Coronavirus: Homeless outreach group gives out health packs to rough sleepers in Finsbury Park
PUBLISHED: 16:09 09 March 2020 | UPDATED: 17:34 09 March 2020
Volunteers from a homeless outreach group spent Sunday giving out packs containing tissues, soap and coronavirus health advice to people sleeping rough in Finsbury Park.
The London Homeless Welfare Team (LHWT) was set up in January by Jorawar 'Jay' Singh Rathour of Crouch Hill, who felt the need to act after seeing the problems under the Stroud Green Road bridge on his commute.
While watching news of the coronavirus outbreak reaching the UK, Jay thought of the people he sees around the area who would be more vulnerable due to pre-existing health conditions.
'We are out there on the regular and we come across a lot of the homeless people who are going to be more susceptible to viruses,' he told the Gazette.
'Finsbury Park is a busy area with a lot of people coming from different countries and I just thought we had to do something.'
LHWT is still struggling to secure funding after its launch. It has donations of £180 on a GoFundMe page and relies on six members paying direct debits of £10 into a shared account each month.
Using what money they had, Jay went around shops and bought soap, tissues and water bottles. Then he, his mother Sapuran Rathour and two others bagged them with NHS health advice leaflets and set off to find those in need.
Jay added: 'People we were speaking to weren't really mentioning coronavirus, but they were really happy when I said I wanted to give them a pack.
'It's not a high priority for them, they are just trying to survive. But people were really pleased that people were coming out and looking after them. We were told being ignored made them feel worthless. No one had brought them anything to help with coronavirus.
'We gave out about 20 packs and told people where the public toilets were so they could wash their hands. Everyone we offered it to took it without hesitation.'
Jay is now calling on councils and the government to do more and help get homeless people off the streets.
His calls echo those of homeless charity Crisis and the Liberal Democrats, who have called on the government to publish guidance on how to help rough sleepers, and advise how they can self-isolate if needed.
Crisis' policy director Matthew Downie said: 'People sleeping rough are particularly vulnerable because they are more likely to have a range of existing health conditions and face specific challenges in that they may be unable to regularly wash their hands, nor can they self-isolate if they feel unwell.'
Lib Dem MP Layla Moran has written to housing secretary Robert Jenrick and health secretary Matt Hancock urging the government to act.