SINCE Wales' health minister Vaughan Gething announced homeless people would be added to the coronavirus vaccine priority list, services in Newport have rallied together to provide the city's most vulnerable with their first dose.

NHS vaccination teams set up at the Gwent Drug and Alcohol Service (GDAS) base at Powell’s Place, and administered the first dose to 35 people in three hours.

Those who are currently or have recently experienced homelessness now fall into priority group 6.

Members of the city's homeless population have praised the programme for making it easier for them to access the vaccine.

Kaleidoscope, the charity which leads the GDAS, and other third sector services such as the Wallich campaigned in the week’s leading up to Vaughan Gething’s decision, fearing that Newport’s most hard to reach groups would slip through the net, and that charities had the experience and trust of the most hard to reach groups who often fall out of NHS support.


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Scott, who has made significant life changes in the last year, said: ‘‘Being able to have the vaccine here today has made my life a lot easier.

South Wales Argus: Scott after his first vaccine dose

Scott after his first vaccine dose

"I was sleeping on the streets for about seven years, and I never visited the GP or looked after my health.

"I’ve been really lucky during lockdown and moved into a new home through the Housing First project.

"I’ve been off the stuff for 12 months now. I’m really glad I had the opportunity to come here for my jab.’’

Kaleidoscope chief executive Martin Blakebrough said: ‘‘The GDAS Assertive Outreach team has done an incredible job engaging with people in the community to encourage vaccine take up.

South Wales Argus: The GDAS Assertive Outreach team

The GDAS Assertive Outreach team

"Our clients have a lot of barriers that prevent them from accessing traditional services, from their mental and physical health, to more practical things such as having no fixed address, no mobile phone to call, no means of transport or funds to travel.

"Being able to offer this vaccine in their usual treatment setting gives us the best chance of keeping them safe.’’

The charity has had its headquarters in Newport since 2003.