Coronavirus Implications – update for our Volunteers

The Coronavirus pandemic is a deeply unsettling time for us all and I want to outline to you the steps we are taking at HOST to help us all to get through it together.

I want to start by thanking you for your time and commitment to Home-Start.  I may not see a lot of our individual volunteers but please be assured that I hold you all in incredibly high regard and I have nothing but admiration and appreciation for the work you do.  HOST is only as successful as it is because of the work you all do.  Thank you. 

As you will appreciate, we have been keeping up-to-date with government and public health guidance and the time has now come for us to make some changes to the way we work.  We will do everything we possibly can to maintain effective support to families but we do have to make some changes to how we work and this includes reducing the amount of face-to-face contact we can deliver.

We would at this stage request that all of our volunteers aged over 70 and/or with underlying health conditions/ are deemed as in the ‘at risk’ group, go into resting until the peak of the outbreak has subsided.

For our volunteers not in this group, you may wish to carry on with your home visiting and if this is the case Co-ordinators will be in regular touch with families to ask if anyone is self-isolating and will let you know if this is the case.  However, it is understandable to feel anxious about undertaking home visits or supporting our group services at this time and it is equally ok for you to suspend your face to face support to your Home-Start family.  Please speak to your coordinator if you will be stopping contact with a family during this time so we can ensure they continue to be supported. 

The office remains open but staff will be working from home as much as possible and will be maintaining contact with families and volunteers via phone or Facetime/Skype etc.  As these are such unusual circumstances we are also asking if our volunteers would be willing to do this.  As you will know from your Home-Start training, we do not usually allow volunteers and families to exchange contact details and everything is managed through your Co-ordinator. 

However, as I am sure you will agree, these are exceptional circumstances and we want to do everything we can to still support families safely, so – only if you are entirely comfortable with it – we may ask you for your permission to share your contact details with your supported family.  Your Co-ordinator will support you with how to use Facetime etc. if this is needed.  Please note that there is absolutely no obligation for you to do this and it is perfectly ok for you to say no.

A few key pointers are:

  • If you, or a member of your household, have any of the symptoms now widely known about, stay at home and let your Co-ordinator know.  The advice is to stay at home for 14 days.
  • If you have visited any other country outside of the UK in the 14 days before your visit or group attendance, please contact your coordinator BEFORE your visit.
  • If your family inform you that they are self-isolating, do not go to their home but let your coordinator know.
  • Before you carry out your regular, planned visit, contact the family if possible to find out if they and anyone living within the home are without symptoms and that it is safe for you to visit.  If not please contact your coordinator and they can arrange a call with the family.
  • Your supervision sessions may become telephone sessions rather than face-to-face for the coming weeks
  • If you have any safeguarding concerns and cannot contact your coordinator then please call Isabel Farnell, Director of Operations, on 07917195591

The HOST team is acknowledging and signing up to the attached ‘Declaration of Interdependence’ which has been put together by Ben & Laura Gilchrist.  You may like to join us in doing so. 

Please remember that it is our job to not only support our families, but also to support you.  So please feel free to pick up the phone and give us a call if you wish to speak to someone.

Thank you once again for everything that you have done and continue to do for HOST during this worrying time and please look after yourselves.

Yours sincerely

Sarah Cook

CEO

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