Latest News | 5 May 2021

Housing trust praises staff for lockdown heroics

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Bosses at Derventio Housing Trust have paid tribute to their staff for their commitment to helping homeless people during the coronavirus lockdowns.

The social landlord said that its team had to overcome severe challenges due to Covid restrictions – and has praised their resilience and commitment.

Derventio offers accommodation to homeless people across Derby, as well as further afield in Derbyshire and the south-west of England.

It also provides one-to-one mentoring and arranges access to therapy and employability training.

But social distancing meant that it had to close a number of its projects, including its Growing Lives project in Cotmanhay, at the height of the lockdown.

Instead, staff had to conduct face-to-face meetings outdoors, often meeting in local parks or standing outside their residents’ front doors, while also working weekends to support homeless people in the city during the coldest spells throughout the winter, after Covid restrictions meant the city’s night shelter was not able to operate.

Derventio and other providers set aside accommodation for those whose lives would have been at risk if they had been sleeping rough overnight, as part of Derby’s Severe Weather Emergency Provision (SWEP), which was offered from last December to the end of March.

At a recent meeting of the Derbyshire Homeless Liaison Forum, Derby Homes reported that 102 people were offered accommodation during the period of the SWEP, with Derventio being able to secure further accommodation at another of its properties for 11 people.

Jackie Carpenter, the trust’s assistant director of strategy, said: “The past 12 months or so has presented us with some of the biggest challenges that we have ever faced as an organisation and there is no doubt that without the resilience, commitment and admirable creativity of our staff, many of the vulnerable people we work with would be in a far worst state that they are now.

“We’re particularly proud of our contribution to the SWEP. It’s not something we are usually involved in, but thanks to our staff volunteering to give up their weekends, we were able to play an active part in making sure that Derby’s homeless community had a warm place to stay during the coldest nights of the winter.

“The lockdown has had a huge impact on many of our residents because they have a great many challenges, including isolation, mental health issues and drug or alcohol abuse, with very little support or resources to help them.

“Even those who are actively looking for employment or training require rely heavily on the one-to-one support and mentoring, which has been very difficult to carry out while we were having to socially distance.”

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