For a charity that brings together and supports vulnerable people, the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak is a serious problem. Oxfordshire based The Archway Foundation works with lonely, mostly elderly people, many of whom suffer also from physical and mental health disabilities. But the rapid spread of the virus has forced a rethink on how it delivers services.
Whereas before Archway would bring people together through its support groups, creating opportunities for service users to meet, make new friendships, talk, learn, and even provide entertainment, it now finds the problem of dealing with loneliness and isolation even more of a challenge.
So Archway have had to reconfigure their services, keeping in touch and providing support to individuals through welfare calls, text messages, email and the post. They are also producing a bi-weekly newsletter.
But it is providing bespoke support during this time that is really making a difference to some the particularly vulnerable people that rely upon Archway for help. For example, one isolated 92 year-old whose nearest relative lives abroad has no experience of online banking or shopping, and has no access to cash. No one has offered to help her through this crisis so Archway is paying for and delivering her shopping.
Archway has also made a safeguarding referral for someone who was being emotionally and racially abused by her neighbours to the point she was suicidal, while another individual was referred to the specialist Older people Mental Health Team as their mental health was deteriorating rapidly.
Making changes is always a challenge, and Archway’s team of staff and volunteers are doing what is necessary. But reconfiguring services requires money, so Citrus Consultancy has been sourcing and applying for grants on behalf of Archway to meet the funding shortfall.