Community

Practitioner Insights: Five ways to ease loneliness and disconnection

Practitioner Insights: Five ways to ease loneliness and disconnection

What is the difference between feeling lonely and being alone? When you feel alone – even around other people – you may be feeling disconnected. Perhaps your needs are not being met, you are not connecting with people on a meaningful level, or you are going through hidden challenges or experiences nobody else knows about. This Loneliness Awareness Week, we share insights on the value of actively listening and connecting to ease loneliness. You can use these tips to ease loneliness and disconnection in yourself and others. As an organisation that provides valuable support, you may also find these insights helpful.  

1. Actively listening:  

When going through challenges you may feel like your voice isn’t being heard, which can fuel feelings of loneliness, resentment, stress, anger and tension. Making an effort to listen to others – not just listening to give a reply but really actively listening – can be a great starting point for easing these feelings and building a meaningful connection. Sometimes we want to fix everything and give solutions and advice, but for some people real active listening and feeding back what they have said can be even more powerful. 

Action: Make an effort to listen –not just listening to give a reply but really actively listening. 

2. Meaningfully connecting  

When you feel alone even around other people, you may be feeling disconnected. Try connecting with yourself first and foremost to better understand: Why do you feel like this? Do you crave more meaningful relationships? What is your definition of friendship? Are you working through a challenge or trauma in your life? Recognising your feelings may help you decide what you need to do to feel better. If you believe someone close to you may be feeling like this, try strengthening your own relationship with them by setting meaningful time to just talk and be together with no judgement or expectations.  

Action: Try connecting with yourself to better understand why you are feeling this way. Set meaningful time with yourself and others to strengthen your relationships.  

3. Authentically expressing 

It can be difficult to connect with others when you have your guard up or dismiss your own authentic self. This, coupled with societal factors and expectations, can contribute to feelings of disconnection with others and/or in group settings. Try seeking outlets to express yourself such as connecting with close friends and family and/or doing activities that bring you joy. Expressing yourself authentically in a way that you are comfortable with is valuable for your own mental health and wellbeing. Taking some time out to recharge your social meter is important too.  

Action: Try seeking different ways and outlets to express yourself like connecting with close friends and family and doing activities that bring you joy. Take time out to recharge your batteries too.  

4. Sincerely asking  

Asking questions to yourself and others can help to generate better solutions to problems and uncover different challenges. It can also help you remain open, non-judgemental and sincere in supporting yourself and others. “I care about you. Is there anything I can do to help you work through this?” “May I help you find someone who can support you?” “How would you like things to be different?” Remember to check in regularly with yourself too.  

Action: Ask open-ended, non-judgmental and sincere questions to generate better solutions to problems and uncover different challenges. Check in regularly with yourself too. 

5. Holistically supporting  

When you’re talking to someone, it helps to see that person as a system – in that system is a person, their needs, background, parentage, education, culture, faith etc. You’re not seeing a situation or a person as one-dimensional but seeing them in a holistic frame. At Kineara, our support is holistic and tailored to the needs of the individual and family. This means we look at the bigger picture, addressing different challenges they may be facing in life, including issues with rent or housing insecurity, emotional wellbeing, or household needs and relationship. Although holistic working is a specialism, it helps to recognise this approach, be aware of those other issues, and bring in specialist support as needed. 

Action: Connect with support services that add value and find out more about holistic support. 

Helpful links  

Marmalade Trust – A charity dedicated to recognising loneliness, helping people make new friendships and connections, and hosting Loneliness Awareness Week.  

Apply For Help – WaveLength – Wavelength has really helped our clients who have been isolated and many have lost everything through homelessness. To be able to listen to music or watch a television has really helped their mental health. 

Digital Inclusion Project – Many of us were fortunate enough to get through lockdown with a phone, computer and the internet. But there were many who couldn’t FaceTime or Zoom their friends and family, they had little or no contact with others. Our digital inclusion courses help people gain confidence so that they become digitally independent and connected to the services and networks they need. 

 

Posted by kineara in Community, Health and Wellbeing
A focus group: Life and debt in temporary accommodation

A focus group: Life and debt in temporary accommodation

We hear from people we’ve supported on their experiences of temporary accommodation and what councils and support services can do better.

There are currently over 250,000 people living in temporary accommodation across the UK, a figure which jumped by 6000 in the first three months of the Covid crisis. With a chronic lack of social housing and unaffordable rental prices in the private market, too many people are trapped in temporary accommodation without the means to move on. 

But what is the real experience of living in temporary accommodation? Last month, we were approached by Oak Foundation and Trust for London to take part in research about the lives of people living in temporary accommodation and the kinds of support and advocacy available to them.  

We hosted a focus group with 6 people we’ve supported over the last year in our housing projects, to hear about the challenges they have faced and their view on what could help them and others who are living in temporary accommodation. 

And before the conversation could start, one of the common problems that we’ve supported families with cropped up: could everyone get online for the Zoom call? For Gary, the only way was to go over to a friends house and get Wifi access from there because he’d been unable to top up electricity that week. But it was important to him to join us and share his experience: “I was homeless, the Refugee Council connected me with Council support, they gave me a hotel room but I never saw the case worker, it was all over the phone. I saw a place that was all one room, I signed the contract.” 

In Gary’s case, an error meant the benefit cap wasn’t taken into consideration when he signed the agreement. Unable to work and with little to live on after the rent is paid, day to day life is a struggle. “Now I’m living on £200 for a month. I didn’t know how I’m going to live, I can’t top up electric, it is very complicated for me and very traumatizing.” 

When you’re suffering from mental health, its difficult – its like trying to put a jigsaw puzzle together in the dark.

Our other participants could relate to the stress caused by the mismatch in benefits and high rent prices, even in TA. When Ajay got his temporary accommodation, he set up a  direct debit to cover the utilities and believed his housing benefit would cover the rent. He explains, “I’m going about doing as I should, then 10 months after I was told I was going to be evicted because I hadn’t paid the rent and I’d got into all this debt. I didn’t even know. If it wasn’t for Kineara I don’t know what would happen.” 

For Rick, it took two years to get his housing benefit and was moved twice in that time. The housing he was moved to didn’t feel safe, and he wasn’t sleeping due to  the stress. It was also hard to get the right information at the right time from council services, saying “They often they tell you ‘I’ll get back to you, I have to check.’ Once I travelled in to the office only to be told to write in.”

Angel, who works part time and whose son is a full time student, had similar frustrations: “They told me ‘Don’t worry, housing benefit will cover it, just make an application’. The arrears kept going up and up. Its frustrating. They need to communicate better – its currently very poor.” Another added, “It seems that different Council offices have different systems to manage who is coming in, one team doesn’t speak to the other.” 

So what did the group think could be improved to better support people through and out of temporary accommodation? Many of them described feeling like they weren’t cared about, even feeling like a burden on society. “Then you fall through the cracks and enter world of desperation due to mental relapses, and then you become more of a burden.” 

They also wanted to see council services be considerate to the multiple barriers and hardships that they experience, because when they don’t, it feels like they’re being set up to fail. “And you need that when you’re suffering from mental health, because its difficult – its like trying to put a jigsaw puzzle together in the dark.” 

For others, the most important thing was also the most simple – to have someone by their side, listening to what they were going through and advocating for them through crisis. “Big thanks for Carly, because I [felt] abandoned but Carly started fighting for my case. She’s been helping me get set up, like with Council Tax which I didn’t know about.”  

As we wrapped up our conversation, it was clear that the opportunity to meet and share stories had been important to everyone. “So much of  my experience has been reflected today… its been useful because you feel alone.”

This focus group was hosted on behalf of Oak Foundation and Trust for London’s ongoing research project exploring advocacy and support in temporary accommodation. To find out more about the project, contact leila@leilabaker.net and ugo@trustforlondon.org.uk.

*Names have been changed for privacy purposes

Posted by kineara in Community, Employment, Health and Wellbeing, Housing, Research
Practitioner Insights: Reflecting on the ‘Stress, Vicarious Trauma and Managing Wellbeing’ training by Homeless Link

Practitioner Insights: Reflecting on the ‘Stress, Vicarious Trauma and Managing Wellbeing’ training by Homeless Link

Being a listening ear for people is a privileged position but it can also be exhausting and can even lead to vicarious trauma. Our practitioner James shares his reflections about the impact of vicarious trauma, the importance of resilience, and other “difficult to hear” realities. Whether you support people with multi-complex needs and/or want to develop strategies to prioritise your own wellbeing, here are some important learnings for you to build upon your own.

This article was originally published on the Homeless Link website.

The impact of vicarious trauma

I recently attended a highly enjoyable training course organised by Homeless Link. ‘Stress, Vicarious Trauma and Managing Wellbeing’ focused on self-care and best practice within support services. The aim was to ensure that the right steps and actions are taken to ensure that as practitioners, we are looking after ourselves and our own wellbeing, as well as others.

Being somewhat new to support work, the course challenged many of my beliefs and practices I had picked up from other customer facing roles. Judging by the comments made by fellow attendees, I was not alone. Much of the training focused on wanting to do as much as possible for our clients and having all the answers to their needs.

“Understandably, emotions can run high in this line of work and become draining. However, it is how we deal with it that will ultimately result in how we do or do not cope, and the ability to make the next appointment or call.”

Being a listening ear for people is a privileged position to be in, but it can also be exhausting and can even lead to vicarious trauma. This can affect your ability to continue to work and how you treat others in and out of work. Ultimately, we are human beings with our own relationships and connections that must be maintained. The conflicting emotions and heightened challenges associated with the pandemic on top of an intense workload, can result in shutting-off people who are an important source of support. Having suffered with elements of yet another lockdown this was a much-needed wakeup call. I will be the first to admit my lockdown self-care protocols have been far from perfect this time around. Following the training I began taking walks every morning and some evenings (depending on the weather).

The importance of resilience

Another key learning was the importance of resilience: the ability to ‘bounce-back.’ I learnt that this was a contentious topic given that it was initially seen as a ‘bad term’ which suggests a lack of processing regarding what may have occurred and dealing with the subsequent stress. However, once unpicked it was clear that the terminology was not the issue, rather how ‘bouncing-back’ can instead result in poor self-care as mentioned above. For me, bouncing back was a completely normal phrase, but not one I have ever used. Coming from previous people-facing roles, I am comfortable analysing what may have gone right or wrong and how to improve upon this the next time. Understandably, emotions can run high in this line of work and become draining. However, it is how we deal with it that will ultimately result in how we do or do not cope, and the ability to make the next appointment or call.

To move on, we must first understand what has happened, what was said, how the client is feeling and what we can do to assist. It’s important to understand that clients are not always blaming you, rather venting their frustrations is essential in staying present and building that resilience. The course convenor stressed the importance of processing the emotions and responses in understanding how to move forward and provide areas to be improved upon next time.

“To move on, we must first understand what has happened, what was said, how the client is feeling and what we can do to assist. It’s important to understand that clients are not always blaming you, rather venting their frustrations is essential in staying present and building that resilience.”

A coffee break has become my chosen habit in taking a moment to slow down, take stock what has occurred so far and prioritise what needs completing before the end of the day. At the end of the day, I move all signs of work out of sight and abstain from technology, sitting with a book until dinnertime.

Supporting emotional wellbeing and complex needs

Sometimes it can feel difficult knowing that clients who are struggling emotionally are often leaning heavily on you. As mentioned earlier, the practitioner-client relationship is vital and also rewarding but the caveat is that it can often be emotionally draining. Working with individuals that have mental health diagnoses, or undiagnosed conditions, moving houses and financially unstable can be difficult. Many of these clients have lived experiences that are beyond that of our own and so it can feel that providing an outlet is the best we can do. As someone who prides themselves on their ability to strengthen and build connections with others, this was a particularly challenging topic. However, as the convenor of the day said, all of our clients have already gotten through their worst days. We can only do so much to help our clients and sometimes we must weigh up how much we can do and the emotional toll it can take on us. It is an understandable point, but one that I continue to think over. Knowing a client is facing tough times, I have definitely picked up the phone, knowing there is a little I can offer, simply providing them an opportunity to offload.

“Looking after ourselves and responding to our own needs is vital in these trying times. As counterintuitive or difficult that may seem, ensuring we are looking after our own needs first will result in our best practice as we contend with the new normal”

A key learning for me was: By looking after ourselves and responding to our own needs as a priority is vital in these trying times. As counterintuitive or difficult that may seem, ensuring we are looking after our own needs first will result in our best practice as we contend with the ‘new normal’. Whether you work in people-facing roles and/or want to develop strategies to prioritise your own wellbeing, I would certainly recommend you attend the ‘Stress, Vicarious Trauma and Managing Wellbeing’ workshop by Homeless Link.

We’re grateful to be part of the Homeless Link network which offers us training and opportunities to connect with others in the sector. Visit Homeless Link for more training opportunities.

Kineara is an award-winning community interest company that supports people facing challenging times in housing, education and employment. You can find out more about their tailormade support services or contact info@kineara.co.uk

Posted by kineara in Community, Health and Wellbeing
Practitioner Insights: Stress Awareness Month

Practitioner Insights: Stress Awareness Month

To support others effectively you must take action each day for your own physical, mental and emotional health and wellbeing. We started #StressAwarenessMonth with our Wellbeing Team Meeting, sharing small and meaningful things that we can do everyday to help us during this uncertain time. We decided our word of the month is PEACE – see our thoughts below.

Last updated 12.04.21

Team Wellbeing Meeting - April 2021

Useful links

  • Download our infographic for top tips on managing your health and wellbeing.
  • Read our last Practitioner Insights blog on how complex cases can impact our mental health and wellbeing, and how to work through this.
  • Read our case studies for practical insights on supporting children, individuals and families who are stressed.
Posted by kineara in Community, Health and Wellbeing, Impact
New Covid eviction prevention project for Southwark residents gets underway

New Covid eviction prevention project for Southwark residents gets underway

PRESS RELEASE
November 2020

Our new programme will provide essential intensive support to renters in the private sector who are threatened with eviction

We’re excited to announce a new Covid Private Renters Project for tenants in Southwark, delivering our intensive 10-week intervention with residents with complex needs to address arrears, financial hardship, health and wellbeing concerns that have led to an insecure tenancy.

We’ve developed a unique intervention for tenants and landlords that combines intensive practical and wellbeing support, legal advice, and mediation. It is designed to meet a pressing current need in which legal uncertainties around eviction, increasing arrears and financial hardship, and insecure employment could potentially lead to a rise in homelessness across the UK. The project aims to prevent that by strengthening landlord-tenant communication and supporting mediation, as well as specialist legal support provided our partners, Southwark Law Centre.

The programme will be delivered in partnership with Southwark Council and Southwark Law Centre with funding from Guys’ and St Thomas’ Charity. As the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated, housing is a key driver of health, and secure, safe housing is foundational to our health outcomes. We’re excited to be collaborating with these partners to support the health and wellbeing of residents in the Southwark by addressing housing as a social determinant of health.

Councillor Helen Dennis, cabinet member for social support and homelessness, said: “Tackling homelessness has always been best approached as prevention rather than cure. So we’re delighted to be able to support those in the private sector who are vulnerable to becoming homeless due to eviction. Alongside Kineara and Southwark Law Centre, we hope to use a collaborative approach to help people remain in a safe and secure home with their families, especially during such difficult and economically uncertain times.”

The project comes at a critical time for renters in the private sector, as the Government’s eviction moratorium came to an end on 20th September. Shelter estimates that over 300,000 renters have fallen into arrears since the pandemic started, with perhaps many more in danger of being made homeless once the furlough scheme ends and unemployment rises.

Kieron Boyle, CEO at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity says: “We know that the economic impact of the pandemic disproportionately affects those who already shoulder the greatest burden of ill health. We’re delighted to be working with Kineara, Southwark Council and the Southwark Law Centre to protect the health of those at risk of eviction. Through a package of practical support we can help prevent insecure housing driving health inequalities. This will have impact locally as well as important lessons for national policy.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

About Kineara

Kineara is an award winning community interest company that offers holistic support services to families, individuals and young people going through challenges in housing, education and employment.

About Southwark Law Centre

Southwark Law Centre is a charity whose mission is the relief of poverty, suffering and distress through the provision of free, specialist and confidential legal advice.

About Guys’ St Thomas’ Charity

Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity is an independent urban health foundation. They work with Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and others to improve health in the London boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark, and beyond.

For media enquiries contact Melanie Sirinathsingh on 07800545607 and msirinathsingh@kineara.co.uk, or visit our website www.kineara.co.uk

Posted by kineara in Community, Housing, Latest
COVID 19, housing and health

COVID 19, housing and health

At Kinearait is important to us to identify and support with housing concerns for any of the families or individuals we work with. As well as developing housing interventions that aim to prevent eviction, address financial hardship caused by housing costs, or settle into long term, stable accommodation, specialist support for housing is also offered to any household that may need it, even if they have come to us on an education or employment programme.  

The reason for this is we know that for a person’s wellbeing to improve in a sustainable way, their home must provide a solid foundation for them. And when a family is housing insecure, the support we provide is likely to have far less impact unless we work with them to address those housing challenges. 

And last 6 months have thrown the relationship between good quality, safe, stable housing and health into sharp relief.  

“For a person’s wellbeing to improve in a sustainable way, their home must provide a solid foundation for them.”

Covid-housing-healthWhile the reality about the impacts Covid-19 impact is still emerging, early reports have already demonstrated clear links between poor housing and Covid-19 deathsThe death rate for Covid-19 is England’s poorest boroughs, including Tower Hamlets where we deliver M2E in schools, is twice the rate than in the richest areas according to the latest information. And it is in those poorest areas that we tend to also find a higher rate of overcrowding, higher prevalence of HMOs’ and higher shortages of social housing, which have also shown to be correlated with Covid-19 deathsIn addition, Bangladeshi, Pakistani and Black African households are more likely to be living in overcrowded homes, which may explain in part why these groups are overrepresented in Covid 19 deaths.  

Moreover, there arbroader health impacts of poor and insecure housing being experienced in these communities that have long been present and have been made worse by closures, stay-at-home measures and financial hardship brought on by the crisis. 

How lockdown impacted temporary accommodation residents in Bexley 

In July, we surveyed 11 participants of Opening Doorsour project that supports temporary accommodation tenants with complex needs into long term secure housing, to find out about how the lockdowns had impacted their lives, health and wellbeing. 

Isolation and lack of social contact emerged as one of the most difficult things those surveyed faced during the lockdowns, with nearly two thirds saying their contact with friends, family and community networks decreased. Nearly half of those surveyed also reported that feelings of anxiety and depression increased, and that their mental health in general had been impacted by the pandemic. Those same respondents also reported difficulty accessing their statutory or community-based support services. In addition, 4 respondents had difficulty accessing medication and 1 reported having suicidal thoughts.  

“Isolation and lack of social contact emerged as one of the most difficult things those surveyed faced during the lockdowns.”

Just under half (41%) of those surveyed reported that their finances had worsened because of the crisis, with a third saying they were behind on rent since lockdown began and a quarter behind on other bills too5 respondents also had trouble accessing food, either because local shops had closed, money was tight, or because friends or family who usually support them with these errands were unable to do so.  

What had been most helpful for those surveyed was the weekly calls and check in’s by their support practitioner, SandraHaving a listening ear and compassionate connection has been vital for those who have been isolated, helping to reduce anxiety. For some, the closures have meant that their move out of TA has been delayed, but all of those surveyed said they were happy with Kineara’s communication about the programme and said that Kineara’s presence had been useful during this time. In the meantime Sandra’s support getting in touch with local services when needed, finding information online, support paying bills and rent was also important to those surveyed.  

How does housing impact health? 

It seems obvious, but housing stress can have a major impact on our physical and mental healthIn our work, we see how drug and alcohol recovery, anxiety and depression, and long term chronic conditions can all be worsened by unsuitable or insecure housing. 

We recently met Beverly*, a young woman living in temporary accommodation and just about to start her A-Levels. She told us she has moved every one or two months in the last year – even during lockdown – struggling to feel safe in shared accommodation after an earlier experience of sexual abuse. She mentioned that she had an anxiety disorder and had support from mental health services, but that finding housing that meant she could feel safe and focus on her studies was the most important thing for her.  

 “In our work, we see how drug and alcohol recovery, anxiety and depression, and long term chronic conditions can all be worsened by unsuitable or insecure housing”

As Beverly was referred to us via the Opening Doors programme, we told her that finding housing was also our priority, but that delays caused by Covid meant it would be around 6 months before a move to her own flat could happen. This was devastating for her – moving out of her current room was urgent and the news was extremely disappointing. The following week, her practitioner Sandra received a call from NHS crisis support: Beverly had called in extreme distressthe news that she wouldn’t be able to move before starting college was too much, and was, for her the straw that broke the camel’s back. Sandra and her crisis support worker are now working together to support her in the interim.  

Trevor*, also referred to our Opening Doors programme earlier in the year, was struggling to maintain his recovery from alcohol while living in temporary accommodation in an HMO. He had been diagnosed with depression and has epilepsyand at times has seizures brought on by stress and anxiety. He was eligible for social housing but had been on the list for some time. His shared accommodation meant that his pursuit of recovery and improved health was in jeopardy, as other residents were drinking and several times police were called to the property. For peace, mental focus, and to keep away from alcohol, Trevor found it easier to stay in his own room – but during lockdown the pressures of this isolation took a toll on his mental health.  

“Having a listening ear and compassionate connection has been vital for those who have been isolated, helping to reduce anxiety.”

Through listening ear work, welfare calls, and lots of encouragement, Sandra supported Trevor to keep bidding for flats, to keep paying off rent arrears that had built up, and prepare for a positive change to come. Having someone to share the burdens of his isolation was crucial and his determination paid off. Last week, he called to tell us he signed a tenancy for his own flat having been finally offered a social housing tenancy.  

 

*Names have been changed for privacy purposes. 

Posted by kineara in Community, Housing
Putting racial equity on our agenda

Putting racial equity on our agenda

June 2020

In the last few weeks, the disproportionate effects of Covid-19 on BME people, the Government’s pandemic responses, and police brutality in Black communities the US and the UK have brought the impacts of racial inequality back into full public view.

As a non-profit working in some of London’s most diverse and most unequal boroughs, we feel it is important at this time to make clear our solidarity with the protestors taking to the streets in the last few weeks, and with Black communities and organisations who have been challenging racism in the myriad of ways it manifests.

We also write these words on behalf of the people we represent and work to support, and centering their experience. While our work doesn’t involve us directly in racial justice campaigning, we aim to break down barriers for people living at the sharp end of poverty and inequality. We support people to navigate a system (be it housing, education, or welfare) that is often discriminatory or marginalising, and to manage the system as it impacts them – all the while understanding how culture, family networks, community belonging and identity marks our experiences. This is an important part of our systemic and strength-based support.

We want, humbly, to issue a call to those in our sector – non-profits services, charities, trusts and funders, social enterprises or community interest companies – to speak up and speak out. Many of our organisations work is full view of the racial marginalisation that persists in our society. We work to combat the effects of the trauma it causes and barriers it creates.

But too often we do so without centering or naming the cause. Racial inequalities in housing, health, wealth, education, and criminal justice don’t happen by accident, they are the result of systemic and institutionalised racism is deeply engrained in our public and private institutions – including in the non-profit sector. Campaigns like #CharitySoWhite and organisations like the Ubele Initiative are bringing light to this issue.

As a multicultural team, we believe it’s important for these conversations to be alive in the work place,  and for leaders to create a safe, non-judgemental space that invites open dialogue about race and inequality. These conversations encourage us to look at self, our interactions with others and our own practice with the communities we serve.

Long-term systemic change will not come from just one community voice but with voices from all racial, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. This moment requires collective action to shine a light on the movement for Black lives and racial equality for all.

Posted by kineara in Community, Latest
Supporting the recovery of our communities

Supporting the recovery of our communities

As the impacts of Covid-19 and the lockdowns on our communities are becoming clearer, the inequality in society has been laid bare.

For us and many other organisations working with ‘vulnerable’ people, the reality of life at the sharp end of that inequality has always been acutely challenging, particularly when barriers to secure housing, stable employment, positive mental and physical health, and meaningful connections to community combine.

As a result, many of the impacts we are seeing are not new to us, they are only exacerbated by the unequal effect of both the Covid-19 illness and the lockdowns that have been put in place to contain it.

Supporting your needs

Kineara has broad experience working with people with complex needs to address concerns over housing, mental health, family support, and employment. This support is both practical and emotional, and our practitioners use holistic approaches that can include anything from writing housing applications to counselling sessions.

We also provide consultation and supervision to housing associations and schools, so we can support your own frontline staff to identify and support those people that need more complex care.

We know that many organisations will be at low capacity right now, just when the demand for support is greatest. Whether you are a housing association, school or local authority, you will likely have seen the gaps in provision and the challenges that people in your communities face, as the lack of funding, availability of staff, and the severity of the impacts of Covid-19 on the vulnerable becomes clear.

We can support you to prevent people falling through those gaps.

But we want to hear from you – if you are a school, housing association or local authority, get in touch! There are many ways that we may be able to provide you the support your community needs as we begin to address the effects of the pandemic, including over-the-phone supervision and consultation, trainings, support interventions for vulnerable residents or communities, and more.

Posted by kineara in Community, Education, Housing, Latest
Relief and support during Covid-19: A list of links and resources

Relief and support during Covid-19: A list of links and resources

We’ve put together a list of webpages and resources where people can find up-to-date information and support while the UK is tackling the Coronavirus crisis. In particular, these links are for those people who may be living in precarious situations, facing financial hardship, housing insecurity, or mental health concerns. Follow the links below to find information on managing bills, dealing with landlords, and more.

We have also included resources for groups who may be at a higher risk of either illness or who are likely to become vulnerable during the lockdown period, which you can find below.

Last updated 31.01.21

Links to Government Covid-19 relief measures

The Government has issued a list of what it considered key workers at this time and therefore who has school eligibility at this time: Guidance for schools and education providers.

The Government’s full guidance for tenants, landlords, housing providers and local authorities can be found here. The current measures mean no-one (including private renters, social renters, property guardians, and people in TA) will face eviction for three months, and LHA rates have been increased to cover 30% of rent.

Turn2Us has a regularly updated webpage with guidance on all the new and existing benefits. This page also includes a benefits calculator and a list of grants available for people in financial hardship.

StepChange, the debt charity, also has advice about how to manage bills and debts during this time, with advice about what creditors and utility companies may do to help individuals unable to pay.

The government has promised that utility companies will not be allowed to disconnect credit meters at this time, and customers in financial distress will be supported by their energy company to look at options for reducing payments or debts.  This link also includes advice for people with pre-pay meters, and a list of utility company helplines.

Several mobile and internet providers including Vodaphone, EE and O2 have agreed to protect vulnerable customers by removing broadband data caps, providing support to those who cannot meet their bills, and offer affordable packages.

And here is information about how parents and carers can access supermarket vouchers for children eligible for free school meals.

Guidance and support for specific groups

Renters

Measures toprotect private renterswere revised over the last week and may still change again, but for nowGeneration Renthas gathered the latest Government support packages that are available, and how to access them. 

Shelter has regularly updated guidance for bothrenters and home owners about their rights and benefitsduring this time. 

But there are calls for more to be done, andLondon Renters Union are calling for rent suspensions, in line with the mortgage holidays offered to homeowners. They also have drafted atemplate letterrenters can use to negotiate rent holidays or decreases with their landlord. 

Advice4Renters provides free or low-cost legal advice and representation from expert housing specialists.   

Shelter’s free housing advice helpline 0808 800 4444 is open 8am-8pm on weekdays and 8am-5pm on weekends, 365 days a year. 

BME groups

The Race Equality Foundation has guidance on how Covid-19 may impactblack and minority ethnic people. While BME groups generally have a younger average age, risk factors like heart disease and diabetes are higher in African/Caribbean and South Asian groups. BME people are also more likely to be in key worker occupations and more likely to live in overcrowded conditions than white British people, and therefore potentially at higher risk of exposure to infection. 

The Ubele Initiative have adedicated Covid-19 support and resource page for BAME communities.You can also read Kineara’s case study with Ubele Initiative.

The GMCVO has put together this useful webpage of information, sources of support and resources for BAME communities 

The Indigo Trust has listed a number of organisations that it has funded to continue providing essential support to BME groups during Covid-19. You can read more about them and access further links here.  

Doctors of The World have publishedCovid-19 guidance for patients in a number of languages. The guidance is based on the government’s advice and health information and was produced in partnership with the British Red Cross, Migrant Help and Clear Voice. 

Askdoc have producedshort videos translating NHS England Covid-19 advicein variouslanguages. 

South Asian Health Foundation have a range ofresources and links about Coronavirus in South Asian languages. 

Europia is also working with Doctors of the World, providing them withtranslations of COVID-19 NHS Guidanceinto Bulgarian, Estonian, Hungarian, Latvian and Lithuanian. 

Public Health England haveinformation for migrants translated into different languagesavailable to download. 

The BAME Stream is offering FREE culturally appropriate bereavement support and is now taking referrals. 

Victims of domestic abuse

Solace Women’s Aid, the Public interest Law Centre, and other specialist VAWG groups are concerned we will see a surge in violence in the home, as victims of abuse are unable to leave the home. They are calling forurgent action for domestic violence survivors during the lockdown, with a letter to the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government. They are also calling forrefuges to receive ring fenced Coronavirus funding. 

Solace Women’s Aid also offers a hub of resources for DV victims and survivors including free Covid-19 webinars and lists of safety measures if you are in an abusive relationship during Covid-19.  

The government has launched the Ask for Ani (Action Needed Immediately) codeword scheme to enable victims of domestic abuse to access immediate help from the police or other support services, from the safety of their local shop, or pharmacy. 

Safe Lives has a useful webpage for victims of domestic abuse. This includes a guide for staying safe during COVID-19, specialist joint-guidance for DV survivors  

Surviving Economic Abuse offers helpful resources for survivors whilst self-isolating, as well as practical issues including benefits. There is also useful information for professionals working with victims and survivors of economic abuse.

The Women and Girls Network offers a range of online resources covering mental health and wellbeing, educational tools and translations.  

Refuge and the National Domestic Abuse Helpline (0808 2000 247) has information about your rights and options, including legal help and help with housing.  

Women’s Aid is continuing to provide the Survivors’ Forum, an online resource for survivors of domestic abuse which can be accessed 24/7; live chat and email service. 

Asylum seekers and refugees

The Home Office has pledged tostop evicting asylum seekers from government accommodationfor a period of three months once their claim or appeal is decided. A decision will be made on Friday 3rdApril aboutwhether to suspend No Recourse to Public Funds policy. 

Here is useful advice forsupporting migrants and asylum seekersduring the crisis, with additional helplines. And here is apetition calling for people being held in immigration detention to be releasedso they can have proper access to healthcare. 

The Red Crosshas put together a webpage with various support for refugees, asylum seekers or vulnerable migrants.

Women for Refugee Women are supporting refugee and asylum-seeking women during the pandemic, from women who been made homeless during the pandemic to women who do not have the money to feed their children. You can find out more and donate to their appeal here.   

The Refugee Council, who has beencalling on the governmentto protect people seeking asylum and refugees at risk, has a regularly updated webpage on Changes to Asylum & Resettlement policy and practice in response to Covid-19’  

Joint letter on protecting migrants from COVID-19: Asylum Matters, Liberty, Medact and others have signed a joint letter to the Home Secretary calling for specific measures to protect migrants and the general population from COVID-19. This includes calls for the suspension of all NHS charging and data-sharing for the purposes of immigration enforcement and the suspension of the ‘no recourse to public funds’ conditions to ensure everyone can access support. You canread the letter and add your name here.

Right to Remain has a regularly updated webpage on the Changes to the asylum and immigration processesdue to Covid-19. You can find other resourcesformigrants and their advocates on the Migrant Information Hub 

Training 19/01/2021 (multiple dates): Trauma informed training on Housing Rights for Refugee and Migrant Women delivered by Baobab Women’s Project. The sessions will cover trauma-informed care, developing effective support services, migration and human rights, and housing.  

Training 27/01/2021, 18:00 – 20:00 GMT: Refugee Mental Health Training exploring psychosocial challenges faced by refugees and asylum seekers, experiences of depression and intergenerational trauma. The session is psychiatry trainee and diasporic medical student who will be drawing on their own personal experiences.  

Children in temporary accommodation

The Lancet has written a short comment about how children in temporary accommodation are at high risk of exposure to Covid-19 and potential direct and indirect health impacts of isolating in overcrowded, shared or confined spaces.

Disabled people

Scope has lots ofinformation for disabled peopleabout support that is available at this time. And here is guidance fortackling isolation during a time of ‘physical distancing’ to keep us socially connected, from AbilityNet, a charity that aims to ensure IT is available to everyone regardless of ability, including older and disabled people. 

Concerns have been raised by disabled rights organisations thatemergency changes to the Care Act means that local authorities could suspend their dutiesand refuse people assessments and care. 

Groups with accessibility needs 

Translated audio guidanceon COVID-19has beenupdatedby Doctors of the World. 

People with mental illness

Rethink Mental Illness has put together questions and answers forpeople living with mental illness and those who care for them, including prescriptions and carer visits. The government also madeemergency changes to the Mental Health Act last week, causing some concern that increased government powers will make it easier for people to be detained. 

Rethink Mental Ilness has also produced this guidance on the Covid-19 vaccine for people living with mental health. Under current proposals, people diagnosed and livinlg with severe mental illness are classed as a priority group to receive the vaccine. 

Mind has put together a webpage of information and tips to help you cope while the UK is tackling the Covid-19 pandemic. You can also call the infoline on 0300 123 3393 to takeabout mental health and where to get help near you.  

Local Covid-19 mutual aid groups

Bexley

Bexley Borough Covid-19 Mutual Aid Group (Facebook group)

Covid 19 – Mutual Aid Bexley Support & Inspiration (Facebook group)

Isolation Help Bexley

Hackney

Hackney Covid 19 Mutual Aid (Facebook group)

The Boiler House N16

Tower Hamlets

Tower Hamlets Covid 19 Community Support (Facebook group)

Stepney Green mutual aid group (WhatsApp group)

Limehouse Aid (WhatsApp group)

Search for a mutual aid group in your area or for a friend in need: Covid Mutual Aid UK

Posted by kineara in Community, Education, Employment, Housing, Latest
Kineara’s response to coronavirus closures

Kineara’s response to coronavirus closures

23 March 2020

 

Last week the UK Government made the decision to shut down schools as the country continues to address the coronavirus spread throughout the UK. This was in addition to several other Government measures to increase social distancing and offer some relief to people effected by the virus.

 

At this time, our priority concern is for the safety and wellbeing of our staff and the people we work with, many of whom are being particularly impacted by the virus and its broader consequences. For families who are already in precarious housing, on low incomes, living in overcrowded homes or with children with complex needs, the coming months will be particularly challenging.

 

We are thankful that at this time we are able to temporarily sustain our services, despite having to reduce the level of support we can offer. Whilst the schools are closed, and social distancing is being advised, we won’t be able to run sessions or make visits to our clients in the way we usually would.

 

But, we are doing what we can to overcome the disruption and continue to provide the best support we can over the phone, via calls and video chat. We have been speaking with our school and housing partners to make arrangements about how we can provide school-home services and housing support going forward. We also are connecting with local voluntary services so that we can make sure people have access to essential support through this time. We hope that, with enough planning, we can continue to support you in meaningful ways, including support for the impact of the coronavirus. We’ll continue to review our work as we go forward.

 

We are also preparing a list useful links of local services, mutual aid groups, and community support for our website in coming days, so that anyone who we have worked with now or in the past can find out what is on offer in their area.

 

The families and households we are currently working with will be, if they have not been already, contacted by their practitioner in the coming days to make ongoing arrangements.

 

We know that for many people this will be a stressful and worrying moment. At Kineara, we are always focused on how best to support people through challenging times – and for the next few weeks, we know many people in London and the UK will face many challenges. We will do the best we can to help you through it.

 

 

The Kineara Team

 

 

 

Posted by kineara in Community, Education, Employment, Housing, Latest