WHAT IS ARCHWAY DOING NOW?
Because of the high infection rates in Oxford and advice from the Government to exercise caution we are keeping connected through:
- A Telephone Support Service, with staff and volunteers making regular calls to adults of all ages who are lonely and /or isolated. Offering a listening ear, emotional support and where needed support in accessing other forms of help.
- The circulation (by email and post) of The Bright Side newsletter to which readers can contribute stories, photos, poems etc. Colourful pictures, quizzes, word searches and instructions for creative projects provide interesting material to read and things to do and a section on Covid updates and helpline numbers gives useful information, especially as the majority of recipients are not digitally connected.
- Our Individual Support Service within which, some of our existing links are meeting up outside. Individual risk assessments are undertaken to inform decisions about meeting up outside/in cafes/indoors.
Supporting Friends (Service users) in the best possible way is uppermost in our minds, and doing this safely is our highest priority. Over the past 14 months, a planning group consisting of senior staff members and representatives from the board of trustees has met regularly. The group has monitored the progress of the pandemic, and assessed how our service of telephone support is engaging with people to ensure that the work of Archway carries on. Trustees wish to acknowledge how hard staff and volunteers have worked to ensure that we have maintained contact with as many Friends as possible. Whilst our service provision has changed, we have remained in business and have much to be grateful for.
The transition period from the release of government-imposed COVID restrictions on 21 June to the end of the year will be important. Even with some encouraging news reports, it is difficult to fully assess how these six months will unfold with regard to any continuing or new government restrictions, possible emerging variants of the virus and a potential return to higher infection levels.
Because of the uncertainty that is still in place, we are not yet in a position to resume our social groups as they operated before the pandemic. Whilst we recognise that many people are longing to meet as before, we are not yet able to identify which premises might be open and are Covid secure, how many volunteers and staff would be available, and how many Friends might wish to attend. We are constantly monitoring these factors.
The pandemic has presented many challenges, but has also offered an opportunity to look afresh at how we support people. Archway’s focus continues to be connection with any who are experiencing loneliness or isolation. We recognise the importance of meeting together, but safety is our primary concern. As government guidelines unfold, the planning group will continue to look at ways to gradually and safely increase the programme of social contacts that we provide. This applies to the Individual Support Service and any possible social groups.