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Green Wynd Staff Respond to Challenges Posed by COVID-19

Published: | Homelessness

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on many services across Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP), and for the staff at Green Wynd this has certainly the case. 

The Green Wynd Family Accommodation Service is a service that seeks to match homeless people with emergency accommodation, and it’s made up of three teams – Revenue and Property Team, Temporary Allocations Team and Temporary Accommodation Development Team. Working together, it’s the role of these three teams to allocate all emergency accommodation in Glasgow. The team inspect and turn around void flats so that they’re available and suitable for accommodating vulnerable homeless service users, booking service users into Temporary Furnished Flats (TFFs) and ensuring that the service user’s complex needs are met.

With the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdown periods, Green Wynd had to pull together plans to determine what services had to be delivered to ensure that homeless people could access accommodation in what had become a public health emergency. 

It wasn’t just temporary and emergency accommodation in the lockdown that Green Wynd had to manage, they also witnessed a significant increase in the of number of people presenting as homeless and requiring homeless accommodation. At its height, over 600 people were accommodated in hotels via Green Wynd placing massive demand on our homelessness services. 

The effort and dedication of the staff at Green Wynd throughout the entire pandemic is to be commended. In just a short space of time, Green Wynd increased their stock of TFFs by 450 properties, from just under 1,500 to 1,900 properties. Working in close collaboration with City Building and RSBI, staff at Green Wynd ensured that homeless accommodation was available and appropriate for some of the most vulnerable and complex people in Glasgow. 

The TFFs are only one type of accommodation our Homelessness Services manage. Additionally, there was a dramatic increase in the number of Bed and Breakfasts (B&B) and hotel placements that were required to accommodate the growing number of people presenting as homeless. Green Wynd staff worked hard to commission services that provided three meals a day and access to laundry facilities for residents, so that they would be as comfortable as they could reasonably expect to be. 

Working in close collaboration with the staff at the B&Bs, Green Wynd had to manage new requirements of physical distancing. This involved education sessions with a complex client group and regular reminders to maintain a safe environment for all present. Collectively, this was managed extremely efficiently resulting in very low numbers of COVID-19 cases in the B&Bs. 

Green Wynd staff also worked in close collaboration and partnership with other services across other connected organisations. Effective working relationships were strengthened with Hunter Street Complex Need Services, where a new model of assertive outreach was adopted so that our Health Service staff went to the service user, eliminating the requirement of the service user having to travel to Hunter Street. This increased engagement and retention in services. Hunter Street staff also provided training for hotel staff from the administration of Naloxone (to stop an overdose) to coping with trauma and bereavement and provided access to sharp boxes so that needles could be discarded safely. A positive partnership was also built with Police Scotland, with increased information sharing so that the optimal support plans for service users could be put in place to address concerns of safety. 

The staff experienced a number of significant challenges along the way, most notably with the security concerns at one of the Bed and Breakfasts we used. With increased media pressure and reports of criminal activity, there were several complex and significant issues to address in the hotels. In response to these growing issues, Green Wynd took two major steps. Firstly, they implemented a security team at one of the major hotels, which effectively improved the way in which the hotels were governed, resulting in levels of crime and illicit activity decreasing. Secondly, Green Wynd commissioned support services at the same hotel in order to ensure that all had an appropriate level of support adequate to residents’ needs. Those with no recourse to public funds also had access to relevant assessments and support services to ensure their needs were being met. Each resident had a support plan in place and by the time the hotels began to be decommissioned in December 2020, the majority of residents had moved onto permanent accommodation. This achievement would not have been achieved without our colleagues in Community Homeless Teams as they still carry out the matching process (matching homeless needs with available accommodation). 

The team at Green Wynd were given a commendation by the Scottish Government on the process of decommissioning and lessons were highlighted as examples of best practice. 

Jim McBride, our Head of Adult Services (Homelessness) for the HSCP, said: “I’m so proud of the absolute commitment and dedication from everyone associated with Green Wynd. It demonstrates their unfaltering willingness to deliver public services particularly to those who present with multiple vulnerabilities, during such pressing times. It’s an honour and a privilege to be aligned to staff who have worked tirelessly through the pandemic”.

Finally, over the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 1,200 people have been matched into permanent accommodation. This wouldn’t have been possible had it not been for the ingenuity, dedication and perseverance of the team at Green Wynd.  
 

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