Opinion

The G7 summit and our holiday season show the fragility of emergency housing

As homeless people are forced to leave emergency accommodation for the G7 summit in Cornwall, local councillor Jayne Kirkham wonders where permanent solutions to homelessness may lie.

Carbis Bay in Cornwall will be hosting the G7 summit and hotels in the area have been turfing homeless people out of emergency accommodation for the occasion. Image: Ross Burton/Flickr

The G7 summit and the encroaching holiday season has flagged up a real weakness in homelessness and housing provision in Cornwall.

In the last week, at least 89 (I understand it may be more like 130 now) people who have been emergency housed by Cornwall Council/Housing during the pandemic in the large chain hotels in Cornwall have been ‘dislodged’ from their accommodation. The hotel chains have accepted block bookings relating to the G7 or for holidaymakers, rather than renew the rooms rented for emergency housing so homeless people are being evicted. This will likely be an ongoing issue as peak holiday season approaches.

Trying to rehouse 130 people at short notice in Cornwall in the summer with the place full due to the G7 is incredibly difficult and expensive. The worry is that some people will slip through the net and end up back on the streets. All the good work done engaging with the support services will be lost and they will go backwards.

Cornwall Housing took the step of installing homeless ‘pods’ in Truro and Penzance last year and are planning a new homeless centre in Truro with 11 rooms. They also received money from the Next Steps Accommodation Fund to purchase accommodation and fund support workers. They have done a lot of work in the last year in trying to get ‘everybody in’. Despite the rough sleeper count in November 2019 showing there were only 24 people rough sleeping in Cornwall, 168 people were given emergency accommodation in the first few months of the pandemic.

However, there is always more that could be done and the G7 and our summer holiday season have highlighted the current fragility of emergency housing provision in Cornwall. Particularly the part that is commissioned with national hotel chains and is incredibly expensive and hard to find at certain times of the year, due to our seasonal economy.

Much is spoken of the ‘legacy’ the G7 summit may provide to Cornwall. I would suggest that the government consider that the G7 has proven that we need extra support with our homelessness provision. I went up to Falmouth Rugby Club last night where there are 40 ‘pods’ for security staff to occupy during G7. These buildings were rented, but there will be similar across the duchy. Maybe if some of these housing pods could stay in Cornwall after the G7 moves on, along with some extra funding for more permanent accommodation, it would go some way to help plug a gaping hole. We obviously need more permanent and reliable options than booking rooms in hotels and holiday parks.

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
Homelessness has exploded since I slept on the streets. Here's how to end it once and for all
people experiencing homelessness also face stigma
Matthew Torbitt

Homelessness has exploded since I slept on the streets. Here's how to end it once and for all

BBC Breakfast's Naga Munchetty: This is how we stamp out teenage misogyny and sexism
Naga Munchetty

BBC Breakfast's Naga Munchetty: This is how we stamp out teenage misogyny and sexism

Purists might baulk, but Sam Smith headlining BBC Proms opens a pathway to classical music
Sam Smith arrives for the 2023 BRIT Awards ceremony at The O2 arena in London. Image: Andy Rain/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Claire Jackson

Purists might baulk, but Sam Smith headlining BBC Proms opens a pathway to classical music

We need more women MPs – but we can't just expect women to stand for election. We must act
Lyanne Nicholl

We need more women MPs – but we can't just expect women to stand for election. We must act

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know