Prioritise vaccinations for homeless before emergency shelters close Glass Door caseworker Andrew Cozin, photo copyright BBC London News 8 February 2021 Glass Door is calling for vaccinations for those experiencing homelessness. This comes days after a significant rise was recorded in the number of homeless people testing positive in the middle of a winter where many shelters were unable to open. The story was featured on BBC London news on 7 February. BBC journalist Thomas Magill visited a Glass Door hostel, one of London’s few winter hostels that is open this year. He spoke to a hostel guest, caseworker Andrew Cozin and CEO Lucy Abraham. Homeless charity @GlassDoorLondon says it's vital rough sleepers are prioritised for the COVID-19 vaccine before emergency winter shelters close next month. I've visited one shelter in Central London that managed to open this winter which is home to over 50 people. @SadiqKhan pic.twitter.com/0acOf7LnWC — Thomas Magill (@journotommagill) February 8, 2021 Impact of the hostels For the guest (who remained anonymous), the hostel has been a lifeline. He said: What do you think is better, [sleeping] on the street or in a room? He was previously sleeping on the streets before being offered a safe and secure individual room at one of our hostels. COVID-19 challenges Guests at our hostels are offered three meals a day and help to find employment and more permanent accommodation. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has meant that employment opportunities are scarce. Glass Door caseworker Andrew explained: There are fewer opportunities for those who are interested in working. There are highly qualified people staying in the hostels who simply cannot find work in the pandemic. Charities have seen a rise in homelessness due to the pandemic at a time where there has been a drop in the number of beds available at hostels and shelters. Prioritisation for vaccinations Some emergency winter shelters that have been able to operate during the pandemic are set to close next month. It’s vital that people staying in shelters are vaccinated before then. Lucy Abraham, Glass Door’s CEO explains why: If people aren’t vaccinated before then, it’s going to be much harder to help them to register with GPs and to identify the health conditions that mean that they need to be prioritised. The hope is that the government delivers on its promise to work with homeless charities and the NHS to develop a model for the delivery of the vaccine to homeless people. How you can help Find out some of the top ways you can support those facing homelessness this winter and during the pandemic here.