COUNCIL staff are working with the Royal Blackburn Hospital to clear homeless people out of beds into hotel accommodation.

The aim is to free capacity on the wards and keep those with no fixed address safe from coronavirus infection.

Blackburn with Darwen Council is co-ordinating the efforts with other East Lancashire local authorities.

The new rapid discharge arrangements to help hospital bosses clear beds quickly while supporting people with no fixed address into emergency hotel accommodation instead of housing them in a hostel or other communal accommodation which would put them at a higher risk of coming into contact with someone with Covid19 symptoms.

Council staff are working at the hospital seven days a week from 8am to 8pm to help support the rapid placements for anyone who is homeless or at risk of becoming homeless when leaving hospital. Accommodation can usually be arranged within two hours.

Cllr Mustafa Desai, Blackburn with Darwen Council's adult services boss, said:“For people in this situation, we have arranged accommodation for 30 individuals at an East Lancashire hotel who are kept in isolation in en-suite rooms.

“We’re co-ordinating this service for other East Lancashire authorities to reduce local competition for places.

"Homeless people being placed in accommodation through these arrangements are also being offered support through treatment and mental health services."

The borough has also stepped up its efforts to get off the streets during the coronavirus pandemic.

Since the government asked for support getting rough sleepers off the streets last week, Blackburn with Darwen Council’s community safety and housing needs teams have been working to put in place arrangements to safeguard homeless people from Covid19.

Cllr Desai said: “During the winter months, there are always beds for homeless people in Blackburn with Darwen through our Emergency Winter Homeless Provision.

"This has helped us to quickly put in place arrangements to house rough sleepers during the current Coronavirus outbreak and we have extended this service indefinitely. The accommodation we can provide includes six self-contained rooms set aside for anyone who needs to self-isolate.

“Arrangements are also in place should demand for these places increase.”