Sunday Centre update - how we've changed our service in response to coronavirus - 30/04/2020
At the Sunday Centre, we typically serve 80-100 hot 2 course dinners to our guests each week. When coronavirus hit and the Government started to talk about social distancing, we very quickly realised that both the physical restrictions posed by the hall from which we operate, and the nature of our client group would make safely maintaining this practice a huge challenge.
Our client group are typically not very risk aware, and many would be considered to have increased vulnerability, meaning that their safety and wellbeing was a cause for concern. Many of our volunteers are older, and their health is paramount to us also.
Our first step was to move to a takeaway bag service at the door of Victoria Hall. Issues with social distancing persisted however, with guests congregating by the door. We were trying to develop a more suitable response when the decision was taken out of our hands by Victoria Hall closing for safety reasons, meaning we could no longer offer our service.
Our first concern was for the welfare of our guests, many of whom have chaotic lifestyles, and others who have no family and few friends around to care for them. Other services and charities were equally concerned, as many closed at the same time as the Sunday Centre.
Sheffield services and charities already had the Help us Help framework in place, with regular meetings and sharing of information as standard, which meant that all parties swiftly began working on a coordinated response, addressing the needs of the most vulnerable and chaotic group in the city. The Sunday Centre offered food and volunteers to the effort.
As the situation developed in the city and guidelines changed, we moved from offering food for collection at Archer Project, to a delivery service to several supported accommodation providers in the city. We realised that offering a takeaway service was not supportive of the Government’s ‘Stay at home’ message as it encouraged groups to congregate in the city centre.
We are currently providing hot meals to 80 people in supported accommodation, with volunteer cooks preparing all of the food from the Archer Project kitchen and others delivering the food. We are supported by FareShare, local supermarkets and local businesses in this endeavour. We are also arranging donations of clothing, hygiene and enrichment items such as DVDs, books and TVs via Ben’s Centre to help support people to stay in their accommodation.
Our next concern is how to maintain these measures if the lockdown extends further. With the future looking uncertain, services and charities will stay in constant communication to ensure we do our best to keep our clients, staff and volunteers safe and well.
Steve Clark, Chair, Sunday Centre