Hull Resettlement Project is doubling down to provide much needed stability for some of the city’s single homeless people during this unsettling lockdown.
The charity provides short term accommodation for single homeless people, at four sites across the city. They work with young people and with older adults. All people in the project’s hostels are helped to develop life skills, improve their education, and are encouraged to aspire.
The coronavirus lockdown has presented many new challenges too.
Steve Wilson is Deputy General Manager at the charity. He works mostly with the charity’s younger residents.
Steve said: “We had a house meeting at the very beginning of this, sat down with the kids, and told them that life is going to be changing for them. Some were a bit shocked. Some thought it was going to be like the Big Brother house. I think it’s the moving around, and leaving the hostel that has really hit them.”
“At the beginning they coped really well,” said Steve. “It’s our daily job to reassure and guide them, and to help them, advise them, and comfort them, and support them. Everything is heightened and more exaggerated now.”
The young people in the hostels have generally responded positively to lockdown measures. Some have stepped up to the mark, taking control and showing leadership as new challenges present themselves. Others have taken charge of the kitchen, cooking not just for themselves but for all residents of their hostel.
“They’ve been cooking tea twice a week,” said Steve. “They’re helping with the cleaning. They just want to be involved. What we’re finding is they’re buddying-up to help each other. I’m immensely proud of them for how they’re responding and how they’ve reacted.”
There has been a swell of voluntary activity seen across the city, as many people have responded to help those less fortunate or in more urgent need during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Resettlement Project too has been receiving much welcomed additional support.
Steve said: “It’s opened us up to the outside world. Wonderful organisations have been providing us food, and Easter eggs. If you’re a young person in lockdown, and you’re getting Easter eggs and food you wouldn’t normally get, it brightens up your day and breaks up the monotony.
“Weirdly enough, lockdown has put us in touch with many organisations we wouldn’t normally be in touch with.”
The charity is encouraged by the additional contacts it is making, and aims to strengthen these external relationships in the future.
Like many other projects providing accommodation and support to people in need, Hull Resettlement Project has found it difficult to get some items that would make life safer for residents and staff.
“The council asked us what we needed quite early on, and we asked for the obvious things like masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE), because social distancing is difficult in a house with 13 kids, but we never did get that support.
“We’ve been pretty lucky though. We’ve been adopted by a surgeon. His wife and friends bring us food, home-cooked curry. And a friend of theirs also brings us pizza and chips. And they provided us with our PPE. We’ve been very grateful for their support,” said Steve.
The lockdown, and uncertainty about how long it is going to last, are having dramatic impacts upon the economy of the city. Some businesses have already closed for good, others will be unable or unwilling to invest in new employees after the pandemic has ended.
It’s a particularly difficult time for young people that may be exploring employment, or further education and training.
“It’s going to be tough. I think we have to get people into the mindset that they won’t be moving on as quickly as they might have done. We don’t know about the colleges and how they’ll be sustaining themselves. We don’t know about the businesses where our residents have been doing work placements. We just don’t know what the landscape is going to look like.
“As an organisation it’ll draw on all the skills of our staff to paint a picture of hope, to tell our residents that things will get better. And it will get better, but it’s going to take a long time. It’s going to be tough for us to keep morale up, but that’s what we do, and that’s what we do well,” said Steve.
All households across the city are experiencing challenges that few could have planned for at the start of this year. It is a worrying time for all.
“A parent, whether you’re a corporate parent or a real parent, you try and take on the worries of your children, and that’s what we’re doing,” said Steve.
[Jerome Whittingham – editor HULL IS THIS]