Newsletter: April 2020

Newsletter: April 2020

Welcome to Walthew House News. For this issue we are focussing on how
Walthew House has been responding to the coronavirus crisis.

Although we staged a phased shutdown of the building starting from Monday 16th March we have continued to provide support.

That first week we talked to all our regular group members to check what
support they had at home, and whether we could do anything to help. This has been in place since 23rd March with a team of regular volunteers and staff members checking in on over 100 people, mostly once a week. We’re finding that people’s needs are changing – so those who had support networks in place to help with shopping, collecting prescriptions and the like, are starting to struggle if carers need to self-isolate at home. People who have previously been independent have also struggled with shopping due to shortages, and the fact that social distancing means that shops cannot provide a sighted guide.

We have been helping with shopping and home delivery, making sure that visually impaired service users know it is us at the door, so they are not opening the door to people they don’t know.

If you need help with shopping please let us know. We’re happy to help. We’re also happy to help our regular volunteers as well as service users. Please don’t struggle if we can help you in any way.

Line of shopping trolleys

We are also putting people directly in touch with other people in their regular social groups. If you would like to chat to someone you usually see at Walthew House let us know and we will ask them if they are happy for you to have their contact details.

Charities have a well deserved reputation for responding quickly to new needs, and Walthew’s first call to action in the current crisis came from hearing aid users who couldn’t get batteries because the libraries had closed. People were worried that if their hearing aid stopped working they wouldn’t be able to call for medical help, or keep in touch with family and friends.

We have been dropping off batteries all over Stockport as well as letting people collect them from the car park. In what could be misconstrued as some very dodgy dealing we have been leaving batteries on the bench outside the building so people can collect them without coming in the building.

We have staff working at Walthew House on a rota basis so we can keep
everyone safe. The telephone is staffed between 12 noon and 4pm on
weekdays. Leave a message on 0161 480 2612 at other times and we will get
back to you. If you are deaf and cannot use the telephone you can also text Teresa on 07980 507884, but only in office hours, please.

So, what is the rest of the team up to?
Naomi is co-ordinating a regular bulletin of national and local information, which is:

  • Available to staff to pass on if you call in or email with a query
  • Shared on our website and social media
  • Produced as a sign language video.
  • Recorded by Stockport Talking Newspaper for its members
  • Available as a large print document

Information includes the latest government information and guidelines and local information ranging from shops that will deliver groceries and essentials to how to access yoga classes online. Let us know if you would like to receive the information bulletin.

Shannon has swapped community fundraising temporarily for co-ordinating our check-in and social calls. We’re happy to add you to the list even if you aren’t a regular at Walthew House. Please let us know.

Teresa is co-ordinating all contact and support with the deaf community. If we’ve not been in touch and you would like a regular text/facetime call, please let us know. She also continues to provide her regular information support and can help with general enquiries, money or benefits information, problems getting information in accessible formats etc.

Rachel is keeping all the office functions afloat, as well as responding to requests for support. She’s currently also fitting in the year end stocktake for the resource centre. Speaking of which, you can still order items from the resource centre. We can have these delivered directly to your home.

As we can’t run the youth club for the time being, June is not working currently under the government’s furlough scheme. Tracey is also furloughed as with the cancellation of room hire and there being no services within the building, her role isn’t needed.

Lynda and Chris, our specialist sight loss counsellors are still available to offer support, but over the phone rather than face to face for now.

That just leaves Kay, who is fully occupied watching Homes under the Hammer and box sets of Line of Duty. Ok, actually that’s not true. Walthew House is currently losing over £8,500 a month in community fundraising income, room hire fees and subs.

This is vital income which enables the charity to provide the services it does. On the plus side, there are new funds emerging to support charities, and Kay is busy applying for grants.

Walthew is also planning how we can provide support in the next few weeks and months, and recognises that it’s difficult when people can’t get out and about as usual.

Talking News is still recording, so if you aren’t a member this is a great time to sign up. Just let us know and we’ll pass on your details.

We’re also trying to come up with ideas to help people keep busy:

  • We’ve already taken out craft materials to a couple of people. We have painting materials, wool, beads for jewellery making etc., and are happy to drop things off.
  • The resource centre has tactile games, large print crosswords and word searches, Sudoku etc.
  • We’re thinking about starting up a regular quiz which we can email or send out in large print and we’re looking into getting some of our regular activities out in audio formats – like our chair-based exercise

We’re also absolutely open to suggestions, and once we have ensured we’ve got all the essential support in place we can look at the little extras that will make the current situation more bearable. For instance, food basics is an absolute priority for now, but within a week or two we hope to be able to take shopping lists for those things people would like, rather absolutely need – so if it’s balsamic glaze or Fairtrade Columbian coffee (for example) that you’re pining for you can let us know and we can see if we can source it for you.

Usually Walthew House closes over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend. This year, telephone messages will be picked up on both Good Friday and Easter Monday or you can text 0776 217 1774 if you need help and it cannot wait until Tuesday 14th April.

Walthew House social groups and activities will remain closed for the foreseeable future, but be assured, staff and volunteers are still working and will support you in any way we can.

If you have an up to date DBS (criminal records) check and you would like to help, please let us know.

A summary of our daily bulletin is enclosed with this newsletter. If you would like to receive this regularly please let us know.

That’s all for now. Hoping everyone is keeping well and we hope to see you back at Walthew once it’s safe to do so.