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COVID Community Offer Blog: Support for local families

Shamsa Mughal, Support Services Team Leader at Compass Support, reveals how her team has been busy providing specific support for families and independent residents that are struggling during COVID-19.

In my role, I supervise two teams – Family Support and Independent Living with our services covering Falcon Lodge and Castle Vale communities. Some of our most successful projects include the development of Parent Champions in Castle Vale and Parent Ambassadors in Falcon Lodge.

My regular work is focused on ensuring that services are delivered, supervising a team of five and giving general support and guidance.

From 23 March 2020, the start of lockdown, we knew that our clients would need us more than ever. However, most of our activity is done face-to-face, especially the one-to-one support that we provide. So in that first week, we – like all other teams at The Pioneer Group – had to embrace a new way of working.

We have now set up a structure to continue providing family support, especially for families with children under the age of 18. Firstly, through the coronavirus crisis, we have worked closely with schools to ensure that vulnerable children are identified parents are given extra support to deal with any parenting challenges. Our family coaches have been working to improve relationships and communication with children and their parents/carers, so that tensions are eased as we all spend more time at home.

The support is given primarily over the phone or video conferencing. As well as listening to the struggles our families are facing, we work to provide specific advice to cope at this trying time.

We are really focused on our families’ emotional wellbeing and have had to revise our support as families are currently under a tremendous amount of stress. The lockdown, loss of wages and lack of school have caused the most anxiety.

We know our families well and also refer them to other parts of The Pioneer Group for additional help. For example, through Spitfire Services our families have access to a food bank or we put our residents in touch with our housing partners to get financial advice to ensure they don’t struggle with financial hardships.

There is so much positivity too. Our Parent Ambassadors in Falcon Lodge recently had a coffee morning to catch up and share tips on how local families have been coping. Our Parent Champions in Castle Vale have given each other some amazing peer support.

In Castle Vale, we also look out for those individuals who are living independently, but may need some support, whether that be for housing, benefits or safeguarding. Thirty clients are contacted every week over the phone to ensure that they do not feel isolated, have food and any additional support they need. There is so much going on in Castle Vale at the moment, especially throughout Compass Support, so we introduce as many of our wellbeing initiatives as we can to our clients, from the new activity packs to the Telebuddy scheme.

It’s so important to offer support for families, so that they are able to maintain independence in the community and keep emotional wellbeing in place.

I am not sure what future holds, but I do know that we will continue to deliver this vital service.  Our aim is to build a thriving community that is resilient, and the coronavirus has been the biggest test to date for many. I am positive though that if our families can get through this, they can get through a lot.