ROUGH sleepers will be offered accommodation to help them self-isolate during the coronavirus crisis.

BCP Council has joined forces with St Mungo's Street Outreach Team to identify and accommodate rough sleepers.

Cllr. Kieron Wilson, Cabinet member for Housing, BCP Council told the Daily Echo: "We are taking measures to protect the safety of our rough sleepers during the Covid-19 crisis.

"Joint working arrangements are currently in place between BCP Council and St Mungo’s Street Outreach Team to promptly identify and accommodate rough sleepers in a range of appropriate accommodation to help ensure their health and welfare.

"These arrangements will include the ability to self-isolate when required due to Covid-19 and its impact, including the need for shielding.

The move comes as charities urge the Government to block-book hotel beds for all homeless people - not just rough sleepers - to self-isolate from the coronavirus.

Doing so could “potentially save thousands of lives” throughout the country, say the Museum of Homelessness, as it warned shared emergency shelters could become “death traps”.

Between July and September last year, 369 households identified as homeless in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government data shows – a 16 per cent increase on the same period in 2018.

In Dorset there were 182 homeless households, two per cent down on the previous year.

Across England, the number of homeless households rose by 17 per cent over the year.

Matt Downie, director of policy at Crisis, said homeless people are more susceptible to catching and spreading Covid-19, and are more vulnerable to the worst effects of it.

He added: “Not just because the advice is impossible if you don’t have anywhere to live, but also the underlying health needs of the homeless making them more vulnerable – you are three times more likely to have a respiratory illness.”

He said that it was now a “race against time” to ensure people experiencing homelessness have access to self-contained accommodation with private bathrooms.

The Government has already pledged £3.2 million in emergency support for rough sleepers during the outbreak – 11 per cent of which (£368,000) is going to the south west region.

Communities secretary Robert Jenrick said: “Public safety and protecting the most vulnerable people in society from coronavirus is this government’s top priority.

“The initial funding that I’ve announced will ensure councils are able to put emergency measures in place to help some of the most vulnerable people in our society to successfully self-isolate.”

In addition to those identified as being homeless in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, a further 401 households were threatened with homelessness within 56 days during the third quarter of 2019. There were a further 165 in Dorset.

Anyone who is conerned about a rough sleeper has been asked to call the St Mungo’s team on 01202 315962 or report