The women we work with can be highly vulnerable and often have no-one and nothing else. So I want to try and keep frontline services running despite coronavirus if at all possible. This is obviously whilst keeping within public health guidance and keeping volunteers and staff safe too. We can also provide accurate information to those who don’t have access to it.
Much of the advice to reduce the risk of transmission is concerned with enclosed spaces. We want women to feel supported and not ostracised, to take measures to keep them safe from infection and safe from infecting others who are vulnerable.
So the van will be out there for women, offering love and practical support but via a window service only. Women arriving at drop-in will be asked about any symptoms they might be experiencing before they can enter. If necessary, we will see them outside instead, somewhere close by. The premises for Peony and Pause Bristol have their own differences but relative measures are in place at each of these.
We are giving women a fact sheet about coronavirus and working to build packages of essential goods (e.g. food, soap) to those whom we know need them. Wherever possible, we will take the opportunity to encourage women to register with a GP. Yesterday we met with BrisDoc who provide our GP at drop-in. Together we will facilitate a diagnosis service via telephones which we will provide for women to use and which will be wiped down between uses.
We will be continuously reminding the women, volunteers and staff teams to be hand washing regularly to ensure we can safely protect and support everyone. And we will be keeping abreast of information as it changes and ensuring that we are giving accurate and up to date advice. Please do look after yourselves and each other.
Please follow NHS guidance on COVID-19 to protect yourselves and others as much as possible. Remain calm and consider how you may be able to support others around you as and when they need it. If you feel able, you might like to consider this scheme to reduce need and loneliness in your neighbourhood.
It may be that many of the women we work with are at greater risk of infection because of ill health and substance misuse, homelessness, unsafe accommodation and malnourishment. Should they contract COVID-19, many of the women we work with are certainly more likely to experience significantly exacerbated risks and symptoms.
Teams are currently planning outreach to women – taking food parcels and essential items and making sure that they have means of communication if they are unwell. We will be able to drop things off to women and will try to remain in contact by phone, helping them to seek medical advice.
Each case will be individual. We would hope that a woman could be placed into temporary accommodation.
We are putting measures in place to ensure that everyone’s health is prioritised. We have asked volunteers with underlying health conditions to let us know so that their shifts can be covered by those less at risk of contracting or being seriously affected by any illnesses. We have also asked staff to inform us of underlying issues and are dealing with this on an individual basis. We are keeping a very close eye on our procedures around this and will continue to make changes as and when needed.
Common questions regarding coronavirus: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
If you are travelling overseas: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-advice-novel-coronavirus