Emergency accommodation given to vulnerable people at Heathrow Airport
Thames Reach’s multi-agency work supporting people rough sleeping in Heathrow has proved a success in recent days
Thames Reach have been providing outreach services at Heathrow Airport for several years, and recently with increased measures needed to ensure people who are rough sleeping are kept safe and able to self-isolate during COVID-19, we have been working on-site to find temporary accommodation for people sleeping rough in Heathrow Terminals 2-5 as well as the bus station. This has been a collaborative effort between Thames Reach and partner organisations including Heathrow Travelcare, social services and local authorities. Starting early on Wednesday 1 April, we have seen a real commitment to ensuring people who have been rough sleeping are cared for sensitively and effectively. Over three days, this impressive operation has seen a limited number of staff working in a complicated environment with a range of needs catered to, including complex needs, resulting in over 160 people being successfully given accommodation in this short space of time, an unprecedented effort.
Accommodation setups vary from hotel rooms, including some at the Thames Reach-run hotel in south-west London, to self-contained flats for those with COVID-19 symptoms, and extra provisions for people with pets. These are safe, positive spaces where individuals are able to spend time in clean, contained settings with food provided, in order to protect their immune systems from the risk of the virus.
Hotels are based in local authorities across the city, from Wandsworth to Ilford via the City, which are being staffed by various providers including Thames Reach. This is a thoroughly collaborative project, and we are working with organisations including St Mungo’s and Look Ahead to ensure the needs of each individual are met.
Having worked day and night at Heathrow, we are incredibly relieved to have been able to accommodate such a large number of people off the streets but our work is not done. We will be liaising with central and local government as well as our partners to ensure that those we have managed to temporarily re-house are not left behind once the quarantine is lifted.
Getting people into accommodation is a first step, but we need to make sure that we are able to help them take the next step away from homelessness and into stable and suitable accommodation. This story will progress and we will be releasing updates accordingly.