Updated: Aug 28, 2020
As the government guidelines change from Stay at home to stay alert, lockdown restrictions start to lift. The threat of funding cuts are being discussed and the future becomes uncertain for the many people being taken in by the city hotels.
The groups providing food to the hotels include Guru Nanaks mission (GNM), S.A.F.E, Tracys Street Kitchen, Trent Vineyard, The Friary and The Eat team. The number of people we support rises from 15 to 25, in the run up to Easter it climbed to a high of 42. This was a stretch for many of the services but we all found a way and supported each other through it.
Despite the Everyone in policy getting so many off the streets in the first 3 weeks, there was now a growing number of people on the streets, many of these people had previously been sofa surfing but due to problems with Covid, now found themselves on the streets, others were European asylum seekers and refugees with no recourse.
The Red Cross where providing support from Trinity square and Tracys Street Kitchen joined them most days. BlindEye, S.A.F.E, GNM also provided support on Wednesdays when cover was needed, this continues for a few weeks but it wasn’t enough.
There were long periods of time for those on the street, where there was nowhere to go for a meal and we were meeting people that had gone days without food. It was not long before we were given permission to return to our previous work providing food on the streets.
Portland Leisure centre were kind enough to allow people access to their showers and toiletries were provided by BlindEye and other services to support this effort.
On the back of the threat of funding cuts, on the 21 June, Blindeye returned to the Sunday morning soup run. Instead of the usual 5 or 6 volunteers offering clothing, sandwiches, pasties and donuts from Greggs, porridge pots and hot drinks we reduced our service to just hot drinks, porridge pots and chocolate snacks. Our first few soup runs the numbers of people we found sleeping rough was very low. It felt great to know that the work in the hotels was clearly paying off.
The residence of the hotel were given far more than just a roof over their head and a place to self-isolate. They were given opportunities to make appointment with the support groups offering help with medical conditions, mental health and benefits. Making appointments at the various different places offering support has never been easy but now the support was going to them.
During this period the hard work in the hotels was paying off there were some great success stories coming out the hotel. People that had spent 10 -15 years on the streets, that had never really engaged with the support were now being housed. The numbers of residence were going down but there was growing concern that the government funding cuts would impact on the ability to get everyone accommodation.
At very short notice, it was announced that another hotel that had been providing support for Emmanuel house from the 27th March were able to take on residence and it was agreed they would be operational till the end of July. A new operation had to be put in place to make sure they were fed.
Thanks to the online We Shall overcome fundraising events and the donations made on our just giving page, BlindEye were able to continue supporting both the hotels and the soup run.
BlindEye continued supporting with this new venture along with GNM, S.A.F.E and The Friary. Extra support was needed to make this a 7 day a week operation and joining this group was Sewa Day, Meet Great and Eat and The Cods Scallops chips shop.
Support continues in the hotels and there is hope that this will extend until other services have the right facilities in place to take on the remaining group from the hotels.