Hospitality staff ‘feared becoming homeless’ as a result of pandemic

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Brett Cutts, manager of Sanctuary Trust, said that hospitality staff, many of whom were not residentially qualified, had seen their hours cut and, in some cases, had lost their jobs, leaving those living in staff accommodation without a home.

Sanctuary Trust, which celebrated its tenth anniversary last month, provides accommodation and support to homeless men. The charity currently has properties in St Aubin and at Beaumont. Catering for a combined total of 24 residents, both properties are currently at full capacity.

Mr Cutts said that homelessness was a growing problem and that the charity hoped to open a facility for women by the end of the year.

He added that Sanctuary Trust had seen a 50% increase in the number of people contacting the charity for support as a result of the pandemic.

‘We have had a lot more people looking for advice as they are frightened of becoming homeless. The two main scenarios we have seen throughout the pandemic are a loss of income and the breakdown of relationships due to Covid,’ he said.

‘We have always had a diverse array of individuals come to us to seek help. The hospitality industry and its staff have been massively affected by the pandemic, which has led to staff who have been in the Island for fewer than five years seeking help.

‘A lot of people who come over to the Island and work in hospitality are often given staff accommodation. In losing their job, they have lost their place to live and have then reached out to us for help.’

Mr Cutts said that a number of individuals, who did not have residential qualifications, were given space in one of the Sanctuary Trust properties throughout the pandemic.

‘We had lots of calls from non-residentially-qualified people and we took a few of them in. Their care is paid for by us until they’re back into work,’ he said.

‘With restrictions easing, some of our residents have returned to working in hospitality and others have found zero-hour contract work in other areas such as labouring.’

Mr Cutts said that homelessness had become more ‘visible’ over the past few years.

Earlier this year the Jersey Homelessness Strategic Board published a new strategy featuring eight key priorities to tackle the problem. The strategy was published in response to the increased demand for temporary or emergency accommodation arising from the pandemic.

One of the recommendations made by the board was that a legal definition of homelessness should be agreed.

The UK government defines homelessness as a household that has no home in the UK or anywhere else in the world available and reasonable to occupy.

Mr Cutts added: ‘The strategy is great because it shows the issue is being recognised. Many people are starting to realise and accept they’re homeless even if they have a roof over their head. Homelessness has always been a hidden issue in the Island, with many people sofa-surfing, but I believe more attention is now being shone on it.’

Mr Cutts also said that the ‘main aim is to open up our services for women’ by the end of this year. He said the charity had identified a potential property and was looking at the logistics of making it ‘fit for purpose’.

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