Caritas Anchor House provides a home and support for people experiencing homelessness in Newham. The borough has the highest levels of homelessness in the country, and there is more demand for their services than ever before. They have 140 bed spaces, and in 2019 the team of around 50 staff supported 287 people to move on from homelessness.
On a usual week, the charity supports its residents to address the causes of their homelessness, and to overcome any barriers they may face by providing health and wellbeing support, education, employability and volunteering opportunities, and help to move on to their next chapters.
However, during the pandemic and lockdown the team have found themselves in an extraordinary times, having to adapt their work in all sorts of ways in order to keep the residents and staff safe. The London Borough of Newham has had the highest Covid19 mortality rate in the country, but only a very small number of residents reported minor symptoms.When we spoke to the team, they explained that they had been so heartened by the wonderful support they have received but it had certainly not been a smooth ride. They supported residents who had to self-isolate and provided PPE as well as information regarding guidance on hygiene and social distancing. As a supported housing provider, many of the facilities (such as the residents loung, kitchen, dining room and laundry) are shared between 140 people, however these spaces had to be restricted to minimise risk.
When we asked the team how the residents had responded to these measures, they said:
“Residents have been really co-operative and understand that their actions save lives by minimising risk of infection spreading. There is a strong sense of community at Caritas Anchor House and our residents find strength from their peers, but they recognise that these steps have been essential.”
Sadly, a number of the residents at Anchor House lost their jobs due to lockdown, so the team supported them to manage their finances and prepare them for returning to, and securing, work opportunities. Other residents experienced a deterioration in mental health due to the unprecedented circumstances, therefore the team needed to increase the level of wellbeing support they could give.
A big barrier for Caritas Anchor House was the fact they were unable to support residents to move on from their service. However, as lockdown has eased, the team has prioritised supporting those who are ready to do so. In an attempt to knock down some of the barriers, the team have had to look at other ways of delivering support: “We’ve seen the benefits of moving towards telephone support, and have been able to catch up on resident’s progress more frequently – and it’s something we will likely continue.”
As lockdown eases, the team at Caritas Anchor House are striving to get back to full service delivery whilst making the appropriate adjustments to their work. To keep up to date with their progress you can visit their website at www.caritasanchorhouse.org.uk.
If you would like to contact Caritas Anchor House you can reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 7476 6062.
You can also follow Caritas Anchor House on Twitter and Facebook to keep up with their latest news.