Care Centre Manager, Steve Bagnall, is back off furlough and deep cleaning the Care Centre, ready to re-open on Monday 15th June, when food will be served from the loading bay from 12 noon to 4.30pm.
How and when we will be able to open up the building itself will depend – on whether government guidelines will require one or two metres distancing and watching how restaurants operate when they open next month. Steve said, ‘To a certain extent, we will need to play it by ear.’ He continued:
‘During lockdown, many of our rough sleeping guests have been given hotel beds around the city, but they have felt the lack of freedom, stuck in a room, unable to be out and about as they are used to doing a lot of the time. For them, and for our guests who have their own place, boredom has been a big issue, and getting around difficult as they feel unsafe using public transport.
Over the last couple of weeks the homeless have been more visible on the city’s streets – they seem to be coming back out now. And housing charities have started calling the Care Centre, preparing once again to help.
For many of the Care Cente staff and volunteers, we see serving others as our calling. The thought that closing the project was the best way we could help our guests during this time felt very strange but we, along with other homeless projects in Birmingham, made what we hope was the right decision. We’re now looking forward to safely reopening in some way, serving a meal, catching up on events, sharing the gospel message and helping in any way we can. Please keep us all in your prayers as we begin the process of opening the doors again.’
Since lockdown began, around 15,00 people in the UK, more than 90% of its rough sleepers, have been given accommodation through the government’s ‘Everyone In’ scheme. The hope is that the emergency solutions provided would become permanent and that nobody is forced to return to the streets. However, national homelessness charity, Crisis, has raised concerns that government funding provided to councils to support the homeless during the pandemic will run out at the end of June. At the same time, many who had a home before lockdown have lost it due to job loss or relationship breakdown. The government has promised a rough sleeping taskforce to create new housing units and accelerate new services to tackle the homelessness problem as we move beyond Coronavirus.