In response to coronavirus, the government announced emergency funding (£6 million) to provide relief for over 130 front-line homeless charitable organisations who are directly affected by Covid-19. Other government funding was also provided with the intention of building more houses for rough sleepers. Due to the economic impacts of the pandemic, many new people have been forced to take to the streets. So, has government funding helped to mitigate an originally inevitable influx in rough sleepers?


The new Combined Homelessness and Information Network (CHAIN) data reveals a 19% decrease in the number of people seen rough sleeping July, August and September when compared to the previous three months. But it also reveals 55% (1,901) of those who were seen sleeping rough during that period were doing so for the first time.


The data also shows:

A total of 3,444 people were seen sleeping rough between July and the end of September, compared to 4,227 people between April and June.

77% (1,457) of people newly sleeping rough were prevented from having to spend a second night out

There was a 14% decrease in the number of people seen sleeping rough compared to the same period last year


Following the publication of the data, St Mungo’s (a charity registered in England to help homeless people) is urging national and local governments to build on the success of the ‘Everyone In’ initiative and to continue working closely with service providers to develop longer term solutions that prevent more people ending up street homeless. The ‘Everyone In’ initiative aims to ensure all rough sleepers and those with shared air space in homelessness accommodation are given ‘safe harbour’.


St Mungo’s Chief Executive Steve Douglas CBE said: “The latest CHAIN figures reflect the success of Everyone In, showing a 19% reduction in those sleeping rough, since the last quarter and a 14% decrease on this time last year. But… we can expect the numbers to rise again.”


Mr Douglas also highlighted the fact that the number of people seen sleeping rough for the first time who then transition to living on the streets has increased by almost a quarter (23%) when compared to the same period last year, saying: “Although not surprising given that some of the services which are so effective at preventing this happening were partially suspended as a result of the pandemic, this needs attention. Preventing this transition is one of the key elements which from our experience prevents rough sleeping.”


What about young people in particular?

Youth homeless charity, Centrepoint, has warned that younger people need more protection against homelessness as the furlough scheme comes to an end. According to the latest CHAIN rough sleeping figures, the amount of young rough sleepers has risen from eight to eleven percent.


What can people do to help?

St Mungo’s ask people to:

Talk to someone they see, as people say they often feel isolated, lonely and invisible if sleeping on the street. Say Hello, ask how they are, if they are in touch with any health or outreach teams

Contact StreetLink, which is a national website referral service that helps the public connect someone they see sleeping rough to local services

Find out more about homelessness and volunteer, donate, campaign through charities such as St Mungo’s, the Salvation Army and others across London.