Face to Face Meetings begin again at Basildon Advice Store
HeadsUp in Basildon are seeing participants face-to-face again this month for the first time since lockdown as our base of operations in the Advice Store is reopening to the public.
The size of our desks has doubled and plastic screens have been erected on them to separate us from the participants for their protection and ours, while hand sanitiser dispensers are dotted around the office.
It’s going to be particularly strange to meet for the first-time participants who were signed up during lockdown, they and the Peer Support Worker (PSW) have built up a rapport only over the phone until now. What is more, we have joked that as the public are asked to wear a face mask at least when moving around the Advice Store we may finally meet and yet still not see each other’s faces!
Some participants are anxious about attending appointments in person and we are accommodating their wishes. Those who live nearby but would prefer not to come into the office itself have been offered an opportunity to meet in the open air, at a distance, as the risk of infection will be even lower. Those living in other towns, have requested that appointments continue by phone for the time being as they do not want to take public transport unless absolutely necessary. All of these options are fine.
The pandemic has affected different participants differently, so those who specifically requested to only resume ongoing support once face-to-face meetings were possible again, perhaps because they had anxiety around phone calls, will be glad to see us once more.
At the moment we have a significant number of single parents on the project locally, so it will still not be possible for them to fully engage with the project until the schools go back in September, however this will give us a chance to get to know the new referrals we have now received through the Job Centre.
As always the HeadsUp team continue to adapt how our service is delivered wherever we can to ensure that we continue to offer our participants the employment and wellbeing support that they need.