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Homelessness threat on rise during lockdown

Lockdown has undoubtedly left us all feeling a little precarious and vulnerable, but few are quite as vulnerable as the 320,000 homeless people in the UK. 

And because of the fall-out of lockdown, that number may be on the increase.  

Joint research from the Co-Operative Bank and Centrepoint has found that a quarter of young people in the UK are concerned about being made homeless, as a result of losing their income through the pandemic.

This figure is not surprising to Brontë Schiltz, the Communications and Fundraising Officer for The Big Issue North, a street magazine sold by homeless people to help them earn a living. 

“We’ve had a lot more people coming to us who’ve expressed an interest in becoming a vendor,” Miss Schiltz said.

“Either who’ve become homeless or who have just lost their source of income and are really worried about their situation. 

“We’ve had people coming forward who you wouldn’t expect to be working with The Big Issue, like a trained chef. 

“The state of the hospitality sector just means it’s impossible for them to get a job.” 

People working in the entertainment industry – or the ‘gig economy’ – are particularly vulnerable.

Miss Schiltz pointed to research from homelessness charity St. Mungos, which found that millions of people were vulnerable to homelessness, with only 40 per cent of people polled reporting they could pay their rent comfortably. 

“People in the arts sector, who make their money from gigs, it’s really difficult for them,” said Schiltz, “They can’t make a living, they can’t sell enough tickets.

“It’s definitely an issue that we expect to see on the increase.” 

Miss. Schiltz expressed dismay that the government ended their Everyone In scheme – through which councils were provided with emergency funding to house rough sleepers. 

“There don’t seem to be any plans to start it again, which is a bit of a crisis,” Miss. Schiltz said, “The scheme was a massive step forward. 

“We spoke to vendors who had moved into hotels and used that time to get clean.

“Some worked on CVs, some did volunteering, and it made a massive difference. 

“Being on the streets now during winter, on top of all the other issues – people not carrying change or not wanting to get close to others –  has made it a bit of a nightmare really.”

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