A DAY centre is set to take its lifeline services on the road to ensure rough sleepers are safe and fed amid the coronavirus crisis.

The Porch in East Oxford has temporarily closed its canteen in Magdalen Road, and will instead operate a mobile service to deliver meals and essential items to those in need.

It had been due to roll the changes out next week, but has brought the measures forward in light of the guidance last night.

Despite restaurants and cafes being ordered to close on Friday, the government is not yet advising hostels or day centres for rough sleepers to do the same.

The Porch has already brought in extra safety precautions, including masks for staff, more stringent hygiene rules and a daily deep clean, but its team feels it is time to adapt to support the high-risk group.

ALSO READ: Why the Porch bought a church earlier this year

They centre's director Jon Fitzpatrick said: "We can't turn our backs on rough sleepers, especially at a time of national crisis - they need us more than ever.

"We are considered frontline workers because we deliver a vital and much-needed service."

He said the charity wants to 'lead the charge' and 'respond aggressively' against the virus, which has already claimed hundreds of lives in the UK alone.

Details are still being finalised but the hope is to introduce a daily hot meal drop in the city centre, and home delivery for vulnerably-housed service users.

More young and healthy volunteers - who are less susceptible to the virus - are being sought to facilitate the operation.

The aim is to provide a hot meal a day, likely at lunchtime, to ensure those in need do not go hungry.

It is hoped that the service can run seven days a week, serving in excess of 200 meals each day.

ALSO READ: Hospital visitors BANNED from JR with these exceptions

Social distancing measures would be in place to ensure there are not crowds of people trying to access the provision.

Guy Scotece, the day centre's manager, said: "We've been planning around coronavirus for a month plus, before it was really in the news.

"This crisis has hit in ways we could never have planned for."

Covid-19 is particularly dangerous for older people and those with underlying health conditions.

Paired with the fact that good hygiene practice are key to prevention, homeless people are undoubtedly more vulnerable than most.

Mr Scotece said: "Generally people on the streets are not in the best health and do not have the same opportunity to self-isolate.

"These individuals already feel isolated within society. They are living a hand-to-mouth existence."

ALSO READ: Coronavirus planning for rough sleepers in Oxford

Additional food donations are being sought and a JustGiving page has been launched called The Porch Covid-19 Response Fund.

The Porch is using hashtags #ThePorchProvides and #RoughSleepersNeedUs to spread the campaign on social media.

Mr Scotece said staff wearing masks was not necessarily a safety move, but more of a way of letting members know that the situation is serious.

He added: "We want to send them the message that this is really happening and they need to be careful."

Anyone who can help with food donations or volunteering can find information and contact details here.

Oxford City Council, which is also taking measures to support rough sleepers, has been supporting the Porch with their plan.

Some homelessness services have already announced changes, including Crisis Skylight Oxford, which is not operating from its building until further notice due to the pandemic.