The ALLIANCE'S Declan Cannon outlines partnership working with the NHS and Aberlour that is supporting families through COVID-19.
In my role as a Community Links Practitioner on The ALLIANCE’s Links Worker Programme I regularly interact with people facing multiple barriers within their lives. These barriers are often intertwined and have enduring impacts on people’s wellbeing. Since the emergence of COVID-19 and subsequent lockdown a lot of these barriers have become further entrenched and more difficult to overcome for members of our community, including those on the practice list population of the GP practice in which I am based.
Many families are facing significant financial hardship due to sudden loss of income. Many are without work and relying on the furlough scheme. Others have outstanding benefit assessments which have been thrown into disarray, and for many the level of hardship they ordinarily face has been compounded by the outbreak.
This can often lead to feelings of despair and helplessness for people in our community.
The uncertainty of the public health landscape only serves to amplify such feelings; this results in a bleak scenario where people are unsure how they will be able to sustain themselves and their families.
Indeed, it’s recently become apparent in mainstream media that a greater impact of COVID-19 is being felt by the deprived communities, for whom my role and the Links Worker Programme itself originated as a Scottish Government response to provide necessary support to.
Adapting to working from home and trying to think of new ways to engage our practice population, I discovered the Aberlour Urgent Assistance Fund, which offers financial support to those struggling financially during the public health crisis.
After discovering this fund I contacted our practice’s Health Visitors, as they are still working around the clock to support the families they work with. From this we set up a referral pathway where the Health Visitors would identify families in need, pass their details on to myself, and I would contact them to complete the application form.
In the past couple of weeks we have completed over 30 applications to the fund. In that time, we have had 23 responses, and this has generated an income of approximately £5,000 between these families. The fund by Aberlour has been a massive help to our community and has had a profound impact on the families we worked with. It has meant families are able to continue supplying essentials for themselves and their children, and in many instances saved these families from total destitution.
One family for example has five kids within the household, and despite only requesting £200 from the fund received a payment of £500. The mum was in shock but so thankful for the support, telling me that this meant she would be able to feed her kids and provide essential items they need to complete their schoolwork.
In extraordinary times such as these it’s important that individuals and organisations work together to maximise the positive outcomes for those we work with. In this instance I’ve been grateful to share such a positive partnership with the Health Visitors within my own practice. I am also extremely grateful to Aberlour for providing this fund, as without it many of our community would be facing total destitution.
The staff have been incredibly helpful whenever I have called for information. They have helped eliminate barriers in accessing the fund which has been a lifeline for myself as a worker. One example of this flexibility is that in regular circumstances the funds would be paid to an organisation and then distributed accordingly. However, due to the unprecedented times Aberlour have allowed us to send the bank details of families so that they directly receive the funds. This has meant we are able to get the funds to where they need to be in the timeliest manner, and without the commendable responsiveness adopted by Aberlour, this would not have been possible.
You can now watch our ALLIANCE Live interview (this link will take you away from our website) with Aberlour on their urgent assistance fund for more on how they have been helping families and children during COVID-19.