How this homeless charity is helping vulnerable young people during the coronavirus pandemic

A South Tyneside charity is making sure it can continue to support homeless and vulnerable people despite the coronavirus lockdown, as the ‘need is greater than ever’.

By Sarah Sinclair
Wednesday, 1st April 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 1st April 2020, 11:51 pm

South Shields based homeless charity, the KEY Project has had to close its Baring Street office in line with government guidance over the outbreak of Covid-19.

However, it is continuing to help vulnerable people by delivering its usual services wherever possible.

KEY provides a range of housing advice, support and accommodation services to young people at risk of homelessness or experiencing hardship.

A virtual family mediation session.

In 2019, the project, supported by South Tyneside Churches, helped 500 young people and kept 180 families together.

During these uncertain times, the charity says the need for it to continue to deliver its projects is now ‘greater than ever’ with families being told to stay at home and self-isolate.

Staff give one to one tenancy support.

Staff at KEY project are working to ensure that all its main services are able to continue to function in some form, even if now only possible remotely with the majority of staff working from home.

Its prevention, mediation and intervention service is now being provided by phone to all its families at risk of breakdown on a day to day basis and is introducing group mediation using Zoom conferencing to ensure it can continue to keep families together.

The charity is also working tirelessly with the local authority to ensure any young person who presents as homeless in South Tyneside is found a safe and secure place to stay.

KEY Project staff offer online support to vulnerable young people.

KEY’s supported accommodation properties, although now in lockdown, remain fully operational and at capacity, and are enforcing the latest restrictions around health and safety.

Home visits have now been suspended unless in an emergency, but Tenancy Support clients are being contacted daily with video calling offered, to make sure no young person is left feeling isolated by the lack of face to face contact.

Staff are also working hard to help not only its vulnerable young people and their families, but the wider public, feel connected in the coming weeks.

It will be sharing a range of content online, including advice and tips to help those in self-isolating and social distancing in South Tyneside.

Ross Allen, executive lead at KEY Project, said “While KEY Project is doing a great job of adapting and mobilising to the rapidly changing circumstances of this unprecedented situation, our commitment to supporting the most vulnerable within our community remains unchanged.

“Though the advice is to practise social distancing, KEY is reaching out more than ever to interact with our community, pulling together will get us through this, community is KEY.”

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