Restos du Coeur and other anti-poverty associations are concerned about the poorest returning to the streets on March 31st in the context of the spread of the coronavirus.
Are the homeless the great forgotten in the fight against the spread of the coronavirus? While they belong to the category of the most fragile people, there has been little question of their fate since the beginning of the epidemic that affects France .
To better protect them, Restos du Coeur and several associations including the Federation of Solidarity Actors (FAS), the Abbé Pierre Foundation, Emmaüs and even the Salvation Army have launched an appeal to the government.
In a letter sent Monday 9th March 2020 to the Minister of Housing Julien Denormandie, they ask for a postponement of the end of the Trêve Hivernale (winter truce), scheduled for March 31st.
Coronavirus : Les Restos du Cœur demandent au Gouvernement de reporter la fin de la trêve hivernale. pic.twitter.com/xcf0bhebGD
— Les Restos du Coeur (@restosducoeur) March 10, 2020
For their health and in the general interest
Actors fighting against poverty demand that the nearly 12,000 places of accommodation open for the winter be maintained and that no homeless person be put back on the street without an accommodation solution after March 31.
“We hope to be heard,” reacts to actu.fr Patrice Blanc, the president of Restos du Coeur.
“People on the street are very fragile from a pathological point of view. And it is much more difficult for them to have health monitoring. Besides to keep warm, they tend to get closer to each other.”
Difficult in this context to respect the “barrier measures” recommended by the government to the general population: wash your hands regularly, respect a safe distance between each person, etc.
“Do not let the people who are staying back on the street, it is for their health but also in the general interest , in order to limit the risks of the virus spreading,” adds Patrice Blanc.
The Restos du Coeur campaign disturbed
Every day, Restos du Coeur volunteers see around 5,000 people at the food distribution points they insure in major cities. This winter, the campaign was disrupted by the new coronavirus.
“We had to review our distribution method since the start of the epidemic. We take precautions to keep our distance, says the president. So if other homeless people return by the end of the month, it will be even more complicated. ”
Same difficulties for a few weeks in the restaurants’ distribution centres. In addition to those which had to be closed, in the “clusters” (or homes for the regrouping of patients), the functioning of all the centres “takes place under degraded conditions. ”
“We have implemented measures, such as spreading out reception hours, preparing food parcels in advance, closing coffee areas, etc. We know that we will have to adapt for the next few weeks, even the next few months.”
Still, the winter Restos du Coeur campaign will end as planned on March 15th.
The large Restos collection also affected
The national Restos du Coeur collection was held last weekend, March 6, 7 and 8, in department stores. Its objective, like every year: to supplement the sources of supply of the association. But this edition risks being tainted by the coronavirus.
“We have not yet taken stock of the donations but we know that we will be below the objectives we had set,” regrets Patrice Blanc. The cause, according to the president of Restos: stock-outs in some stores and far fewer customers than usual on the shelves. Not to mention that the collection did not take place in several departments, hit by containment measures due to the epidemic: the Oise, the Morbihan, the Haute-Savoie and the Haut-Rhin. “We are waiting for the end of the winter campaign to take stock and see how to make the solidarity of the departmental units work between those who have more or less received. “