Richard James CEO

27 March 2020

As of 20 March YMCA St Paul’s Group’s Health and Wellbeing centres and cafes (including Hampton Pool) will be closed. Along with pubs, clubs and gyms across the country this unprecedented step was taken under government instruction.  

Whilst some of our services are closed teams in other aspects of what we do are working harder as ever. Teams in our hostels and housing projects are providing an essential frontline service, supporting over 1,150 vulnerable people who need a safe place to stay and someone that they can trust. Alongside the key workers in our accommodation work, our early years work team are planning to run many of our excellent after school clubs, pre-school and nursery so that we can provide the support to those key workers who are involved in essential services.  

As a charity we are committed to Health and Wellbeing and supporting families and so we will see how in the current context we can evolve to provide that support in new and accessible ways. We will also need to focus on essential services to ensure sustainability during this period of financial challenge. Anyone who would consider supporting us at this time is encouraged to get in touch.  

Whilst the news headlines can cause panic, in the midst of the challenge there are some wonderful signs of hope. Communities are rallying together to support each other, within families people are focusing on what is truly important. Issues which seemed major hurdles weeks ago are now put into context and relegated to history. 

We ask everyone to follow government advice in your lifestyle choices but in so doing find ways to ensure you look after your own wellbeing and you and your family support each other in new and innovative ways 

For over 175 years the YMCA has been at the heart of the community supporting those who are vulnerable and challenging systems to make life fair for all. Through two World Wars and constant political change, we have sought to evolve and emerge so that we can support people to find fullness of life in Body, Mind and Spirit.

Here in London and surrounding areas, the vision of YMCA St Paul’s Group is of places where young people thrive and communities flourish. The outbreak of the Coronavirus is a new challenge to both aspects of this vision yet it is in the midst of this challenge we will evolve and emerge in both the short and long term that see people and communities find life in all it’s fullness.

What are we doing?

1. We have reduced our staffing levels and adjusted rotas, where possible we have asked people to work from home

2. We have reduced our travel between sites and replaced face to face meetings with digital conferencing

3. In each of our sites members of our teams have been provided with additional hygiene products to use and we have put in place extra cleaning rotas

4. Our housing projects and hostels provide an essential service, providing over 1,200 people a safe place to stay each night. As well as providing a roof over their heads, we support those individuals so that they can realise fullness of life themselves. To ensure we do this in the safest way we have identified the most vulnerable people who live with us and put in place special support for them. We have also provided information to our residents on how to ensure their wellbeing is adversely affected during this period.

5. In our Health and Wellbeing services, including Hampton Pool, we have closed centres. Our counselling service is running a telephone service so that we can ensure that everyone is given the support they need.

6. Across our Children, Youth and Family department we are following advice from local commissioners and falling in line with information provided to schools. Our nursery and pre-school will close to the general public from Friday 20 March until further notice, but will remain open to provide vital childcare services for key workers. Our Youth Centres are now closed until further notice, but youth workers will still be contactable to provide 121 advice and support to our Young People.

7. The steps we have introduced to manage COVID-19 risk in the workplace, include working from home and staying 2m away (we have marked up the workplace entrances at 2m increments) from each other in the workplace if at all possible. We issue regular updates to the workforce, which includes a Q&A from HR and provide each project with up to date guidance from the government, as it is published.

When managing the risk of COVID-19, additional PPE beyond what we normally provide is not beneficial, this is because COVID-19 is a different type of risk to the risks you normally face in a workplace, and needs to be managed through social distancing, hygiene and fixed teams or partnering, not through the use of PPE. We are not encouraged to allow the precautionary use of extra PPE to protect against COVID-19 outside clinical settings or when responding to a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19, however we support our workers in using face coverings safely if they choose to wear one. However, following consultation with the workforce, we have decided to provide face masks, from week commencing 25 May, where workers have not been able to provide face covering for themselves, we will provide them upon request.

Our team are working hard on creating resources for Children, Young People and families who find themselves self isolating ensuring that every family gets the support it needs.

Finally, we find ourselves in an unprecedented situation with the Covid-19 pandemic affecting our families, our businesses and communities. We know that in such times it is more important than ever to keep in touch and look out for one another. As YMCA we have been through global challenges before and we will continue to be here and support through this one.

Let’s come together as community.

Richard

Some useful resources

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/coronavirus-and-your-wellbeing/