When Covid-19 spread throughout the UK in early 2020, people experiencing homelessness, especially those sleeping rough on the streets or sofa surfing with various family or friends each night, were among some of the most exposed and at risk of catching the virus. This led to extraordinary action being taken by local authorities to ensure everybody had access to safe accommodation during the outbreak of the pandemic.

The “Everyone In” scheme was the government’s mobilisation of temporary shelter and accommodation for those most in need. Over the last seventeen months, local authorities have been rightfully praised for this scheme that they implemented to support homeless individuals or those facing homelessness, and for the other supportive steps they have taken since, including a £20 uplift to those receiving Universal Credit and the introduction of the furlough scheme to provide employment stability for millions around the country during these unprecedented times. However, with some of these measures having already ended or due to end in the coming weeks, perhaps it is only then that the true impact of Covid-19 on the homelessness issue will be realised.

We recently sat down with Amanda Trent, Head of PR at Creating Change Housing Management (CCHM), to discuss the impact of Covid-19 on the support services they provide around the country and to consider what the future may hold once all of the government’s support measures end in the coming weeks.

How did Covid-19 impact the support services CCHM offers?

When Covid-19 hit, we were unsure as to whether the pandemic would limit the support services we were able to offer, which in turn could’ve had a detrimental impact on our tenants who require in-person assistance. Thankfully, with the right PPE and distancing measures in place, our support workers were able to continue the great work they do. As well as this, our team went above and beyond, providing additional telephone support throughout the lockdowns to ensure everybody had access to a friendly chat should it be required. With everybody staying at home where possible, we wanted our tenants to have regular check-ins and conversations with their support workers.

We also developed strong partnerships with local foodbanks and charities to ensure our tenants had access to essential foods.

Though it was a difficult time for all, I think one real positive CCHM has been able to draw from the pandemic is that our support workers have developed an even closer bond with our tenants over the last eighteen months.

How has post-lockdown life, with the return to some form of pre-covid normality, impacted the individuals and families you support?

It has been lovely for so many of our tenants to enjoy everyday life again. The little things we may have taken for granted before the pandemic were what we all missed most over the last year and a half. For example, so many of our tenants were unable to see loved ones due to distancing measures, health vulnerabilities and shielding, and being unable to travel. It’s great that they are now able to do so and are allowed to have visitors inside their homes, and vice versa. This has had such a positive impact on all our tenants.

How do you feel the end of the government’s supportive measures, introduced in response to Covid-19, will impact those it has protected since March 2020?

I think everybody within our sector has major concerns that local authorities will be overwhelmed by the growing numbers facing homelessness in the coming months. With the government intervention ending soon, millions may face redundancy and unemployment. With no furlough scheme to fall back on and the uplift in universal credit ending, along with the fact that the “Everyone In” scheme and eviction ban has ended, people will likely struggle against the rising tide of job insecurity and high rents. I fear that all of these factors may push individuals and families into homelessness.

How has your partnership with Pathway Homes Group been throughout the pandemic?

Our partnership with Pathway Homes has gone from strength to strength. Even though we had already established a successful and professional partnership before the pandemic, it has continued to prosper in the last year and a half. The team at Pathway Homes has continued to develop properties to a remarkable standard and within an impressive timeframe, despite the initial limitations of coronavirus lockdowns. By doing so, they have enabled us to support residents across the country who require housing and support services.

If you or anybody you know are facing housing instability and require support as a result of the issues discussed within this article, please contact our partner organisation CCHM on 033 366 1159. They are always on hand to provide bespoke support to meet your needs.