Jasper shares an update on Coronavirus and its impact at HBH
As you may know, we already implemented measures two weeks ago and since then, we have had to add more in order to protect our residents, volunteers, voluntary staff and in turn protect their families too.
What has this meant in practice?
We started out with practical hygiene measures. Like everyone else we felt the focus had to be heightened at the project. We installed extra automatic hand sanitisers, removed fabric tea towels and replaced with paper ones, put extra posters up to remind people how to properly wash hands, and put up posters to show how to stop transmission. We staggered access to the laundry, dining room, and limited visitors.
However, on Monday we had to take the decision to go to ‘lock down’. We have closed the communal facilities. Monday saw our latest resident arrive and we are now unable to accept any new referrals; we cannot take any new bus guests either. We are shut to visitors and volunteers alike.
Residents have been given supplies so that they can isolate in their own units. The kitchen and dining room are closed.
We are still receiving food donations from the supermarkets that support us, delivered outside and collected safely to minimise contact. We are taking every measure we can to socially distance within the project to protect our residents who of course are in the vulnerable category. Some administrative work is being undergone from one of our Trustees who is working from home, as the office is closed too.
We have to prioritise our residents at the project who are relying on HBH to stay safe and fed, and we have to protect the volunteers that usually come to the project to clean, to work in the office, to help in so many ways as you know, and of course make sure that they are not at risk or putting others at risk either.
We have now heard that hostels, shelters, Julian Trust, St Mungos, The Methodist Centre, Spring of Hope, have all had to close. Drop in centres and now cafes are also closed. BOSH outreach are still operating, and they are of course taking every precaution to protect their volunteers and will be asking those attending to distance themselves as they queue up.
Of course, before all of this, on top of providing the accommodation and support that we do, we were able to offer showers and meals for rough sleepers during the day. But now, we are thinking about what we can do for them, how we can we still do our best to support them, given the difficult situation.
We have gone back to where we started, and recognise that hygiene is a key factor in staying healthy. We’re hoping to hire out a shower block to set up directly next to the project. Anyone on the streets could come and get clean during set times so that we can make sure we can replenish toiletries etc for it and keep contact at a minimum. To pay for this, we have applied to the Martin Lewis funds that are specifically for Covid 19 support, and they say they will make quick decisions. If we are successful funds will be released rapidly. We liaise with the Homeless Forum and they have pledged to spread the word if we get this sorted.
We thank you all for your continued support. This is a difficult time for everybody, and it remains to be seen how long this will go on, or even the impact it will have on so many areas of life. But we know that now, even more than ever, our ethos is vital – Together we can make a difference.
Jasper Thompson and Team HBH