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COVID-19 has presented both significant challenges and opportunities for the Haymarket Foundation and our work with those at-risk of – or experiencing – homelessness.
Increase in demand:
Most of our services have experienced an increased demand, with the pandemic proving particularly difficult for some clients with mental health and drug and alcohol issues. Many tenants who were at risk of homelessness required additional support, due to unemployment as a result of the economic climate.
Changes to the way we work:
There have been significant alterations to all our services: frontline workers have been required to increase infection control, with additional use of personal protective equipment and cleaning, with constant reminders for clients and others on site. This has been an additional burden for staff and there were extra costs for the organisation.
The majority of the residents of our crisis accommodation facility have been moved to hotel accommodation to increase social distancing. This NSW Government initiative was welcome and a major change for both residents and staff. The Haymarket Foundation has chosen to use the opportunity as a chance to build the living skills of its clients who have yet to be housed.
While the NSW Government announced two packages totalling $65 million to house rough sleepers, the money did not extend to those in congregate care facilities, like residents of the Haymarket Foundation. That means many of our residents remain in temporary accommodation to improve social distancing during the pandemic.
Increased complexity of the work:
The increased uncertainty for the people we work with means in many cases that mental health, drug and alcohol issues have become exacerbated. The increased complexity of this work is a challenge for staff, who are already at capacity.
Additionally, many rough sleepers who were housed in the State Government’s initiative have since returned to homelessness, due to the complexity of their issues, including cognitive impairments. We expect this increase in demand for our service to continue.
The Haymarket Foundation has had to employ additional staff members to do assertive outreach to the hotels during the pandemic, plus there are additional expenses for food and infection control.
Unfortunately, the Haymarket Foundation’s revenue has also taken a hit, from a decline in investments, in line with the economic circumstances.
The development of our service:
On the upside, our services have not only survived, but have also developed as a result. We have added further services for people experiencing homelessness. In particular we proud to be going back to our roots with the trial of a specialist GP service for this community.
To make a difference to people experiencing homelessness please make your tax-deductible donation here
A donation of any size – from $5 to $500, or an amount of your choice – will make a tangible difference to people experiencing homelessness on Christmas Day and every other day of the year.
Photo credit: Joel Pratley