Newsletter May 2020 Number 1
SHROPSHIRE SUPPORTS REFUGEES Amanda Jones
Initially on lockdown, the families were in chaos. Many of them lost their jobs and their benefits were thrown away. We swiftly had to develop a Whats App online support system with interpreter. This is hard on the eyes and ears and reception is also often sketchy. I have now submitted a bid for a grant from the national lottery to provide the families with laptops. This will also help with the children as most of their schooling is online now. We were also inundated with families having health issues and needing to access the 111 service and shrop doc. issues with ordering prescriptions and finding paracetamol etc. in the early days.
- We set up the Whats App video support group led by Jacki Cairney, Syrian resettlement coordinator, and supported by Nashwa Harraz, our new interpreter
- Sadly, we have lost our two main support workers, a couple called Aisha and ABD so they are no longer part of the resettlement team.
- We developed a whats app group with 2 Arabic doctors in there to give advice. this is a space where health and mental health support can be given
- I've had major documents on health advice translated into Arabic, and sourced others online
- The phone process and online process translated so they can get as far as they need to access an interpreter
- I've opened a facebook page with ideas, and links to activities they can do with their children
- Our English teacher has physically written to all the families who wanted her to, so they can keep up their written English even just a bit. She is offering phone calls to help improve their phone ability and spoken language. I've also encouraged the volunteers to do the same
- We spent the money that I would have usually spent on them for activities during the holidays on activity parcels for the children and adults- paper, whiteboards, pencils, colours, rubbers, rulers etc
- I also put £50 into all of their bank accounts because I could not access food for them in bulk. An anonymous donor gave them all £50 as well, for Ramadan towards their festive food bill. Ramadan kicked in last week, and will go on for a month.( 24th May).
- We have already had complaints from one neighbour that a family so they had that family has not been following social distancing rules. We have reposted the advice in the whats app groups, but we can't enforce any more than that
- We had a food hub collection which I distributed amongst the families .We have had 2 families ask if there is a way they can make food for lonely Muslims or NHS staff. This is the sort of acts of kindness they want to do in Ramadan, but the reality of facilitating that is too hard.
MODERN SLAVERY IN SOCIAL ISOLATION? Noel Beattie
Can we reliably think that exploitation of people has furloughed. There remain the opportunities to harass the growing numbers vulnerable people. Perhaps even pretending to help or in the hiddenness of domesticity. We know that domestic abuse has risen.
The drivers that make slavery an unacceptable part of modern society are still there. They are the dynamics of the domination of the powerful and the vulnerability of the powerless; the exclusion of deep inequalities, even in life expectancy; the unquestioning compliance of consumers about products and services where workers are exploited; the self-sacrifice of service, even as the NHS and Social Carers are being lauded as sacred and capable of miracles.
We, in the campaign to eliminate modern slavery are frustrated that we cannot build the relationships with the wider public that we need behind the effort right now. Our attention has been diverted by the business of keeping safe and well by socially isolating and distancing. It is quite difficult to know when, even by using other media how we will get the public attention again. Though, we must. As Chrissie Pepler writes below there is now a surfeit of volunteers. If we can inspire a significant part of them to continue to work with us, to re-skill and be the focus of a diversity of small groups learning and being aware, we can work in new ways. This is not going to be easy as people return to work, as they must. Also, this lock-down has been humanly costly and people will have personal issues to deal with. We may need a Partnership re-envisioning.
Look at the figures Chrissie has found entered later. It is a story of debt and sustainable disadvantage. People, having to pay back the advances made to them from Universal Credit from the single payments, really not enough to manage on is creating more poverty and vulnerability. These debts at least should be written off now. Homeless people, now in accommodation need to be permanently offered housing.
If people are facing these uncertainties here what must the global tragedy be for millions. Globally we do need a Recovery Plan. If it could be done after the 2008 bank crash, why not start thinking and negotiating now with the World Bank and the United Nations. A global pandemic and its aftermath can really only have global solutions.
PANDEMIC FOCUS Chrissie Pepler
My work has had a pandemic focus and is settling into new ways since it all began. Lots of on line meetings and now beginning to think about what will be needed as we come out of the pandemic, trying to harness as much of the goodwill, volunteering etc that we can to continue that where possible. See last page a paper with some of the current highlights on income for people - a staggering 73% have seen a drop in income since this started. There have been 1.5 million new applications to Universal Credit and 0.5 million have had to take an advance, which means they had little resilience/reserves and they will be paying back their advance through future benefit payments which really means not enough to live on.
Some foodbanks have seen up to a 200% increase in demand , others not so much. It will be the chronic poverty (and particularly food poverty, as that is one of the few 'flexible' payments) that we need to work on. Foodbanks are designed for crisis and not chronic ongoing need.
I do think in time that there will be a lot more people in desperate need in the future who could prove vulnerable to MDS. For now the homeless are housed too, working on what happens for them as lock down is eased. Police have had a better opportunity to 'spot' the drug dealers and focus on domestic abuse recently.
WEST MERCIA RAPE AND SEXUAL ABUSE CENTRE Jessica Carter
Amidst this period of adjustment for all services, the Branch Project turned 1 year old at the beginning of April. We support children and young people at risk of, or already impacted by, child sexual exploitation (CSE) and raise awareness of CSE through our universal group sessions for young people and the professionals who work with them.
All Branch Project staff are now working from home. Our 1-to-1 support workers have been working hard to ensure that the children and young people we currently support do not lose out during social distancing. Support for clients is being provided via text, phone or video chat and liaison continues with external services. Our helpline continues to operate for those who may be seeking information, guidance or support, and we continue to welcome new referrals.
Our group CSE awareness-raising sessions for students aged 10-17 are on hold during this period, but we are preparing to offer our session for CYP professionals as an e-learning resource, available after May half term. Any enquiries about our e-learning resource can be directed to our training officer at email@example.com.
Please call 01905 611655 or visit our website on www.wmrsasc.org.uk for further information or advice.
SHROPSHIRE COUNCIL Lucy Simpson
Shropshire council has launched new Community Reassurance Teams, and a new dedicated Helpline, during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, to help those who are vulnerable and in need of help.
Residents are being asked to use the Helpline if they have any coronavirus-related issues or enquiries. The Helpline is 0345 678 9028, and is available from 8am to 6pm weekdays, and 9am to 1pm Saturdays. Each caller will be asked to explain their need and, if required, this information will be passed on to the appropriate support.
Important: The council’s new Helpline cannot provide coronavirus health advice or other health advice, and we will direct people to go onto NHS 111 online, as per Public Health England / Government advice, if this is what is needed.
The Community Reassurance Teams are a new key service which have been created to work across the county with our communities in an effort to co-ordinate support for local residents, including businesses, with the support of town councils, parish councils, voluntary groups and community groups.
For help and advice, you can either go online at https://www.shropshire.gov.uk/coronavirus/ or ring the Helpline on 0345 678 9028.
The latest coronavirus advice from Public Health England is here: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
Welfare Reform and Support and Face to Face Manager
Modern Slavery at All Stretton WI Claire Riley-Walsh
Claire reports a well received talk she gave on Modern Slavery this evening at All Stretton WI. The audience were interested and attentive and there were representatives there from the Shropshire Federation and other institutes. This is one of the resolutions which may go forward the National WI conference later this year, which is usually held in the Royal Albert Hall. If this resolution is adopted it is likely she will be asked to talk about it again at the Shropshire Federation meeting later this year.
WI National Meeting cancelled. Modern Slavery came 2nd in a close Vote. A way forward is to be determined.
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A Recovery Plan that takes us not back to where we were. Now we are seeing just how inadequate that was for so many people.
A recovery Plan that moves us on as a more civilized society and a fairer world.