Established 2005 Registered Charity No. 1110656

Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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February – March 2024 : The little things READ ONLINE


Outside looking in

March 01 2021
The Digital Divide inspired by a Brixton phonebox © Mat Amp The Digital Divide inspired by a Brixton phonebox © Mat Amp

How being homeless left even more people on the outside, by Mat Amp 

At the start of the first lockdown the government told us all that it was our duty to go home, bolt the doors and await further instruction. Selfisolate, they said.

People talked about the great divide – those with gardens and those without, and we went on with our bitching and moaning about how there was nothing to do while we kicked back in front of our Supermax 400 inch global hi-def megavision quantum 9 viewing tubes to rinse our Netflix subscriptions for every penny’s worth of its £9.99 a month.

But it wasn’t quite that simple for everybody. While the government’s web page proclaimed in big shouty letters ‘CORONAVIRIUS IS SPREADING FAST, DO NOT LEAVE YOUR HOME UNLESS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY’ some were left asking the question: "What home?"

One of the reporters for the community journalism project run by Groundswell and On Our Radar, who chooses to remain anonymous, wrote: “I was shocked by this situation, where people are left on the streets while at the same time told 'Stay at home, save lives'. The hypocrisy! I noticed that one of the permitted legal reasons to be outside is homelessness.”

Good of them not to start going down the path of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, from New York, who once said, "Streets do not exist in civilized societies for the purpose of people sleeping there, bedrooms are for sleeping,” before he started rounding up New York’s homeless and throwing them in jail. 

While most people aren’t this extreme, there is a common failing amongst the public to grasp the link between trauma and homelessness.

Everyone In was an unequivocal solution that seemed to offer the help that was needed at the time.  A simple name, a simple concept and a simple timeline – NOW. The public seemed to support the scheme. And we all lived happily… DID WE FUCK!

Since those early days of the pandemic the news reports about the plight of people experiencing homelessness have almost disappeared. Who knows if this is cause or effect, but public concern and support seems to have waned too. Either way, the government’s response was a decision not to renew the Everyone In scheme at the start of the third lockdown.

Did the government only come up with the scheme just to protect the public from infected people wandering the streets? And now, wise to the nature of the virus and the way it is spread, are they just willing to take the risk? It certainly seems strange that it was instigated in the warmer months of spring but has not been renewed for winter.

Our talented anonymous reporter puts it like this: “If people are put in a decent clean room and given the support they need, it might prevent years of homelessness, health emergencies, criminality, imprisonment, destroyed lives. What a difference it could make! Is there a way to reignite the good will from the first lockdown, to change the whole approach and start to heal? There must be a way to show that prevention is cheaper than an emergency. Why don't decision makers listen?”

Let’s be honest, Everyone In is just a sticking plaster anyway, and a sticking plaster on a wound that needs skin grafts to heal. Despite giving temporary respite to many, it has provided very little long-term help to get people out of homelessness for good.

Get involved

  • On Our Radar & Groundswell (where Mat works) are currently running an innovative community journalism scheme as part of a Covid Monitoring Project. Reporters with experience of homelessness send in reports about life during the pandemic in a bid to inform policy makers, other charities and the public, see
  • Interviews are confidential and you are not committing to anything by doing them. If you are interested email: or ring Mat on 07595 602 324 (leave a message if there is no answer).