Vaccinations for homeless community in Westminster

Published on: 15th June 2021

People experiencing homelessness in Westminster have now been able to get their covid vaccination, thanks to a huge collaborative effort across the health, public health, charity and voluntary sectors, to help this hard to access section of the population. So far, more than 50% of those currently homeless have now received their first Covid-19 vaccination, with the team working across central London leading the way as an example of how to achieve these high levels of uptake. The agencies concerned, Connection at St Martins, Groundswell, Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust, The Passage and Westminster Council all worked together to make this happen.  Homeless people 

This is playing a vital role in helping to protect some of the people who are at most risk from the virus, who may be living in communal settings or suffering from other long-term health problems.

Pam Orchard, CEO of the Connection in St Martins charity, one of the organisations involved, described the partnership, “The Vaccination programme is the latest in a long line of things that have been offered through the different agencies in Westminster, that offer services to homeless people and we call that the Westminster Homeless Partnership. We’ve been working together throughout the pandemic to change all of our service provision for rough sleepers in Westminster so that we can do the best we can to protect them from covid.”

In addition, people who are homeless often miss the opportunity for regular health checks and general access to health and care services. In mobilising the vaccine programme through Westminster’s homeless services, community groups and charities, not only have more people received the vaccine than anticipated, but teams have also been able to provide general health support.  

Anne McBrearty, Nurse Consultant and Homeless Health Service Lead at Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust, whose team has been working on the vaccination programme outlined some of the issues facing Westminster’s rough sleepers, “We think we have vaccinated about 50% of the homeless population in Westminster, which is a really great uptake. Often people who are homeless live in shared accommodation and to social distance can be quite difficult and also when you are living on the street, that can be very difficult to socially distance. People have been very keen to be vaccinated which is really, really positive.”

While there is still a large proportion of this community that need a vaccine, providing more than 800 vaccinations to this transient population is a major accomplishment in helping to protect this community from Covid-19 now and in the future. The programme will continue to offer more of central London’s rough sleepers a vaccine.
Some fantastic videos have been produced featuring some of the people involved talking about the project.

You can watch them here,

Video 1

Video 2

Video 3