How's it going at ASSIST?

It’s been a couple of months since we’ve updated everyone on work at ASSIST so we thought it was about time. We are waiting for significant changes, but there haven’t really been any yet!

We continue to provide monthly cash payments to clients. We were hoping to change this to contactless prepayment cards so clients are once again able to shop everywhere. Sadly, we have not managed to find a company that is able to fulfill our requirement yet, but we are still hoping to roll it out in the next couple of months. For now clients are receiving a slightly increased payment each month and the old system is working fine.

We continue to contact every client by phone on a weekly basis to check they have everything they need. We also continue to work with Open Kitchen Social on weekly hot food deliveries. One of the key areas of concern for clients has been the slowing down of their legal cases. Sadly, many solicitors have been furloughed or are difficult to get hold of.

Eight of our clients are still being housed by the council as part of the governments pandemic response.

Our night shelter is closed and a few people have left our houses after being awarded government support but turnover has been limited. Our hosting network is currently not able to function.

However, there are a number of concerns which we know are going to come to the forefront in the next couple of months. Firstly, Council accommodation may come to an end - we are hopeful there will be dialogue with the Council about how this is done. Secondly, the Home Office will re-establish evictions. At the moment we believe this will start with people that have had a positive decision over the last couple of months and therefore won’t need ASSIST support, but after this there may be people forced into destitution that we have to be there for. The question is how many people this will be and, without the night shelter, how we will manage. In preparation, we have secured a small amount of money through grants to ensure we have a contingency for bridging the gap in provision which will inevitably exist before we are able to reopen our night shelter. But, as you can imagine, this is bringing about a fair amount of anxiety for the sector. We are currently working with local and national networks to raise our concerns.

Looking longer term
This time has also given us an opportunity to reflect: ASSIST is currently working on a new strategy, there is a review of advocacy services underway, we have submitted a funding application to improve the green credentials of our houses and we are reviewing and discussing the possible changes we could make to the night shelter to give greater dignity to our clients.

Of course, everything we are able to do is because of supporters like you. We went into the pandemic supporting people’s basic rights and we will continue to do so however we can.

Thank you for everything you do.