The recent lockdown has meant that all of us are experiencing lots of changes in our everyday lives. We have all had to make a number of adaptations and think carefully about our physical and emotional wellbeing. As a result, lots of hostels and supported accommodations have had to make a number of changes to ensure the health and safety of their residents. I’ve been in touch with the team at Homeground hostel, to find out how life is going under lockdown, and the kind of things they’ve been up to.
What kind of things have been happening at Homeground during the lockdown?
Staff have been working on alternative approaches to deliver support, with a focus on more creative activities within the hostel itself. These include activities such as craft and baking competitions, drawing, painting, dress making, gaming, bingo and quiz nights. The support team have also cleared a conference room ready for it to be used as a health and wellbeing room, with one of the support team taking classes in fitness, mindfulness and yoga. This is to engage with young people while ensuring that social distancing can be maintained and we are continuing to look at further alternative activities.
How is Homeground tackling the possibility of coronavirus within the hostel?
We have created a system for checking the health of the young people daily. All residents are asked a series of health-related questions, and if they answer ‘yes’ to three of the questions, their temperature will be taken. If their temperature is measured at 38.5C or above, they will be taken to one of two isolation rooms within the building (soon to be three).
These isolation rooms have full internet access, TVs with Netflix, microwaves, kettles and food supplies. Hopefully the rooms won’t be needed, but they are ready should they need to be occupied.
Have there been any challenges?
The most challenging part so far has been ensuring that we are thinking of everything before it happens – for example, have we covered all bases in the isolation rooms? Do we have enough activities running? How do we support the young people to comply with social distancing rules? How do we ensure the young people remain in lockdown?
Many of the residents have stated that they were finding it hard to stick to government guidelines and restrictions, especially living in a hostel with shared facilities such as kitchens and bathrooms. However, they all said they were trying their best, sticking to the rules put in place by staff (such as limiting the amount of people in the kitchen at one time), and have stepped up their personal hygiene.
Have you had any additional support?
The support team have utilised a Twitter account to find other organisations to offer support around food donations to ensure our young people stay indoors (our young people have never been so well fed!). We have received a great deal of support from local charities and businesses including Tesco, Kirkdale Boxing, LFC and the L6 centre. All residents have been very grateful for the donations the hostel has been receiving, which have taken the financial burden off buying food, toiletries etc.
We’ve also had generous support from the Steve Morgan Foundation and LandAid to support our young people. There has been additional support from the public, such as donating gym equipment for a mini gym within the hostel.
How are the young people finding lockdown in Homeground?
Staff are ensuring they have daily contact with all residents to check on their mental and physical wellbeing. All residents at the hostel are finding it difficult to not be able to visit friends outside the hostel, but are keeping contact via social media. Residents have also been happy with the activities support staff have been putting on, seeing positive changes in the hostel within the last two months which have ‘taken the boredom away’.
Most residents admit to struggling with their mental health, yet know where and how to access support, and some have their own good coping mechanisms such as exercising, drawing and cooking which we’ve encouraged too.
Some residents are worried about their future accommodation options, as they are aware of the impact the pandemic is going to have on society. However, most residents are showing great resilience by having plans in place, a positive outlook, and stating that this time has allowed them to work on themselves and figure out the person they are, or who they want to be.
Many thanks to the team at Homeground Hostel for helping with this article. If you want to have a look at some of the goings on at Homeground, you can do so at @HomegroundH on Twitter.