Coronavirus has caused massive upheaval and anxiety across the full spectrum of society, including the homeless and other vulnerable groups. However, in spite of these challenges, Julian House has worked incredibly hard to maintain as many of its services as is practical and, in some areas, expand them. One example of this is the provision of over 40 extra bed spaces in Bath & North East Somerset for those living on the streets – something which was achieved in double quick time.
Very early on in the Coronavirus crisis rough sleepers were identified as a very vulnerable group. Underlying health issues, the rigours of a street based lifestyle and simple impediments such as no access to washing facilities, all meant that they were particularly at risk. Likewise the difficulty of not being able to safely self-isolate was another major threat.
Led by B&NES Council and supported by Julian House and DHI, sufficient accommodation was identified which could provide respite from the street. Then in just a few days these properties were made ready to receive their first occupants. This required a huge effort from the two charities’ staff teams and some amazing support from the wider community, to provide some of the essentials to make empty properties become homes.
Since the start of the Coronavirus outbreak the B&NES Homeless Partnership has helped to ensure that resources are directed to the most vulnerable and gaps in services addressed. Examples of this include Genesis Trust increased its day centre hours and Curo helping to source some of the extra accommodation.
Roanne Wootten is the Operations Director for Julian House – “In ordinary times you would have to say that bringing three properties and 40 bed spaces into use within a matter of days was simply impossible. The leases alone would take weeks and the other logistics would be equally challenging.
The considerable support of the Council and a massive effort from already stretched staff made the impossible possible. Likewise it has been touching to see the community responding so rapidly when we asked for bed linen, towels and food.”
During the crisis these clients will be supported by outreach staff and in the event that Coronavirus symptoms become apparent those affected will be helped though their isolation period – keeping them safe and reducing the general risk of transmission.
Because some of the properties have no catering facilities meals are having to be distributed. This is another area where Julian House is hoping that the community can help. Roanne Wootten is hoping that they’ll receive a similar response – “We already have chefs lined up to help. We need food donations, ideally in commercial quantities so that we can prepare bulk meals. Perhaps from restaurants that have supplies in freezers or from wholesalers. Monetary donations are vital at this time and will allow us to use cash and carries.”
Click here to donate to our Coronavirus appeal and please direct all other offers of support be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org or 01225 354650
Elsewhere across Julian House’s services:
- The Manvers St Hostel in Bath has moved 10 clients to alternative accommodation so that conditions are less cramped and social distancing can be better observed.
- The outreach teams are ensuring the few people who are sleeping out are fully aware of the Coronavirus threat and are being supported to improve their wellbeing, including the distribution of personal hand sanitiser dispensers.
- All of the charity’s supported housing projects are functioning with staff support being delivered mostly by telephone and visits limited to emergencies.
- Likewise the domestic abuse refuge is being well supported and referrals still being accepted, with appropriate screening.
Elsewhere in the organisation the back-office support functions have been transferring, where practical, to home working. This means that the Head Office in New King St, Bath is operating on skeleton staff.
In amongst all of this we have been greatly heartened by acts of kindness and support but in view of the extra stretch we are suffering right now we are asking everyone to look out on our social media for any particular needs that we have.
Click on the links on the right to find out what we urgently need in the projects near you.
The other major need that we have is financial support. A conservative estimate of the likely impact of the virus on Julian House is well into 6 figures. All of the charity’s forthcoming fundraising events have been postponed and some, almost certainly, will not happen at all. Likewise all of our amazing charity shops have had to close – normally a major source of revenue for our work. A dedicated appeal has been set up at https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/JulianHouse-CoronavirusFund and we would welcome any regular gifts to help us plan for the future. (We’d love to thank you for your donation. As such, please ‘sign in’ to JustGiving, rather than as a guest, upon donation. We can’t thank / update you if you sign in anonymously).
As ever we are indebted to all our supporters for helping us to change the lives of some of the most vulnerable and marginalised members of society. When so many people are closing their doors, we remain open and right now they need our support more than ever before.