COVID-19 has posed many challenges this year for all of us from financial stresses to mental health issues, but particularly for those among the most vulnerable.
The demand for services and organisations has never been more sought after and our communities have never needed to unite so much to help deliver this.
COVID-19 has meant that charity budgets and functional capabilities have been stretched with many appeals being launched to raise awareness to those who need the support most this winter.
Whilst one charity – Nottingham’s Emmanuel House – in particular is going above and beyond to deliver vital services to our community, it’s still in desperate need of help to continue its work.
Emmanuel House is a local, independent charity based in Hockley, that supports the homeless and most vulnerable adults in Nottingham, providing essential survival services including food and accommodation, as well as additional further support.
The charity solely relies on donations from the community as well as the support of faith groups, organisations and trusts however COVID-19 has meant that they have seen a significant fall in income – approximately £70,000 – due to cancelled fundraising events and an increase in the demand for services as a result of the pandemic.
Rosie Needham-Smith, marketing and fundraising officer at Emmanuel House, explains the importance of launching their winter appeal.
She said: “COVID-19 has impacted us quite drastically…we rely on community events that simply can’t happen at the moment so we’ve had to be more creative with the appeal to bring in more supporters.”
The charity teamed up with Luke Radford and Toby Curson, directors of the BBC’s One’s Soul Boy, to release the short film Lone to raise awareness of the significant homelessness still present in the city.
Rosie added: “Obviously the main aim was to raise awareness, but the secondary aim was to break down the stereotypes of what homelessness looks like.
“Some media and charities are still presenting the idea of the homeless as a scruffy man and it isn’t that.
“We’ve tried to present this with Gemma’s story in the film…we wanted her story to be based off lots of different people’s experiences with homelessness.
“With Gemma’s story, you see the breakdown of two relationships which leads her to being homeless, so we deliberately didn’t want to include drugs or alcohol as it isn’t always as simple as putting it down to that.”
Along with their short film release, the charity also teamed up with local artistic designer Elroy the Artist for a public campaign to spread the positive message of ‘You can make a difference’ by brightening the streets with posters and paint in hopes to encourage the community to continue to help.
The charity’s Nottingham Night Shelter, originally operating accommodation in churches, moved into The Victoria Hotel in Beeston in March 27, 2020 to accommodate more rough sleepers under the Government’s Everybody In scheme, where it crucially provides individual rooms with en-suites and hot meals.
Rosie emphasises the impact coronavirus has had on how the charity has operated during lockdown as being a nightmare that has transformed into a dream support system.
She said: “By moving into a local hotel, it enabled self-isolation, meals delivered safely to rooms and one-to-one support.
“It’s really challenging as there are lots of people using the shelter with different, complex needs, but there is help in the hotel for them at all times – which is an incredible thing we are still operating.”
Like many organisations, Emmanuel House has also had to be quick to adapting the way they function.
Rose explained: “COVID-19 has meant we have had to stream line our services during lockdown…We had to stop serving food where people could sit together, however we have started this up again, as well as continuing to deliver to people’s rooms and serve take-away food from the drop-in centre on Goose Gate.
“The way our Outreach Team operated changed a lot by offering wellbeing services by appointment, which has really targeted support over lockdown to those who need it most, which is incredible.
“Our Outreach Team also changed by handing out mobile phones to those who come into the centre to keep in contact with us and to organise meetings with members of the team safely in parks or via Zoom.”
Since lockdown the shelter has provided 236 people accommodation and over 100 people have moved on from the hotel as a result of their support.
The charity, which has been serving over 3,700 meals a month, will be continuing to serve throughout the festive period, including Christmas dinner, along with the help of other local businesses, as they recognise the festive period emphasises losses for many that they support.
The Virgin Money page has so far raised £24,402.20 from generous donators, but Emmanuel House still needs your help.
You can donate to their page by visiting https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/charity-web/charity/displayCharityCampaignPage.action?charityCampaignUrl=emmanuel-house-winter-appeal or text 70450 to donate £5 (texts cost £5 plus one standard rate message), or text WINTER10 to donate £10, WINTER15 to donate £15 and so on.
For more information on how you can support their winter appeal, including alternative ways you can donate, visit https://www.emmanuelhouse.org.uk