A CHARITY which supports rough sleepers says it is becoming increasingly difficult to provide services to homeless people because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Rosemary Curtis is chair of Big Breakfast Plus, which normally provides a free hot morning meal out of The Haven on Queens Drive to anyone rough sleeping or in temporary accommodation.

Rosemary said: “One of the problems is there’s no one-size-fits-all for people experiencing homelessness and in an ideal world you would create a pathway for that individual bearing in mind all their needs.

“This is particularly problematic at the moment because of the strain on all services. Lots of organisations, even if they haven’t furloughed staff, have them working from home and therefore it’s just not possible to have those face-to-face interactions which people need.”

Since lockdown the charity has had to suspend its services.

“The public health requirements with social distancing are making it more challenging for us to help people,” said Rosemary.

“It’s easier for groups handing out food on the streets in the evenings but it’s more problematic when you’ve got a building such as The Haven, which is governed by the guidance for safe use of n multi-purpose community facilities,” she said.

For hostels, residents are all considered part of one household but for organisations serving different groups of people, government restrictions on how many people can be in an area apply.

Rosemary added: “If you’re providing a service like us for people who are rough sleepers, sofa surfers, those in emergency accommodation, those who are accommodated but can’t afford to buy food or haven’t got access to cooking facilities, then obviously they are all considered to be individuals households and we’re going to find that really problematic.”

The charity served more than 8,000 breakfasts during 2019, and welcomed 934 individuals between October 2017 and March 2020.

“They aren’t all rough sleepers but they are people who need our help," said Rosemary. "So we are really having to think outside the box in terms of what we can do in the short to medium term to help people."

The charity, which has been going for 27 years, has launched a campaign to provide £5 Greggs vouchers which Threshold’s outreach team can distribute to rough sleepers to help them get a breakfast in the morning.

“Sadly we’ve still got 11 rough sleepers on our streets despite the government’s everybody in initiative,” she said.

“But not everybody can engage and there are more people becoming homeless.

The charity is looking to raise £1,650 to provide these breakfasts throughout September.

Rosemary said: “Unfortunately, the numbers of homeless or people in danger of becoming homeless is likely to increase as a result of factors such as the impact of family and domestic violence during lockdown, the ending of furlough arrangements leading to more job losses, the lifting of the ban on ’no fault’ tenancy evictions.

“The need for our services is as great as it’s ever been,” she said.

To donate visit  https://localgiving.org/appeal/BuyaBreakfast/