Bristol mayor - ‘help us find 450 beds for homeless people’

Bristol’s vulnerable residents have been told to self-isolate in the wake of coronavirus outbreak

Mayor Marvin Rees appealed to hotels, bed and breakfasts, Airbnbs and student housing providers, asking them to put up a total of 450 rough sleepers while the city is in lockdown.

This will allow homeless people to self-isolate during the coronavirus outbreak and prevent them from catching the virus.

All accommodation providers will be paid for this service and will receive full support, in order to provide income and protect jobs.

Prime minister Boris Johnson has declared the UK is facing a “moment of national emergency” and staying at home is necessary to protect the NHS, save lives and tackle “the biggest threat this country has faced for decades”.

In a video released via the Bristol City Council Twitter account, Mr Rees said: “We must move people off the streets and into shelter so we can help them socially-distance and self-isolate.”

“We are going to work with clients to find accommodation that is suitable for each individual as well as ensuring food and medical needs are met.”

He added in a statement: “We are now calling on hotels and B&B owners to step up to offer their help by opening their doors to the city’s homeless, so that we are able to provide the care and support they need in this time of crisis. I’d like to thank those who have already come forward and offered their support and hope to see others do the same in the coming days.”

Julian Higson, the council’s director of homes and landlord services, said: “It is vital and urgent that the homeless are able to self-isolate, and I’d encourage anyone who may be able to help with suitable accommodation to contact us as soon
as possible.

“Business owners will be financially supported for offering this service and we will be in touch with them directly to make arrangements.”

Following Boris Johnson’s address to the nation calling for total self-isolation across the country, the general public must only leave home to exercise once a day, to travel to and from work where “absolutely necessary”, to shop for essential items, and to fulfil any medical or care needs.

Police will have powers to enforce the new rules, including through fines and dispersing gatherings.

Mr Rees has announced the closure of all park facilities across the city and stated that all NHS staff can use Trenchard Street car park for free.

He advised Bristol residents to stop panic-buying in supermarkets and to respect the staff working in superstores.

He added: “We must do all we can to not create more problems, which in turn make it harder for others. We have been assured there is no shortage of food or supplies. Please remember this, and think of the people who will be affected if you buy more than you need.”

All businesses and individuals who provide emergency accommodation for the homeless will be compensated. 

Anyone who can help is asked to email covid19.accommodation@bristol.gov.uk

Caitlin Bowring

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