As rough sleepers housed in hotels during the Covid-19 lockdown await to hear their fate at the end of June, it has been good news for London Big Issue vendor Kris Dove.
The 29-year-old Newcastle native will be moving to a self-contained property organised by St Mungo’s in partnership with the local authority in Westminster.
Kris was one of the 14,610 people housed temporarily thanks to the government’s Everyone In scheme, including 4,450 in London.
Just before lockdown, Big Issue vendor Kris found himself rough sleeping.
He was housed in a hotel room for lockdown under the government scheme.
We were happy to say Kris will not be returning to the streets. He will now be moving into a self-contained property via St. Mungos. pic.twitter.com/gCdyc6lbjl
— The Big Issue Foundation (@TBIF) June 17, 2020
The Marylebone railway station vendor, who has sold the magazine for almost a decade, told The Big Issue what life was like in the hotel where he was staying a few weeks back. He said that he felt “lucky” to have the spot although he was struggling to stave off boredom.
He said at the time: “To be honest, it is six and two threes on whether I feel safer in the hotel. I’m streetwise, I know where to stay away from and where to go to. But in the big hotel where we are in now we have security staff and it is pretty well monitored with who is going in and out.
“I’m really missing selling the magazine. It’s hard. I miss that interaction with people. It kept me sane really.”
The Big Issue magazine is a social enterprise, a business that reinvests its profits in helping others who are homeless, at risk of homelessness, or whose lives are blighted by poverty.
Dame Louise Casey’s Rough Sleeping Taskforce is now working with councils all over England to find a safe, long-term homes for the rough sleepers. With almost half a billion pounds in accelerated funding, the government have pledged to make 6,000 homes available for rough sleepers, including 3,300 in the next 12 months.
But charities and homelessness organisations have bemoaned the fact that there is still “no clear plan” from the government on what will happen to prevent a return to rough sleeping in the short-term with hotel contracts up at the end of June.
Kris has certainly been one of the lucky ones – last week Neil Parkinson, a senior caseworker at Glass Door, revealed that the homelessness charity had only seen 20 people moved into longer-term accommodation out of the 200 people they are supporting in hotels. Some have been moved into other forms of temporary accommodation instead.
Glass Door are calling for the government to set out their plans as well as suspending barriers to accessing support, such as the No Recourse to Public Funds policy, that will leave people with no option but to return to the streets.
Parkinson said: “Honestly, at the moment, there’s very little absolute clarity from the government about what will happen. Those guests in hotels and the charities like ours that work with them are not getting clear information on when the hotels are due to close and what will happen to those who aren’t being supported by local councils.
“We know some people will be moved into other hotels as the first ones close, but the hotels can’t stay open forever, and something needs to change, or hundreds of people are going to be displaced back to the streets while a public health crisis is still ongoing.”