Everyone In, the Government initiative moving rough sleepers into temporary accommodation, received widespread publicity during the first COVID-19 Lockdown. Homeless charities and organisations that would usually have provided shelter or drop-in services – Oasis Community Housing included – rapidly adjusted their way of working to support rough sleepers in hotels and B&Bs.
Jaimee Hendry, Project Team Leader at Oasis Community Housing’s No.3 House in south London, which support young women at risk of homelessness, shares how COVID-19 has affected them.
Coronavirus and OUR HOMELESS SERVICES
“Since the pandemic began there has been a lot of strain on resources across the charity as a whole, but particularly in our Supported Housing Projects.
“Support workers have continued working on the front line, meeting the needs of those they serve, whilst still handling their own anxieties about COVID-19 and juggling their own personal and family demands.
“One of the major shared concerns of staff has always been the fear of contracting or spreading the virus, and what impact this could have both at work, to their health and in their personal lives.
“Another impact of the pandemic came with the Government restrictions, which meant that young people were not able to see their support workers as regularly as usual and this left some of them isolated and feeling lonely.
“Remote working is no replacement to the almost daily interaction that they were used to.”
Adapting the way we work
“A strategy to safeguard and prevent the spread/infection of COVID was the introduction of PPE in all offices and places of work, allowing the staff to access to gloves, sanitiser, aprons, face masks, faces shields and many other forms of PPE whenever necessary.
“With further grants and funding in place, staff were able to extend these safety measures to the young people, providing them with COVID essential item bags containing hand sanitiser, reusable masks, hand cream and tissue.
“Another measure that was put in place to help staff manage the risks to themselves and others was changing the way that they worked, including working with young people and other professionals remotely, working from different offices and limiting the number of face to face interactions they had with both colleagues and residents alike.
“One of the most appreciated systems that Oasis Community Housing put in place to protect staff is introducing the taxi service, enabling staff to get to and from work, and other projects safely without having to use public transport. This eased a lot of pressure on staff.”
FINDING POSTIVES IN THE ‘NEW NORMAL’
“It has been a difficult year for everybody as we navigate what has become the “new normal” of wearing masks, socially distancing and enduring lock downs and tier systems that have been put in place to control the public, and ultimately slow the spread of infections across the nation.
“However, there have also been some positives to come out of this pandemic including staff becoming more mindful of helping the people who we support to take responsibility for their own actions, instead of owning them for them, and have started to work in a more trauma informed way.
“We have become better prepared to deal with and manage crisis’ as this year has been one unexpected event after the next and staff have also found their sense of humour – because when everything is falling apart and going wrong around you, what else can you do but laugh!”