Caritas Anchor House

Working at the heart of homelessness

From the frontline: fantastic community support

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From the frontline: fantastic community support

7th July 2020
Naomi is our Community Development Officer. Her role focuses on community engagement, running community-based services and managing volunteers. Here, she shares her experience of life in lockdown at Caritas Anchor House.

When lockdown struck, there was so much change across the country – and here at Caritas Anchor House, that’s definitely been felt. The past three months have seen a huge shift in the way we operate.

With 140 homeless people to keep safe during these difficult times, our focuses have quite rightly had to shift. Some areas of our work, such as supporting residents to secure move-on accommodation and delivering community-based services, came to a halt.

As we’ve been supporting residents to shield and self-isolate and prevent infection, I’ve focused on coordinating the provision and distribution of food, particularly for those with no recourse to public funds. It’s meant that residents can safely self-isolate, trips outside of the building for shopping have been kept to a minimum, use of our communal kitchen decreased, which significantly reduced the risks of infection.

It’s been fantastic to see how much everyone has come together in support of our residents and enabled us to keep going. Our local community really have been amazing. Ensuring a consistent provision of food has been made easier by the support we have received from some key partners – for example, City Harvest and the Carpenters and Docklands Centre have been amazing sources of support throughout the pandemic. The team at the Community Response Kitchen have also been incredible, providing up to 140 prepared meals daily through lockdown. We are so grateful.

Now that lockdown is easing, donations of food are declining. Many residents are now safely able to go to the shops, but some continue to need this support as they struggle financially. As such, my focus now is also on replenishing our internal food bank reserves to help those individuals and to ensure we are prepared in case of a second wave.
Another aspect of my role has been to secure and work with volunteers for the collection and delivery of food donations, so I’d like to say a huge thank you to each of the members of the community who have helped us with this. You’ve been superstars!

The uptake of voluntary opportunities from within our resident group has also been fantastic to see. A number of residents have been offering their time to help out on various community support projects locally, for example, preparing support packages to vulnerable members of the community. Some residents have also supported me with our food bank, and keeping our edible garden at Caritas Anchor House going too!

We’re always looking for volunteers to support our work, both with residents and behind the scenes, so if you’re interested in volunteering please do look at the opportunities on our website. If you can offer skills and time and we don’t have a suitable role listed, please do still get in touch on volunteering@caritasanchorhouse.org.uk. We’d love to hear from you.

We’re now looking to build on the available opportunities which residents can get involved in by volunteering, following the high level of interest during lockdown. We’re keen to work with local organisations to offer residents opportunities to gain valuable skills and work experience - it would be a wonderful way to help them prepare for employment and build their skills for life beyond Caritas Anchor House. If you have opportunities our residents could get involved in, we’d love to hear from you on the above email address.

We look forward to sharing more stories of volunteering with you soon!

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