Street Zero public donations provide £57,000 to help the city’s most vulnerable

Street Zero’s Emergency Fund, donated by the North East public and regional businesses, has awarded £57,000 to Changing Lives, Tyne Housing, and Home Group for eight different projects that will help the most vulnerable people in the city during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fenwick bolstered the Emergency Fund to be able to provide the large scale grants that will help partners on the frontline make sure those in their care are physically safe and mentally supported with dedicated wellbeing services and activities to help people adapt to life in lockdown. Changing Lives, Tyne Housing and Home Group have and will remain dedicated to keeping their services open and running throughout the crisis.

Bob Eldridge, Street Zero Chair, said: ‘Following the outbreak of COVID-19, every person who was rough sleeping in Newcastle was moved by Newcastle City Council into hostel accommodation. We quickly redirected the full Street Zero Emergency Fund to support our partners and the frontline staff in managing the crisis and to offer the right response to people who are now isolating or socially distancing in hostels. Our top priority is to effectively support those who were rough sleeping to retain them in accommodation and help them sustain a life away from the streets. As a city, we have shown that we can end rough sleeping.’

With the grants, Home Group, who manage homelessness services across Newcastle, will create separate isolated accommodation units to effectively care for those who have either been diagnosed or have symptoms of COVID-19 and need to self-isolate. One of the most significant challenges faced is supporting people and keeping them occupied whilst adhering to social distancing. Home Group will provide laptops and invest in art, cooking, music, learning and mindfulness activities that will help keep people in accommodation both physically and mentally stimulated, as well as helping manage stress and anxiety.

Andy Hays, Operations Manager at Home Group, said: ‘The global pandemic has undoubtedly put significant strain on the services that are offered to the homeless community and we are pleased with our response. We are offering everything available to ensure that every single person has the offer of accommodation and a support package to suit their needs. The support from Street Zero will make a huge difference by helping our residents feel less isolated.’

Tyne Housing is supporting its Byker Bridge House residents to minimise social contact and stay well nourished by providing 400 hot meals a week through the ‘Plates for People’ partnership with The People’s Kitchen and Ouseburn Farm. As food banks are struggling, residents have limited options to eat or access their usual support networks. Funding will help directly provide regular healthy meals. Grants will also help Tyne offer residents individual counselling sessions.

Steve McKinlay, Tyne Housing CEO, said: ‘Providing practical and emotional support that help people to maintain social distancing while resolving their housing issues will appeal to those embedded in a street lifestyle. With already complex needs such as addiction, mental health issues, broken relationships, and behavioural challenges, the added pressure of lockdown can be a high risk for vulnerable people. This could quickly lead to residents putting their own safety at risk and that of others in the process. Street Zero has provided us with much needed support at this challenging time. It is incredible to see the partnership approach working so well in Newcastle.

Changing Lives provides a variety of supported accommodation services across the city and will invest the grant in supporting those living in shared accommodation and individual flats, as well as women in recovery who have children. The funding will deliver personalised self isolation packs to help every individual on their journey to independence. They could include a microwave, a kettle, a television or tablet, mobile phone top-up, or cleaning products. All chosen to help people to access services online, remotely engage with the wider world, reduce feelings of loneliness, and create a more homely environment.

Stephen Bell, Chief Executive of Changing Lives, said: ’Changing Lives are currently supporting people experiencing personal crisis as a result of the pandemic. We have created the self isolation packs to help significantly reduce footfall in communal areas thus minimising any potential spread of the virus. Furthermore, this will incentivise individuals to stay in isolation for the period required.

‘The support from Street Zero helps us to further provide the highest quality service to vulnerable groups across the city. Our priority at this time is ensuring people in our care have the tools they need to stay safe and protect themselves and their community.’
Newcastle City Council, an integral part of the Street Zero partnership, said: ’These grants will make a huge difference in helping to keep people safe, as well as ensuring that some of our most vulnerable residents continue to have access to essential food and supplies during this very challenging time. They will also help people significantly in their efforts to socially distance and prevent the spread of COVID-19, as well as the positive impacts their mental and health and wellbeing.’

Bob Eldridge added: ‘Street Zero has now exhausted all funds kindly donated to us by businesses and North East residents. In these challenging times, Fenwick’s extremely generous contribution allowed the Emergency Fund to go much further. Every penny has now been given directly to help homeless people. We would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who donated and welcome further donations through Just Giving at www.streetzero.org.’

For more information, contact Street Zero.

About Street Zero
Bob Eldridge MBE, Newcastle Homeless Commission, established Street Zero in 2018 to reach the most vulnerable people, respond to their specific complex needs, and help them move away from life on the streets. Street Zero partners are Newcastle Homeless Commission, Newcastle City Council, Changing Lives, Crisis, NHS Newcastle Gateshead Clinical Commissioning Group, Northumbria Police, Shelter, Your Homes Newcastle, National Probation Service, NHS Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, NHS Foundation Trust, Northumbria Community Rehabilitation Company, Tyne Housing, Home Group, Fenwick, NE1, and The Church Of England, Diocese of Newcastle.


Homelessness and rough sleeping responses to coronavirus 

Coronavirus is an unprecedented public health crisis and the council is working with partners to maintain essential services, including our responses to prevent and relieve homelessness and rough sleeping. 

We are facing rapidly changing circumstances and are guided by Public Health England advice on how we can contribute to reducing the spread of the virus. The unprecedented challenges and the changing demands will mean that at times we will have to ask for your patience and that we will not be able to respond to some inquiries as quickly as we’d like to. We know that you will appreciate that this is because we are prioritising responding to residents’ current challenges and preparing to meet new challenges we expect to face. 

In addition to contributing to reducing the spread of the virus, we are working to:

  • Maintain our existing statutory homelessness assessment and coordination functions – we aim to maintain face to face advice because residents are understandably anxious and want to talk to someone about their concerns 
  • Maintain existing commissioned provision (770 rooms) and try to reduce evictions – we are maintaining our homelessness accommodation services 
  • We are working to increased move-on from our homeless accommodation to free up spaces to help us respond to the likely increased demand 
  • Secure additional accommodation – to prepare for the reduction of our current accommodation services and to increased demand 
  • Secure bed and breakfast accommodation if our current supply reduces or if demand increases and we cannot secure additional accommodation 

To date we have managed to keep our services open including our daily outreach to contact people sleeping rough and our assessment and accommodation services. The increased demands created by the pandemic and the subsequent reductions in staffing to respond does mean that we may have to compromise on providing accommodation choices, in the interest of not compromising on health and safety. To date we have not had to reduce our commitment to respond to offer every eligible person the offer of safe accommodation or reconnection and to consider everyone’s individual circumstances. 

We will keep you updated of any changes in response to increased demands and reduced service supply. 

If you are concerned about anyone’s risk of homelessness you should check our website here: https://www.newcastle.gov.uk/homelessness