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Stories from the Frontline: Supporting Rough Sleepers During C-19

Stories from the Frontline: Supporting Rough Sleepers During C-19

Stories from the Frontline: Supporting Rough Sleepers During C-19

Friday, June 19, 2020
Kate, a Support Worker at Riverside, tells us how she and other frontline colleagues harness their person-centred approaches to support people experiencing street homelessness into independent living at Newbury House during C-19:

Newbury House is one of Riverside’s properties which caters to people experiencing rough sleeping. Staff work in a person-centered way to support individuals to live independently and tackle issues surrounding mental health, substance abuse and criminal convictions.

Since the start of lockdown, the service has had to quickly change to accommodate government guidelines and ensure the safety of both staff and residents.

Like most places of work, this has come with its challenges. Many staff members found that underlying health conditions meant they had to begin working from home. Both staff on the frontline and those working remotely had to rethink how to do their role.

With reduced staff numbers, staffing the building 24 hours a day became difficult.  Riverside brought in Evolve; Riverside’s maintenance and repair workers who had been furloughed. Staff learnt to be flexible, accommodating these new workers and teaching them on the job.

With work normally being carried out face-to-face, many residents were without phones and staff working from home faced the challenge of how to support someone without being able to contact them. Remote staff looked into grants and funding to buy mobile phones and, once achieved, frontline staff encouraged residents to keep in contact with their Support Worker.

The two emergency sit-ups, with one typically accommodating five men and the other two women, altered to just one. This has ensured all residents can socially distance and isolate properly, if necessary.

New rules have been imposed for both staff and residents. Residents are no longer allowed visitors and staff are to complete daily welfare checks with PPE and are not to go into resident’s rooms. Weekly Covid-19 updates continue to be sent from management each week, along with deliveries of PPE, handwash and hand sanitiser.  Non-urgent housing repairs are all halted, so maintenance staff do not have to go in houses and put themselves in unnecessary dangers.

Communities have also responded. Various Manchester based services have donated bags of food and meals to Newbury House to encourage residents to stay away from busy supermarkets and allow vulnerable individuals to isolate. Next have donated bags of unsold stock and Saint John’s Ambulance have started weekly visits so medical treatment is not neglected.

A lot has changed this the start of lockdown with staff having to learn and adapt to a new style of working. Everyday comes with its challenges, however it has been clear to see that everyone has pulled together in this time of crisis, to support the vulnerable and allow work at Newbury House to continue.

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