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Bedspace Pandemic Blog June 2020

29 06 20

Bedspace has been adapting to new ways of working in response to the current pandemic. Our outreach support has been continuing, with the help of personal protective equipment and staff creativity and dedication.

Bedspace has group living accommodation for young people age 16+ with staff on site 24 hours. One challenge for our staff has been how to keep young people safe and following government guidance whilst ensuring their emotional and physical health needs are being met. As many people have discovered, lockdown can be a challenging time, with many people missing family and friends, and unable to attend college and other supportive groups. Our support workers have been praised for their innovative and emotionally responsive support to service users over this time.

Lucy* came to England from Slovakia. Very shortly after arriving, Lucy was placed in foster care with her younger sibling due to neglect. Following mounting concerns of child sexual exploitation (CSE), and an inability to keep Lucy safe, a plan was made to move Lucy into group living accommodation with Bedspace at the age of 16. Lucy began attending college and settled in well to group living. As Lucy is only able to have supervised contact with her family, this contact stopped during the pandemic. Her only communication is currently a weekly phone call with her younger sister who lives in a children’s home. Due to the high risk of CSE, Lucy’s phone had been confiscated by the police prior to her coming to Bedspace and is yet to be returned. This means that Lucy is unable to  access social media. Lucy relies solely on the Bedspace staff team for interaction and company during this time.

Team Manager Debbie Barrell says, “The group living staff have been amazing with the creative ways and suggestions they are bringing to support this young lady. The usual exercise and cooking lessons are being encouraged daily but also staff are doing make up tutorials allowing her to make them over, dye their hair and even take part in TikToK videos. Lucy is cooking traditional Slovakian meals and staff are taking a real interest in her culture and background, which is boosting her confidence and self-esteem.” Recently, staff have been gardening with Lucy and taken advantage of the warm weather by having barbeques in the sunshine.

Reza* is 18 years old and came to England from Iraq. Reza has been supported by Bedspace for over 2 years. Prior to lockdown restrictions, he attended the gym regularly. He enjoys boxing and karate and takes great pride in keeping fit, having competed in multiple competitions. Reza found the current lockdown restrictions very hard to accept as he missed his exercise regime. To support him to keep fit whilst at home, Bedspace provided Reza with home gym equipment in the form of resistance bands. Bedspace support worker Bridget Newham provides outreach visits to Reza and explains, “Reza was really pleased to receive the equipment from Bedspace and explained how they would help him build and maintain specific muscles. He even told me today that he was up at 5am to start using them for exercise!”

 

Cara* is 17 years old and from Uganda. She is a quiet young woman who unfortunately, due to arriving on a visitor visa, has been unable to engage in education. This has impacted on her ability to make any friends or socialise. Cara has spoken with her Bedspace Support Worker about wanting to start exercising. However, due to the current pandemic, she has been unable to start attending the gym. Instead, Cara has been going out for dog walks with her Support Worker and her dog around the local area. Cara has been anxious about leaving her flat, fearing the effects of Coronavirus. Exercise equipment provided by Bedspace has enabled her to keep fit within the safety of her own home. Reza and Cara are just two people who have been provided with exercise equipment to help keep them active during this time.

Team Leader Elizabeth Kerboas has been gardening with young people in Leeds during lockdown. As well as flowers, young people have planted tomatoes and salad crops which they hope to cook with when fully grown.

As well as proving support to young people during the pandemic, Bedspace has been pro-active in supporting the work of the NHS. We provided resources to staff working on the ICU at Royal Oldham Hospital and our Director of Operations, Chris Wareing has been volunteering for Oldham General Hospital, supporting their important work in reducing the spread of infection.

* real names have been changed in this article