Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

An update from Unique Ways and our partners – 20/03/2020

We understand that these are uncertain times that we’ve never seen before and things are changing on a daily basis. However just to let you know we are all set up and are working from home.We appreciate schools are closing and that our families will have children at home who will undoubtedly struggle with this huge change of routine. Unfortunately this situation in turn puts untold pressure on our parents and carers.

We understand this as parent/carers ourselves and we are here for you…we are still working our way through EHC plans and referrals and are still taking all education, CAMHS and other enquiries. However, even if things are slowing down with all of the above, we are still here for you all – our wonderful families.

So even if it’s just a friendly voice you want to hear or if you’re having a difficult day and the kids are driving you bonkers and you need to have a friendly ear to bend..we are here and please feel free to call us.

Virtual Coffee Morning

We understand how important our peer support sessions are to some of our members, so for that reason we will be holding a virtual coffee morning on Tuesday 31st March 10am til 10:40.  Amanda and Helen will be in attendance, we hope you can make it, even if its just to see a friendly face.

We will be using the application Zoom – You can download it from here to your phone / tablet or PC, or use the in browser option.

The link to the virtual coffee morning is: https://zoom.us/j/828798953

From our partners

Below we have listed communications we have received from our partners that we thought were worth communicating with our members.

So for now, take care

The Unique Ways Team

From Halifax Opportunities Trust:

  • Speech and Language measures will still take place via telephone calls.
  • All short-breaks will be completed via telephone calls.
  • All family support, perinatal and family outreach cases will receive weekly telephone support (more contacts if deemed necessary).
From the DWP:

I have put a link below to a page on gov.uk concerning the virus and claiming benefits.  Please keep checking this page as it will be updated regularly

https://www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/coronavirus/

  •         As you may have seen in the media a decision has been made to suspend all sickness and disability face to face assessments from today, 17 March.  I have copied below the information we have received so far.

From Tuesday 17 March Face-to-face assessments for all sickness and disability benefits will be temporarily suspended.
We expect this measure will be in effect for the next three months but we will be regularly reviewing the position in line with Public Health advice.
It means that those on disability benefits will no longer be required to attend face-to-face assessments. This will affect customers on Personal Independence Payment, Employment and Support Allowance and those on the Industrial Injuries schemes. The suspension also covers new claims to those benefits and health checks for Universal Credit.
Anyone who has a face-to-face assessment appointment scheduled from Tuesday 17 March onwards does not need to attend and will be contacted to discuss next steps and alternative arrangements, which could involve either telephone or paper-based assessments.
No further action is required by any customer as a result of this change. They will be contacted by assessment providers with advice on next steps.
We continue to accept new claims to all benefits. For existing customers, benefits will remain in payment while alternative arrangements are put in place.

  •         In addition to the suspension of face-to-face assessments for health and disability benefits, we are also suspending DWP face-to-face home visits across the benefits, with the exception of those customers who are most vulnerable – who will only be visited where it is safe to do so.
  •         The DWP are focusing their efforts to ensure people can make new claims and get paid on time. Processes are now in place to help the most vulnerable and those who are affected by Coronavirus – this will mean that appropriate customers will not have to attend the Jobcentre and any actions following their on-line claim will be completed by phone. No Verification appointment will be required, as checks will be made during the claim process. The DWP will take all this action once we are aware a customer wishes to make a claim and declares they are unable to attend the Jobcentre.

Customers who make a new claim as they do now, who don’t have any issues relating to Coronavirus, would again follow the business as normal process and attend the Jobcentre for a Verification appointment to get their claim up and running.  However, they would not be expected to then attend any Work Coach interviews in the immediate short term, as these will be done via the phone or digitally.

We are also changing our approach to existing customer interventions by completing these by phone or digitally whenever possible.

Up to date from local and central government, NHS and public health, NCVO and others  advice can be found on;

https://www.calderdale.gov.uk/v2

https://www.sectorsupportcalderdale.org.uk/

Calderdale Community Safety Partnership Silver Covid19 are meeting twice weekly.  They met yesterday and are setting up a hub and spoke governance arrangement.  There is another meeting planned for Friday.

Around Volunteering and Voluntary Sector our lead is Sian Rogers, CMBC Voluntary Sector lead,  with support from Rachel Stewart (CMBC Anti-Poverty) and members of the Alliance especially Charlie Johnston

The email address we are using to coordinate activity volunteeringcovid19@calderdale.gov.uk

Activity includes those who wish to volunteer, donate goods to foodbanks, help out elderly neighbours etc.

From CAMHS

The Open Minds website has a range of helpful resources around social distancing and strategies to manage concerns and anxieties around COVID 19 (coronoavirus). This link is also on the front page of the Calderdale CAMHS website.

Kooth are also able to offer on-line discussions, advice and guidance on our website around COVID-19 and how young people can stay safe physically and mentally. More info at www.kooth.com   . Video to outline how to access the service here : https://vimeo.com/318731977/a9f32c87de .
Dragonfly have published a free booklet about how to deal with anxiety, which can be given to students and/or parents/carers.

Please find the link to the free download from their website: www.dragonflyimpact.co.uk/anxiety-booklet-pdf

Below is a list of resources below (many of which are included on the Open Minds site).

  • Covibook – an interactive resource designed to support and reassure children aged 7 and under, designed to help children explain and draw the emotions that they might be experiencing during the pandemic: https://www.mindheart.co/descargables
Please find below a number of resources that have been share within the DFE and from our regional sites:

Update – 18 March 11:00am

At Unique Ways, the health and safety of our staff, volunteers and members is and always will be our top priority. So therefore, in response to the Government’s latest advice, we have made the decision to close the physical office of Unique Ways to play our part in stopping the spread of the virus.

As a charity, it’s hard for us to close. We want to do everything we can to support our members whilst dealing with something that’s never happened before

We are very sorry to have to close our doors, however the team are working from home (from Thursday 19th March) and can access emails and all files so please do not hesitate to email us at hi@uniqueways.org.uk  The phone lines will be forwarded so again, please call us on 01422 343 090.

We’ll be working hard to find ways to survive the financial impact, and it would make a huge difference to us if you could consider making a donation at this time.

There are lots of ways you can support us, from giving a small amount, creating a Facebook fundraiser for your birthday, shopping via AmazonSmile; whatever it is, every amount will help ensure we can continue to support more families into the future. You can find all the ways you can support us at https://www.uniqueways.org.uk/give/

We will be reviewing the situation on a regular basis and in line with further advice from the Government and health officials regarding coronavirus.

Our Annual Survey will be going out as planned at the end of March and will be open for completion during April & May, so please take this opportunity to complete our survey whilst you are self-isolating or social distancing.  We will need your feedback more than ever and please remember our survey relates to the previous year only (financial year April 2019 – March 2020), not historic years.

Any communications that come to us that we feel our members should be made aware of, we will of course be forwarding these to you.

Our thoughts are with everyone who is being affected by this situation and we pass on our very best wishes to you and your loved ones.  We look forward to welcoming you back soon, we hope.

Thanks for reading.  Feel free to tweet us @uniquewaysuk or email us with your comments, reviews and news.

The Unique Ways Team

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16/03/2020 – 11:30am

With immediate effect we are putting the following precautions in place to protect our staff, volunteers and members.  We understand that some of our staff, volunteers and members have vulnerable relatives or are vulnerable themselves, hence the need to take this immediate action.

All Peer Support Sessions (Coffee Mornings / Afternoon Teas / ASD Coffee Mornings), Training & Courses (Taster Sessions / Insiders Guide 6 Week / Person Centred Planning and Spotlight On…) are postponed until further notice.

If you have a pre-arranged meeting at our offices with one of our practitioners, we do ask you to be mindful and should you be feeling unwell or showing any symptom of Coronavirus, we would ask you not to visit and rearrange your appointment.

If you do not have a pre-arranged meeting, please do not visit our offices.  Our Trustees are meeting tomorrow for further planning and should anything change we will communicate this.

We know that for some of our members, this is a particularly worrying time.  The following is guidance from Carers UK for carers which you can read at carersuk.org/coronavirus. This includes guidance on being prepared for emergencies, protecting those you care for, and information for working carers.  Carers UK and Carers Trust have also made a joint statement regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19). This covers an overview of the current advice for people who are providing unpaid care. https://www.carersuk.org/images/News_and_campaigns/Coronavirus/Covid-19_Joint_Statement_one.pdf

The health and safety of both our users and our team is always of paramount importance to us and we thank you for your understanding at this unprecedented time.

Unique Ways Team

Our Organisation