While local authorities are putting additional capacity in place to support those sleeping rough, social distancing means members of the public are being advised to keep their distance from everyone including those who are sleeping out.
However, these people still need support which is why local authorities are asking people to donate to Change into Action.
This scheme directs support and funding into specialist homelessness charities and street teams who are working to improve the lives of individuals who are rough sleeping. Those sleeping rough across the West Midlands are at high risk of both contracting the virus and falling extremely ill. Money raised through Change into Action will go towards getting the most vulnerable the support they need to survive in this extremely difficult period.
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands said: “Right now, many businesses and individuals are facing huge challenges as the Coronavirus continues to spread. The situation we are in is nothing short of both a public health and economic emergency.
“But we are particularly concerned about those sleeping rough across the West Midlands, who are in real danger because of this virus. Local authorities are already doing brilliant work to help protect these vulnerable members of society, including offering every rough sleeper a roof over their head. But we need more help.
“Businesses and individuals across the West Midlands have been extremely generous in their support of the scheme to date, and I hope they will continue to help us to protect some of the most vulnerable people in society by donating to Change into Action.”
The scheme was launched in December 2017 as a partnership between the Mayor of the West Midlands, the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), and Birmingham City Council.
However, despite the success of Change into Action to date, there is concern that the economic impact of the Coronavirus pandemic will see donations dwindle, leaving society’s most vulnerable at risk.
Cllr Sharon Thompson, Birmingham City Council’s Cabinet Member for Homes and Neighbourhoods, and Chair of the WMCA Homelessness Taskforce Members Advisory Group, said: “People who sleep rough face a whole range of physical and mental health challenges, and as a consequence are even more vulnerable with the Coronavirus spreading.
“Everyone is working hard to help protect those who are sleeping on our city’s streets and are doing all they can to get people off the streets, into accommodation and to support them with self-isolating. But we need your help. We’re asking that if you have any spare change, please support Change into Action., Every donation, big or small, goes towards supporting people in real need."
Off the back of the pilot’s success in Birmingham, the programme has also been rolled out in Solihull, Coventry and Walsall.
Additionally, Wolverhampton has its own scheme called Small Change for Big Change. Change into Action is a safe and easy way for members of the public and businesses to give money knowing that it will directly go to helping people who are sleeping rough. Money donated so far has paid for items such as new clothing, ID so that benefits and accommodation can be accessed, travel passes to get to medical and other essential appointments, and emergency accommodation.
In Birmingham more than £60,000 has been raised, with more than 350 applications for funding approved.
The easiest and most direct way to donate is through the Change into Action website www.changeintoaction.org.uk