TOUGH TIMES FOR THE MOST VULNERABLE
It is very hard to credit, that something we had not heard of 10 weeks ago should have such a dramatic impact on all our lives. Things have been turned on their head and the new norm is not at all normal. Across Julian House, for its clients, its staff and volunteers the impact has likewise been significant.
Notwithstanding all the upheavals, Julian House is working tirelessly to maintain all of its key services. Some adjustments have had to be made but we are pleased to say that:
- All 29 hostel beds are being used (1 is temporarily out of use for a roof repair)
- The Bath Safesleep winter shelter (up to 20 beds) remains open with beds available
- Day Centre in the Safesleep venue. Open 9 til 5, Monday to Friday, for rough sleepers. This will provide vital access to a toilet, lunch and drinks. Run in collaboration with Genesis Trust.
- The outreach teams are ensuring those 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
Achieving this has not been easy against a backdrop of swiftly updating information. Staff having to self-isolate has caused shortages in projects; likewise quite a few of our amazing volunteers have had to step back. So far, the number of clients who have had to self-isolate has been low, but we expect that figure to rise. It is a stark reminder that many homeless people have underlying health problems meaning that they are at much greater risk of harm should they contract the virus. Right now many are anxious and fearful.
The Julian House staff teams have been amazing, both in their determination to keep services running and in their flexibility – filling rota gaps, finding creative solutions to problems and reassuring clients. Without their goodwill and ‘can do’ approach things would be immeasurably worse. The same is true of our volunteers. Maintaining their safety and wellbeing throughout all of this has been a major focus for the trustees and management team.
In order to accommodate an increase in the number of homeless people who need to self-isolate an appeal has gone out to hotels, B&Bs and other property owners to ask if they will temporarily repurpose their premises.
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.
Ordinarily this soon after Christmas we would not be asking supporters for financial support, but our need is significant. 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.