COVID-19: Inside the group working to help homeless through pandemic

SAFETY FIRST: Working group members practised social distancing during meetings.
SAFETY FIRST: Working group members practised social distancing during meetings.

FINDING emergency housing for the homeless community was among the accomplishments of a group formed to help Redlanders through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Redlands Homeless Care Co-ordination has been meeting weekly to raise concerns and find solutions on behalf of the local homeless community.

Group member and Bayside District Crime Prevention co-ordinator Brendon Winslow said homeless people had been hit harder than most by the impacts of COVID-19.

"The threat is far from over, although ... here in Queensland we are in a very good place compared to a few months ago when the streets were empty due to everyone self-isolating at home," Acting Sergeant Winslow said.

"(But) the homeless ... didn't have a home to self-isolate in. Their home is the public space everyone else visits.

"...Imagine the flow on effect for our community should just one of our homeless people have contracted COVID-19.

"Not only would the effects be potentially deadly to the homeless person sleeping rough on the street but due to them being predominantly in public places, an entire community could potentially become COVID-19 positive."

Acting Sergeant Winslow said the working group was formed in a bid to prevent this from happening.

Parties involved included all levels of government and community groups.

"The vast majority of homeless people within the Bayside Patrol Group (area) were found emergency housing in motels - not all, but most," he said.

The group forms part of the Redlands Local Disaster Management Group, which includes Redland City Council, emergency services and charity and volunteer organisations.

"One way of describing it would be to imagine a large tree providing shade protection to those under it," Acting Sergeant Winslow said.

"If I consider Redlands LDMG as the trunk, the core working group would be the branches and the extended working group would be the leaves, all of which together provide the shelter and protection.

"Doing the hard yards on the street ... would be partners such as Night Ninjas and Homeless United."

Groups like Supporting Those at Risk of Homelessness, Queensland Injectors Health Network, Silky Oaks, Insync Youth Services, Mangrove Housing and various church groups provided support in the form of food, accommodation and counselling.

Queensland Health, Bayside Housing Service Centre, Redlands Regional Care Co-ordinator, Redland City Council and Brisbane City Council also lent a hand.

Acting Sergeant Winslow said the COVID-19 situation was still evolving and the work was not over yet.

"I would love to (say) '...and they all lived happily ever after...." but we are still very much living the real life, ever-changing story."