What is the current situation at Emmanuel House following the outbreak of Coronavirus?

Following the implementation of social distancing, our incredible team continues to liaise with our beneficiaries, offering remote advice and support. Whilst Emmanuel House Support Centre is temporarily closed for face-to-face contact, the Night Shelter continues to offer support and accommodation for up to 40 beneficiaries.

We are also preparing for a sharp rise in demand of our support services following the pandemic as consequence of the illness will result in an increase in numbers of homeless people, mental health needs and employment uncertainty. 

What support services are you still offering?

Homeless, vulnerable and isolated adults are being hit particularly hard by the Coronavirus outbreak. In order to continue to support our clients, we are delivering our service in a number of ways.  

  • Telephone helpline providing support for incoming questions and queries from our service users.
  • Wellbeing checks for clients, ensuring service users are supported with any issues.
  • Daily phone calls to high-risk and high-need clients.
  • Weekly phone check-ins with women in the Womanuel Group.
  • Practical and emotional support for beneficiaries who are struggling with being in isolation. For example, we are arranging food parcel deliveries from local food banks, prescription deliveries and mental health signposting.
  • The Night Shelter has moved to a hotel where we are providing 24-hour support and facilitating the isolation of 23 guests in individual rooms.

How is the Night Shelter working in the hotel?

We are currently providing 24-hour support for 40 guests to ensure they are able to follow the self-isolation guidelines in their own individual rooms. The hotel is being staffed by Night Shelter and Emmanuel House staff for 24 hours a day, with shifts split into morning, afternoon and overnight. Whilst move-on options are temporally limited, we are all working together to ensure guests have support in accessing their benefits and are able to continue taking the necessary steps towards securing long-term accommodation when the situation permits.

Day-to-day running of the shelter includes:

  • Carrying out wellbeing checks on guests in their rooms.
  • Providing food and hot drinks – guests are provided with three meals a day, which are being provided by the hotel catering staff and funded by Night Shelter funds. Meals are taken to the doors and then collected by guests contactlessly.
  • Facilitating guests with benefit queries, helping them to apply for Universal Credit and linking up with other support services.
  • Offering practical advice about which local chemists are still open near the hotel so prescriptions can be transferred there.
  • Daily visits from homeless health team visits to provide its usual health support, alongside dealing with any health concerns related to Coronavirus. 

We have also been liaising with other services such as Framework to ensure the guests have still been able to contact their workers for support and we are providing toiletries, underwear and clothing when we offer hot drinks.

We are continually trying to reassure people that we are there for them, as there is a great concern over access to support, healthcare and benefits.

How can I support Emmanuel House during the temporary closure?

Emmanuel House continues to operate remotely to offer support to homeless, vulnerable and isolated adults and also support 40 guests in the Night Shelter. As a result of cancelled fundraising, sporting and entertainment events, along with regular corporate donors unable to support us during this time of uncertainty, Emmanuel House has been presented with a financial challenge. At this time, the support we offer is more important than ever.

Donate to Emmanuel House’s emergency Coronavirus Appeal

If you would like to help, we are asking supporters to donate to our Coronavirus Appeal to enable us to support those in need.

  • £5 will enable us to deliver toiletries and clean clothing to one guest in the Night Shelter for a week.
  • £10 will provide an hour’s support over the phone for a high-risk vulnerable person.
  • £25 will provide one member of Night Shelter staff with appropriate PPE for a week. 
  • £50 will provide practical and emotional support for one client for a week.
  • £100 will provide helpline telephone support for homeless, vulnerable and isolated adults for one day.

Please donate to our emergency appeal. Together we can support as many of Nottingham’s homeless, vulnerable and isolated adults as possible. By making a donation, you’ll help Emmanuel House’s support team continue to protect and support some of Nottingham’s most vulnerable people during these unprecedented times. Any donation will make a difference.

To make your donation payment directly to Emmanuel House, this can be done by bank transfer. Please use these bank details. Please then complete the donation form and return to lauren.howatson@emmanuelhouse.org.uk so we can acknowledge your donation.

Donate to local food banks

In response to the guidelines regarding reducing the movement of people and increasing self-isolation, we are not currently able to accept donations of food, clothing or bric-a-brac. We will review this hold on donations in due course and update our website with information when this has resumed.

A lot of clients are accessing food parcels from food banks – if you are able to, donations of non-perishable food to your local food banks would be greatly appreciated.

What kind of social distancing measures are your support staff undertaking?

Wherepossible, all support and clerical staff are continuing to carry out their role as before, working from home. All contact with, and support for, clients is continuing via phone, text, email or WhatsApp. Staff working in the Night Shelter are wearing Personal Protective Equipment, as well as ensuring social distancing is in place where possible.

How else are you supporting Emmanuel House’s service users during the outbreak?

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 multiple 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.

How have your roles changed since the outbreak of Coronavirus?

This is an extremely complex situation and we are trying to navigate the stressful processes under additional pressure. For our team of support workers, it is still business as usual, they are just being presented with more challenges. 

Emmanuel House staff profile: Lynsey, member of the Wellbeing Support Team

Lynsey has found it challenging not being able to see people face to face, but she has been impressed with how her clients have adapted to communicating by phone, text, email and WhatsApp. It has proved harder to offer emotional support and reassurance remotely, but many clients have commented that they have been glad to receive a text and have been thankful for conversations over the phone, so they don’t feel as alone.

Our support team has been there to listen to frustrations about not being able to see family and friends and how not being around other people is having a negative impact on their mental health. They have also been able to encourage clients to continue with some therapeutic activities at home by letting them now what is out there. The Streetwise Opera sing-along every day on Facebook has proved very popular! We’ve also been able to direct clients to websites, if they can get online, such as MIND and Imara, which offers specific advice, as well as exercises such as calming and grounding techniques to help with anxiety. Where people aren’t able to access the internet, we have been able to talk clients through some of the exercises on the phone.

What is happening to Emmanuel House and Night Shelter volunteers during the outbreak?

As part of our measures to limit the impact of Coronavirus, we are not currently inducting new volunteers. If you wish to apply to volunteer at Emmanuel House or the Night Shelter, your application will be logged in the system and references checked, and we’ll resume the induction process once we are able to. In order to protect our family of volunteers, all volunteers are currently on hold from carrying out shifts, but this will resume when it is safe to do so.

Whilst we are all facing uncertainty and additional stress from circumstances beyond our control, as a support service for homeless, vulnerable and isolated adults, we continue to support those in need.

If you have any questions about Emmanuel House’s services during the Coronavirus outbreak, please get in touch.

If you are a business and would like to help with our Coronavirus appeal, please contact Lauren.Howatson@emmanuelhouse.org.uk.

For volunteering enquiries, please email: volunteering@emmanuelhouse.org.uk

To donate to our emergency Coronavirus appeal, please visit the website: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/donation-web/charity?charityId=1012693&stop_mobi=yes