COVID 19 response for the street homeless population in London

On 11 March 2020, Museum of Homelessness working with Streets Kitchen, Islington Council and the Mildmay Hospital called upon the Government to provide urgent funding to the Mildmay hospital to support the street homeless population in response to the ongoing situation with the coronavirus (COVID 19) outbreak.

The letter reads as follows and we hope you support our recommendation:

Rt Hon. Robert Jenrick MP

Secretary of State for Housing, Communities, and Local Government

2 Marsham St


London SW1P 4DF

11th March 2020

RE: COVID 19 response for the street homeless population in London, recommendation from Museum of Homelessness, Streets Kitchen and Islington Council

Dear Secretary of State,

We write as homelessness organisations and a local authority with both a frontline and strategic overview of the health concerns relating to the street homeless population, particularly in London.

We are deeply concerned about the lack of provision or planning for the street homeless population related to the deepening COVID 19 pandemic in London. We have been carrying out screening at our services but we are aware that current guidelines are inadequate for those without private space to self isolate.

Museum of Homelessness runs Dying Homeless Project which documents and remembers each person who died whilst homeless in the UK. There is clear evidence from our research – and that of other organisations such as St Mungos and Groundswell – that the street homeless population is significantly more likely to be living with underlying and chronic health conditions such as Chronic Pulmonary Obstructive Disease.

Given the extreme level of risk to this population, we are asking that MHCLG divert emergency funding as soon as possible to the Mildmay Hospital which stands ready to admit patients experiencing homelessness for specialist care. We are aware that the Chancellor today pledged ‘whatever extra resources our NHS needs to cope with COVID 19.’ We strongly believe that this should extend to the Mildmay in London, specifically for the street homeless population. Mildmay is able to deliver highly focused, specialist care and this would relieve pressure on the larger NHS hospitals across the capital as the pandemic inevitably deepens.

Taking this action now would in all certainty save lives and would provide a strategic response to the pandemic in London, having a positive effect for both the homeless and wider population.

The signatories to this letter are:

Matt and Jess Turtle co-founders, Museum of Homelessness, Jon Glackin, founder, Streets Kitchen, Cllr Diarmaid Ward, Executive Member for Housing and Development, Islington Council, Cllr Janet Burgess M.B.E., Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Health & Adult Social Care, Islington Council