WE’RE STILL SUPPORTING PEOPLE EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS
Right now, our work is as important as ever and we’re still here doing what we do best. It’s essential that we carry on providing a home and support to those who really need it, but we are now working slightly differently in line with guidance from the Government and Public Health England.
The health and wellbeing of the Caritas Anchor House community has always been our priority, and this has not changed. As you may be aware, people who have experienced homelessness are more likely to have health problems, which means many of those who we support will be much more vulnerable to getting ill as a result of coronavirus.
Our accommodation and support services are still open, and we are in regular contact with our residents who have particular vulnerabilities. With 140 people living under our roof, the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic has been well and truly understood. All of our bedspaces are currently occupied, but we are still taking referrals as and when vacancies arise.
We are very proud of how our team have responded during this time. They are working round the clock to respond to the latest guidance, and provide specialist support to our residents and people who are sleeping rough throughout this crisis.
In line with Public Health England (PHE) guidance, we have put in place:
- A handwashing regime and guidance on this for residents and staff, including hand sanitisers placed around the building
- An enhanced cleaning regime in our building, particularly in communal areas such as the reception, shared kitchen and laundry facilities
- An approach to supporting people who have to self-isolate due to existing health conditions, or are suspected of having COVID-19
- Providing residents with PHE information including guidance on hygiene, social distancing, and staying at home for all but essential reasons.
- Minimum staffing levels to keep our services running, as we know the coronavirus will impact on our staff’s ability to come into work due to school closures and self-isolation.
- Staff that do not directly work with residents, such as HR and fundraising, are now working from home and are contactable by email.
Sian Barrett, Personal Development Team Manager, is one of our fantastic team members continuing to support residents at Caritas Anchor House. She said, “We’re still here to make sure our 140 residents are safe during this crisis. It’s really important that we share information and support residents to social-distance and self-isolate, but it’s certainly not easy.
“We are in regular contact with residents, though we’ve moved towards telephone support which can be difficult for those with complex needs. As such, we’ve put measures in place so that, when absolutely vital, we can meet them when really needed.
Our resident’s kitchen is shared by 115 and our laundry by all 140 residents – we’ve had to take action by restricting use of these two spaces as well as our communal lounge to minimise risk. But residents have been really co-operative and understand that their actions save lives by minimising risk of infection spreading. It’s sad, as there is a strong sense of community at Caritas Anchor House and our residents find strength from their peers, but at this stage it is essential.”
While the majority of our services continue, we have sadly had to pause our Your Space services for the time being. These services are based in the community, supporting people who are isolated, elderly and vulnerable. While this is a huge shame, we’ll get them back up and running as soon as we are able to.
AA meetings have been stopped across the country (check the AA website for details of virtual meetings), which means they are no longer operating within our building. We’ve also had to stop welcoming visitors to our building for the time being. This all makes it easier to protect those who call Caritas Anchor House home, as well as our dedicated team who work hard to support them.
However, we’re pleased to be working with the local authority to continue our Cold Weather Fund provision beyond the end of March, to allow us to continue to help an additional 13 people who are sleeping rough with complex needs during this time.
Without the help of every single one of our supporters, we wouldn’t be able to continue to provide the homes and support that we are – so thank you. We are reviewing the situation daily and will continue doing all we can to keep our residents and staff as safe as possible, and know that you will be supporting us along the way. Thank you so much for the kind messages of support and generous gifts that have been made to us recently.
(Photo caption: staff accepting a wonderful donation of prepared meals for residents, from a restaurant that has closed following government guidelines).