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14 May, 2020
News Story


Update from Amanda Dubarry, Chief Executive

We have entered yet another week of social distancing albeit under a new set of rules and no doubt new sets of challenges. So in the midst of the continuing uncertainty we all face, I wanted to reach out and update you on how your support is helping to protect people experiencing homelessness during this time.

The last couple of months have been an extraordinary time for all of us, and at Caritas Anchor House, we have adapted our work in all sorts of ways to keep our residents and staff safe.

Our wonderful supporters are helping to provide enough food for all 140 of our residents each day, to ensure they are well looked after while reducing the number of trips in and out of the building and use of our communal kitchen. We have some amazing new volunteers that have joined us to help support the collection, distribution and management of the additional food, which has been invaluable.

We’ve been donated PPE, toiletries and cleaning product by generous supporters, and members of the local community have hand-made face masks for our residents and staff.

But it’s not been a smooth ride. A number of residents have lost jobs due to the lockdown and closed businesses and so we are supporting them to manage their finances, and when we can, we’ll work to help them back into work.

A number of staff are working from home, including those with existing health conditions or living with vulnerable people, and so we have less frontline staff on-site. The majority of our support has moved to phone-based, but due to the nature of our work this isn’t always possible. As such, we’ve put measures in place that mean staff can meet residents safely, and we’ve also had to get in extra pairs of hands to support with this and to also ensure our building is cleaned more frequently.

Through all of this change our staff have continued to provide a supportive and safe home for our residents, who have been calm, cooperative and are coping well. It’s hard to imagine how tough it is for them. For most residents this means spending almost all of their time now in just a bedroom, unable to socialise with friends in the service in addition to being apart from loved ones.

Recently I read the Office of National Statistics data which shows that London has the highest mortality rate of deaths involving COVID-19 than any other region of the country, and within London, Newham has been hardest hit. As is also the case with levels of homelessness, Newham has the highest rates of death from the coronavirus in the country. This is quite shocking news and has been hard to take in, but I am so pleased to say that a very small number of our residents have reported minor symptoms with no deterioration of health or need for medical attention.

We will continue to adapt our approach as the pandemic develops, ensuring we do our very best to look after our residents and staff. We owe a huge thanks to the members of our community who are helping us with invaluable donations of food, toiletries and face masks, and of course to our supporters who are supporting us financially. We are so very grateful for this help in these unprecedented times.

I cannot thank our team enough, they have adapted so quickly and so effectively to protect our people from this virus, and in particular our very own frontline heroes. Please keep them in your thoughts and clap for them as well our fantastic NHS and other frontline stars each Thursday.

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