One year on since all the homeless were housed over a weekend


Last year councils were given two days notice that they must find emergency accommodation for all rough sleepers. - Credit: Yui Mok

One year on from the Government's "Everybody In" scheme to house all homeless people during lockdown, we look at the long-term affect this has had for rough sleepers in Welwyn Hatfield.

The policy came into action on March 27, 2020, and has continued to provide additional funding for councils despite not housing all the homeless for the subsequent lockdowns.


Sarah, who works for homeless charity Resolve, spent months living with her clients during the first lockdown to continue their care. - Credit: Resolve

But has the policy had any long term impacts on homelessness in Welwyn Hatfield? By housing all the homeless a year ago, were more people able to find the help they needed?

This paper asked the council for the number of homeless people housed in temporary accommodation by the council in February for each of these years: 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021.

The data showed: 2018 – 97,  2019 – 103,  2020 – 123, 2021 – 97.

The joint lowest year was 2021 with 97, but the council clarified that an additional 21 people were being housed due to the Everybody In policy, therefore the comparable figure would be 76 - the lowest. 

The rate of people being able to find somewhere to live was not drastically impacted by the pandemic.

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In 2019, 246 people were able to secured settled stable accommodation, and in 2020, 207 people were.


Sarah celebrated her birthday while living in lockdown with her clients last year - Credit: Resolve

Sarah Jamieson, who works for homeless charity Resolve in Hatfield, said: "It has had a major impact, as it's dramatically reduced the people that are rough sleeping.

"For us it's been a fantastic policy."

If Resolve is running at capacity, it gives them the ability to still help those in need find somewhere to stay such as a hotel.

Which allows Resolve to continue working with them on an outreach basis.

Last year during the first lockdown, Sarah moved in and lived with her guests for four months so they could continue to provide care.

Looking back over the worst period of the pandemic, December and January, Sarah said: "Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council have just been superb, they were putting people into hotels, people we referred to them.

"It was a much more reduced number [than the first lockdown].

The main difference Sarah found in that period of time was that more people who would fit into the category of hidden homelessness came forward.

She added: "We have noticed there's been this element of hidden homelessness. We have had people approach us who have maybe sleeping in their cars. So they are still homeless but it's not as visible as people out there in plain sight."

Looking to the future Sarah was optimistic, but cautious: "It's really hard to say. What COVID has taught me is never presume anything.

"I think things are going to become a lot clearer as things relax, I'm not quite sure how things will play out.

"I don't think any of us really know.

"It's definitely heading in the right direction, we've got a system where we can get out and respond to anybody we hear of and then get on to the council and speak to them about the options."

Simone Russell, corporate director at Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council, said: “As the country headed into the first lockdown, there was an immediate increase in demand as we worked to get everyone into safe accommodation.

"This also gave our teams and partners an opportunity to work more closely with people sleeping rough – or without stable accommodation – to help offer a route to a more secure lifestyle.  This work has continued and our services have developed, so that more help is now available to provide both accommodation and support.

“Another positive we’re seeing is more people approaching us when they are at risk of homelessness; it is far more likely that we can prevent someone from becoming homeless in the first place when we’re involved early. We continue to urge anyone with concerns to speak with our team as soon as possible.

“While this past year has enabled us to develop closer ties and new ways of working, particularly with the voluntary sector, we’re also preparing for the longer-term economic impacts of coronavirus to place further demand on our services.

"That is why the supply of new, affordable housing and council homes remains so important, and why we have committed £70m over the next five years to deliver more.”

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