For most of us, self-isolating, staying indoors and avoiding large gatherings is relatively easy amidst the coronavirus crisis – but what about the people who don’t have a place to call home?
Today is Youth Homelessness Matters Day, which aims to raise awareness and public discussion about youth homelessness so that we can develop sustainable and innovative solutions for not only supporting the needs of homeless young people, but supporting their dreams.
Hear about how Melbourne City Mission is working to combat the risk of COVID-19 amongst young homeless people below:
For those who are homeless or sleeping rough, avoiding the spread of COVID-19 is near impossible. With weakened immune systems, poor hygiene, having to live in close proximity with others, less access to medical services and communication, and an inability to self-isolate or quarantine – homeless people are extremely vulnerable and at risk of testing positive for the virus.
According to the 2016 ABS Census of Housing and Population, there have been over 116,000 homeless people living in Australia on a single night, and the rate of homelessness in our country has risen by 13.7% in five years. But that’s just in Australia.
All over the world there are people living without a roof over their heads, and according to the experts, “it’s inevitable” that coronavirus will hit the homeless community on a global scale. This follows reports that soup kitchens in the UK have closed and a homeless shelter in Hobart was forced to shut its doors due to fears of coronavirus.
There was also a shocking report that French authorities had been fining homeless people amid the country’s lockdown.
The good news is, there are worldwide efforts being made to try and lessen the impact the pandemic is having on those without a home. In the UK, hotels and offices are being converted into safe spaces to protect rough sleepers from coronavirus, and in some parts of the States, organisations have set up hot water hand-washing stations, restructured the bedding layout of shelters, and are working to provide on-the-ground education about the virus’s spread and prevention.
Here in Australia, homeless help provider Strike it Out has been handing out hygiene packs to members of the homeless community to try and limit the risk of contracting and spreading the virus.
Tasmania’s State Government has also announced it will be providing $1M in aid to Communities Tasmania so they can support vulnerable people with food hampers, medical supplies and counselling.
ABC News reports that in order to stop the spread of COVID-19 amongst the homeless community, things like hygiene stations need to be easily accessible, shelters need to be restructured and things like communication plans and designated quarantine sites need to be set up.
We can only hope the rest of Australia, and the world, will continue to help protect the physical and mental health of those who are already struggling on the streets from this deadly virus.
If you want to help put homelessness to bed, head to Melbourne City Mission’s official website and donate.
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