A number of leading homeless organisations have come together to urge the public to become ‘ordinary heroes’ to prevent services to vulnerable people from having to shut their doors during the coronavirus pandemic.

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A range of skills sets and roles are required, including reception and cleaning staff, as well as specialist supports such as support workers, healthcare workers, and night staff. All positions are paid roles.

Under the umbrella of the Crisis Cover Initiative, homeless organisations including Depaul, Extern, First Housing Aid and Support Services (FHASS) and the Simon Community, are asking members of the public with relevant qualifications and experience to add their name to a list of individuals who may be called on to step up where staff levels in services become depleted by personnel having to take time off.

Speaking about the initiative, Kevin Wright of FHASS said; “Our services are vital for the most vulnerable within our society. Any reduction in support would be catastrophic for our service users..”

Jim Denison of the Simon Community added “The NHS is in place to deliver the best care possible at a very trying time. We need to ensure we are doing the same for homeless people in Northern Ireland – our organisations provide an opportunity for people to work in a variety of roles in essential services.”

David Carroll of Depaul said: “We are worried that we will be left in a position where we must close services due to too many staff having to take time off. We need people to step up and become ordinary heroes. We know it’s asking a lot, but it’s no more than we are asking of doctors, nurses and others who have to go to work every day at this difficult time.”

Danny McQuillan of Extern added “We know this is a stressful time for everyone. Work forms a huge part of our everyday routine and to have that taken away suddenly not only affects people’s pockets but also their stress levels. We are now in the position where we can offer people much needed employment and also the opportunity to support some of the most vulnerable people in our community, and I would appeal for people to please apply to Crisis Cover if you can.”

Clarke Bailie, of the Housing Executive who is supporting the initiative said: “Ensuring we keep services running for the most vulnerable is vitally important. This initiative plays an important role in connecting people who can help with those that need it. In relation to staff risk of catching Covid-19, these organisations are all taking advice on safety from the Public Health Agency and will be continually adapting this as new advice is available, however these roles are not recommended for people with underlying health conditions, or who are living with people who do’.

Nicola McCrudden, Homeless Sector COVID-19 Manager added: “These are unprecedented times, the homeless sector in Northern Ireland is pulling together alongside statutory services to make sure that those living on the streets get the support they need, as well as the families and individuals living in temporary accommodation. Our priority is to protect both staff and service users and make sure we continue to provide vital services to our clients.”

Further Information

The Crisis Cover initiative is being managed by charity Quality Matters on behalf of a conglomerate of organisations.

This programme is funded by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive

See www.crisiscover.ie