People sleeping rough instead of in hostels over coronavirus fears, campaigner says

People sleeping rough instead of in hostels over coronavirus fears, campaigner says

The hundreds of beds sourced across Dublin for homeless people are not being seen on the ground, a campaigner has claimed.

Anthony Flynn, the head of Inner City Helping Homeless (ICHH), said there has been a massive increase in the number of homeless people leaving shared hostel accommodation over fears of becoming infected with coronavirus.

The Dublin councillor said that individuals are not able to self-isolate in hostels as up to six people could be sharing one room.

Up to 350 hotel rooms and living spaces were made available to Dublin’s homeless services over the last few weeks.

The measures are part of the Government’s efforts to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

The homelessness campaigner has said that the number of rough sleepers has not reduced, as many have decided to sleep rough rather than overcrowd the system.

Mr Flynn said that today, ICHH served basic food provisions to more than 2,000 people while more than 300 hot meals were gone in 15 minutes last week.

He said: “There has been an increase in relation to the number of people who need assistance and in the number of people leaving hostels because the chances of self-isolating in hostels are slim.

“The hostels are overcrowded and we are now seeing this new wave of people coming into the homeless system in the last two weeks.

“People are afraid they will catch coronavirus in hostels.

“There were three new tents last night so we are not seeing what we are being told has been initiated, because there is a new wave of people in homeless services.”

Mr Flynn also said that prisoners freed on temporary release over coronavirus fears are ending up on the street.

    The latest restrictions in operation since Friday, March 27 mandate that everyone should stay at home, only leaving to:
  • Shop for essential food and household goods;
  • Attend medical appointments, collect medicine or other health products;
  • Care for children, older people or other vulnerable people - this excludes social family visits;
  • Exercise outdoors - within 2kms of your home and only with members of your own household, keeping 2 metres distance between you and other people
  • Travel to work if you provide an essential service - be sure to practice social distancing

The Irish Prison Service (IPS) released inmates to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Mr Flynn added: “Prisoners have been told they are leaving prison because it is overcrowded. There are around two to three people in a cell, but in hostels you are sleeping up to six people in one room.

“It’s in complete disarray.

There are empty buildings and empty hotels around the city but people are still sleeping rough

“People are working all hours to implement plans to keep people safe but the system is not working.

“There are facilities like those in City West Hotel where there are over 700 rooms available to people who need to self-isolate.

“People who are homeless and need to isolate need to use these rooms.

“There are already a number of homeless people who have to self-isolate and a number of others who have tested positive for the virus.

“We have been told there is now a one-tier health system but they are being treated differently. There are empty buildings and empty hotels around the city but people are still sleeping rough.”

    Useful information
  • The HSE have developed an information pack on how to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. Read it here
  • Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus who has been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days should isolate themselves from other people - this means going into a different, well-ventilated room alone, with a phone; phone their GP, or emergency department;
  • GPs Out of Hours services are not in a position to order testing for patients with normal cold and flu-like symptoms. HSELive is an information line and similarly not in a position to order testing for members of the public. The public is asked to reserve 112/999 for medical emergencies at all times.
  • ALONE has launched a national support line and additional supports for older people who have concerns or are facing difficulties relating to the outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Ireland. The support line will be open seven days a week, 8am-8pm, by calling 0818 222 024

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