Acts of kindness during the Coronavirus pandemic

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Since the Coronavirus pandemic took hold in the UK, Southdown has been overwhelmed by acts of kindness.

Over the past few months, our employees have been going the extra mile to be there for people who access Southdown’s learning disability, mental health, housing and homelessness prevention services.

Local people and businesses have also stepped forward to do what they can to help too.

Neil Blanchard, our Chief Executive, says, “Colleagues and teams across the organisation have been working incredibly hard, going above and beyond, to do what they can to best protect the safety, health and wellbeing of our clients, tenants, colleagues and local communities. It has been really humbling to watch as everybody has come together to do what has been needed, with such compassion and care for one another.

Neil added, “The many acts of kindness from my colleagues in support of Southdown’s activities, as well as those from local people and businesses, have been overwhelming. Thank you so much to everybody for your generosity and support.”

Southdown Reservists

Example acts of kindness across Southdown have included employees stepping forward to take on additional roles to support the organisation’s learning disability services. Over 60 staff have volunteered to provide extra support to services shielding 189 people with learning disabilities, taking on roles such as telephone support buddies and being part of a new food distribution service (see picture above of colleagues at our Head Office in Lewes packaging food for services). We're calling these staff our Southdown Reservists.

Gemma, Training Administrator at Southdown, says, “As part of my volunteer role, I’m a phone buddy to a client of one our supported living learning disability services. After talking on the phone a few times, we face-timed and sang together. Singing Moana and Frozen, with my daughter and some of her toys, really brightened up both of our days. I will continue to be a phone buddy for as long as I’m needed.”

Stuart, a Housing Brokerage Officer at Southdown, who is also volunteering as a telephone buddy, added, “Small interactions in our daily lives are so important. We want people to be as happy as they can be and to reduce loneliness.”

Arts and craft delivery

Another example of going above and beyond to be there for local people, is Ali, a Mental Health Recovery Worker at Southdown’s Preston Park Recovery Centre in Brighton. After the Centre received a donation of craft materials, Ali created 60 arts and crafts packs and hand-delivered them to clients of the Centre on her bike, wearing gloves and a mask to keep everyone safe.

In response, a client said, "A big thank you to Ali to make the effort to bring me two lovely bags of art materials. It was raining and still with all the awful things that are happening these days, she brought me the art materials with a big smile. You are a star!”

Donations of PPE (personal protective equipment)

As the pandemic unfolded across the UK, Southdown, like many care providers, struggled with accessing PPE supplies for its frontline key workers in its learning disability services. Thanks to the kindness and generosity of local companies, the organisation now has adequate supplies for all its services.

Companies, including the Brighton Gin Distillery, Eastbourne Poundland, Eastbourne College, the Business Resilience Forum and the Medi Tech Trust, have donated anti-bacterial hand sanitiser gel, spray bottles, masks, face shields, gloves, aprons and goggles.

Former student at Eastbourne College, Sophie, who has been volunteering her time to help the College make, assemble and distribute 3D machine cut face visors, said,"It is lovely to be able to do my bit for the community and if it involves manufacturing masks and packing PPE into individual bags to help Southdown support staff, then I am glad to be of help.”

Southdown also received a donation of knitted hearts from local company, Sew Sussex. The hearts came in pairs so that a client at one of Southdown’s services could keep one and send the other to a relative or friend they can’t see due to the lockdown restrictions.

Community support

Local people have also been stepping forward to show support.

Alison, manager of one of our learning disability services in Horsham shares one example, “A local man, Fred, has supplied us with various items for the clients for no charge. This is toiletries, shampoos, toothpaste, shower gel and such like. What a wonderful fella!”

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, our housing, mental health and homelessness prevention services are providing phone and online support in place of face-to-face and building-based support. And, our learning disability services are shielding people they provide support for whilst continuing to support their health, wellbeing and happiness. For information about services and support we provide visit our website here or call 01273 405 800.