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Responding to COVID-19 in Govanhill and Gorbals

May 15, 2020

Communities Channel Scotland is sharing the impressive work of community groups across Scotland responding to the COVID-19 crisis by supporting the most vulnerable people in their communities. Crossroads Youth and Community Association has put in place a range of measures to protect and support the two local communities it works in.

Early actions

Crossroads Youth and Community Association logoOn the evening of 12th March 2020 Crossroads Board agreed to closedown services which involved people gathering in groups in response to the growing threat of infection of Covid-19. This effectively ended the delivery of Crossroad's youth and community work programme.

The early decision proved to be prescient as Scotland entered lockdown on March 23rd with the enormity of the threat becoming apparent for all. Crossroads feels its early action may well have saved lives from among the most vulnerable people who often use the service and within the families of the 260+ young people who regularly access the youth service.

Over the course of the two weeks commencing 16th March, Crossroads began planning its community action response.  All community groups and activities were wound down by Friday 20th March freeing-up the organisation's capacity to support the community response. Support staff were asked stay at home and prepare for remote working while full-time staff attended the Barn (Crossroad's community hub and youth centre in Gorbals) to do a deep clean and start to organise emergency deliveries of food and medications.

Initial planning included:

  • Establishing procedures for any form of face-to-face engagement (e.g. meetings, going to people’s houses, doing shopping etc..) ensuring the organisation followed up to date official guidance, and communicated these to volunteers, participants, and workers.

  • Making sure people understand what groups are particularly at risk from the impact of the disease (includes those over 70, women who are pregnant, those with a serious underlying health condition such as diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, liver disease, cancer, high blood pressure, a weakened immune system) and the importance of taking extra precautions to protect them

  • Speaking to local partners to establish what they are doing and co-ordinating responses with them.

  • Identifying and drawing up lists and contact details of the most vulnerable in the communities Crossroads serves.

  • Planning beyond the first few weeks, including scheduling regular re-evaluations of the community action response as well as reviewing official guidance. This requires being ready to adapt existing and/or establish new responses.

The Community Action Response

On March 23rd all full-time staff were required to enter into self-isolation due to a connection with someone who was hospitalised with Covid-19. When the fourteen-day isolation period ended Crossroads reviewed its situation in line with health and Scottish Government guidelines and concluded Crossroads was delivering an essential service (‘…hosting essential voluntary or public services’). The organisation therefore put safe working conditions in place and workers have been going to the Barn and out into the communities, only when necessary, to organise and deliver essential food, fuel, communication top-ups and medications. The community work and youth work teams have continually provided phone/social media based practical and emotional support since March 16th.

A principled approach

Principles behind crossroads' community action response

A set of principles underpins Crossroads' approach to responding to the covid-19 crisis (see accompanying image)

Crossroads made the decision to regulate its offer of essential support so the organisation could have some control over its capacity to provide meaningful assistance, rather than spreading resources too thin. Initial contact was made with the existing network of people and families who are accessing Crossroads’ three projects. As more more emergency funding was received, Crossroads asked its network of people about anyone in their own particular circles of family, friends and neighbours who required support. In this way Crossroads has expanded its support while still keeping control over its capability.

Wider partnership and funding

In tandem with its response work, Crossroads has been evaluating area-wide, city-wide and national support organisations and networks and collaborating with those who fit well with its own approach. In Gorbals, it has co-created an area response group (G5 COVID Support Group) along with cross-sector partners. This group has taken on co-ordination of essential supports available in the Greater Gorbals area.

Crossroads is collaborating with Home Energy Scotland and is now a registered referral organisation for this national support service. This is a one-stop hub of support for all things related to fuel and energy issues, benefits, and further supports. Through this service fuel keys and credit card top ups can be arranged quickly for those in need and importantly this support can be sustained by  connecting the households up with government emergency initiatives rather than a one-off actions of support using Crossroads’ limited resources.

The organistion has built a collaborative network of small shops and Community Interest Companies around Govanhill and Gorbals where we have set up accounts or have a voucher system in place. This allows people to choose their own food from fresh produce rather than a made-up bag handed out to them.

Crossroads has been in touch with all its funders to let them know it has retained staff, will not be furloughing, and has temporarily adapted project outputs and objectives to respond to the crisis. All have responded positively and are supportive of actions so far. This has allowed Crossroads to redirect some of its existing budgets to emergency response costs – essentially meeting crisis needs for food fuel and communications (phone & data top-ups etc). The orgasisation has secured £4000 to date for emergency response costs from Scottish Government’s Community Wellbeing Fund and a further £800 in donations.

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