Consistency, Connectedness, Belonging
These are the three words that have been the bedrock of the service we have been providing throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, in order to ensure that people who come to us for support continue to have the opportunity to build a stable and fulfilling life despite the circumstances created by Covid-19.
However, the support we have continued to provide so far throughout the pandemic would not have been possible without the wonderful support we have received from our funders, long standing supporters, and generous members of the public. This is what your support has helped us to keep on doing.
Continuing to provide a service to rough sleepers
Before Covid-19 we were supporting on average 70 people a day at the Archer Project, helping them to move from sleeping bag to employment. On a daily basis this meant:
The Covid-19 lockdown meant that this work had to change and adapt.
Throughout lockdown we have been a service primarily focused on supporting those individuals who are rough sleeping. Those who are accommodated have been and are encouraged not to come down to the Project in order for them to best follow Government guidelines.
As a result, we have continued to provide the following to rough sleepers:
We have also continued to do the following:
Continuing to connect individuals with the services, agencies and support they need.
A key feature of our service throughout lockdown has been our multi-agency work. By working with other agencies in the city we have been able to continue to provide support to those who are vulnerably housed through providing around 200 meals a day at the height of lockdown. By working with other agencies food and support has been available 7 days a week from our centre, this would not have been possible without a multi-agency approach.
This multi-agency work has also meant that those who are rough sleeping have continued to have access to support services. For example, we have been working closely with the organisation Framework to help individuals find accommodation.
Initially Carl* did not want to go into accommodation, however, we continued to work with him providing support, food and access to showers. Our connections with Framework meant that we could work together to provide Carl with the opportunity to make the steps from sleeping in a car every night to sleeping in accommodation. Without the conversations we had with Carl and our joint work with Framework he would have struggled to find accommodation.
We have not just worked with agencies to provide food and accommodation but have also continued to work with medical and health professionals. Before lockdown we had a nurse, doctor and dentist regularly visit our centre, now we can organise virtual appointments for the people who use the centre and help them attend the appointments they need.
Mark* is on medication for his mental health. With the onset of lockdown many services closed and it became hard to access services to continue to receive mental health support. However, through our connections with medical professionals we supported Mark to remain on his medication and had his prescription renewed. We see Mark every day at the Project and have been able to monitor his mental health so that we can connect him with the professionals he needs if it deteriorates.
Providing a safe, welcoming space for homeless and vulnerable people.
“We just need that final bit of help, and I think this place might be the place to help, hopefully. Well if not I don’t know what we’re going to do.” – Kelvin.
We are often described as providing a warm, safe and welcoming place for homeless and vulnerable adults who need our support, and Covid-19 has not changed this.
Peter* is a vulnerable adult with poor mental health and before lockdown was physically neglected. Throughout lockdown he has been using the Project almost every day, and as a result he has physically improved, and his mental health has not deteriorated. He has found a space where he belongs that is enabling him to slowly improve.
By working with other agencies to expand the service to be open 7 days a week from the beginning of lockdown we have been able to connect with people on a daily basis, have conversations with them, and work with them to focus on their wellbeing and self-care.
During lockdown we knew that there were people who were staying in their accommodation who needed support because they would suffer from loneliness and potentially slip back into negative habits. We are now rebuilding this work to support them. This has only been possible by our ability to purchase PPE for our staff, volunteers and the people we support. Without this we would not have been able to continue to provide opportunities for people to engage with ourselves and other services.
Your support over the last few months and into the future is allowing us to provide a consistent service that connects homeless people with the support they need; as well as allowing us to build a safe place where people feel like they belong.
*Names changed to protect identity
Supported by Homeless Link and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and our grant funders