By Kelly Wickham
A homeless charity in the city has pledged its commitment to helping those in need, despite huge challenges.
Stonepillow, the charity that provides a lifeline for homeless people in Chichester, Bognor Regis and Littlehampton, has been working on future planning and its executive Covid 19 co-ordination group meets daily for briefing and operational planning, updates on services and staff and communication processes.
A spokesman for the charity said: “Covid 19 provides us with serious challenges but we are absolutely committed to ensuring that for as long as is realistically possible we shall continue to provide our services to those who are homeless, vulnerably housed and rough sleeping.
“We are also committed to supporting our staff and enabling them to continue to work either in their normal workplace or from home where appropriate and possible.
“The good news is that our services have been classed as key public services under the government’s guidance for schools, colleges and local authorities on maintaining educational provision, issued early this morning.
“This helps greatly with our staff deployment plan.”
The charity says some of the big issues it currently faces include shortages of staff due to self-isolation and social distancing.
Food donations have virtually stopped although they are needed now more than ever as supplies dry up in shops.
All Stonepillow events have been cancelled for the foreseeable future but the charity says it is hoping to keep up community spirits by getting communities and individuals to run some fun events in their home.
Stonepillow’s hostels, recovery, day and supported accommodation services are running as normal except for a few changes to some of the rules and some operational changes.
The homeless charity is focussing at present on the prevention and delay of transmission, including following cleaning guidance, hand sanitising, social distancing, ceasing group work, reducing face to face meetings, people working from home where appropriate and required, reducing unnecessary movement of clients, volunteers and staff across services.
A spokesman said: “Supported accommodation clients will be supported over the phone and welfare visits to all services will be done once per week. We are working with Chichester District Council about speeding up processes to get rough sleepers off the street and into suitable accommodation.”
The Chichester Hub will continue running from the Old Glassworks at St Cyriacs but with limitations on numbers accessing at any one time to reduce the likely transmission of the Covid 19.
District council leader Eileen Lintill said: “I want to assure you that we are also doing everything we can to help rough sleepers during the current crisis.
“We are especially conscious that rough sleepers face particular health risks and so we have identified a variety of short-term accommodation options for all of the known rough sleepers in Chichester.
“A very small number of people may refuse this, and in these cases we will provide advice and guidance around the need for self-isolation and signpost to the support that is available.
“We will continue to support rough sleepers once they are in accommodation by making sure that they have a phone and are in regular contact with a key worker.
The charity has set up an email specifically for general COVID 19 questions relating to Stonepillow operations: email@example.com