Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on Monday evening, we in the Executive discussed our pathway towards reopening safely. First and foremost, we have a responsibility towards the wellbeing of those who access our service and to our volunteers. With this in mind and taking account of the current very high levels of infection, we have taken the decision to remain an outdoors-only service for the time being.
Outdoors takeaway services have played a vital part in keeping COVID transmission among homeless people extremely low, both in York and across the country. At Carecent, this was made possible due to the hard work and patience of our customers, volunteers and committee members. The shift to outdoors was hurried and daunting, but it has worked so well in keeping people fed and in offering practical and social support through the pandemic. We have been able to offer vaccines, podiatry, referrals, food bank vouchers, all along with our regular food service. We are working to explore how we can offer even more in the period before we open fully, offering holistic support to our customers while remaining COVID-secure.
This decision was taken after consideration of the current risks. It isn’t a decision we took easily. We know how vital spaces like Carecent are for those within our community experiencing homelessness and social exclusion. Our primary responsibility, however, is with the safety of our customers. New cases of COVID are skyrocketing and expected to continue that way across the summer. While vaccine take-up has been wonderful, there are some who rely on us who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19. Vaccinations have been shown to work less reliably for those with certain disabilities and health conditions. Those experiencing homelessness are significantly more likely to live with medical conditions which make them clinically extremely vulnerable if they do contract the virus. It is still early days, and we want to ensure we are following the most robust evidence available before exposing people to a possible increase in risk. Furthermore, as we have seen in hospitality services across the city, instances of self-isolation mean businesses are regularly having to close their doors – and being left unable to feed people is not a risk we can justify taking.
This isn’t indefinite – the plan is to maintain our current service until later in the summer, at which point we will review our position based on local and national COVID data. We will monitor reports from similar organisations who are resuming indoor service. We will link with national homelessness organisations to access the most robust information and guidance possible. And we will continue to follow what the evidence tells us is safest. When that evidence suggests we can change our approach we will let you know you.
Our current needs are therefore still the things for packed lunches…
We have a regular supply of bread, but we need…
Any sandwich fillings
Fruit – bananas and satsumas are best
These items can be brought to us at Carecent between 8.30am and 9.30am on every day except Sunday – just ring 01904 624244 from the gate and we’ll either be out on the steps, or we’ll come and take your donation from you, maintaining a safe distance!
Thank you for your ongoing support.
The Carecent Executive