Homeless people will be tested and vaccinated, says council

Redbridge Council will launch a Covid-19 test and vaccination programme with the help of Westminster Drug Project.

Redbridge Council will launch a Covid-19 test and vaccination programme with the help of Westminster Drug Project. - Credit: PA

A test and vaccination programme for rough sleepers in Redbridge will launch tomorrow (January 14).

It is one of the first in the country to offer support to homeless people using spare vaccination slots.

The council's public health team is working in partnership with Westminster Drug Project to deliver the service, which will provide swab testing at the Ryedale Care Centre in Ilford.

They will also use space vaccination slots at Ilford Town Hall, Hawkey Hall and Fullwell Medical Centre.

Individuals will be supported by an outreach worker rather than using a paper or electronic referral.

Council leader Jas Athwal said that, after pledging to end rough sleeping in Redbridge, the council was taking action to support some of the most vulnerable people.

He said: "Alongside this commitment, Cllr Santos and our public health team have been working hard for months to develop a test and vaccination programme specifically for local rough sleepers – protecting those most in need during this difficult time.

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"Thanks to this incredible work, Redbridge will, this week, become one of the first councils in the country to roll out a targeted test and vaccination programme for local rough sleepers."

Conservative councillors Linda Huggett and Howard Berlin both raised the issue of vaccinating rough sleepers in Redbridge, on Monday, at an overview meeting.

They called on the council to follow the lead of Oldham Council, which was the first in the country to roll out this programme.

Lee Ullha receives an injection of a Covid-19 vaccine at the Depaul UK homeless shelter in Oldham, G

Oldham Council in Manchester was the first in the country to provide this service to rough sleepers. - Credit: PA

Cabinet member for adult social care and health, Cllr Mark Santos, said: "Vaccination is not a silver bullet but it is a very positive and significant part of a programme of measures to tackle this virus.

"Alongside testing and everyone taking responsibility for following the guidelines, it offers us a real hope of tackling Covid-19 so that we can return to a more normal way of life.

"I am proud that we are able to take a truly inclusive approach to protecting our residents as we continue this."

Redbridge residents are also being called to attend a public meeting with health professions about the Covid-19 vaccination programme on Wednesday, January 20, at 1pm.

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