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Reflecting on the challenges of the pandemic

Over the last year our staff have truly shown their commitment to helping others as they overcame the severe challenges to their work caused by the Covid restrictions.

Jackie Carpenter, assistant director of strategy, said that the unprecedented demands placed on our staff over the past 12 months have been met by resilience, commitment and admirable creativity.

Derventio offers accommodation to homeless people across Derby as well as further afield in Derbyshire and the South-West of England, alongside one-to-one mentoring and arranging access to therapy and employability training.

The social distancing meant that we had to temporarily close our Growing Lives project in Cotmanhay at the height of the lockdown, while staff have had to conduct face-to-face meetings outdoors, often meeting in local parks or standing outside residents’ front doors.

Many also had to work weekends to support homeless people in the city during the coldest spells throughout the winter, after Covid restrictions meant the city’s night shelter was not able to operate.

Instead, Derventio and other providers set aside accommodation for those whose lives would have been at risk if they had been sleeping rough overnight, as part of Derby’s Severe Weather Emergency Provision (SWEP), which was offered from last December to the end of March.

At a recent meeting of the Derbyshire Homeless Liaison Forum, Derby Homes reported that 102 people were offered accommodation during the period of the SWEP, with Derventio being able to secure further accommodation at another of its properties for 11 people.

The recent easing of lockdown restrictions meanwhile, means that staff will now be once again be able to sit outside a cafe and share a coffee, which will help to make their one-to-one meetings more comfortable.
Jackie said:

The past 12 months or so has presented us with some of the biggest challenges that we have ever faced as an organisation and there is no doubt that without the resilience, commitment and admirable creativity of our staff, many of the vulnerable people we work with would be in a far worst state that they are now.

We’re particularly proud of our contribution to the SWEP. It’s not something we are usually involved in, but thanks to our staff volunteering to give up their weekends, we were able to play an active part in making sure that Derby’s homeless community had a warm place to stay during the coldest nights of the winter.

The lockdown has had a huge impact on many of our residents, because they have a great many challenges, including isolation, mental health issues and drug or alcohol abuse, with very little support or resources to help them.

Even those who are actively looking for employment or training require rely heavily on the one-to-one support and mentoring, which has been very difficult to carry out while we were having to socially distance.