In these difficult and challenging times, we wanted to provide an update on the Social Impact Bond, and how the project is working during the pandemic.
COVID-19 has had a direct impact on the lives of everyone in the country, and we’ve all had to make adjustments to ways we live and work.
The people that we work with have complex needs, making them some of the most vulnerable in society, and the COVID-19 pandemic has been a major concern to all those working with entrenched rough sleepers across Greater Manchester.
Our Delivery Partners – Shelter, Great Places and The Brick – are extremely experienced in providing an effective and personalised support service to vulnerable individuals that have, and are still, experiencing homelessness. However they have had to adapt to new and innovative ways of ensuring the people they are working with are safe and supported, whatever their current circumstances.
Everyone engaging with the programme has experienced different challenges, and recently services they have relied upon have started to close, face to face contact and home visits they looked forward to have stopped and newly built confidence is being put to the test in ways nobody could have predicted.
Our Delivery Partners were very quick to adapt their service delivery after having to dramatically reduce face-to-face contact in line with Government advice. Within a matter of days they were making arrangements to ensure that every participant had, and continues to have:
· Access to a mobile phone and credit so they can be contacted as regularly as necessary
· Access to prescribed medication, food and household essentials
· Power to their home
· A home is that is comfortable, making it a place they want to isolate and spend time in. This has included providing white goods and home furnishings
· Access to support services (drug, alcohol, mental health) as and when required
· Regular up-to-date advice and guidance
· Friendly, personalised support whenever required
This support has been very gratefully received by the vast majority of participants, and feedback has been very positive at this early stage. The challenges faced throughout this period have given participants an opportunity to demonstrate their resilience and independence, and with support from Delivery Partners, they have continued to develop whilst adhering to Government advice, keeping themselves and others safe. With the project due to come to an end in December 2020, it gives confidence that beyond this, participants will continue to develop and sustain their tenancies.
Good news stories continue to be shared, and this is great to see and is really uplifting to everyone working on the project. A participant within Manchester has recently taken the opportunity during a two-week isolation to safely detox from alcohol, with the support of Shelter. Not only was this successful, but he has continued his abstinence, and is now feeling very positive about the future.
Great Places have supported a participant who has taken the opportunity to detox from heroin, and after successfully maintaining this, he has gone on to refer himself to mental health services to continue his development. This would not have been possible only a matter of months ago.
In some cases, the additional time and contact has allowed for some great conversations between support staff and participants and they have reported the service delivered has actually become more person-centred in some cases.
It has allowed Delivery Partners to become creative with the ways they are working. A great example of this comes from The Brick. A member of the team in Wigan has started buying the same newspaper as one participant, and they have been completing the weekly crossword over the phone as well as playing online games together.
Delivery Partners are working closely with housing partners, Local Authorities and support agencies in order to maintain and coordinate effective support for participants during this crisis. What has been demonstrated is the desire, across the region, to support vulnerable residents; and this response has, so far, minimised the negative impact of such a devastating pandemic.
Despite service delivery being affected in a way nobody could have predicted, it has brought the best out of caring and person-centred support staff within each Delivery Partner. Not only have they continued to achieve contracted outcomes, but they have helped support many participants achieve so much more through this challenging time.