News & stories Blog Covid-19: A Challenging Year Liz Rutherfoord, Chief Executive It’s a year since the first lockdown and our lives have changed significantly. As with other organisations, Single Homeless Project had to move rapidly to meet the challenges presented by the ‘stay at home’ order and the Everyone In scheme. Firstly, it’s worth noting that not everyone could stay at home. We provide supported accommodation for over 800 homeless people in London and these services had to stay open. So lots of our staff carried on travelling to work, mainly on public transport, facing a risk that no one could see or fully calculate in order to run our residential services, help residents to comply with lockdown guidance and ensure everyone was safe. We also had colleagues offering outreach services for people sleeping rough and others travelling between sites delivering supplies including the much sought-after PPE they had been so resourceful in sourcing. At the same time, we supported the Everyone In push so people sleeping rough had somewhere safe to stay. We decanted a shelter that was not Covid compliant and rehoused everyone. We opened and staffed hotels and other kinds of temporary accommodation practically overnight, moving some of our residents with serious health conditions out of unsuitable hostels and in to the hotels where they were able to shield safely. Other staff in our community-based services worked from home, helping clients by phone or skype, making sure they had food, prescriptions and for some, much needed contact with the outside world. They delivered groceries and offered face to face support for those most at risk – whatever it took. One of Single Homeless Project’s values is ‘going the extra mile’ and this was in evidence every day with staff keeping services going, finding new ways of communicating with clients, ensuring they had everything they needed, and, if they didn’t, coming up with resources and solutions. And then there was everyone working from their new makeshift home offices - on kitchen tables and ironing boards, juggling homeschool, navigating flatmates and getting to grips with new IT - and doing all of this without the support they were used to from family or friends. We started a fundraising campaign to help us cover some of the additional Covid costs and were astounded by the donations we received from the public and corporate supporters. Not only did this help us pay for some of the extra costs, but as importantly, it made us realise we weren’t alone, but were facing the challenge with the support of hundreds of other people in London. One of Single Homeless Project’s values is ‘going the extra mile’ and this was in evidence every day with staff keeping services going, finding new ways of communicating with clients, ensuring they had everything they needed, and, if they didn’t, coming up with resources and solutions. Even after things began to settle down, our colleagues continued to innovate, setting up on-line courses and activities for clients, engaging with other charities and corporates to bring in much-needed resources for our services. Everyone at Single Homeless Project has approached the challenges of this past year with energy, enthusiasm and commitment and I want to say a very heartfelt thank you to them, to our clients and to all of our supporters.