Last updated - January 26, 2021
BHT Services Update
We continue to run our services with certain restrictions, reflecting the national lockdown rules that came into effect in England on Tuesday 5 January 2021. Everyone is required to stay at home. We are continuing to offer our repairs service. We urge all tenants, clients and staff to follow government guidelines.
The number of people sleeping rough with whom we can work at First Base remains restricted – 15 at any one time. Our Advice Centres in Brighton, Eastbourne and Hastings, continue to operate although most contact is by phone or online. All our residential services continue to operate in a Covid-secure way.
For further information regarding services, please contact the individual services direct, ideally by phone in the first instance.
The health, safety and well-being of clients, tenants, staff and volunteers remains a priority and we will continue to do everything we can to safeguard this.
Where possible, BHT services continue to run although with changes to safeguard the health, safety and well-being of clients, tenants, staff, volunteers, contractors and Board members. We will continue to do everything we can to safeguard this.
We have implemented enhanced hygiene procedures and have taken all the necessary steps to be able to describe ourselves as ‘Covid Secure’. That does not mean that there is no risk. Rather, if all our processes are followed, the risk of anyone becoming infected in our properties is minimised.
The measures we have in place include:
- No visits to any of our residential projects other than those required by external professionals who support our clients
- Just fifteen clients are allowed in to First Base Day Centre each morning, usually those new to rough sleeping
- Appointments and meetings have been moved online where possible
- In exceptional cases, face to face meetings can be arranged but social distancing must be maintained
- Personal protective equipment is being supplied to all staff and to others
- Where possible, all members of staff are working from home
As demand increases and the number of people sleeping rough increases, we are exploring opening a second session at First Base. We continue to monitor and follow Government and NHS advice, and we communicate advice to our staff and clients. Services continually review the plans they have developed in response to any further developments.
The current restrictions will have further implications for our staff, clients and tenants, some of which are still being clarified. The following updates are of most relevance:
- Vulnerable residents and staff are being asked to shield again, and those working with vulnerable people should minimise their contact with others. The government has acknowledged that the national lockdown will have implications for people’s mental health and feelings of isolation and loneliness, and these may be particularly acute in care homes and supported housing settings.
- Regarding routine and emergency repairs and maintenance, tradespeople will be able to enter homes, but must follow coronavirus safety guidance.
- Gas safety inspections in homes will be expected to continue. We may face difficulties with access as residents may feel unsafe with inspectors in their home. The government is expected to provide clear messaging to residents about the importance of critical safety checks going ahead.
- Renters and homeowners will still be able to move, and removal firms and estate agents can still operate.
- The government’s Job Retention Scheme is being extended until April.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes the majority of our services are running as usual – despite the financial and practical challenges we need to continue to support our clients through this extraordinary situation. Many are particularly vulnerable and are relying on us now more than ever. We have a dedicated staff team who have quickly adapted to new ways of working, and who have found creative ways to maximise the support they can offer.
We are adapting our services in a variety of ways to minimise risk to our clients and staff, for example by implementing enhanced hygiene procedures in our hostel and residential support settings.
We are finding new ways to support people, ranging from ensuring clients have phones with credit and data so they can stay in touch, to bringing services online where practical.
The care homes that we run as part of the Archway project have remained free of Covid-19 thanks to early adoption of safety measures such as PPE for all, rigorous cleaning, a moratorium on visitors, and clearly communicated risk assessments and continuity plans.
Our Detox Support Project has temporarily relocated to another site to enable appropriate social distancing, ensuring clients and staff can communicate safely in groups and keywork. We are also supporting Brighton and Hove City Council in its work to place all rough sleepers in accommodation.
Staff are always there for you no matter what - putting your mind at rest and making you feel safe. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else at this time. Detox Support Client
What is lovely is that staff are so committed to doing the very best they can for people. Tracey Chandler, Operational Manager at BHT’s Phase One hostel for homeless people
There is a lot in the news right now about Coronavirus and for many of us, it can feel overwhelming and scary. Although it is important to stay informed, we also need to be mindful of our mental health and make sure that we look after ourselves.
Useful information to support your mental health can be found here:
In addition, Sussex Oakleaf, a local provider of mental health services which merged with BHT in April 2020, has launched a new online mental health support platform in response to the pandemic. Visitors to the site can chat to one of our trained mental health Recovery Workers and get support with managing their mental health or the mental health of a loved one.
BHT Advice Services in Brighton, Eastbourne & Hastings are still open and continue to provide specialist advice services in housing and asylum/immigration matters. Whilst our offices are not open to the public we are providing advice by telephone, email and other media. Our services are funded by the Legal Aid Agency and by Local Authorities and this means there are certain restrictions to the service which you can read about on each area webpage.
We have made some changes to our housing services to keep tenants, staff and contractors safe. For example, until further notice if any of our staff are due to visit, they will always check whether you are happy for them to come into your home. Where we can, we will contact you by phone rather than visiting so we can minimise any risks and help us provide the best service to you. Please take this opportunity to ensure we have your updated mobile phone details to aid communication.
We are currently running an emergency appeal to help us continue to run our services throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. We have had to cancel our major fundraising events for the year, and urgently need to raise funds to carry on our work and reach everyone who needs us.
If you would like your donation to go towards a specific BHT or Sussex Oakleaf project then let us know. Email [email protected] and our team will be in touch to find out more. The generosity of our supporters is what makes us so successful in transforming the lives of our clients, so thank you for your support.