We are open to those who need our help
Liverpool Centre Coordinator Katya Clifford describes how we have been keeping our work going in the challenging environment of 2020, and through the lockdown in Liverpool.
Q – What is the situation in the Liverpool centre right now? Are you able to see men in the centre? What additional measures are in place to make the centre safe?
Katya – We are continuing to accept referrals and our therapists are delivering interventions face to face in the centre. After conducting risk assessments, we have introduced additional measures to reduce the risk of transmission of the virus.
Our priority is to deliver therapy to the men who access the centre, so only men who are using our service and essential staff are in the building during the day. Appointment times have been staggered to further minimise contact. We are able to maintain a social distance of at least 2 metres during their sessions because we are fortunate enough to have lovely large rooms.
Windows can be opened to improve ventilation and face coverings are worn by our visitors until seated in the therapy room. Hand sanitiser is used by everyone who arrives at the building and face coverings are worn until men are seated for therapy. We have enhanced our cleaning schedules and we can offer temperature screening as well. We have signage around the building to remind us all to keep apart at least 2 metres and to wash our hands frequently with soap and warm water.
Q – Is the online service still available for men who prefer to be seen this way?
Katya – The online service is available to those men who need to use it. If a man is ever told to shield or cannot access the centre, we are operationally ready to deliver remote therapy. During the first few months of the restrictions when we had to operate entirely remotely, our move to delivering therapy via video consultation worked well and we were able to continue to offer our service without disruption.
Nevertheless, we know that our intervention works best when delivered face to face and wherever possible we see men at the centre now. Our unique therapy involves the use of the ‘Lay Your Cards on The Table’ technique and whilst our therapists have devised some wonderfully creative ways to continue to use the therapy cards remotely, it does feel better when done face to face. One of our senior practitioners, Gill, really enhanced the move to remote therapy by coming up with ways to use the cards electronically, and she has further adapted her approach so that she can still use physical cards safely whilst we need to use Covid secure working practices.
Q – How have the organisation been supporting therapists over this time?
Katya – We hold regular team meetings and when during full lockdown we held regular Friday evening zoom catch ups. My colleagues are by nature a sociable bunch, so I welcomed the chance to share some downtime with them and hear how they were doing. Our Liverpool receptionist Joely was fantastic and assembled some well-being resources as soon as we moved to remote working. Regular bulletins are sent to staff with updates and reminders to reach out for additional support. We also carried out surveys to ask how staff felt with the measures that we put in place and which asked for suggestions on how we might improve what we are doing.
Q – Have supporters still be doing events and other fundraising?
Katya – They sure have! As any fundraiser who I have contact with will know, I love getting to know them. I feel so proud and so invested in what we do here at James’ Place that when someone contacts me to say that they would like to raise funds on our behalf, I just feel so delighted.
This year, despite the potential barriers that the restrictions have generated, we have had some truly wonderful fundraising events. Last November I was contacted by Caspar who said that he and his friends had decided to swim the Channel in the Spring of 2020 to raise funds for us. Obviously everything shifted so dramatically in the world this spring but Caspar kept in touch with me and said that he and his friends (who had come up with this idea over a pint one night in the pub) were still planning on training and completing their event. Suddenly Caspar wrote to say that it was time and amid a flurry of emails in early August I learnt that he was planning to swim the Channel with Ed, Rory and Ollie as soon as the tides allowed. I was absolutely thrilled to hear that the four completed their swim on 7thAugust. They went on to raise more than £15,000 for James’ Place, which is just brilliant. I hope to meet them one day soon when circumstance permits, because I feel as if they are a part of our James’ Place team now.
I feel this way about all of our fundraisers. Once someone has chosen us as their beneficiary, we are fortunate to count them as a supporter and whether someone raises £50 or £5,000, I am just as thrilled to get to know them a little during their fundraising and hopefully beyond. The income that our fundraisers generate makes what we do possible and I feel very grateful to them.