The government have announced that rough sleepers, or those at risk of rough sleeping will be supported by £3.2 million of initial emergency funding if they need to self-isolate to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).
The funding will be available to all local authorities in England and will reimburse them for the cost of providing accommodation and services to those sleeping on the streets to help them successfully self-isolate.
The government are currently actioning hotel rooms to accommodate rough sleepers during the pandemic.
Empty hotels have been pinpointed as a ready-made solution for self-isolating because they have separate cleaning facilities and rooms, and can be leased by the government using funding allocated to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.
On Friday 20th March, the first hotel rooms for homeless people were secured when 300 beds at the Intercontinental Hotels Group were block-booked for the next three months so rough sleepers can self-isolate. IHG owns the Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express and Crowne Plaza brands.
If you see someone rough sleeping, please contact Streetlink.
In regards to Big Issue vendors specifically, we have frontline staff across the UK who are in daily contact with our vendors. We will encourage all vendors to reach out to us, if they require financial or other forms of support, and we will aim to ensure their needs are met during this difficult time.
The Big Issue is still releasing a digital form of the magazine and offering subscriptions of the printed edition. On any magazines and subscription purchases, 50% of net proceeds will go to supporting vendors and 50% will go to the Big Issue. You can find out more here: https://www.bigissue.com/support-the-big-issue/
Big Issue vendors will also continue to be able to apply to the Vendor Support Fund. This fund exists to offer a hand up for Big Issue vendors that require extra financial support in times of crisis and hardship and is available to all vendors across the country.
Big Issue vendors will be able to apply directly to The Big Issue Foundation for financial support during and beyond the Covid-19 pandemic.
These funds can provide vital support with housing, health and finance and/or any other area of need that vendors require assistance.
We will not require any complicated official verification system to qualify and will exercise discretion to ensure that we can positively support as many vendors as possible within their Big Issue selling career.
If you would like to support our work you can donate here: https://www.bigissue.org.uk/donate/