Support through lockdown in Newcastle
We're supporting everyone that we work with in a variety of ways.
We've organised a system of telephone contact and our Members are being called by at least 2 different staff each week. We are also using video calls with some people.
We are collecting tasks as we talk to people and are then carrying out shopping runs or medication collections as necessary. We have given a float of money to key staff so that they can purchase items and shopping for Members who are struggling to access their money. We've amended our policy to accommodate this. All Members using this system will be invoiced for the amount we have spent on them at the end of the lockdown. We are also in communication with appointees and have set up arrangements that fit with people we support.
Most of our Members are abiding by the rules of social distancing and staying home. However there are some who are struggling to understand or comply. We are reiterating that they must stay home and doing what we can to support them so they don't have to go out. We have asked the local community officer to visit one Member, who he already has connections with, to relay this message too.
We have liaised with the local shops in our networks to ensure that our Members are safe and we have made connections with charities and new projects that have emerged during the crisis to support vulnerable people.
We are supporting some of the younger people to make sure they get exercise and some staff have met with people to go for a (socially distant) walk so that they have someone to talk to and a motivation to get out of the house.
We continue to do the usual things like support with benefits, health issues, managing correspondence etc. All of our Members have access to our 24 hour phone line and can call this in an emergency or if they are worried.
KeyRing have sourced a large supply of hand sanitiser and we have distributed this to staff. They also been sent masks and gloves. I have asked one staff Member who is vulnerable to stay at home completely. We have agreed to pay mileage for the staff who have cars so that they can travel safely; these staff are picking up extra shopping tasks and delivery of essential items. Other staff are walking but not using the bus or metro.
We have a WhatsApp group within the team to support each other and keep informal contact and we are encouraging Members to mutually support each other and phone each other.
I think we've adapted very quickly and we have established a good system where people are being supported. Our Members are struggling with not being able to get out and the cancellation of all the usual things they do in their lives. This is very challenging for them so a lot of what we are doing on the phone is listening.
To combat some of the isolation, KeyRing have set up some social things via the internet. Staff, volunteers and Members are able to log in to regular bingo and quizzes via our Facebook page and we've also set up a Coronavirus support group on Facebook where people are able to talk to one another around the country.
We hope that when things are easier we will have managed to keep people connected and our Members will feel that they were supported throughout this crisis.
By Catriona Huck, Support Manager
You can find out more about our services in Newcastle by contacting Catriona on 07917 686 658 or at firstname.lastname@example.org or on our Newcastle Networks page.