UK to Offer Homeless Accommodation in Exchange for Getting Vaccinated

A homeless man, who has been rough sleeping for 5 years, begs in central London on November 8, 2019. - As record numbers of Britons flock to food banks and homelessness soars, for many people rampant poverty, not Brexit, is the main issue in next week's general election. (Photo by …
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The British government will begin offering free temporary accommodation to homeless people on the condition that they come forward to be vaccinated against the Chinese coronavirus.

While the government is currently providing free housing — irrespective of vaccination status — to tens of thousands of alleged asylum seekers, homeless Britons will need to agree to get vaccinated to receive the same benefit.

A £28 million funding increase to the government’s Protect and Vaccinate programme will see additional money provided to set up clinics, ramp up outreach in homeless shelters, and to subsidise accommodation for rough sleepers who get vaccinated, The Telegraph reported.

The government is said to be concerned that homeless people have refused the jab over fears of experiencing side effects while being on the streets.

Hailing the move, the president of the association of public health, Professor Jim McManus said: “It’s important to get people off the streets when they have a vaccine, in case they have the normal flu-like reaction. Trying to keep yourself warm, when your body is having an immune response to a vaccine, and when you’re in the freezing cold, is awful.”

 

The homeless population is once again facing another rough winter, with many shelters shutting their doors due to fears over the Omicron variant.

Last week, the charity Glass Door told The Guardian that it has been forced to close its usual service, citing concerns about being able to enforce socially distancing and other concerns over the new variant.

Britain’s largest provider of voluntary homeless shelters, Housing Justice said that it has been forced to cut the number of beds provided in half since the pandemic, with just 950 beds currently open to rough sleepers.

The government’s minister for rough sleeping, Eddie Hughes celebrated the move to offer shelter in exchange for vaccination, saying: “In the wake of a surge in Covid-19 cases and a new variant, we have an even greater responsibility to protect vulnerable people.”

The scheme has drawn some backlash, however, including from political commentator Darren Grimes, who said: “We should be housing our nation’s rough sleepers without any caveats.

“I’m pro-vaccine but it turns my stomach to see us become a nation that requires medical intervention for shelter.”

“We’re housing those that break into our country in fancy hotels; if we can do that without requiring a vaccine, surely we can look after our own people without it?” Grimes questioned.

According to the charity Crisis, there were around 200,000 people living on the streets in Britain in 2020.

Homelessness severely increases the risk of mortality, with the average death of homeless men being 47 years old and 43 for women, compared to 79 and 83 respectively for the general population.

At the same time as hundreds of thousands of Britons are sleeping rough on the streets, the latest government figures have shown that 64,000 alleged asylum seekers are being housed at taxpayer expense.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

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