COVID-19 Support For Stranded Full-Time Vanlifers

Written by Freedom Strider

On April 3, 2020

COVID-19 Support For Stranded Full-Time Vanlifers

The world has gone into lockdown,
We are in a constant state of whiplash.
Every day, feels like a week.

– HELP VANLIFERS MAP | FIND A LONG TERM PARKUP

blue hearts are help points, orange (?) are requests for

– OFFER HELP FORM

Adds a blue heart to the map. Displayed at your nearest town, not your exact address.

– REQUEST HELP FORM

Adds a (?) to the map. Displays your nearest town, not your exact address.

 

If you are roadside and have been threatened with eviction, you can phone Community Law Partnership advice line on 0121 685 8677 Mon – Fri 9am to 1pm (England and Wales only). If you have no alternative but to stay in your vehicle, stay within your registered NHS catchment area.

We hope you are all washing your hands, staying safe and indoors as much as its reasonable.

As the global panic sets in, we all need to support each other and remind each other to be kind and accepting. Every community on the planet has been affected, some more than others. The vanlifers and general community – who choose not to have fixed addresses – are getting hit hard by the ignorant minority of our race.

We felt it important and necessary to write this blog in an effort to do what we can to help everyone struggling to find a safe place to stay during this. Everyone must do their part and we should all try to help those who aren’t as lucky as ourselves.

Like everyone else, we are a tightly packed stress ball. On top of everything, we are also worried about the many other people living in vans in the UK and around the world who are going through this right now – with nowhere to safely park up and self isolate.

Borders are closed and people are struggling to get back home… Some are abandoning their homes on wheels in order to catch the last flights out. However, some vanlifers have nowhere else to live, thier van, truck, bus or whatever is their liferaft.

As the situation with COVID-19 has been escalating – a lot of fulltime vanlifers have found themselves unable to find safe and secure places to park and self-isolate.

HOUSESIT

Vanlifers already have to combat the ignorance that society normally has about alternative living, but this situation has taken the xenophobia and bigotism against alternative lifestyles to a level not seen often outside of wartime.

Some members of our community have been continuously moved on, they have had abuse hurled at them and even received death threats… This behaviour, although not unthinkable, based on human histories, has severely disturbed and disgusted us.

The pure fact is, such behaviour is unacceptable under any circumstance.

In times of uncertainty when people are scared, it is natural to attack others who are different and we’re seeing a lot of this. Although it being natural we are not wild animals without higher reasoning and we can not allow ‘this situation’ to be an excuse for xenophobia, bigotry, or racism. Despite all the protective and self-preservation measures we take – we are trying to evolve into a species who does not kill first and ask questions later.

Now we know everyone has their own opinions on every aspect of how this has been handled and what is going, and how right or wrong certain decisions were… HOWEVER, our opinion, your opinion – it is immaterial. All that matters now is how we can realistically and practically help one another. As we need to stick together (2m apart), despite any and all of our petty differences.

After all of this is over we can complain all we like but right now we are in the thick of it and selfishly murmuring under our noses does not help people.

THE PROBLEM

As there are no formal guidelines for vanlifers, some members of the local (permanent) communities see nomads as a threat to the limited resources of their regions.

Vanlifers have been following government guidelines and attempting to self-isolate in their homes, however, too many of them have been uprooted from the safety of their quarantine due to a vocal minority of locals who fail to understand.

Vanlifers are told to go home to their parents or friends, failing to consider the potential impossibilities of such a request. Some people have elderly parents and do not want to risk potentially passing the virus to them, Others have parents and friends working on the frontline at the NHS or supermarkets – making them likely carriers. Or perhaps the biggest reason is that vanlifers have been travelling, so they themselves might have been exposed and shouldn’t come into contact with anyone else.

Given these reasons and many more, some people on the road have no other sensible choice but to stay on the road.

With campsites closing and kicking people out, and other locations with facilities completely shutting down, those of us who don’t have a fixed address, are finding themselves in limbo and under even more stress than the rest of sitting in our socially approved housing.

HOUSESIT

Turning a blind eye and ignoring the real issues do not make peoples’ problems just go away – so we want to provide some possible solutions.

1

If you are stuck in Europe and are trying to get back home, there are still ways to do so.

It has been advised that all UK nations try to make their way home whilst it is still safe and possible to do so: GOV.UK/FOREIGN SECRETARY ADVISES EVERYONE TO COME HOME

You do need to be smarter about how you travel, and make sure you have all your paperwork prepared in advance (which is not something we are all used to due to Shengen border crossings).

 

Each country’s emergency border procedure will be different but in general:

– Have multiple scans of your passport printed along with your passport to hand.

A Critical Travel Permit/Form – Most European borders now require a form which you either have to fill out in advance, or at the border, and it requires you to say why you are travelling through that county. “To get back home” is a valid reason, and this is what you should put.

– You will most likely have a time limit in order to drive through whichever county. Anywhere between 24-72 hours in common. But this fast-moving situation changes all the time.

Before crossing into any country, check the UK Government website for travel advice into that country; new documentation or limits may be imposed, at any time:

GOV.UK/FOREIGN TRAVEL ADVICE

Whilst on the road, you can use pharmacies, post offices or maybe even supermarkets to print off any forms or documents you need, either from your smartphone or from a USB stick. Although in the current climate, printing wirelessly through your smartphone is probably safer.

Now since we have not experienced the border closures in past weeks we would like to redirect you to Greg Virgoe’s video series on getting back to the UK. He had to cross European borders only a few days ago and has provided a lot of useful information for this circumstance.

Open Full Playlist:  Helping Vanlife Community in Crisis | Greg Virgoe

2

GO HOME

If you have a house that you can go back to, without risking your or your families health, then you must go – it is the safest place to ride this out. That is where you have stable facilities, such as water and heating. It is also the easiest place to self-isolate – without getting disturbed.

3

If you do not have any such permanent place and no friends or family with the available spare driveway.
Stay near your registered GP

If you do not have any such permanent place and no friends or family with the available spare driveway – we recommend you stay close to the area where your registered GP is.

This is important as the NHS has to know the potential volume of cases that may flood through their doors, and if a little village worth of vanlifers set up somewhere un-registered and then need medical help – that region’s medical service will be overwhelmed.

Avoid isolating in the highlands (if you don’t normally reside there)

Before crossing into any country, check the UK Government website for travel advice into that country; new documentation or limits may be imposed, at any time:

GOV.UK/FOREIGN TRAVEL ADVICE

This is the big reason why campers are discouraged to go into the highlands, which are home to over 300,000 residents whilst they have access to under a 100 ventilators, If vanlifers flood the highlands and then get sick…. well doctors will have to make even more difficult choices.

If more people are “hiding out” in remote places, the increase in population puts a strain on the smaller healthcare facilities in that area.

It might seem that by hiding out, and self-isolating in the middle of nowhere that you might be helping the situation. Since we know so little about this virus, along with the fact that you might break down, need fuel, or have an emergency, you could still come into contact with locals and get sick. It’s rarely worth the risk.

Plus, if everyone gets the same idea, shops, petrol stations, park ups in the area won’t be able to handle the volume of people.

For a better overview of the situation with Scotland, you can watch Lost in Europe’s latest videos: 

An Important Message… Lost In Europe //230

Reboot… Lost In Europe //232

Contact your MP

You should approach your local MP if you are struggling – make it known what you need, because all of us deserve to feel safe and you should expect no less from the people you have elected to protect you.

Converting empty car parks into temporary park ups for campers in the area is an excellent idea if you can get your MP on board.

 

‘Fairness doesn’t mean everyone gets the same, but rather everyone gets what they need…’
Finding Secure Parkups

In terms of finding a secure place to park – finding yourself private land is the best and safest option, as that would cause the least disturbance and risk to everyone.

Even if it is just a friends or neighbours driveway where you can still isolate yourself in your van/camper, or on a farm with the owners’ permission, if it’s on private land you won’t be a disturbance to others around you.

 There has also been a Facebook Group set up, where you can directly post to either request help or offer help. You can use it to connect to people with spare land and supplies. There is also an interactive map which shows where these park ups are.

– HELP VANLIFERS MAP | FIND A LONG TERM PARKUP

blue hearts are help points, orange (?) are requests for

– OFFER HELP FORM

Adds a blue heart to the map. Displayed at your nearest town, not your exact address.

– REQUEST HELP FORM

Adds a (?) to the map. Displays your nearest town, not your exact address.

 

We stress that you should only take advantage of this in the emergency of not having anywhere else to go. Otherwise, stay at a permanent address.

Housesit

 

If you can find a housesit, although they would be rare now, that can give you a moment’s peace.

Sites like TrustedHouseSitters are still supporting the owners and sitters as a number of owners are still looking for sitters as they have had to return to friends and family in other areas.

If you have never housesat, here is a guide to what housesitting is and how to manage the responsibilities that come with the job. HOW DOES HOUSESITTING WORK?

Housesits are a great option to ride this out for a time as, essentially, you get a house, address and no one chasing you.

If you are roadside and have been threatened with eviction, you can phone Community Law Partnership advice line on 0121 685 8677 Mon – Fri 9am – 1pm (England and Wales only). If you have no alternative but to stay in your vehicle, stay within your registered NHS catchment area. 

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