We have been enjoying meeting our guests for socially distanced walks.
Sophia has appreciated meeting up with Linda, Project Worker. She says, “Walks make a big difference. I don’t like walking in an area I don’t know well by myself, so having someone meet me gets me out for a change in my day. I enjoy chatting, getting out for fresh air and just seeing a familiar face.
“It helped my mental health going for a walk and I look forward to going on them in the future till the building reopens. I was used to seeing Linda daily, even just for a coffee, so that was difficult when lockdown happened – walks have been good for that connection.”
We first met Sophia when she arrived at the night shelter this winter. The Council’s homelessness casework team, who work from the night shelter, got her quickly into accommodation and she started coming to our city centre project for food. From here she started coming to our weekly ladies coffee morning and Bible study.
Phonecalls and online Bible study
She says, “Not gathering for the coffee morning has been difficult, not seeing people. I have missed just popping down to the building. I was about to volunteer in the laundry room and I miss not being able to do that. “Through the phone calls and video calls I am ok. In the early days of Covid-19, the Mission helped by getting food packages. They kept Bible study going online which has been good and also getting calls from volunteers at the weekend was nice for me. Just having someone check on me has helped me through lockdown.”
Phoning guests and going for walks has helped us get to know our guests better and has deepened some of the relationships. Simon, assistant Project Manager, says, “My last two walks have been really encouraging. Lockdown has been difficult but it seems to have opened some of the guys up. Both guests who I walked with last week in some way expressed their love. “One messaged after the walk to say, ‘I love you bro.’ The other, at the end of our walk, said, ‘I’ll love you and leave you mate.’
These are two guys who don’t normally express their emotions. I’ve not really heard them talk like this before. I was surprised and hugely encouraged. I think they know we are there for them. We are consistent and it’s opening up their hearts to express more of what they really feel.”
As well as the phonecalls and walks, we have delivered more than 650 food parcels to people in their homes since the start of lockdown. We’ve also been giving our guests items such as guitars and sheet music from our music studio, dumbbells from our gym, art packs, recipe books and even bikes. These items are helping our guests deal with the boredom of lockdown and pursue the activities they have enjoyed in our building. We look forward to being able to start some of these activities again in small groups.
Read our magazine
This story first appeared in Connect, our regular magazine. Read Connect here (pdf).