By Laura - Senior Support Worker at SECE Mind
At South East and Central Essex Mind, our supported housing facility provides a specialised accommodation to give a person a safe and stable environment for recovery after a mental health crisis. Once here, our team of expert staff help to build confidence, improve mental wellbeing and develop life skills for independent living.
During the last few months, we have adapted the ways in which we provide support to our community housing tenants throughout lockdown.
Initially, this involved switching from face-to-face to telephone support, regularly calling all of our tenants to monitor their welfare. Some tenants commented that they enjoyed the calls and have asked to continue them alongside the resumption of face-to-face contact. We also began to send bi-weekly emails with mental health resources and ideas of activities to fill the tenants’ days. We received lots of positive feedback about this from the tenants, as well as some of their own suggestions about what had helped them, which we then circulated.
The relationships between tenants and support staff and amongst the tenants themselves have been strengthened by changes to communication in response to Covid-19. Spending more time outside prompted a renewed focus from staff on tidying up our outside areas. Tenants volunteered to help, getting involved with grass-cutting and weeding. In our communal houses, tenants have been spending time together in their gardens, which they didn’t do before lockdown. One house even had a bonfire and toasted marshmallows!
Once we were able to meet in socially distanced groups, we began holding communal sessions in the courtyard at Nelsons Gate, one of our supported housing facilities. This has continued daily and has encouraged many more tenants than usual to sit and socialise, strengthening the friendships between tenants and the support relationships with staff. Tenants have also been making the most of the lighter evenings, spending more time sitting outside with night staff. This has enabled them to receive more routine support, as previously tenants would generally only engage with the night staff in an emergency situation.
We have also introduced support sessions for the tenants in the form of walks around the local area, which has had a really positive impact. It has encouraged tenants to take regular walks for their physical health and mental wellbeing, as well as introducing them to some local green spaces. These support sessions will continue for those who have enjoyed them.
Despite the difficulties and pressures of Lockdown and the pandemic, the restrictions have encouraged changes that may not have happened otherwise, and we plan to hold onto and continue these positives into the future.
South East and Central Essex Mind is a local independent mental health charity offering mental health services and training across Castle Point, Chelmsford, Rochford, Southend-on-Sea and South Woodam Ferrers. Although affiliated with National Mind, a leading UK mental health charity, we do not receive any funds from them or the government, and are responsible for fundraising for our own local services. Find out more about us at seandcessexmind.org.uk(External link) or search South East and Central Essex Mind on social media.