We are one of a small number of housing associations in Northern Ireland who provide temporary accommodation and directly manage support services for homeless families. Since 2003, our Homeless Services Team provide a critical, front line service to families who have found themselves homeless through no fault of their own. To date, we have supported over 1800 families in Northern Ireland, helping them through some of the most difficult times in their lives and assisting them through the transition from temporary to permanent accommodation. The primary focus of the team is to ensure that families are permanently rehoused in as short a time as possible and that the main causes of their homelessness have been identified and overcome. This is normally achieved through face-to-face interaction with the families.
Impact of Coronavirus
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, we had to stop all face-to-face contact. We had to adapt our services to ensure that our families, who are already under stress, received the help they needed. The homeless service team worked above and beyond expectations to continue providing housing support to residents. Examples of some of the work this caring and professional team carried out are listed below:
- Carried out over 4000 telephone calls to check on the welfare of families and provide assistance, where required;
- Sent out daily emails with updated information on a variety of subjects, including the pandemic status, how to maintain physical and mental health and tips on how to keep the children occupied and lots more.
- Delivered 336 food parcels to residents, in partnership with local food banks;
- Ensured that all eligible families received the school dinner vouchers;
- Worked with local schools so that children were able to get connected to the internet to complete schoolwork at home.
- Provided IT equipment for home-schooling to those families who did not have the resources in partnership with local charities;
- Gave out nearly 300 activity packs to the children
- Contacted families, who had moved on, to determine if any support was needed.
During this unprecedented period, community partnership-working has strengthened and certainly post- COVID we will be building on this to benefit the families we work with. Our families have found this period difficult but, through technology, we have been able to communicate much more and believe this will be the future for our services. Face-to-face interaction will never be fully replaced but technology will enable people to keep connected and enhance our support services.
Our Homeless Services Team consists of 21 members of staff who play a critical role in the smooth running of this essential service. From the manager and team leaders, to front line support, administration and housekeeping, our team consistently deliver despite the challenges they face. They are a strong team of people, who are very passionate about their job. The quality and the commitment of the Homeless Services Team directly correlates to the satisfaction levels expressed by residents and feedback is consistently high. We are very proud of them all.
Quotes from residents received through email during this period:
“Thank you for our food parcel. Everything in it was appreciated. Hope on Thursday night you felt three people’s hugs surround you as we clapped in appreciation to you and the staff of Roseville for still coming to work and helping us all. This will be a thing we all shall talk about for years and for our family the help and guidance we got from you and your team shall remain in our hearts for as long as we live. Have a good weekend Kelly and stay safe.”
“Thank you for your kindness and for the follow up”
“Hello, we are very good. Are you all right? We miss you and the days of the past”
“Hı Marıe thank you for everything, you are very kindly and very lovely”