Coronavirus response CEO update - 1 July 2020 Three months ago we were planning the closure of our offices: our primary objective was to keep services open and our staff and volunteers safe, we mobilised resources for virtual operations for an indeterminate period, all face to face appointments were cancelled and replaced with remote communications, except for a few exceptional cases. This happened within a week and I’d like to say a big thank you to our committed staff and volunteers who stepped up and very quickly learnt to master the technology that would enable one to one support for the next three months. I’d also like to thank our statutory and grant funders who believe in us and provided reassurance about funding in these crucial first two weeks. We are grateful for the donations from local well-wishers and businesses, which enabled us to provide a quick response to people with a priority need, sourcing and supplying much needed goods and products to make life a little bit easier during the period of social isolation. We are here to support people who are marginalised and who experience complex issues, the pandemic has exacerbated the problems for many of our service users but we’ve been impressed by their resilience: our social media followers may have seen our young carers share their experiences and show others that they’re not alone, just one example of how people can think about their fellow human beings in spite of their personal difficulties. Our Trustees have held virtual meetings on a more frequent basis and together with them and my colleagues in the senior management team we are planning for the safeguarding of YSS operations and a return to face to face services. YSS works in collaboration with a number of agencies and our teams have maintained open communications, at times increased communications, to respond to a dynamic situation. This is the beauty of our sector and of a charity like YSS; local charities are in touch with local communities and citizens, together we create new solutions building on communities’ assets and people’s gifts. We’re agile and our teams work autonomously, supported by a flexible management structure and technology. We have started to reflect upon lessons learnt during this period and I am inviting colleagues in the VCS, businesses and public sector to join local conversations about building resilient communities on the back of our experiences during this pandemic. Several sector surveys are circulating and an online event is planned in Worcestershire on 6th July, hosted by Mark Jackson OBE, Worcestershire High Sheriff, the first of a series of events to kick start a sector-wide conversation. I hope this is the beginning of a new era with local communities at the centre of the debate about issues that affect us all. On a practical note, our office in Worcester is open on a part-time basis and can accommodate three people at any one time, by prior arrangement. Our staff based at the CRC offices in Worcester and Telford and at No Wrong Door in Hereford are following these agencies’ guidelines. Our services continue to take referrals and, on a case by case basis, will meet people virtually and in person, applying the new guidelines on physical distancing. We received a number of referrals to our young people Diversionary service – please note that this service closed on 31st March and our staff transferred to The Children Society ; referral for support to vulnerable young people aged 10-17 in West Mercia should be addressed to [email protected] With thanks and best wishes to you all. Catherine Kevis Contact information: All calls to our office on 01905 730780 are diverted to our information line. If you need non-urgent help and support, leave your contact details and we will call you back. Alternatively email [email protected] If you are a Young Carer aged 7 to 25 please call 01905 619886. Outside of office hours please call 07623 516353. Check for updates on Twitter and Facebook. In an emergency please dial 999. If you need Coronavirus related advice contact NHS online 111.