Aberdeen Foyer tackles the challenges of COVID-19
“We’re constantly reminding folk how far they have come, that they have the skills and resilience to get through this."
During these challenging times Aberdeen Foyer is working hard to deliver services where they are needed most. We have adapted how we deliver programmes and services utilising digital solutions, while meeting the changing needs of clients. Although we have changed how we work, the purpose behind each of our services remains unchanged. We are liaising with partners to ensure we continue to support people to the best of our ability, while mitigating the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic which has already seen a rise in demand for our services.
This pandemic has compounded the already complex needs of the most vulnerable people currently engaging, or seeking to engage, with Foyer services. It has also given rise to a new set of needs for those previously managing their lives without support.
The Foyer was awarded 12 weeks funding through The Scottish Government’s Wellbeing Fund which has enabled us to help those requiring assistance with their basic and wellbeing needs, to immediately access help and support.
Launched in June, our newly formed First Contact Team is enabling people to access support for:
- Basic needs– food, housing, safety, warmth, financial inclusion
- Wellbeing – counselling, self-management, isolation, resilience, general health, recovery
- Digital Inclusion – digital equipment, connectivity and training
- Connections– relationships and support networks within local communities
Providing a safe place to stay is more important now than ever. Our housing team is working hard to find new ways to stay connected and provide ongoing support for tenants by ensuring all young people in our accommodation have the digital kit they need to keep in touch and access all online support available to them. The team recognise that a different approach is needed to make sure all young people feel safe and supported and most importantly, can build trusting relationships with staff. So, they have created a series of short videos that a young person can watch before moving in. Some are “how to” and provide a step by step guide to appliances, metres etc. There is also be a “virtual tour” of the flat so it feels familiar. And finally, “Getting to Know Me” videos which give the young person a chance to see their development coach and learn a little about them.
The team are delivering food, toiletries and cleaning products for tenants and making the most of these opportunities to have a chat on the doorstep. For some tenants this is the only contact they have and they are really using the time to talk about how they are feeling and what’s worrying them.
We recognise how hard it is just now for those in recovery. Foyer has always provided routine, structure, boundaries and support and this new situation has knocked many off track. Many feel their reason to get up in the morning has been taken away and they have no other way to fill their time or cope with problems. We’ve seen folk face some tough times. But the Foyer Outreach Team are a tenacious bunch and have worked hard to respond to crisis, create structure and build on existing relationships through 1:1 digital support and partnership working.
Outreach Team Service Manager Loraine Stephen tells us about some of the challenges so far: “A lot of the clients we work with have struggled to keep to a routine and have returned to old coping strategies. But we’ve made sure we can keep in touch with everyone and have provided mobile phones and laptops for clients who otherwise would have been completely cut off from us.
“We’ve supported clients who have had their fuel supply or phone disconnected and vitally, we’re making sure everyone has access to food (Aberdeen Foyer has partnered with Aberdeen Cyrenians, Social Bite and CFINE to work in collaboration to distribute food across the city)
“Routine and structure are so important in recovery and we’re continuing to deliver services digitally at the same time each day. We know that having different ways to fill time and focus your attention are vital and we’ve sent out books, DVD’s, games, colouring books, craft packs and self-care boxes.
“We’re constantly reminding folk how far they have come, that they have the skills and resilience to get through this. But we are also mindful that many have no family or friends to turn to for support. We are their support network and it’s vital that we keep those trusting relationships going”
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