Stephen Rowley is our Head of Support; before the crisis he was supporting rough sleepers and people experiencing homelessness with one to one support at our Support Office and Drop in. During this lockdown he is now providing support on the phone to rough sleepers in hotels and tenants self isolating in our Resettlement project. He is also feeding back to the team any deliveries or practical support that may be needed.

Many of the rough sleepers have been entrenched for years; they may have a history of trauma, addiction and poor mental health. This support on the phone is a lifeline giving emotional/mental support and encouragement  to help them cope with this seismic change in circumstances and alleviate heightened anguish and fear.  It is vital in reinforcing the importance of isolation, to protect themselves and others. Similarly for our tenants on our Resettlement programme, staying in touch is vital so that they continue to succeed at independent living during this isolating and worrying time.

Stephen writes: "Day to day I’m helping to calm our friends in our resettlement tenancies as they become increasingly agitated and frustrated with the lockdown. I’m an ear to people hearing their worries, it’s a lifeline because these people often don’t have family, they are fragile; they have overcome so much in their lives after living on the street or being homeless and at times like these it would be easy for them to go back to old ways of negative thinking or behaviours.

"There's also a lot of other people I’ve been referring for food parcels and accommodation that would not normally be accessing them through Barnabus. These are people who are newly homeless or are accessing Manchester City Council's food support and are vulnerable in some way.

"On a day to day basis I’m speaking to about 30 people who struggle with up and down mood swings. It can be even more difficult, as you have to get the conversations in a positive direction and ending on a positive note. It’s a lot of counselling over the phone, especially with entrenched rough sleepers or with people who are new to homelessness and need psychological encouragement  to stop them getting low and keeping them positive.

"Our Resettlement clients are in a difficult spot as they often have very little or no disposable income, so they cannot buy things to help themselves cope with the boredom.  However they have all been really self sufficient and they’ve been refusing food as they have enough and have the money to buy their own so they are refusing help so others with more need can receive it.

"L has been amazing, all she has wanted to do is volunteer or fundraise, coming up with plans to help Barnabus all while looking after herself. One guy, J, has been working and another ,N, is also working even though he first had to arrange for the care of his elderly father as the lockdown began. I was able to intervene so that there is now a system in place where his father is cared for and N can now go to work without worrying about that."