Homelessness and mental health crisis predicted in Covid fallout

Shoppers in Norwich staying safe in face masks.
Picture: Sonya Duncan

Shoppers in Norwich wearing face masks in October 2020 - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Mental health problems coupled with a cost of living crisis will create a major problem for many in society.

That is the warning from experts helping people facing homelessness, as well as food and fuel poverty two years on after the first Covid lockdown.

Rebecca White is the chief executive and founder of community interest company (CIC) Your Own Place, set up in Norwich eight years ago to prevent people becoming homeless.

She said: "We are all still coming out of this situation and suffering from the impact of it. Our focus is turning to the mental health pandemic.

"There is a cost of living crisis and we are going to see many more people struggling into poverty. People who struggle to pay rent fall into homelessness.

"I want to see compassion and empathy in government as a starting point."

At Your Own Place specialist staff teach people the skills to boost "resilience" and help them get into work, keep a roof over their head and manage funds.

Rebecca White of Your Own Place speaks at the Open House knife crime and county lines discussion. Pi

Rebecca White, CEO and founder of Your Own Place - Credit: Denise Bradley

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But Ms White added living costs were so high it was becoming harder for people.

The CIC also works in two Norwich secondary schools and have been told teenagers were reporting more self-harm and anxiety since the lockdown.

"They have missed so much school and going back to classes has been terrifying. If you don't get through school there are going to be impacts a long way down the line," Ms White explained.

She added that adults were also affected by mental health from the lockdown.

Project manager Hannah Worsley . PHOTO: Nick Butcher

Hannah Worsley, Norwich Foodbank project manager - Credit: Nick Butcher

Hannah Worsley, Norwich Foodbank project manager, said demand for food spiked in the first year of lockdown but it has gone down slightly to pre-pandemic levels.

She added: "Previously a lot people were coming to us because of benefit delays but now 50pc of people come because of generally low income."

As well as food, the charity gives out one-off payments between £30 and £50 for fuel costs, a project which started in 2017.

Since November last year until today, 155 households were helped out.

Mrs Worsley added: "With prices going up we are seeing more people in need.

"Lockdown would have affected people's mental health and that in turn will have long term issues. With rising costs it is going to have an impact on mental health."