Jami’s services are a lifeline to anyone with a mental health problem in the Jewish community. The impact of the coronavirus crisis, lockdown, isolation and social distancing has led to a parallel increase in the demand for Jami’s support and services.
In these unprecedented times, stress is a normal reaction for anybody with good mental health but for people already living with mental illness, the additional anxiety and isolation can become life threatening. The impact on Jami’s existing service users cannot be underestimated.
With the closure of Jami’s Head Room Café and community hubs and the restrictions placed on social interactions, the only regular social contact for some people using our services has now disappeared. Our priority is to continue providing a service to these people and their families.
The closure of our hubs has had a profound effect on those who use these facilities for group meetings, occupational therapy sessions, peer support and social engagement. For some people who struggle with self-care, it may be the only place they are able to get a decent meal each week. In response to the crisis our Hub teams and Community Team have pooled their resources to launch the Community Hub Online, a weekly programme including fitness, yoga, art, singing, creative writing, interactive quizzes and religious activities. In April so far, there have been over 350 attendances in these online sessions.
We have provided IT equipment to service users, volunteers and staff so they can participate or run online services and keep in touch with loved ones, whilst redeploying Jami staff to provide technical support. However, not everyone wants or is able to attend the new online sessions and some people require additional one to one support. Our telephone support has dramatically increased and in April over 400 hours of telephone support was provided to 300 people.
Utilising our Head Room Café resources alongside the hub facilities, we have been able to prepare meals which are delivered by Jami staff and volunteers to people who are unable to do this themselves. We are using this opportunity to have a doorstep chat and ensure essential human contact is maintained with those most vulnerable, delivering over 360 meals so far.
Within days of the lockdown, we opened the virtual doors of Head Room Café Online, providing a free monthly programme for people using our services and anyone else struggling at the moment. The programme is evolving but currently the sessions running are: Peer Support Group (Mondays and Fridays); Kind Co-working (Tuesdays and Thursdays); Creativity 4All (Wednesdays) and Community Conversations (Thursdays). The programme can be found here.
As we emerge from the initial crisis into a more regular ‘new normal’, we are resuming our recovery focused 1:1 work with initial assessments and ongoing monitoring on Zoom; redeploying Jami staff to the Community Team to build support capacity; and providing fitness and practice skills sessions online. In order to support clients with their goals and to be able to extend capacity to the waiting list of people wanting to use our services, we are developing recovery focused support groups with sessions on e.g. anxiety management, building routine and a depression support group.
People with mental health problems do not exist in a vacuum. There is often a ‘ripple effect’ on families creating tension and uncertainty – which places a huge strain on those taking on the role of day-to-day carer. This has been magnified by the current crisis and our Carers’ Support Team have transitioned their services to provide ongoing support to all carers by video or phone; manage new referrals; facilitate peer carer groups; increase telephone support to carers affected by coronavirus and is in the process of developing a new Carers’ group to replace the regular Head Room Café drop-in session.
Jami’s Vocational Rehabilitation Team has moved online, continuing support to gain skills training; formal educational qualifications; begin volunteering opportunities and mentoring / job coaching.
Our Education Team have moved online running both their anticipated programme of courses for Jami’s Hub service users and their evening education sessions, delivering mental health webinars to the wider Jewish voluntary sector as well as new programmes focussing on the impact of the pandemic on mental health in the community. In April we launched an online mental health service for university students, Kooth Student.
With uncertainty around what the future holds in relation to coronavirus distancing measures and how and when we will return to ‘normal’ life, we are continually reviewing and adapting our services to ensure we best support people currently using Jami services, as well as those who may need our services in the coming months.
If you know of someone who needs our help at this time, please contact us or call 020 8458 2223.
As well as supporting those currently using our services, we have seen a rapid increase in demand for our support. We are extremely grateful to the community on whom we rely to fund our essential, life-saving work – being able to provide critical mental health services to the community has never been more important.
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30th April 2020