St Mungo’s welcomes increased Government funding to boost vaccine uptake

Leading homelessness charity St Mungo’s has welcomed the Government’s latest funding package to increase vaccine uptake among people experiencing street homelessness.

Today (20 December), the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) announced an additional funding pot of £28 million as part of the ‘Protect and Vaccinate Scheme.’

The scheme plans to increase vaccination rates among people who are sleeping rough, while also providing emergency accommodation to protect people from the dual threat of freezing winter temperatures and the Omicron variant.

The latest CHAIN quarterly data showed there were almost 3,000 people sleeping rough in London between July and September this year. But as the UK continues to accelerate its Booster vaccination programme against COVID-19, vaccine uptake among people experiencing homelessness remains “extremely low.”

James Lally, Service Director and Health Lead at St Mungo’s said:

 “We welcome today’s announcement which will go some way to supporting those who are most vulnerable to COVID-19. It’s critical that we continue to take steps to prevent COVID-19 from becoming a permanent health crisis for people experiencing homelessness.

 “We have helped thousands of people to safely self-isolate since the start of the pandemic, but vaccine uptake amongst people experiencing homelessness remains extremely low. Many of those we support find it difficult to access health services and we know that communities with poorer health outcomes or experiences of healthcare may feel less able to trust services.

 “This funding will support our work to build trust and facilitate access to vaccines. Mobile vaccination teams are well-equipped to work with vulnerable populations and a greater emphasis on these types of outreach programmes, alongside investment in inclusion health services, will be key to achieving and sustaining adequate levels of protection against COVID-19 in the long term.”

The ‘Protect and Vaccinate Scheme’ includes commitments to:

  • Deliver mobile vaccinations where people are sleeping on the streets.
  • Support outreach work in shelters to educate people about the dangers of COVID-19.
  • Provide funding for councils to provide safe and secure accommodation while their level of vaccination is increased.

Minister for Rough Sleeping, Eddie Hughes, said:

“In the wake of a surge in COVID-19 cases and a new variant, we have an even greater responsibility to protect vulnerable people.

“I’m very pleased to announce this funding today, to make sure as many people as possible are vaccinated and that councils can protect people sleeping rough and put a roof over their heads.”