Stories from the Front Line

Coronavirus is affecting us all and during this time, we have been gathering stories from our key workers across our services. 

Please read below to get an insight into the challenges our front line staff are facing. We're proud to have such a dedicated and committed team.

Michelle, Young Parents Housing Service, Sunderland 

In our service, we have eight flats with young people and their children. It has been and will continue to be for some time yet, quite a worrying and scary time for them all. However, in this last week especially, we have done everything to help and support them while not passing on any of our own worries and concerns. 

One worry for our young people is the shortage of essential items in the shops. This is a challenge we are all facing, but when you have a child to consider it is more so. Baby formula, nappies, wipes – these are all essential for a baby and the stress and added anxieties to the young people are evident. 

Another challenge is the lack of visitors due to the recent (but essential) closure to non-essential visitors.  Some of our young people rely on the emotional support from family and friends so this has hit hard.  

I have spoken to two of our young people and they have said: 

“ I’m worried and scared about my child. There’s no nappies or wipes. We’re bored and my partner is unhappy as he is worried about the lock-down.” 

“If we have to isolate we will have nothing, no food, no nappies, no wipes, no gas and electric, stuff to keep us safe and warm. I’m worried about everyone. Family and friends. Being stuck in the house, no family support. My 2 year old not doing anything. It will be difficult being isolated, she will be bored.” 

Obviously, the staff are doing everything to support our young people and trying to reassure them and assist them in finding the supplies they need. This does not take away their fears and anxieties – as much as we try. It is a frightening time for them. 

One of our challenges as a team is keeping the service staffed. We are a very small team of three plus our service manager. Now we have two staff off sick – leaving just one and the service manager to cover shifts and the on-call system we have in place.  

This could have an impact on our service because with only two staff working  at the moment, if one or both of us have to isolate or are taken ill, or for any reason can’t come into work, it adds pressure to the other staff member. It also adds pressure to the other services local to us if we have to ask them for help when they are already stretched themselves. 

We need to ensure everyone stays safe, has enough food, gas, electricity and everything the babies and children need. The signs of suffering from anxiety are showing already, if full lock-down occurs, I think mental health will deteriorate.  

Some staff throughout the company will have to isolate themselves; this will probably mean using more locum workers, which will also have a huge impact on our service. A good professional relationship with our young people takes time to build. They will not have this with locum workers and may not ask for the support they need.  

We have found the young people to be very generous in sharing what supplies they have, e.g. nappies etc. They have come together and been there for each other. We have a lovely community feel here at Lewis Crescent and it is a privilege to be part of it. 

We know we will get through this, when it ends will be an even stronger team.  

Kayleigh Bettyes, Accommodation Service Manager, Barnet London

At first it was challenging to get the young people to take the outbreak seriously. Staff have been encouraging young people not to go out unless it’s a necessity- which most are now doing. I expect we’ll start to see more challenges as time goes on. For staff it’s been very stressful and challenging In different ways. Trying to manage home and work life has been difficult. Staff struggle to get food after their shifts for their home and have also struggled to get in on some days due to reduced public transport.  Staff have also been extremely anxious whilst waiting for replenishments of PPE. Masks have arrived, but we are low on gloves and are waiting for these to be restocked.  

As the days have gone on, young people have become anxious and worries with how they will manage with shopping for food. We are spending more and more on supplies and food vouchers to be able to support them. For those self-isolating, they have been reliant on staff to provide them with all of the essentials and our donations stock is running low. 

Our key workers are doing everything they can to keep young people safe. We will keep you updated with the challenges they are facing and share more stories from our amazing staff soon.