When the UK was first put into lockdown on 23 March, our normal lives and routines became set to change.
During this challenging time, One Manchester colleagues were advised not to come into the office, to work from home, and to dramatically reduce our interaction with other people. For lots of us this meant a very different look to our way of working, and most of our colleagues found themselves deployed to different responsibilities outside of their normal working routine.
During all of this, first and foremost we wanted to make sure that everyone is safe and that nobody feels alone. We have been making calls to check on the welfare of our customers and offering our support services wherever we can.
We have spoken to 4409 customers so far, who were happy to hear from us whether or not they needed our support. Out of the calls we have made so far,
- 374 people have been referred for food support with local authorities and charities
- 196 people have been supported with financial advice from our in-house One Money Team
- 96 people have been referred to befriending and support services
- 25 have been referred for support with baby essentials
- 14 to local authority emergency response for help with medication
- 35 customers have been supported via our hardship fund to bridge the gap in basic food & essentials provision until local authority food response could be delivered to them
- 250 people in sheltered or independent living schemes are being contacted regularly
Our Support and Wellbeing Team have been active in supporting those that need it. As well as making regular phone calls to our customers, they have been supporting other teams and offering advice; in particular the team have started two new projects:
The first is with Salford University, allowing counselling students to offer 1:1 person centred counselling over the phone. This means that customers can receive counselling sessions on issues that are troubling them, helping with their isolation and improving their mental health.
The second project is using volunteers to phone customers who are feeling lonely and providing some befriending and support to help them through this period.
We've had lovely feedback from customers that we've spoken to so far:
"Howard has been helping me and my children out and arranged food deliveries for us. He’s been absolutely amazing, I don’t know what I’d have done without him."
It's really encouraging to hear this feedback and for our colleagues to know that they are making a positive difference in people's lives.
Adam is one of our colleagues who normally works in the Marketing and Insight Team. Whilst at home, he has been helping the Support and Wellbeing Team by taking on some of the wellbeing calls to our customers. He told us about his experience:
"I was asked to pick up extra duties outside of my normal role in marketing and help out by calling our customers.
"I didn't know at first how the calls would be met. Would they welcome my call, or would I be seen as interfering in their lives? As I'd never done this before it was difficult to know!
"I quickly found out that people were happy to speak to me, and I was grateful in turn to speak to them and hear about their experiences during lockdown. Some of the calls last only for a minute or so, some for the best part of an hour, but they all end the same way; “thank you for calling, it was so nice to speak to you”.
As well as this we have been working hard to make sure that participants in our GM Homes Partnership project are supported during this time.
GM Homes Partnership is a project funded by the Government to assist the most entrenched rough sleepers (those that have lived on the street for over two years) with secure accommodation and ongoing targeted support.
One of the GM Homes Partnership participants that we have worked closely with had recently suffered some health issues. We worked with Shelter to find accommodation for them after their hospital stay. They were temporarily moved to a property within a care facility, where they could still live independently whilst waiting for a more suitable and permanent home. Then, a few weeks ago, they were offered a suitable ground floor property with the adaptations they required.
Sam, our Support & Wellbeing Coordinator, had been in regular contact with them during this process and they had this feedback:
"You have been like an angel, contacting me weekly to check up on me and have a chat. We put the world to rights and the calls mean a lot and are appreciated.
"Sam has always supported me but during the coronavirus she has been fantastic, ordering me food parcels and just showing care towards me and the situation we are all in, I can’t thank her enough”
We're continuing to offer direct support to our customers during this time. We also have a support and information hub on our website which is a really valuable resource for people who need financial support, help with employment or training, and community contacts.