Manchester

Coronavirus: Homeless mental health 'improved' by lockdown hotel scheme

Amanda Image copyright Riverside
Image caption Amanda said being housed in a hotel during lockdown has helped her fight addiction

A woman given a home in a hotel during the coronavirus pandemic said it has helped her tackle addiction and she "would hate to go back on the streets".

The government-funded scheme Everyone In provided emergency accommodation for Amanda at a Holiday Inn in Manchester.

Amanda said "the need for the addiction goes pretty much out of the window" when she is not sleeping rough.

The scheme improved residents' physical and mental health, an early report by housing provider Riverside has found.

The government distributed over £3.2m to councils in England in March to house homeless people as the lockdown began.

Image caption Rough sleepers say they are worried that funding to help them stay off the streets during lockdown will end

But many of the hotels where rough sleepers have been staying are due to reopen commercially, prompting worries about the future for residents.

Amanda told BBC Radio 5 Live: "People are a bit nervous that the plans are going to run out and you can sense it in the air here, starting to panic a little."

'Fortunate'

Riverside confirmed that the scheme at the Holiday Inn would be extended until March 2021.

Funding for the Everyone In scheme is to end, prompting concern from homeless charities. But it was announced last week that a further £105m would be given to councils in England to support rough sleepers.

The 46-year-old former sex worker said her addiction was related to being out on the streets and when that was taken away, "the need for the addiction goes pretty much out of the window".

She is currently waiting for a place in a rehabilitation centre and said she feels "a little bit spoilt" and "very fortunate".

"I just don't want to be back where I was... I would hate to go back to on the streets and go back to that life.

"So I'm hoping I can push things forward and maintain a bit of momentum that I've got and go to rehab... I had two boys and I'd most certainly like to be part of their lives again.

"If I don't take this opportunity now then I'll never get it again", she said.

An interim assessment by Riverside based on interviews with seven of the 45 residents at the hotel reported that they "feel safe, secure and protected and they feel more positive about their future".

Recognising that the small sample size and lack of longer-term data mean conclusions cannot yet be reached, the report indicated their "lives have been significantly transformed by this intervention."

The residents described better physical and mental health and no Covid-19 cases were confirmed among them.

Communities secretary Robert Jenrick said the new £105m funding would give homeless people "access to the accommodation and support they need now while we continue with plans to deliver thousands of long-term homes in the coming months."

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