Moscow homeless shelter sees visitors triple in pandemic

People gather in the Rescue Shelter, which was opened by the Orthodox charity organisation Miloserdie to provide services to the homeless, in Moscow, Russia February 16, 2021. REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina

MOSCOW (Reuters) – A Moscow charity helping the homeless has seen the number of people dropping in for a cup of tea or a bite to eat increase threefold because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Russia, with more than 4.2 million recorded cases of the virus, imposed lockdowns last spring and many people lost their jobs.

Roman Skorosov, who runs services for the homeless at Miloserdie, one of Russia’s best-known charities, said an average of 300 people now visit its shelter in Moscow every day to warm up, have a modest meal or take a shower.

“This past year has had an impact on the homeless,” Skorosov said. “Since the start of pandemic, the number of people visiting the shelter has tripled. This is due to job losses and other difficulties.”

The shelter, set up in a heated tent east of the city center, draws even more people during Moscow’s frigid winters. It gives them a place to have a steaming cup of tea or receive medical attention for minor injuries.

“There are definitely more calls from homeless people during the winter,” said Olga Pavlicheva, head of Moscow’s Elizaveta Glinka Centre for Social Adaptation.

(Reporting by Elena Ostrovskaya; Writing by Gabrielle T├ętrault-Farber; Editing by Giles Elgood)

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