Coronavirus: An update from Hestia

In the months since the UK was hit by the coronavirus pandemic, our staff, volunteers and service users have collaborated and pulled together as we remodelled services to continue to support service users, whilst maintaining social distancing and keeping everyone as safe as possible. In doing this we have been bowled over by the support we have received from our local and national partners and from the huge numbers of people and businesses who have donated. We’ve also seen more than 250 volunteers mobilise to help us get vital support to people across London and the South East

Because of this support, we were not only able to keep our services open, we have continued to accept referrals. We have also been able to launch new programmes including 5 new mental health crisis support services, an emergency domestic abuse refuge, a rehabilitation focused service for ex-offenders, a new modern slavery safe house and Safe Spaces in pharmacies across the UK including Boots, Superdrug and Morrisons.

As lockdown restrictions begin to ease, we are now focused on planning for the future. In the face of many unknowns, we have developed a set of principles that we will adhere to in all our decisions. We hope that this will enable us to continue responding both flexibly and strategically to what may lie ahead. These principles are:

  • We are committed to our organisational strategy and its 3 pillars of transforming services, building influence and diversifying income.

  • Protecting the health, safety and wellbeing of all staff, volunteers and service users is paramount and we will do everything we can to prioritise access to PPE, support social distancing and work on the assumption that Covid-19 can affect everyone.

  • We will continue to deliver support in-line with the ethos of our contracts and use our expertise and ongoing learning to influence our partners and stakeholders in how best to meet the needs of service users.

  • Face-to-face relationships sit at the heart of our approach, but learnings from C-19 should form part of new models and practice, including the role of volunteers and digital.

  • We will build on the strong foundations of organisational policies and procedures to develop clear plans that we have co-produced with service users and colleagues and implement these in a measured and inclusive way.

  • Building on our collective strengths and resilience, we will continue to collaborate across the organisation to meet the needs of our colleagues and service users.

  • We will invest in technology to enable staff to work remotely as effectively as possible and priority of office usage will be based on business need and personal circumstances.

  • We recognise the different traumas and anxieties that we have all experienced during this period and continue to work in a way that reflects that and supports the recovery and wellbeing of our staff.

  • We recognise that some of us are disproportionately affected by Covid 19, especially if we identify as having one/more protected characteristic(s) e.g. people from BAME backgrounds, older people, men and those with particular BMI and these factors will be considered as part of our risk assessments with each individual.

  • We will be courageous in our decisions and take measured risks that enable us to continue to adapt to deliver quality services and best meet service user outcomes.

  • Our hope for the future will guide everything we do and we will celebrate our collective successes together.

We know there are many more challenges to come. But we are proud of what our teams and service users have achieved so far and we continue to believe that together we can build a life beyond crisis.

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