By Lisa Britto – 7 May 2020

It is Week Six of lockdown and we’re experiencing a global pandemic. It sounds like a TV show voiceover, but it’s real life.

Here at Depaul UK, we’ve had to adjust quickly, but our primary concern remains our clients.

Homelessness or the risk of homeless is something no young person should experience. Even before the current crisis, our clients were battling historic trauma and mental health challenges, some with clinical diagnosis and others undiagnosed.

Now the young people who we support have to deal with the trauma of a global catastrophe on top of their existing challenges. As part of the Mental Health and Wellbeing team, I am responsible for helping to equip staff with the necessary skills, training and understanding to support clients through the current situation.

With young people’s mental health and wellbeing at such immediate risk, my team’s priorities have changed a lot in response to the new environment we find ourselves in.

Working with the Programmes Team, we are creating a weekly timetable of interactive webinars, opportunities to connect, training, resources, websites and tips which the wellbeing team pulls together.

This allows us to continue to support staff and clients digitally, and to meet their changing needs.

One area we found staff were challenged by was supporting their clients on the phone. Without the usual body-language cues, team members felt they were communicating less effectively. To help with this, we delivered a listening skills workshop, focusing on areas like active listening and non-verbal cues in language.

We know that many clients feel powerless or lacking in control at the best of times and present circumstances are only likely to exacerbate this. We’ve shared resources with staff to help them support young people to feel more in control – giving them the chance to reflect on the ways that they manage their mental health and wellbeing and how we can support them in doing that.

Our team has also been able to help with hands-on support. In some areas we’ve sourced clinical support to work with clients and young people. In other areas, we’ve sourced donations to support wellbeing – young parents in Brent and Bromley have received funding to buy toys and books to keep their babies stimulated under lockdown.

And that’s not all – we’re also working on a series of videos about wellbeing and mental health to provide additional resources to staff, clients and supporters at this difficult time.

Here at Depaul UK, we know that mental health is just as important as physical health. The coronavirus pandemic demonstrates the significance of investing in and supporting our staff and clients’ mental health and wellbeing.

We are committed to continuing to do this through this crisis and beyond.

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