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Living or working in a refuge can often feel like quite an insular experience.  By the very nature of them, they are at secret locations and visitors are kept to an absolute minimum.  Usually however, we all have the sounds of the world going on outside our windows, all the families chattering in the courtyard & kitchens, children fussing about putting on their uniforms….all the sounds of life in general. 

In the best interests of our residents and staff we are trying to have as little face to face contact as is possible, but ours is not a service that can simply stop.  We are continuing to provide our families with support around housing, schools, benefits, police and courts because their lives, like many others, cannot be on hold – many have had their lives on hold for years already.

Emotional support is always critical for the families we work with and has become even more vital during this time.  When they are hundreds of miles away from friends and family there can be no visit to the bottom of mum’s garden path nor Grandma’s coming to check on her grandchildren through the window.  This is a struggle for our residents at the best of times, now however, in a strange place, unfamiliar surroundings, with little other human contact and limited encouragement from their fellow residents, our role in keeping spirits up and positive thinking alive is essential.

Whilst the staff continue to do this, the staff’s support network has reduced.  Social distancing measures mean that where we are used to being part of a large team across both refuges and The Wish Centre, now there are only two of us working at each refuge at any one time.  The Wish Centre is silent as all the staff are working from home.  As are many key workers across the country, we are missing our peers – they are our sounding boards, our agony aunts and our friends.

One great positive this week has been the assistance one of our most vulnerable residents has received from Blackburn’s COVID-19 Hub.  The referral process was easy and the staff and volunteers there have been wonderful, delivering the family food and hot meals.  Some of our residents don’t yet have their incomes in place since moving here, therefore one of the aims this week will be sourcing some food items for those who can’t purchase it…..have you noticed how quickly children are getting through snacks at the moment!

To end on a bright note – we have Easter Eggs!  Donated by the wonderful St Mary’s Catholic Church, Brownedge, Bamber Bridge.  The Easter Bunny, being a key worker himself, will of course be delivering, and leaving them on doorsteps this year.