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October 2020

Glass Door responds to the latest government guidance on homeless shelters. Glass Door's position was covered in several media outlets, including BBC London News, The Big Issue, and The Guardian.

New funding and guidance

On 13 October 2020, the government released new guidelines, which indicated that rotating night shelters – where a different venue is used each night and people move each day – should not be used this winter due to the increased risk of transmitting Covid-19. Glass Door issued a press release, with Glass Door's position picked up by several media outlets in the following weeks.

Lives at risk

CEO Lucy Abraham expressed concern that the lack of shelter spaces for people experiencing homelessness will leave many without anywhere to turn this winter.

Following the government's announcement, Lucy was featured on BBC London's 6:30PM News on 22 October. Speaking from Rivercourt Methodist Church, a partner church that normally provide space and volunteers to run winter shelters, Lucy said: 

"We are really concerned that demand is going to be higher than ever before. We have had many many people that previously worked in precarious jobs - things like construction, hospitality, tourism - where many of the jobs have come to an end, and they just haven't been able to make ends meet, and they've ended up on the streets."

Glass Door's concerns were also reported by Hannah Westwater in The Big Issue on 13 October: 

“The combination of fewer shelter spaces at a time when more people are expected to face homelessness this winter is a crisis in the making,” said Lucy Abraham.

"We are modifying our services in line with the guidance, but the number of people who will be able to find a space will undoubtedly fall far short of demand," Lucy added.

We will do all we can to keep everyone safe while Covid-19 is still at large, but what will happen to all those who would normally find a space in a shelter run by faith groups or charities such as ours? We must not force people to choose between freezing on the street or a shelter, when both needlessly put lives at risk.

Glass Door's position was also covered by Owen Sheppard writing for MyLondon and London News Online. The papers quote Lucy explaining Glass Door's position:

We think more needs to be done to analyse and balance the risk of sleeping inside shelters with sleeping outside in the freezing cold.

A rise in need

Head of Casework Neil Parkinson spoke to Francisco Garcia, who published an  opinion piece on the topic in the Guardian on 26 October. Neil said:

Sleeping in shared spaces isn’t possible for understandable reasons, so the night shelters as we normally run them aren’t going to happen. [Whatever we do] is going to have much less capacity. We’re very concerned about the rise in need.

Garcia concludes: "During the first wave of Covid the UK government stepped in. It’s inexplicably cruel not to do so now the second wave is here".

No one should have to sleep on the streets of London, especially at Christmas. And especially not during a global pandemic. 

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