Help and advice on coronavirus and where to find support

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Coronavirus advice: rough sleeping

How to stay safe if you are sleeping rough

The government has asked councils to house all rough sleepers.

If you are still sleeping rough, let us know - call our helpline on 0800 567 7699.

Coronavirus is very dangerous if you are homeless. This page contains advice about protecting yourself from infection, and what to do if you do catch it.

(See the NHS.uk website for coronavirus updates)


What is coronavirus?

Coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. For some people it is similar to the flu, but others become seriously ill and develop difficulty breathing. Coronavirus is more dangerous for people who are:

  • Homeless
  • Living with a long-term health condition
  • Pregnant
  • Aged 70 or over.

How is it spread?

Coronavirus spreads when an infected person coughs small droplets - packed with the virus - into the air. These can be breathed in, or cause an infection if you touch a surface they have landed on, then your eyes, nose or mouth. It’s so contagious that the government has ordered people to stay in their homes and most shops too close.

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptoms of coronavirus are a continuous cough and/or high temperature. Some people can have coronavirus without displaying any symptoms, meaning they pass it to others without knowing.

I’m a rough sleeper. What should I do to stay safe?

If you are homeless, you’re more at risk of being seriously affected by coronavirus. You can stay safer by following these steps:

  • Clean your hands frequently using hand sanitiser gel or soap and water. Porchlight may be able to supply soap if you have none.
  • Each time you clean your hands, do so for at least 20 seconds.
  • When you sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with your sleeve - not your hands. You should still clean your hands afterwards.
  • Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.
  • Don’t share items such as cigarettes, bottles or cans of drink, or pipes
  • Maintain at least 2 metres (6-and-a-half feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid areas with large groups of people. Limit the time you spend in day centres, and make sure you’re a safe distance away from other people if you do go.

It’s important that you can contact support and healthcare workers during this time. Porchlight can supply you with a mobile phone if you need one.

I’m displaying symptoms. What should I do?

  • If you believe you have coronavirus, you must isolate yourself from other people for 7 days.
  • Call NHS 111 and tell them you have symptoms. Do not go to your GP, pharmacy or hospital.
  • If you are based in Kent, let Porchlight know. You can do this by calling our free helpline - 0800 567 7699.
  • You also need to inform your local council. If you don’t know how to contact them, call the Porchlight helpline and we’ll assist you. (If you are not based in Kent, contact your local day centre or support service for more assistance).
  • Do not visit a day centre, but do call to tell them you’ve got coronavirus symptoms.

I’m struggling to get food and drink because people are indoors and shops are closed

Porchlight is working with food banks to make sure you have what you need. If you are without food and drink, contact us on 0800 567 7699 and let us know.

More information about coronavirus and homelessness can found here.