Pobl’s Bridgend Floating Support team has seen the number of people needing housing and benefits advice double in recent weeks.
Lockdown has, inevitably, been an interesting time for our colleagues in the Bridgend Floating Support team, having to provide an essential service in the most challenging of times. But, as you’d expect, the team have adapted their way of working to thrive in these unique circumstances.
Since the lockdown began two months ago, Bridgend County Borough Council has requested support for all clients who have been placed in interim accommodation across the county, such as B&Bs, hotels and Airbnb. This means that the number of new cases has risen by a 52 extra people in a matter of weeks, putting extra pressure on the team.
Although the hub’s door shut to the public in March, the team has combined working from home and in the office to allow for social distancing while delivering their essential service.
“Initially we were telephoning clients between 11am-3pm but we soon realised that the amount of people needing support is rapidly increasing. We extended the hours to 10am-4pm but quickly carried on operating from 9am – 5pm, with two staff members downstairs in the reception area and three upstairs in the spacious office and some colleagues working from home.”
This situation highlighted the problem of hidden homelessness in the area. The team have seen an increased number of people who normally are sofa-surfing being unable to do so and finding themselves with nowhere to go. These clients are being supported in accessing benefits and registering on Jigsaw – the new housing register system to complete homelessness applications.
Understandably, not every new client will need the same intensity of support. The nurses who moved into hotels to protect their families whilst they were still working only need a once-a-week call to check how they’re coping; but clients with more chaotic lifestyles and needs are being spoken to and supported every day.
Telephone contact is the main form of support offered. Gaynor Peploe, Manager of Bridgend Local Support, said that it’s not the complexity of support offered, but the amount of time spent on the phone chatting is what the team are finding most challenging.
What we’re helping with in Bridgend
- Transfer of prescriptions to local pharmacies
- Arranging foodbank vouchers and delivery of food parcels
- Accessing emergency funds through DAF and VRF
- Assisting with Universal Credit, ESA and PIP
- All street homelessness clients are offered assessments for floorspace or pods
- Setting up triage assessments with BCBC emergency Housing Team for interim accommodation
- Continuing to support clients who are moving into private rented accommodation
- Property searches and pre-tenancy work
- Income and expenditure and pre-contractual financial arrangements
Supporting clients to stay in their tenancies remains high on Pobl’s agenda and we are working closely with Registered Social Landlords, which has been key in sustaining tenancies. Nutrition, exercise and general health advice is a regular conversation while clients receive guidance regarding mental wellbeing while staying at home.
We are busier than ever in Bridgend but know the service we provide in both The Drop-In and Kerrigan Project is well received by both clients and commissioners