Clients at AMH New Horizons Fermanagh are being supported during the lockdown with the help of a comprehensive support package, being delivered to their doors.
Staff at the Drumcoo service, had been considering ways of supporting clients during the annual Easter closure, but when the impact of the coronavirus pandemic shut the centre prematurely, they put their heads together to co-ordinate an extensive outreach during these unsettling times.
Service Manager Caroline Ferguson, explained: “Staff felt it was important to connect in a more personal way with clients before our usual Easter break, and we agreed that each one of them would receive a personalised activity pack, which would be hand-delivered to their door via our service buses. These deliveries will go out to more than 70 of the most vulnerable people across the county.”
In preparation, staff had been identifying the best possible materials for each client, targeted at their particular interests, as well as a useful information pack on dealing with Covid 19, including AMH MensSana guides on looking after their mental health, plus information on local support groups, organisations doing deliveries, foodbanks and similar resources.
Clients at New Horizons Fermanagh, who have been involved in a range of creative art courses, funded through the Public Health Agency’s Life Skills project, will also be provided with materials to continue working on their projects while the service remains closed. Participants are receiving wool, knitting needles, recipes, crochet hooks, novels, jigsaws, colouring-in materials, to support their progression through the course.
Clients at the Fermanagh service have also been working on an ambitious ceramic project – also funded by the Public Health Agency – focusing on the celebration of women and environmental issues. To continue this, clients will take delivery of clay, to encourage their sculpting skills, and when they return to New Horizons, their artwork will be fired in the Art Department’s kiln, and will all contribute to a larger, collective piece of art.
Caroline continued: “Clients are keen to keep up to speed on accredited training, and we want to provide an opportunity for them to continue with that, so they are receiving text books and training resources to support them at home.”
“We very much appreciate the fact that we can get them out to the clients, who need it most to help them through this very difficult period. This connects clients to the service during this time, gives them a reassuring sense of doing something very familiar, and provides a great distraction from what’s happening with Covid 19.”
Mrs Ferguson added that the outreach initiative also served to support clients living in rural Fermanagh who did not have easy access to broadband internet services – clients who don’t have easy access to mobile phones, email, text or zoom.
Alongside the PHA-funded courses, the projects clients undertake at New Horizons are offered through the “Working it Out” project, which is part-funded through the Northern Ireland European Social Fund Programme 2014-2020, the Department for the Economy and the five NI Health & Social Care Trusts.