Coronavirus FAQ: Client support

How are we supporting those who aren’t in the Night Shelter?

When the self-isolation guidelines first came into play, our Wellbeing Support Team texted all of its clients with phones about advice and the symptoms to look out for. One person called the centre and said he had no idea what was going on and that was the first he had heard of it. He didn’t know anything about it and asked for advice. This illustrated just how at risk and vulnerable our clients can be. Unless you have a TV or the internet, you wouldn’t necessarily know what was going on. How would you get the information you needed if you couldn’t watch the news, Google symptoms or even dial 111 for advice? All of our support workers are in regular contact with their clients to make sure they are aware of the current situation and what to do. We are also responding to the needs of new referrals, but with no face to face contact.

Not being able to offer support face to face is a big challenge. Complex systems and processes are being navigated over the phone rather than in person and working with high-risk and vulnerable clients, this makes communication difficult. The work we do on a daily basis is stressful and surrounded by uncertainty. With the added anxiety posed by Coronavirus, our clients face even bigger hurdles.

Emmanuel House staff profile: Hannah, navigator

Hannah is currently splitting her working week between working at the hotel whilst also carrying out her usual role working with women who rough sleep or have a history of rough sleeping. When she isn’t at the hotel, she is ringing every client daily for wellbeing check-ins. This is to ensure clients have everything they need, are accessing the services required and have support mechanisms in place. She is continuing to advocate for clients, linking in with probation, sorting housing, liaising with social services, helping clients to access services and doing referrals where possible. In the navigator role, having face to face contact is important due to building and maintaining good relationships. She is continuing to navigate the systems for her clients, but rather than doing it in person, it is taking hundreds of phone calls a day to contact and follow up with services and clients. As well as offering advice and advocacy, Hannah is ensuring food bank deliveries are available to support those who need it and is providing someone for her clients to talk to.

Initially clients didn’t understand the severity of the Coronavirus situation and Hannah has needed to reiterate and emphasise the dangers posed to clients as they are in the high-risk category. We are also faced with a few cases where people in the high risk group are at risk of being evicted from their homes.