My work week: “A mother arrives at our shelter with symptoms of Covid-19” | Society


On Monday

My first task is to review the staffing levels and connect with everyone in the various shelters. Some employees are now working remotely or isolating themselves, but so far so good. Those of us who travel to the offices are worried. No one wants to bring this virus home with families, and whatever precautions we put in place, that thought comes to mind.

I check the mail and see something that looks like a national insurance number for a resident. She has been waiting for several weeks and without her, her first benefit payment will not be released. I informed the woman – she is relieved.

I sign a food bank voucher for a family who arrived a week ago (luckily they still work). Then we have our daily virtual team recording. We are talking about the difficulty for everyone to find social distance, especially with toddlers who just want to run and hug you.

It is exhausting work at best, but now even more so for the people who are physically in the shelter. Those off site feel guilty for not being there; they see how difficult it is and really want to help, but their health must come first. We talk about these feelings during our virtual staff meetings.


A colleague from a nearby shelter belonging to the charity I work for tells me that a family arrived with symptoms of coronavirus. The mother did not know if they would be accepted, but she was so happy to be offered independent accommodation for herself and her children in order to recover far from other families.

A resident’s mental health has declined significantly since the lockout. Without college, without volunteering and without face-to-face advice, she struggles. We fear that it will be taken in the past and the emotions that accompany the abuses it has survived.

I contact our local housing team to find out about their projects. They confirm that they operate remotely using telephone interviews, and that visits and temporary accommodation allowances will continue with appropriate precautions.


I am attending a meeting organized by the local authority. Everyone is relieved to learn that the shelters are still running, that they are receiving referrals and bringing families in need.

A resident asks questions about an email she received from her lawyer; she has been allowed to stay, but cannot recover her new biometric card until the lawyer’s office is opened again.

A five year old child enters the office to call a staff member who is protecting. I hear her say “I miss you so much, are you gone forever?” “


We obtain a large delivery of craft resources to be shared among all the families in the service. The children and the family worker were coming to sort them out, but she developed a cough and therefore needs to isolate herself. The children are getting more and more restless so I start to distribute the resources in bags while taking other calls.

In catching up on staff, we talk about referrals and the number of additional women we see. We all think it will increase in the coming weeks. As not all passage options are available for women, we fill up quickly.


I’m installing a wifi booster. The teenager downstairs is very relieved; she has trouble downloading her homework and since she isolates herself, she can no longer use the main living room office. I’m talking to a mom about how to use the food voucher she just received for free school meals. English is not his mother tongue and I have to stay away but we are finally getting there.

My colleague tells me that the family with the coronavirus is starting to recover. It is heartening to hear how all the other women came together to prepare the family’s meals and left them at their door.

The Ministry of Labor and Pensions is calling me to keep up to date on how they are changing their processes to handle the 1 million additional requests, and what the escalation process will be for agencies working with vulnerable people , including victims of domestic violence, to ensure that they can access their benefits.


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