A Salford charity has been handing out hygiene packs to protect rough sleepers during the coronavirus pandemic.
Emergency shelter has been offered during lockdown to all rough sleepers but with little food and limited access to healthcare, the situation many find themselves in remains dire and they are at high risk of catching the potentially-fatal virus.
Homeless Friendly in Salford thought hygiene kits would help to keep them safe.
Peter Gibson, who works for the charity, said: “The hygiene packs consist of hand gel, masks, gloves, plasters and crucially information on where they can find medical support.
“When it comes to healthcare the homeless have been forgotten full stop.
“The average life expectancy of a rough sleeper is 47 years of age.”
The people working at Homeless Friendly are all healthcare workers so they understand the issues rough sleepers are facing.
Mr Gibson said: “One of the biggest things they face is dental problems… we started the programme because we met a rough sleeper who was pulling out his teeth with pliers.
“The difference between ourselves and rough sleepers is that they’re surviving and we’re living.”
There are an estimated 320,000 homeless people across the UK including more than 5,000 in Manchester and more than 1,000 in Salford, according to figures from Shelter, although not all homeless people end up sleeping rough.
Mr Gibson said: “All areas of Salford now will be coming to terms that we have a massive problem with homelessness.”
This comes after the 2018 numbers released by Salford Council which saw Salford’s number of rough sleepers increase by 600 per cent.
Mr Gibson said: “One of the big issues we talk about at Homeless Friendly is health inequalities, by which we mean certain groups in society always seem to be affected more by illnesses.
“Andy Burnham has put this issue right on the political map and he has shown great commitment to ending rough sleeping in Salford.”
At time of writing, Salford has 877 confirmed cases of coronavirus.