Portsmouth rough sleepers receive COVID-19 vaccination

Partnership working enables vulnerable homeless residents to get protected

Portsmouth City Council in partnership with Brunel Primary Care Network and Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service have provided the COVID-19 vaccine to 83 rough sleepers and hostel residents in the city. This was done as an outreach programme visiting Hope House hostel and rough sleepers in key spots across the city using a van provided by Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS).

The vaccination programme is being delivered to those at highest risk but rough sleepers are likely to miss an invitation due to their lack of postal address, not being registered with a GP or not having an accurate record held of their health conditions. Their living situation increases the likelihood of them suffering poor health which means they’re more likely to be negatively impacted if they catch COVID-19. Their circumstances also make it harder to follow good hygiene practices, which we know is important in avoiding catching the virus.

The vaccines were delivered by staff from Brunel Primary Care Network, who were taken around the city in an outreach van provided by HFRS and driven by one of their firefighters. The community safety contact point vehicle visited Hope House hostel, Commercial Road during times when Helping Hands were providing meals for rough sleepers, and North End high street.

Cllr Matthew Winnington, Cabinet Member for Health, Wellbeing and Social Care at Portsmouth City Council, said; “It’s important that all of our residents are enabled to live healthy lives. We know that the COVID-19 vaccination is our way out of the pandemic and we want to make sure that everyone, regardless of their living situation, has the opportunity to access it.

“This is a great example of partnership working for the benefit of the city and I’d like to thank everyone involved.”

Carole Phillips, Clinical Director of Brunel Primary Care Network, said; “We’re pleased to have been part of this piece of work and help to protect some of the city’s most vulnerable residents.”

HFRS Watch Manager Simon Bates said: “We were pleased to be able to get involved in this scheme to help some of the most vulnerable members of the community. The response from those getting vaccinated was great to see and really rewarding.”

Claire Haque, a manager at Two Saints, said; “Some of our residents have been anxious about Covid. Many are reluctant to visit health care settings though for fear of being judged so it’s fantastic that they were able to get vaccinated in a place that they’re more comfortable.”

Kimberley Brown, a user of our rough sleeper services, said that getting the vaccine was easy and she’s glad she’s had it done.

This is the latest piece of activity in our co-ordinated effort to support rough sleepers during the pandemic, which includes:
• Providing self-contained accommodation to rough sleepers and those on the brink of becoming homeless in two hotels in the city and delivering healthcare in these settings
• A new supported pathway to help rough sleepers to move from the streets to permanent and sustainable accommodation, which has seen 99 people who were using the emergency hotel accommodation move into settled homes
• Our outreach team, along with our community wardens, working with newly homeless people or those at risk of sleeping rough
• Supporting the new In-Reach Service at QA Hospital which helps rough sleepers with mental health difficulties access the health care they need and ensures that no one is discharged on to the streets
• Developing proposals to establish a new drug and alcohol support service for rough sleepers

An online event is taking place on 17 March to reflect on the work done by multiple organisations across the past 12 months to support rough sleepers and to talk about our aspirations to tackle the issues of housing and homelessness in the city moving forward.

To find out more and register for a place visit: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJUufuisrzssHNQjkE6Nd3mlTFJJbSJjqZg7

vaccinating rough sleepers