Our job on the Dublin Simon “Support to Live Independently (SLI)” team is to support people through the transition from homelessness into a home of their own.
This transition can be very overwhelming and challenging for people who have spent months or years living in a small room, in crowded emergency accommodation, where meals are provided, and decisions are made by somebody else. It is our responsibility to help our clients navigate this transition and ensure they feel supported and empowered to set up their new homes.
We have had to be creative in the way that we can deliver our service during Covid-19, as generally our interactions with clients take place in their homes. We are currently providing over-the-phone support to all of our clients and are taking on new cases each week as more people move from emergency accommodation into a new home.
We feel very lucky to work within the community of Dublin Simon, especially in these unprecedented times. There is very much an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ approach and shared responsibility within the organisation, with the Fundraising and Food for Simon teams leaping into action to source and provide our clients with what they need during this pandemic. This has been extraordinary support to our clients, and they are truly grateful for all of the generosity and kindness that they have been shown, especially during a time of such uncertainty and fear.
We have also experienced great support and flexibility from the local authorities and social welfare offices as we work together to find the best way possible to support our clients and the new challenges they are facing daily. It is with this teamwork and community spirit that we have been able to continue providing our full support to clients and in adjusting, managing and creating their new home.
The changes that have come in the past number of weeks have not been easy for our clients and many are really struggling to cope with these changes that are happening at such a rapid pace. Adapting to a new neighbourhood can be scary and lonely enough, and now with physical distancing, some of our clients are feeling extremely isolated in their new, unfamiliar environments. What should be a happy time spent settling in and connecting with their new communities is a sad and lonely one, which seems so unfair for people who have experienced so much isolation already.
We are working hard to try and reinforce a sense of community integration and unity for our clients and doing everything in our power to maintain their motivation and keep their spirits high. Thankfully, there are many community initiatives that are working together at the moment to support our vulnerable clients. We have been working with the Dublin Simon Client Development team, posting clients activity booklets to keep all members of the family occupied and in particular, families with young children who are trying to educate from home. These booklets include home workouts, yoga tips, basic cooking recipes, word searches, colouring and positive thinking exercises.
While this initiative might seem very basic, it has had a massive impact on the lives of our clients and provides them with a sense of routine, achievement and connection each day. It’s very rewarding for us as keyworkers to see our clients engaging with it. We can see how much they value and appreciate the support right now. We know we are making a difference in their lives and that feeling is keeping us going through these strange and challenging times.