Has this impacted our work?
The short answer is yes, but we are still very much working and the need is even greater than ever.
As lockdown was announced and the government said “everyone in”, we worked tirelessly with Rugby Borough Council to make sure all our homeless clients were housed and safe. The council have provided and paid for accommodation for all those who are homeless in Rugby – for that we commend and thank them.
The Hope Centre has had to close, but staff worked from home and were as busy as ever carrying out regular welfare checks on clients by phone, face to face (at a distance!) if needed and ensuring they had food and necessities.
Staff also made sure everyone knew what the guidelines were, and what that really meant in practice. Guidance was translated into Polish and Russian for some of our clients. More information about Covid-19 and homelessness can be found here.
Rugby Foodbank had just moved into new premises as lockdown started. With the age and health issues of many of our volunteers they simply could no longer volunteer, demand for food shot through the roof and social distancing in the small rooms of the building made it very difficult for them to carry on. Fortunately the council stepped in and ran the operation with a small dedicated staff team. Our office staff supported the council and our partner agencies to ensure foodbank remained open.
We are engaged in conversations at a national level to see how the sector could move forward safely and we took this opportunity to pause and reassess the what, why and hows. Moving forward we looked at how to reopen the Centre in a safe, controlled way and what services could be provided by staff and partner agencies. The Centre and foodbank warehouse layouts were remodelled and extra equipment was purchased to ensure staff, volunteer and clients are as Covid secure as possible. Catering volunteers also continue to be stood down for the foreseeable future.
At the end of June the council handed back the day to day running of the foodbank. We remain very grateful for their help. Covid security is of the highest priority and small teams of volunteers continue to work very hard to sort and pack food for clients. The foodbank remains open and we continue to run it even through subsequent lockdowns.
In July the centre reopened with a Monday to Friday core hours service, by appointment only basis. Some of the services have also been suspended but clients are still able to work with their Key Workers and also have access to showers, computers, laundry, clothing, health care and some food provisions. The Centre has remained open during subsequent lockdowns on reduced hours.
We have seen a steady stream of new clients both at the Hope Centre and foodbank and believe that the full impact of the pandemic is still to be felt. We anticipate that homelessness will rise nationally, and we sadly expect to be busier than ever this year. This is true nationally for food banks too – food poverty and food insecurity will rise as the country heads into a recession with job losses and evictions.
We believe that everyone should have a place to call home and enough food to feed
their families even in a crisis. If you do too, please join with us and support our work.