Sleeping pods being trialled in Yorkshire to keep homeless safe from Covid-19

The Salvation Army in Yorkshire is trialling 'sleeping pods' to help keep homeless people safe from Covid-19.

Sheffield Council has received Government funding to help increase vaccination uptake among the homeless population and to provide Covid secure accommodation.

The Salvation Army has already trialled two rough sleeping pods as a Covid safe alternative. The small self-sufficient insulated structures can be moved around depending on the most appropriate locations.

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Rough sleepers are being encouraged to have Covid-19 vaccinations because they are at severe risk of the Omicron variant.

Sleeping pods have been trialled for the homeless in Sheffield

Council officer Carina Kemp said: “The pods met a small but vital need to provide a humanitarian response to avoid deaths due to rough sleeping during the winter weather. They are more accessible to individuals who are hardest to reach as a stepping stone to further engagement.

“The Government is aware of low vaccination rates amongst the rough sleeping population and that the Omicron variant presents a severe risk to these individuals.”

Sheffield has received £30,488 to roll out vaccinations and £266,159 to provide secure accommodation.

The council put together a list of the top five locations with higher concentrations of rough sleepers who would benefit from mobile vaccination units.

The report says: “There is a lack of uptake for booster vaccinations amongst the homeless population.

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“As a result we have earmarked locations to be targeted through a range of measures, such as a more personalised approach with our street outreach nurse for the most entrenched rough sleepers, mobile vaccination events or targeted GP contact at temporary, supported and hotel accommodation.

“We are trialling a vaccine and health information day at Brightmore Drive, where vaccine take up is estimated to be particularly low, with incentives such as self-care goody bags and warm food options.”

The council says self-contained accommodation is the quickest way to prevent transmission of Covid. It is offering accommodation to people who previously rejected it or left.

The report adds: “The council should focus on those most vulnerable, particularly clinically vulnerable. We are exploring options for individuals who refuse to engage or who have risks that are so high that finding a placement may take some time.

“One option has been to explore a limited small communal night shelter, however in light of the new Omicron variant, alternative options and solutions have continued to be sought.”