Oasis Community Housing has joined calls for staff working with people experiencing homelessness to be treated as a priority occupation for the COVID vaccine.

Writing to Members of Parliament in constituencies where the charity serves the homeless – Gateshead, Sunderland, Peckham and Croydon – David Smith, the charity’s Chief Executive, explained:

“People with no home are old before their time. Levels of frailty … are comparable to 89-year-olds in the general population. Research has also found that people with no home have an average of seven long-term health conditions, far higher than people in their 90s.

“Just as residents of care homes are at higher clinical risk of severe disease, so are those who use single homeless hostels and other shared homeless accommodation for rough sleepers.

“Correspondingly, frontline homelessness support workers are therefore at increased personal risk of exposure to infection with COVID-19 and of transmitting that infection to susceptible and vulnerable people in shared homelessness accommodation.”

Ensuring provision of care to vulnerable people

In the letters sent to Ian Mearns (MP for Gateshead), Julie Elliott (Sunderland Central), Harriet Harman (Camberwell and Peckham) and Steve Reed (Croydon North), David continues:

“The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) rightly considers frontline health and social care workers who provide care to vulnerable people a high priority for vaccination …

“We believe that, as people working in necessarily close proximity to people with compromised health and so increased susceptibility to COVID infection and harm, frontline homelessness staff must also be prioritised.”

The letters back a campaign being spearheaded by Homeless Link, the membership body for frontline homelessness charities and agencies, which has written directly to the Minister for COVID Vaccine Deployment asking that roles working with people who have no home are added to the Priority Occupation list for The Next Phase of vaccination.

A copy of the MP letter, requesting that they raise with the issue of prioritising COVID vaccinations for those working with homeless people – and for homeless people themselves – with the Minister, Nadhim Zahawi MP, can be downloaded here.