WORK is underway to make sure all rough sleepers in Worcester have a roof over their heads by the weekend as the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread.

Community leaders are working together to house around 30 rough sleepers in Worcester. The work is being carried out by Worcester City Council, with other councils and voluntary partners. We understand 15 bed accommodation has already been found in the city by the county council. There is also the potential to use B&Bs, hotel rooms and houses of multiple occupation to meet remaining need. Speaking yesterday afternoon, Jonathan Sutton, chief executive of St Paul's Hostel, said: "We are trying to get to the position in the next 96 hours where there should be no good reason for anybody to be on the street."

A spokesman for Worcester City Council said: "We are also working with existing and potential partners within the private sector to meet this need to ensure the safety of rough sleepers. The situation is particularly challenging as many hotels that might normally be available are currently closed."

An email from a government official, sent on Thursday, called on local authorities to get ‘everyone in’. Crisis chief executive Jon Sparkes said: “The Government has committed to ending rough sleeping by 2025 - this proves it can be done in 2020 if we make it the priority it deserves to be.”

To get “everyone in” by the weekend, Crisis says the Government should launch a national appeal for accommodation, which would include empty apartment blocks and hotels. Hugo Sugg, a campaigner on behalf of Worcester’s homeless people, said: “The Government advice to stay at home does not easily apply to rough sleepers and that is why I published the advice that should you see a rough sleeper with a cough or showing illness, to stay 6ft/2m away, ask for their name and date of birth and call 999. Everyone has a duty to protect the vulnerable and the Government must set the example. That is why this morning I was in contact with Worcester MP Robin Walker for him and Government ministers to talk to senior management at both Premier Inn and Travelodge to enable them to open up the hotels during this crisis to house people who are homeless or those who need to be quarantined if they have symptoms. This should happen in Worcestershire and across the UK immediately.”