“It is more dangerous on the street – not only can you maybe catch the virus, but also other people can be a risk to you. I feel very lucky to be here in the hotel because I know not everybody gets this chance.” 

Iker had been working in a restaurant kitchen in Chinatown as a porter for eight months. Unfortunately, he lost his job in early March as the restaurant started to reduce its staff due to emerging concerns about coronavirus. 

Iker had been living in a hostel for about ten months. Although he started looking for a new job immediately, the pandemic meant that there weren’t any opportunities. Sadly, this meant that Iker was unable to continue paying for his hostel accommodation. He came to The Connection’s night centre, and stayed there for a couple of weeks.  

When the night centre had to close on Friday 20th March, Iker was one of the 80 clients who was helped into hotel accommodation in London that weekend.  

During the pandemic, we have been working around the clock to help secure suitable accommodation for rough sleepers to help them to self-isolate and stay safe and well. We have also been working on the front line in hotels to support people throughout this period.

The support we provide has included: 

  • preparing and delivering three meals a day, providing laundry services, and delivering medication, toiletries and other essentials;
  • working with nurses and psychologists to help with physical and mental wellbeing;
  • helping clients to access support for drug & alcohol addictions;
  • continuing regular casework to help people to get their lives back on track – such as support to find more permanent accommodation, access benefits, or resolve immigration status.  

 

Iker says “It is more dangerous on the street – not only can you maybe catch the virus, but also other people can be a risk to you. I feel very lucky to be here in the hotel because I know not everybody gets this chance.” 

Iker’s keyworker Jack has helped him to successfully claim housing benefits, which means Iker has now been able to move into his own rented room. We’ve also made a referral to a local food bank and been able to provide him with a ‘starter pack’ for his new home – including bedding, pots and pans and other essentials – to help him get back on his feet.  

Iker says “Without the hotels it would have been a disaster for me. I suffer from OCD and a lot of anxiety. With my situation – losing my job, not having money to pay for my accommodation – it was impacting my mental health, which was getting much worse. The Connection helped me a lot, and the nurses were asking us every day if we were OK. It felt like we were protected by everybody. I’m not as worried now – my mental health and quality of life is much better… I feel great!” 

Iker is really happy with his new place and has started looking for work already – he hopes to be able to get back to work as soon as possible! He says “I’m very happy to have a place to live again. I have more pride I think, and now I feel safe.” 

Read more of Iker’s story here

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