Covid-19 centres helped homeless Londoners get jobs amid the pandemic

·3-min read
Covid-19 centres helped homeless Londoners get jobs amid the pandemic (pictured Hanen) (Beam)
Covid-19 centres helped homeless Londoners get jobs amid the pandemic (pictured Hanen) (Beam)

Covid-19 centres have provided a lifeline for some Londoners who were plunged into unemployment and homelessness.

In an exclusive chat with The Standard, Londoners have shared their life changing experiences.

Single mum-of-four Hanen, who is based in Wembley, had been training to become a teaching assistant when the virus first hit the UK forcing the country into a series of lockdowns.

But the mum, who had previously been homeless while pregnant with her youngest child, turned her life around when she secured a job at a Covid testing lab in April.

Initially lockdown was “hard” for her family with schools closed and she said she felt like she was in a “cave”.

School closures, late benefit payments and unemployment forced her to rely on local food banks to provide for her family.

“Keeping the children active, happy and engaged during lockdown was difficult for my mental health and I really had to be strong and patient with the kids and the situation but I was always hopeful that this would end soon,” she told the Standard.

Hanen with her new laptop and book (Beam)
Hanen with her new laptop and book (Beam)

But landing the job at a Covid testing lab completely changed her life forever.

Social enterprise Beam, who allow people to donate to individual homeless people, helped the single mum get back on her feet with the job.

Previously, the enterprise had helped her raise £3,673 for her studies to become a teaching assistant but continued to support her during the pandemic.

Since starting to work for the testing centre, she told the Standard she feels like she has “seen the light.”

Her job consists of working closely with a team of analysts and senior scientists to analyse the samples that come in.

As part of the team, she is responsible for preparing and maintaining the samples and If the results come back as positive, they are taken to another lab for genotyping.

She said: “Just interact with other people, learn new things, learn new skills, help out. Help the NHS help patients. It’s really a good feeling.

“I used to have headaches and dizziness but since I started work - all of that is gone.”

Another woman Phoebe, who had previously been supported by Beam when she had become homeless with her son in 2019, now works at a Covid-19 vaccine centre after the enterprise helped her get the job in March.

It has been incredible for the 47-year-old’s confidence and she said it has been the “perfect” role for her return to work.

Previously, Beam supported the mum with almost £5,000 rental deposit, first months rent and childcare.

More than 44.5 million people in the UK have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine - part of the biggest inoculation programme the country has ever launched.

Phoebe works two days a week and her role consists of confirming personal information and collecting the clinical information.

She also enters the details around the vaccine - such as who produced it, the vaccinator and the batch information into the national outcomes system.

“I have also covered the check-in reception - which involves booking the clients in on arrival via the national appointment system,” she added.

Alex Stephany, founder and CEO of Beam: “Whether it’s saving lives in a Covid-19 vaccination centre, or caring for the elderly, hundreds of homeless people in London are using their talents to support others during the pandemic.

“At the same time, these opportunities are providing people like Hanen and Phoebe with the chance to turn their lives around, earn a living and leave homelessness for good.”

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