Second Step supports those who are experiencing poor mental health, or are homeless or at risk of homelessness, to build brighter futures. Jada Johnson Dutfield from the charity told us how an emergency grant from the Somerset Coronavirus Appeal for £4,100 helped them to provide immediate, practical assistance to some of the most vulnerable individuals who were rough sleeping, in hostels or in temporary or supported accommodation, during the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak.
“The people we support often have chaotic lifestyles; we work with them to gently acknowledge the possibilities for change and build a brighter future. We are at the frontline of responding to the pandemic with those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, across Somerset. The grant has allowed us to provide more practical assistance to the people we work with, who quite often face greater challenges as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
Early on, we heard that some of our clients, who were isolating in accommodation, were at risk of extortion and exploitation, with ‘friends’ charging delivery fees to buy or deliver food to them, for example.
The funding helped us to provide 160 supermarket vouchers, especially to rough sleepers, as food banks are not always suitable. The food parcels given by food banks tend to be made up of mainly dried or tinned goods, and a lot of our clients were unable to heat up or cook food.
We’ve also provided 40 mobile phones with credit and charging packs so that we were able to stay in contact with our clients. The charging packs were particularly important for rough sleepers, as they suddenly found themselves unable to go to cafés or libraries to charge their phones, due to the lockdown. We also distributed activities to help keep clients busy and entertained when in lockdown or in a shelter, such as board games, and poetry, activity/crossword and mindful colouring books.
Providing the phones, chargers and food vouchers to the people we support also – crucially – meant that we could continue to communicate and engage with them through these difficult times. We’ve developed professional relationships with other organisations, which has enabled us to reach and support even more people in need, sharing mobile phones, vouchers and activities with The Nelson Trust. This helped them to support 12 women who had been released early from prison. Joint working with other organisations like this has meant each organisation has made an even greater difference and reduced the chances of people ‘falling through the cracks’.”