This week the NHF, alongside Homeless Link, wrote to the government to request visa extensions for housing and homelessness support staff in England. As the combined voice for housing associations and homelessness services, we wanted to ensure that we continued to speak up for staff in the sector who have made such an important contribution throughout the coronavirus crisis.
Following the welcome news that health and care workers from overseas will be awarded a free visa extension in light of the coronavirus pandemic, we felt it important to highlight to the government the critical role that housing association and homelessness staff have also played in responding to the pandemic, and that they should also be considered for visa extensions.
It is acknowledged that many homelessness and supported housing staff are from overseas. They have continued to provide vital services for vulnerable people in accommodation, community and outreach settings across the country. Support workers in homelessness and supported housing services were crucial to the success of the government’s flagship ‘Everyone In’ initiative, ensuring that nobody had to sleep rough during the public health emergency. They have ensured that some of the most vulnerable people could safely self-isolate and worked alongside local authorities, the care sector and the NHS to facilitate faster, safer hospital discharge. This not only reduced delayed days in hospital but also freed up vital beds for coronavirus patients. Supported housing staff were recognised as critical key workers earlier this year when they were prioritised for vaccination as part of cohort 2b, frontline health and social care workers.
We believe that these staff will continue to play a vital role as the country looks to recover from the pandemic. It is for these reasons that we have written to the government to ask their visas are extended to allow for them to continue this important work.
We have not yet had a reply from the government, but will update our website with more information as soon as it’s available.