Vaccines Minster Nadhim Zahawi and Minister for Rough Sleeping Eddie Hughes visit The Passage vaccination hub

The Passage is today running a second Covid-19 vaccination clinic from its Resource Centre in Victoria for people who street homeless or residing in temporary accommodation. This dedicated day of action follows the successful rollout of our vaccination clinic in March which saw 50 clients receive their first vaccination, all of whom have been invited to return for their second.

The vaccination ‘hub’ was praised by Vaccines Minister, Nadhim Zahawi, Rough Sleeping Minister, Eddie Hughes and local MP Nickie Aiken following their visit to the centre earlier today to see first-hand the contribution we are making in the fight against the global pandemic.

Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said:

“Charities such as The Passage are doing everything they can to play their part in the phenomenal vaccine rollout, and crucially ensuring some of our most vulnerable people come forward for the vital, lifesaving vaccine. Vaccines are our way out of this pandemic and we have made sure we can prioritise people who are experiencing homeless as part of our vaccine programme. It was great to see such a safe, caring and welcoming environment helping to beat this global pandemic.”

Minister for Rough Sleeping, Eddie Hughes said:

“It was great to see first-hand the incredible work at the Passage to vaccinate rough sleepers. Day in day out, their team are working tirelessly to transform the lives of vulnerable people in London and it is great that government investment is helping them do this. The work of the charity and voluntary sector staff, working alongside government and councils, is vital to achieving our goal of ending rough sleeping once and for all.”

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Cllr Nickie Aiken MP for Cities of London and Westminster said:

“I’m incredibly proud of the outstanding work The Passage undertakes to help so many rough sleepers turn their lives around. The vaccine hub is one example of its excellent care and I thank everyone involved for ensuring that the most vulnerable people in our society are protected from Covid-19. Another great example of the NHS and The Passage working in partnership.”

Working in partnership with the NHS North West London Clinical Commissioning Group, Westminster City Council and charity partners, the clinic is staffed by Passage frontline case workers and the NHS Homeless Health Team. It operates as a drop-in centre with no prior appointment necessary and provides easy access for those on the streets as well as people currently in temporary hotel accommodation, hostels and other residential projects. The Passage’s local outreach team signpost people directly to the centre.

With concerns rising regarding the Indian variant, we have acted quickly to ensure that many more vulnerable people are able to access both their first and second vaccinations in a safe and caring environment.

The ministers heard feedback from people who attended the first clinic; one client explained that he had been very anxious about the vaccine and was not convinced it was the “right thing to do”. The Passage team told ministers that they used their expertise to guide him through the available information and arranged for him to discuss his concerns with the nursing team, enabling him to make an informed decision. Afterwards, he said that he felt “so much better and was glad that he had decided to go ahead”.

Another client, Nomande, who has been helped by The Passage into secure long-term accommodation and is now studying her GCSEs with the aspiration to become a nurse, was one of the first to receive her vaccination. Today, she is receiving her second and said: “The vaccine from The Passage has made me feel secure and protected. I am safe now to come back to The Passage for activities to socialise again and see Gladys and my friends. I missed this so much. It has been so therapeutic. I am excited to get my second jab today!”.

Mick Clarke, Chief Executive of The Passage said:

“Over the last 12 months, we were proud to be part of the Everyone In initiative, working with local and central government and other partners to protect hundreds of extremely vulnerable people with safe routes off the street. However, this must be viewed as a starting point and if we are to have any hope of ending rough sleeping, we must build on the lessons learnt during the last year. One of the most important things we can do right now is ensure everyone has access to the vaccination programme – people who are street homeless have a significantly lower life-expectancy and are at higher clinical risk of chronic disease, and this one-off day of action will help them to access a potentially lifesaving vaccine. Everyone in society has a role to play in ending rough sleeping and The Passage will continue to both prevent and end rough sleeping for thousands of people.”

ENDS