Coronavirus (COVID-19). We’d like to reassure you that WMWA is making every effort to continue to provide all of our services whilst protecting our staff, stakeholders and partners.
We are following Government and Public Health Guidance and working with support from Public Health professionals and commissioners. We recognise that guidance and advice are changing regularly and we are keeping up to date with the situation on a daily basis. This means that the development of our contingency arrangements has been fluid at times but we are focussed upon ensuring that we continue to provide a specialist service to all who need our support.
WMWA delivers a range of safe accommodation, face to face and telephone support services and is the lead partner in the delivery of local authority commissioned domestic abuse services in Herefordshire and Worcestershire. We deliver the Independent Domestic Violence Adviser (IDVA) Service across West Mercia, and our Helpline also covers the region and is available 24/7 to the victims of domestic abuse. We provide support services to children and young people across West Mercia, and work with young people who have been impacted upon by domestic abuse and/or teen relationship abuse in Gloucestershire. Our services are still available, albeit some are being delivered in a different way.
Most staff are working remotely, with daily cover for refuges to ensure the welfare of residents. Our 24/7 Helpline is still in operation as staff can work remotely to ensure that callers have the earliest opportunity to speak to a specialist domestic abuse worker. Clients of all other services are being contacted for support and advice by telephone and email, and we are continuing to harness other forms of virtual contact to ensure that no one feels isolated and unsupported.
We are taking referrals as usual, but most of our services are being delivered in a different way.
We are continuously reviewing our contingency plans to reduce risk and make sure our staff are protected and our services continue. We’ve already taken a range of steps to maintain our services, including:
- Refuges are being supported by at least one member of staff, but following social distancing with at least a 2-metre distance and wearing necessary PPE
- Posters on hygiene and safety, and on current guidelines regarding COVID restrictions, are displayed at entrance and all communal spaces.
- Supplies of dried and tinned food/toiletries have been bought for residents in emergencies
- Supplies of hand sanitiser/cleaning products/paper towels and tissues bought and provided to residents and displayed in communal areas and for staff
- Staff to observe 2- metre distance advice with residents where face to face contact is required. The office is a ‘staff only’ space.
- Residents are routinely being provided with telephone support
- Residents provided with advice and assistance to access emergency support and services when required from our Helpline.
- Referrals are still being accepted, and we have amended our referral and assessment criteria to ask additional screening questions re travel and general health
- Helpline is still available 24/7, and LiveChat has been added to our website so that Helpline can be contacted silently and online in ‘real-time’ from 9am – 9pm daily (including weekend).
- Staff from all teams share responsibility for client support and the safety of clients is prioritised
- Call conferencing used for essential MARAC/FDSH and other multi-agency work as agreed by all stakeholders
- IDVA services still continue, offering telephone support, with some urgent face to face court hearings being offered on a risk assessed case by case basis (being reviewed daily)
- Face-to-face drop ins and groups have been postponed, and are replaced by online group programmes
- Some direct work with children and young people is now taking place, from September 2020. We are working closely with schools to ensure that children are supported.
- Children & Young People’s workers have developed packs for parents / carers and other professionals so that they can provide support for children and young people affected by domestic abuse.