builds on the significant progress the government has made on its manifesto commitment to end rough sleeping. The annual rough sleeping snapshot in 2020 saw a 37% reduction from the year before. Rough sleeping levels have fallen 43% since 2017.
Building on the success of the Everyone In initiative, which supported 37,000 vulnerable people into emergency and longer term accommodation during the earlier stages of pandemic, this support will continue to help rough sleepers off the streets and protect their health.
Overall, the government is investing £2 billion over the next three years to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping.