A Bath charity is calling on hoteliers to make their rooms available to homeless people who need to self-isolate.
Numbers of suspected cases of coronavirus among rough sleepers helped by Julian House are low at the moment – but they are expected to increase significantly in the next few weeks.
The charity has warned that when a rise in cases comes, it will have almost no space available.
With the dramatic decline in tourism caused by the pandemic, Julian House fundraising director Cecil Weir is asking hotels in Bath, as well as anyone with spare rooms or even entire properties, to help.
The virus is set to cost the charity £200,000 in lost income from cancelled events and the closure of shops.
So Mr Weir is also appealing for support from the wider community.
He said: “These are unprecedented times for everyone. Everything has been turned on its head and the new normal is very challenging.
“Although we all hope that things will get better soon, the reality is that it is likely to become more difficult.
“We are at full stretch at the minute and we can foresee a need for extra single-occupancy accommodation for clients with low support needs and others needing precautionary self-isolation.
“This in turn will free up our other existing supported housing.
“One of the consequences of COVID-19’s arrival is a dramatic decline in tourism and empty properties.
“We are hoping that hotel and property owners will get in touch and we can come to a suitable arrangement – with Julian House and our partners managing any clients who are placed there.”
Up until now, Julian House has been able to maintain all of its key services for the homeless, including its 29 hostel beds, the extra winter 20-bed accommodation and all its supported housing projects.
Mr Weir added: “It is very hard to credit that something we hadn’t heard of 10 weeks ago should have such a dramatic impact on all our lives.
“Ordinarily, this soon after Christmas we would not be asking supporters to get their cheque books out and for online banking transfers, but our need is significant.
“A dedicated appeal has been set up at www.justgiving.com/campaign/JulianHouse-CoronavirusFund.”
The money will be spent on deep cleans, hardship payments, extra supplies and phone credits so clients can stay in touch with support workers and health professionals.
Mr Weir said: “As ever we are indebted to all our supporters for helping us to change the lives of some of the most vulnerable and marginalised members of society.
“When so many people are closing their doors, we remain open and right now they need our support more than ever before.”
Accommodation offers should be directed to email@example.com or Mr Weir on 01225 354650.
Stephen Sumner, Local Democracy Reporter