Caritas Anchor House is a 140 bed homeless hostel in Newham, Greater London. The hostel supports over 250 adults experiencing homelessness each year, providing a home and a bespoke programme of services to help address the reasons behind their homelessness. This includes health and wellbeing support, education and employment opportunities, and life-skills to encourage and inspire independent living.
Back in 2018, a grant from Benefact Trust supported the refurbishment of Anchor House, to modernise the space and improve the lives of its residents. Now, a grant from the Trust’s Hope Beyond programme has enabled Caritas to enhance its COVID Response Wellbeing Programme, which has become a vital support system through the pandemic.
Due to social distancing restrictions, many of the usual aspects of the regular wellbeing programme have been put on pause. This, coupled with residents’ worries about access to medication and external support; the exponential growth of Newham’s COVID mortality rate; and the sudden need to isolate, has led to restlessness, frustrations and increased mental health issues.
The COVID Response Wellbeing Programme consists of a comprehensive health screening programme to help to keep residents safe and limit the risk of COVID outbreak. It also includes pathways to ensure residents can access medication and support where needed, and is re-establishing goals-based work and daily routines to help residents move forward and stay positive. A key focus is to provide support to address mental health issues caused by job losses, increased isolation, and other issues exacerbated by the pandemic.
Since the programme was launched, Caritas has not had a single confirmed case of COVID-19, and the hostel has managed to move 116 of its residents into their own accommodation despite the myriad of challenges the organisation has faced. This has made it possible to take on new referrals and support more vulnerable people through this difficult time.
Benefact Trust funding has ensured that more staff can be resourced to drive forward the Wellbeing Programme. Extra helping hands has meant that Caritas can put an increased focus on employment prospects as a way of helping residents to look to a future beyond the pandemic.
Chloe Ewen, Grants Officer for Benefact Trust, said: “Caritas Anchor House is an example of an organisation going above and beyond to support vulnerable people during this challenging time. We’re proud to help fund its Wellbeing Programme, which has meant that the hostel can continue to push forward and help its guests to move towards independent lives.”