As a frontline organisation, we have been following a three-phase plan, in line with the government strategy, since early March and have worked with Welsh Government and key partners in the sector to ensure a joined-up and detailed response to the crisis.
The aim of our critical services delivery plan is to:
We’ve now added a fourth aim: To keep our critical services running.
24 of our projects across Wales have been deemed critical services through our assessment process which is based on the vulnerability of the clients accessing the service and the risk to service staff. A plan for each of these services has been developed and is reviewed and updated regularly, in-line with Government recommendations.
It is solely because of our 400-strong specialist staff team and their dedication and commitment to do ‘whatever it takes’ that these services are still running, still supporting people and will remain operational for as long as it takes. We cannot thank our staff enough for their resilience, bravery and fortitude.
Alongside the incredible frontline workers, The Wallich has formed a COVID-19 Taskforce, made up of nine The Wallich staff, each bringing a different skill set including; Operations, HR, Communications and Health & Safety. We have developed comprehensive daily updates that are sent to staff. We have published and updated our three-phase plan as needed. We have used videos, FAQs, government updates and useful resources, pooled in one place, for staff to access at any time. We have developed a COVID-19 risk assessment and financial and practical forecasting to ensure we are thinking long-term as well as reacting to the present moment.
Our COVID-19 Taskforce meets daily over video link, as do our Senior Operational Managers and Communications Team, and each group feeds into each other with almost hourly updates.
We will continue to provide vital food, information and reassurance to those people still sleeping rough on the streets.
We are continuing to provide daily outreach services in Cardiff, Swansea and Newport.
To ensure the safety of our clients, who are increasingly vulnerable, and our staff teams, we are following the guidance from the government regrading social distancing and the services are being adjusted in line with this. Continuing these critical services, safely, is paramount.
We are actively working alongside Welsh Government and with our local authorities to develop an effective, tailored, local response in each area to respond to the needs of our rough sleeping community.
Our priority is to ensure that people who are sleeping rough have the support and resources to protect themselves and access to the facilities they need.
Our critical services are accommodation-based and outreach. Many of our other offices have been forced to close. Where an office-base is closed, we are utilising IT and staff will be conducting regular interventions via phone, video call and text message to give our clients support with whatever they need, including a focus on wellbeing, managing finances, benefits, mental health and social isolation.
Our Reflections Network, which is a team of counsellors and therapists, are offering telephone and video appointments for those who are experiencing mental health difficulties. We have set up a telephone Peer Befriending service and produced printable activities for people stuck in isolation. We are creatively adapting our services and being as innovative as possible in line with government guidelines.
We are supporting staff who are working from home via video conferencing and daily information updates. We have provided resources for staff to aid effective home-working and support their mental well-being. We are also supporting those staff who are exhibiting symptoms to self-isolate where needed and have put together a comprehensive pay and wellbeing package to support them at this time of uncertainty and worry.
Above all, The Wallich are steadfast and focused on what we need to do to get through this crisis and will continue to protect, support and be there for the people who need us.
We are heartened by the community response to homelessness at this difficult time, from government funding, to the sector pulling together. We’re also immensely grateful to all the businesses and individuals who have contacted us with offers of support. We need this to continue beyond this crisis and for those at the sharp-end of the pandemic to be shown the same level of compassion long into the future.