Established 2005 Registered Charity No. 1110656

Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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Jul-Aug 2020 : HOPE READ ONLINE

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Test time

May 01 2020
John Gibbons works across London to test people in hostels or the hotels where people who rough sleep have been temporary accommodated. © Sarah Hough John Gibbons works across London to test people in hostels or the hotels where people who rough sleep have been temporary accommodated. © Sarah Hough

John Gibbons is a Groundswell case worker who is testing the homeless community for Covid-19. Interview by Sarah Hough.

John Gibbons from the Find & Treat team stresses the importance of maintaining social distancing even if you’re not showing any symptoms. “We tested 110 people in a hostel in about 4 hours and 4% were positive but not showing any symptoms. People assume they are fine, but they are really not. When there’s one infected in a hotel, there will be more if not properly socially distanced.”

He also reflects on the impact that being in isolation is having on people: “I think the challenging thing is the lack of human interaction, we’re unable to hug each other, which is massive. There are people in the hostels with mental health issues who are unable to see their friends or their family or go and do the things that they used to. People who drink or take drugs are often quite social beings, so they haven’t got that interaction anymore… The consequences of this could be serious.”

“I think there are a lot of people on the street who just needed a break, and this might be the break they needed. They’re in a room, they’ve got their own TV, they’ve got 3 meals a day, they haven’t got to brave the harsh conditions out there, so this could be a good thing. It gives them a chance to access mental health services, psychotherapists and key workers and really talk about their stuff. If people can get that from being in a hostel that would be incredible.”

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