Charity pleas for Covid-19 testing for rough sleepers

The coronavirus pandemic has further heightened concerns about the welfare of homeless people in the region.

The boss of a Midlands homeless charity has criticised the lack of testing for rough sleepers.

Andrew Redfern from Framework says dozens of people in their hostel accommodation are now showing symptoms of the virus.

He also says the lack of protective equipment means the numbers of staff able to look after them are falling rapidly.

The Nottingham-based charity provides support to around 1200 homeless people and say that this group are at increased risk of contracting coronavirus.

Mr Redfern says that people who are sleeping rough can have compromised immune systems due to a number of factors, including poor diet and long-term exposure to illness.

He says that because they tend to congregate together the risk of spreading the disease is also greatly increased.

Framework currently home 600 homeless people in their hostel accommodation. They say that around 25 of these people are now showing coronavirus symptoms.

However, the lack of testing means that they can't know for certain if they have Covid-19 or not, and they don't want them to go back to the streets.

Some charities say that homeless people have been forgotten about during the Covid-19 outbreak. Credit: ITV News Central

A lack of personal protective equipment for support workers has also raised concerns.

The few masks, gloves and gowns that the charity have are being rationed amongst staff, 20% of which have now quit work due to self isolation or illness.

Mr Redfern said that the charity workers are working directly to support those with symptoms of coronavirus, without PPE.

He says the lack of protective clothing means that it's hard to encourage staff to stay at work and help throughout the crisis.

Homelessness is an issue across the Midlands. Credit: ITV News Central

Outreach teams across the Midlands are working with councils to move homeless people and people in temporary accommodation into especially procured hotels.

Framework say that doing this has so far cost them £15,000. They are concerned that as more homeless people get discharged from prisons and hospitals during the pandemic, the strain on resources will grow.