When the COVID19 crisis hit we had over 250 people in service and my first thought was: ‘How do we continue to support our clients and keep our workers safe?’
Unity supports some of the most vulnerable young people and their families across Norfolk with issues relating to substance misuse. I knew they would be deeply affected by the crisis financially, emotionally and physically. However, I also knew that I had a strong, dedicated and passionate team who would do whatever was necessary to keep the service running. On March 19th we switched to full time home working and began getting to grips with the ‘new world’ of lockdown.
Over the last 14 weeks we have:
• Delivered support to clients using telephone, text, email and video calls.
• Developed content for our social media channels with the assistance of young people.
• Made 11,452 successful contacts with clients and given advice to 128 parents.
• Attended 479 multi agency meetings and 218 meetings with Norfolk County Council Children’s Services.
• Provided clients with much needed items to help them engage in positive activities (art materials, exercise equipment, books, toys, games etc) with the support of a grant from NCF
All of this has been achieved whilst we have been getting to grips with unfamiliar technology and meeting ‘virtually’ using Zoom and Microsoft Teams. It has been an absolutely stirling effort from everyone!
The next challenge for us is moving safely out of lockdown. Workers have been keen to get back to doing what they do best: delivering face to face support! The good news is that we have started meeting clients again while carefully observing social distancing guidelines – thankfully the lovely summer weather has been making our job easier. There are going to be lots of meetings happening in outside spaces over the coming weeks!
As well as all of the challenges we have faced there are many positives we can take forward from our COVID19 experience. We have adapted, learned to work in more flexible ways and to use technology more effectively to engage with colleagues, clients and other professionals. We have shown that we can pull together in a crisis and still deliver high quality support to the people who depend on us. I am immensely proud of the team and know they will continue to work their hardest for the young people of Norfolk.
Unity Service and Data Manager