News and blogs Views from the frontline Services in the time of coronavirus 17 March 2020 by Megan Preston We have had to make some difficult and carefully considered decisions so that our casework and shelter services can continue operating for as long as possible in this time of uncertainty. Some of the factors involved in our decision-making have included reduced staff numbers, reduced volunteer numbers, difficulty sourcing food, as well as general guidance that reducing the number of people gathered in one place would be good public health practice. Guests with symptoms Many of you will be concerned, as am I, that it does not feel right to be turning people who are ill back onto the streets. Unfortunately, we have had to do this twice over the past weekend. However, our screening procedures are in line with government guidance to keep everyone else safe, which means in some cases we will not be able to allow people with coronavirus symptoms inside. Please rest assured that we are working tirelessly at Glass Door to get an adequate and humane response to how our guests should self-isolate and where they can go when we must turn them away. We are in contact with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government who are working on a solution. We are also advocating our guests’ needs to Public Health England and local authorities. We will not rest until we have an answer for how we can keep homeless people safe. You may have seen some of our recent press coverage about this. More information is available on the coronavirus hub on our website. Dinner Guests who have a confirmed place in our shelters will continue to receive dinner and shelter as usual. However, we are reducing the number of dinners we provide, and we will be switching to using compostable disposable plates and cutlery at all shelters to reduce the risk of transmitting germs. Some of our shelters provide a dinner-only service inside the shelter, but we will not be able to continue this. Last night, we offered takeaway food and handed out information flyers to guests who attend for dinner only. Starting from today, Tuesday 17th March, we will not be able to offer takeaway food either, and we will be communicating where else guests can go. This is not a decision we have taken lightly and is essential for us to be able to continue delivering our shelter safely, while other organisations around us are closing their shelters earlier than planned. Many of our volunteers have been adapting menus and “making do” with what is left in the shops, or reducing to less than the usual three courses. Thank you. Volunteer absences No one who feels unsafe coming to a social event, due to age or vulnerability, should be volunteering. It is far from ideal to be delivering less than we would like to in our services but the most important thing is that we are able to minimise risks and protect people, giving shelter to as many people as we are safely able to do in this new context. Thank you so much to all of you for your commitment, thoughtfulness and support during this challenging time.