Council worker honoured for helping homeless people into safe accommodation
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A council worker who helped bring more than 200 homeless people into safe accommodation at the start of the coronavirus lockdown has been honoured by the Queen.
Ajitha Sajeev, who has worked at Newham Council for 30 years, helped 191 people off the streets and 40 people out of shared accommodation including night shelters to keep them safe from Covid-19.
The London council acquired accommodation in four hotels and 40 houses in multiple occupation (HMO) properties to bring its homeless community into safety as quickly as possible.
Its efforts were part of the Everyone In scheme, when the Government instructed local authorities in England to rapidly bring homeless populations into safe accommodation.
Over two nights at the end of March, Mrs Sajeev said her team took more than 50 people who had been rough sleeping in the Stratford shopping centre into emergency accommodation.
The Street Population Manager said she is “proud and deeply humbled” to have been honoured with a British Empire Medal for services to the vulnerable and homeless in Newham during Covid-19.
The 52-year-old mother from Redbridge told the PA news agency: “I was pushed to my full capacity both mentally and physically during the Covid-19 pandemic, but believed that I could make a difference.”
She added: “All staff who came out to help at that uncertain time are heroes in my eyes.”
So far, there have been no confirmed cases or deaths involving Covid-19 in the rough sleepers helped by the borough.
Just over a third of the cohort have now moved into move-on accommodation, with 49 people settled into a permanent home.
Mrs Sajeev added: “We are preparing for the second wave and I feel ready to do this all over again.”
She is one of eight people to be honoured for their work supporting homeless people during the pandemic.