As we move into another month of lockdown we reflect on the past three months and the work Aisling continues to do within our community of long term Irish emigrants in London.
Aisling continues to provide support for up to 200 clients during the pandemic. In line with government guidance we work as best we can remotely from home when we are able. Whilst most of our clients are coping with remote contact sometimes we need to do face to face contacts to support clients with hospital visits, assisting with shopping when reminders are needed to maintain social distancing and housing and benefits issues.
Aisling’s alcohol and health outreach service.
Aisling’s outreach service provides phone support to ensure our clients understand all the guidance given to them around Covid19. Our clients remain vulnerable with complex needs such as mental health and alcohol dependency and the messages need to be reinforced often. Prior to this situation many of our clients were already suffering from isolation and were often lonely, so daily phone calls are a lifeline even more so now. Clients receive daily phone-calls from Aisling’s alcohol and health outreach workers. We also keep in touch with texts and emails, support letters and postcards. It is also important that we are able to keep our clients in touch with family where possible. At this time while we aren’t able to bring people home to Ireland and their families but we can help clients keep in touch with family in other ways. Ensuring that we maintain family links is vital to our mission at The Aisling project. This can be through the use of Aisling phones, support with writing letters and also helping clients by providing basic phones to keep in touch. When we do have face to face contact this also serves as an opportunity to have a short conversation so breaking social isolation for our clients.
The following is a brief summary of Aisling client support activities during the past 3 months:
Our Alcohol worker provides much needed alcohol support and advice by phone. In this lockdown period the consumption of alcohol is expected to increase, and it is essential we provide ongoing alcohol support to those most at risk of increasing alcohol intake and/or relapse if alcohol free. These contacts occur once daily and more regularly depending on the individual needs of our clients. Drinking at home has increased while pubs have been closed. We have also noticed an increase in street drinking and/or drinking in parks, which is likely due to increased social isolation and the need for company. Our Alcohol worker is already looking at who is likely to need additional support and even detox when services open properly. We already have clients who have been accepted for detox outside of London and they will need to be accompanied.
Three men that our Alcohol worker supports have died since March and he has been in a position to act on behalf of families and support families in the arrangements of funerals and ensuring that client’s wishes are carried out. We have been able to attend funerals of clients that families are not able to do during this time.
Aisling continues to offer a face-to-face outreach service to some of our most vulnerable clients delivering essential food items and dropping off medication. This continues to be carried out whilst maintaining social distancing. We have registered clients with food banks and volunteer services where eligible. However we are still stepping in to purchase food and essential items when our clients are under financial restraints and are not eligible for services. The health outreach worker has assisted clients to register with a nominated chemist for delivery of medications.
Most of Aisling’s clients are in receipt of benefits and despite the lock-down there is ongoing issues around benefits suspensions and appeals. Since lock-down the health outreach worker has:
- Successfully assisted in the appeal of Personal Independence Payments for three clients.
- Assisted three clients in applying for Universal Credit for the first time.
- Assisted a gentleman to reapply for Universal credit after suspension due to an administration error.
- Assisted a gentleman who needed to apply for Universal credit due to being in Police custody.
- Housing always remains an issue and we have secured accommodation for a mother and child escaping emotional abuse.
- Signposting queries that have come through to the Aisling office.
The health outreach worker continues to give information to clients around Covid19, shielding and the reasons for social distancing and shielding. Our health outreach worker has been coordinating getting essential items to those who need assistance. This includes booking clients for weekly deliveries from food banks and daily delivery of a hot meal. Assisting individuals to get a Morrison’s basic food box for 35 pounds, which is meant for two people so feeds our clients happily for 10 days to two weeks.
Mode of communication alcohol and health outreach team march 23rd 2020 to June 29th 2020
|Type of contact||No of contacts||Running Toal|
|One to one||70||1561|
|Postcards||150||1970 number of contacts|
One to one breakdown (social distancing) during lockdown
|Reason||No of||Running total|
|Escorts||6||70 face to face|
The volunteer coordinator currently has 10 volunteers who have adapted their befriending role to be able to offer the service remotely. Six volunteers are currently befriending by phone. One volunteer sends emails to the care home a client is in and these are then read out to the client by care home staff. Two volunteers ring the care homes clients live in and sometimes are able to talk to client or at least have messages passed on. Other volunteers keeps in touch by post. These contacts happen weekly or fortnightly. Many care homes are still in lockdown but there are seven volunteer befriended ready to meet with clients face to face when appropriate. Our volunteer coordinator maintains contact with Aisling volunteers and their befriended clients.
We aim to keep our clients protected and will maintain contact as needed to ensure that social isolation is minimised and be on hand in-case any social or welfare issues present.
We continue to provide effective sign posting to statutory agencies as appropriate during this time and supplement with more deliveries of essential items as needed. As a small team we communicate remotely as needed to discuss cases and adjust how we need to work during this uncertain time.
Charlie Conquest – health outreach June 2020