What next for homeless and vulnerable people housed during coronavirus lockdown?

Ben Mellor still spends his days on the streets.

After years of being homeless, it's what he's used to.

But since the coronavirus outbreak struck, he has had somewhere to spend his nights, after the local council arranged emergency accommodation.

Having somewhere safe to sleep has, he says, been "amazing".

It's made it easier to get medication to help him manage his addiction, and it feels like a first step towards a normal life, with a job, and perhaps even a home.

And yet as lockdown eases, Ben fears a return to sleeping rough, and a return to his old problems.

His accommodation is a student hall of residence and will soon have to be prepared for regular use.

The government's attempt to contain the pandemic saw thousands of people given shelter. But that was never an arrangement that could last forever.

  • 18-year-old Amelia was offered a space in an emergency hostel for young people:

Crisis, a charity for the homeless, says that after weeks of unprecedented action from national governments and organisations across the country to get "everyone in" - whether that's hostels, hotels or student accommodation during the pandemic, they fear that if further action isn't taken to provide everyone with permanent housing, people could be forced to return to the streets.

Crisis CEO Jon Sparkes, said: "Tens of thousands of people across Great Britain are struggling against a rising tide of job insecurity and high rents, all of which threaten to push them into homelessness.

"As a society we must now do everything we can to make sure that people hit the hardest during this period and beyond aren’t pushed further to the brink."

This emergency youth hostel has been inundated with calls since the lockdown began. Credit: ITV News

Lockdown, meanwhile, could worsen the UK's longstanding housing crisis.

Staying inside has made more acute the pressures that can cause homelessness.

Roundabout, a charity which provides emergency accommodation for young people has had record numbers of calls over the past few months.

The economic impact of lockdown will also take their toll on people for whom home is still a fragile thing.

Elesse Seale only recently got her first flat after a period of homelessness last year. But she lost her job in a shopping mall to lockdown and is now struggling to pay her rent.

She was just beginning to get her life back together, and then the outbreak came, and says she now feels like "it's all come crumbling down".

Home should be a place of sanctuary, of course, especially during a pandemic.

The people I met in Sheffield know not to take the shelter they have for granted, and their biggest fear is losing it again.

Homelessness is a problem which has been hidden during lockdown - and yet the housing crisis persists, and in the hard times to come, it could reappear, made much worse.