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Our staff are working tirelessly in challenging conditions to support our residents (and each other) through the Coronavirus crisis. Neil usually leads a team in Nottingham working to prevent people from becoming homeless. He took some time out of his day to answer some questions.

How has the coronavirus impacted on you?

Along with many others, the virus has changed day to day life for everyone in my household quite dramatically. My wife Fiona, who is an attendance officer in an academy has seen her school empty without having the chance to say goodbye to the year eleven’s she has seen grow up. She is now one of a few support staff left to look after and support a small number children of NHS and other related keyworkers.
My son Louis, is in his final year of University, studying Finance. After four years of hard work, he now faces a weird uncertainty around his final exams due next month and faces the fact that he will probably now not be able to celebrate with a proper graduation presentation. Louis also has the difficulty of having to live apart from his girlfriend of over three years. The pair are like twins and usually inseparable. It’s very difficult to see two young people who love each other so much have to do this.
My wife also is the main career for her mother aged 82. She lives a street away from us and has long standing serious health issues. She is also heavily dependent on us for all her meals and day to day essentials. We have had to set up a very strict regime in order to keep her safe and isolated over the past three weeks.

How as the coronavirus impacted on your service?

As with my home life, the virus has had a massive impact on my service. We are based on the ground floor at Val Roberts House and in less than two weeks, we have gone from a full room of around sixty staff to four or five essential people every day. The Homeless Prevention Team seems to have disappeared from site. A large proportion of the team are now redeployed into hostels, helping to keep them operating effectively. Several others are keeping the support for nearly three hundred service users going from home. This whilst they are isolating them self’s, looking after their families or carrying their own health issues. It seems an age already since I have seen any of them face to face. I do miss my work wife as she calls herself, the lovely Teresa Vallance. It feels like we have been shook up in a snow globe and are waiting for things to return to normal.

What have you done in response?

At home, the three of us have come a lot closer to ensure we look out for each other’s well-being. Everything seems that bit more precious.
I have been spending more time with Louis in the evenings, to assist him with his coursework. There is now no support from his university.
Despite the IT issues we have faced, Teresa has taken over all three parts of our team and is managing things from her home. I, along with my service manager Joy Cotton and colleague Taz Foster are now what makes up The Nottingham City Redeployment Team. We are responsible for keeping all hostels in the city fully staffed and operating through these difficult times.
Communication is key. And we have used every means available in order to keep our staff talking and in a position to check in and support each other.

Is there anything you would like to add?

It is at times like this that I see just why I have been part of the Framework family for over 16 years. Very positive and driven people come together in order to do the best they can for those more vulnerable and at risk than our self. I would just like to thank all those managers and staff in the hostels and everyone I have spoken to on the phone whilst trying to cover shifts. Such fantastic attitudes and so helpful. This is the reason I am sure we will all come through this as better and stronger human beings. Thank you to Andrew Redfern and his senior leadership team for leading tirelessly from the front.