The Halcrow Foundation funds projects that are run by charities in Africa, Asia and the UK. As the Covid-19 outbreak reaches more countries around the world, our charity partners are having to change the way they work to protect the communities they support.
Groundswell is a UK-based charity that focuses on health and homelessness. Much of its work is peer-led, and many of its volunteers and staff have experienced homelessness themselves. People without a home can be hit hard by the Covid-19 outbreak, as generally their health is already poor and they are more likely to have respiratory health issues, diabetes or compromised immune systems. Sleeping rough or living in crowded spaces also make it very difficult to self-isolate.
How Groundswell is supporting the UK homeless community during the outbreak
When the government starting issuing advice about stopping the spread of Covid-19, Groundswell consulted a group of volunteers and staff with experience of homelessness, and adapted the guidance for people who are rough sleeping and living in shared accommodation. It has produced accessible, regularly updated guides, which are also translated into Polish and Romanian.
The charity has suspended most face-to-face Homeless Health Peer Advocacy (HHPA) appointments. Instead it has developed a ‘Call and Check’ homeless health service where people are given safe, relevant health advice via phone.
Several of Groundswell’s peer caseworkers are working on London’s homeless Covid-19 response. For example, one staff member, who used to focus on Hepatitis C testing and treatment support, is now part of the Covid-19 testing team. During one day over the Easter weekend, he tested more than 100 people who have been accommodated in London hotels during the lockdown. Thousands more people are expected to be tested over the following weeks.
Groundswell is also researching the impacts of Covid-19 on people experiencing homelessness. Working with Kings College London and other partners, the project tracks the effects of government measures, and aims to understand how Covid-19 is impacting this vulnerable group. It also gives them a voice in the government’s decision-making process.
Find out more about the monitoring project, and how you can support Groundswell’s work here.