How Padstones service helping youngsters avoid homelessness has supported residents throughout COVID-19

A supported housing service which helps young people avoid homelessness has been supporting its residents throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Padstones is a service funded by Buckinghamshire Council and delivered by the charity Connection Support, which provides young people aged 16 to 25 with accommodation to help stop them ending up on the streets.

The service, which aims to support residents to develop their ‘potential and resilience’ to progress to more independent living, has two small residential projects in Burnham and High Wycombe.

Reflecting on how the service adapted due to COVID-19, Padstones team manager Lesley Manka said that as key workers, staff continued supporting residents and the only difference was the introduction of PPE and following Government guidelines.

She said: “Padstones staff are frontline key workers so they have continued to provide the support to residents as they did pre-COVID.

“The young people are in our care 24/7 so the only real difference has been wearing of PPE and, of course, following the COVID-19 government guidelines.”

However, she added that the pandemic has had an effect upon the mental health of the young people, with the move to remote online learning, being furloughed and, in some cases, redundancy taking their toll.

She said: “The support workers have ensured they receive professional support where needed and have motivated them.

“Some of our young people are studying at college so had to adapt to online learning and the support workers helped the focus.

“The biggest struggle for our residents is not being able to have visitors – seeing friends or family in the house. Video calls and social media are not a substitute.”

Discussing his experience of lockdown, Rohit Doel, a resident of Padstones in Burnham, which is located at Reedham House, said: “During the pandemic, the team at Padstones have supported me to stay focused on my long-term ambition of working within the media sector.”

The 23-year-old added: “They supported me with a financial contribution towards virtual singing lessons during the national lockdown which I have found very positive on my wellbeing as it was creative.

“It also boosted my confidence. Padstones are supporting me to plan for my future and I hope to move into my own accommodation soon.”

For some Padstones residents, their plans of moving into private rented accommodation were halted when they faced redundancy.

Lesley explained: “In this instance, their support worker helped them apply for housing benefits to stay with Padstones until a new opportunity comes up. We’re used to resolving challenges.”

Expressing her thanks to the Burnham community, Lesley added: “We have been fortunate to have the support of Burnham Rotary Club who kindly donated a carpet washer and funds earlier this year.

“Looking to Christmas, each young person at Padstones will receive a goody bag from the Hitcham Trust.

“In addition, due to fundraising from a local choir, Sing4You and Kebbell staff Give as You Earn Scheme they will also be given a gift voucher for Christmas, food treats and enjoy a Christmas Day lunch with staff.

“Thank you so much for your generosity in supporting Padstones residents especially during this difficult year.”

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