COVID-19 Position and Recovery Strategy

Circles South East Position Statement

 

The Trustees and Senior Management Team reviewed the Recovery Roadmap on the 2nd December 2020.  We reviewed the work of the Service Delivery Working group, the consultation undertaken with volunteers, service users and staff and the national guidance for the voluntary sector from Public Health England.

The Service Delivery Working Group has been exploring ways for Circles South East to support the reintroduction of formal face to face Circle meetings. Government guidance is clear that we are able to provide this ongoing service to our Service Users within all tiers (the guidance states that “work or providing voluntary or charitable services, including in other people’s homes” is exempt from the gathering limits in all tiers).

This does not mean that any volunteer or Service User will be forced to return to face to face/formal support, but that this is something we will aim to explore with all cases to see what might be possible based on individual circumstances. It is our aim to continue to provide good quality, meaningful support, and deliver services in line with our contracts.

Social meetings play an important role in our work, however the tier system creates some potential barriers to providing some levels of support in public places and in the ways we have previously been working. In Tier 3 areas hospitality venues will be closed, and we envisage there may be difficulties with groups who are clearly not from the same household meeting in public indoor venues (despite such meetings being for volunteering/support purposes – we want to avoid volunteers/CMs being challenged by hospitality staff for meeting as a group).

The Service Delivery Working Group has developed some processes to support the move to formal face to face meetings within private venues which will be accessible to all staff.

The current CSE guidance for staff is therefore that formal meetings in private venues should be considered for all cases in the first instance in Tiers 1-3.  This can be combined with social meetings at indoor public venues (e.g. cafes) or outdoor public locations (e.g. parks) in line with the Tier as well as remote support (e.g. phone calls, video calls).

All staff, volunteers and service users must continue to follow social distancing rules, wear face masks and follow all the control measures that are in place and outlined within Circles SE guidance documents alongside any specifically attached to use of a private venue.

Circles SE position continues to remain under review and we will monitor the implementation of V6 of the Roadmap over the next two months. 

 

Rebekah Saunders

Chief Executive

Circles South East

Covid-19 Recovery Strategy and Roadmap 

 

V6.0 updated 7th December 2020 

PLEASE NOTE THE BELOW INFORMATION APPLIES FOR TIERS 1-3. TIER 4 IS A REMOTE CONTACT ONLY ZONE. 

 

Core Messages

 

  • We will ensure full transparency with the control measures that are introduced and ensure that these are monitored and reviewed on a regular basis. 
  • It is possible that the virus and restricted arrangements are going to be around for a long time. Therefore we need to explore all options open to us to move our current contingency arrangements forward and be able to operate under current and future restrictions.  We will ensure that all decisions taken are defensible following rigorous risk assessments.
  • We recognise the government guidance that is in place, however, as guidance moves towards the lifting of restrictions, the charity will make its own assessment of risk (within the guidelines) and will decide when it is appropriate to ask staff, volunteers and Service Users to make changes to current arrangements. We will not be forced into any delivery situation that we believe places anyone involved in the charity at increased risk.
  • We share CUK’s position that Circle meetings must return to face to face contact as this is the core Circle methodology. However, we do believe following learning and development throughout lockdown that aspects of delivery can now be done differently to the benefit of all involved in the service.
  • We will take learning forward into our practice and ensure that we make changes where appropriate adopting a new ‘blended’ approach to service delivery. To follow through in this area two working groups have been set up – one focusing on Training (covering areas such as initial volunteer training, supplementary volunteer training and professional training packages) and one focusing on Service Delivery (covering areas such as Circle meetings). 

Increasing contact with service users – Circles (adult and youth).

 

 December 2020 –This update is intended to provide guidance about the steps that Circles South East will be taking after the National Lockdown is lifted on 2nd December. Our aim is to actively take steps towards Stage 3 contact where possible.

 *** As Circles South East is a voluntary sector organisation providing support for those in need, ongoing face to face contact is permitted within all Government Tiers

 Any changes to processes will be communicated to volunteers, Service Users, members of staff, trustees and contract managers at the earliest opportunity.

Stage 3 – Formal Circle Meetings (in addition to Social and Remote contact)

The Service Delivery Working Group has been exploring ways for Circles South East to support the reintroduction of formal face to face Circle meetings. Government guidance is clear that we are able to provide this ongoing service to our Service Users within all tiers (the guidance states that “work or providing voluntary or charitable services, including in other people’s homes” is exempt from the gathering limits in all tiers).

This does not mean that any volunteer or Service User will be forced to return to face to face/formal support, but that this is something we will aim to explore with all cases to see what might be possible based on individual circumstances. It is our aim to continue to provide good quality, meaningful support, and deliver services in line with our contracts. Social meetings play an important role in our work, however the tier system creates some potential barriers to providing some levels of support in public places and in the ways we have previously been working. In Tier 3 areas hospitality venues will be closed, and we envisage there may be difficulties with groups who are clearly not from the same household meeting in public indoor venues despite such meetings being for volunteering/support purposes. 

The Service Delivery Working Group has developed some processes to support the move to formal face to face meetings within private venues which will be accessible to all staff.

The current CSE guidance for staff is therefore that formal meetings in private venues should be considered for all cases in the first instance in all Tiers.

This can be combined with social meetings at indoor public venues (e.g. cafes) or outdoor public locations (e.g. parks) in line with the Tier (see below summary) as well as remote support (e.g. phone calls, video calls).

A summary of the Government Tier Guidance is as follows:

Within ‘Medium Alert Level’ areas (Tier 1): groups of up to 6 can socialise in indoor or outdoor public venues.

Within ‘High Alert Level’ areas (Tier 2): groups of up to 6 can socialise in outdoor public venues, but mixed households cannot socialise indoors.

Within ‘Very High Alert Level’ areas (Tier 3): groups of up to 6 can socialise in outdoor public venues, but mixed households cannot socialise indoors.

 

There may be complexities associated with individual cases, related to Core Member or volunteer needs, or access to appropriate private venues, and these will be considered on an individual basis.

If considering a 1-1 meeting between a volunteer and Service User, this should be risk assessed as usual using the ‘Lone Working Risk Assessment’ document and this should be stored in the Circle file.

For any planned meetings during Stage 3, discussions should take place with all parties to ensure they are happy with the arrangements. No volunteer or Service User should feel pressured into meeting if they have concerns about this (e.g. relating to their health) but the aim is for all Service Users to be engaging in some form of  face to face meetings during Stage 3 if at all possible. Coordinators, Service Users and volunteers may agree between themselves the number of people they are happy to meet for Circle meetings in order to ensure all parties are comfortable.

If volunteers are unable or unwilling to meet with Service Users during Stage 3, consideration will be given to other ways to facilitate the ongoing support of the Service User. 

Volunteers and Service Users who will be meeting face to face will be issued with a Covid-19 declaration form, explaining that they are responsible for alerting the Coordinator if they are experiencing Covid-19 symptoms, have tested positive or have been in close contact with someone who has suspected/confirmed Covid-19.

Precautions when meeting during Stage 3

  • Coordinator completed Covid-19 Venue Risk Assessment for the venue being considered for formal meetings

  • Coordinator recording who is attending and contact details so that such information can be used for Test and Trace purposes as necessary

  • Coordinator sharing a basic risk management plan with those due to be in attendance, which will include precautions such as:

  • Volunteers and the CM (Core Member) to maintain social distancing from one another at all times during the meeting (2m or 1m with face coverings being worn)

  • All Circle members to sanitise their hands before/on arrival and after the meeting

  • If using public transport, Circle members should use face coverings as per the government guidance

  • The meeting should take place in the location approved by the Coordinator in advance of the meeting

  • If, upon attendance, the location of the meeting is deemed unsuitable (e.g  if in a café there is no seating area available at the time of the meeting, or the space appears crowded) the Circle can move to another similar public space and use the same precautions detailed here and in line with government/internal CSE guidance.

  • If any Circle member due to attend the meeting is experiencing (even mild) Covid-19 symptoms, or has been in close contact with someone who has, they should not attend the meeting

  • In the event that the CM or volunteers become unwell after a meeting or test positive for Covid-19, they should notify the Circle Coordinator immediately. The Circle Coordinator will then share this information with others in attendance in line with government test and trace advice

  • If a public venue is taking contact details for customers, the volunteers should try as much as possible to share these with the venue without the CM hearing/seeing (e.g away from the group or via an app). This may be difficult so if there are any issues volunteers should pass this on to the Circle Coordinator so that alternative options can be considered

  • In line with government guidance, face coverings should be worn when moving around venues such as cafes

  • Volunteers, Service Users and staff may choose to wear face coverings throughout the duration of their meeting if they so wish

  • Volunteers, staff and Service Users should comply with the Covid-19 regulations of any formal meeting venue and any issues regarding these should be raised with the Coordinator immediately

There will be continued provision of existing Interim Mentoring Support Services (IMSS) for those who are currently engaging with this, however no new referrals will be provided with this owing to the pressures on Coordinator caseloads. We will return to the use of waiting lists for Service Users who are waiting to start a Circle.

 

Stage 3 – Training overview

There is a rota in place for Initial Circle Volunteer Training to be delivered on an approx. monthly basis via Zoom – this is the method that will continue to be used within Stage 3.

CSE is committed to reflecting on and learning from the lockdown period and in particular how we this can assist with training delivery.

Ongoing plans for volunteer training will be driven by the Training Working Group.

The Training Working Group will explore options, issues to consider and ways to overcome barriers as we consider how to best train volunteers and external staff during this period and moving forward. It is likely that various options of face-to-face or ‘blended’ training approaches will be piloted and evaluated over the Stage 3 period.

At present, we will continue with online training with a view to considering options for face to face training where this is deemed necessary.

 

Stage 3 – Other meetings overview

For all other meetings required, these should be engaged with remotely via telephone or video conference. This includes things such as MAPPA meetings, professionals meetings, review meetings and volunteer supervision.

There may be cases where face to face contact may be appropriate or necessary, and you should discuss this will be considered on a case by case basis. 

Post-training meetings for new volunteers will be conducted either remotely via videocall or in person in a public venue (e.g. café) at the discretion of the Coordinator (in line with government exemptions for work/volunteering). If meeting face to face then social distancing measures must be followed.

End of Circle meetings should take place in person wherever possible in line with the general Stage 3 contact guidance above. These can be conducted:

  • As a social meeting in a public indoor venue (e.g. a café) with 6 or fewer people within ‘medium alert level’/Tier 1 areas

  • As a social outdoor meeting in ‘medium alert level’/Tier 1, ‘high alert level/Tier 2’ or ‘very high alert level’/Tier 3 areas (in line with government exemptions for voluntary support services)

  • As a formal meeting in a private venue in ‘medium alert level’/Tier 1, ‘high alert level/Tier 2’ or ‘very high alert level’/Tier 3 areas (in line with government exemptions for voluntary support services)

 

At ‘crisis points’ or times where Coordinator intervention is needed to ensure the effective running of the Circle, a 3-way meeting may be arranged with the Service User and a professional. This should take place at the professional’s office and should follow the measures in place for Service User assessments.

Volunteer supervision meetings can continue to take place remotely or in person within a private venue within all Tiers.

Review meetings can continue to take place remotely or in person within a private venue within all Tiers.

 

Non-Circles delivery within CSE

Individual project delivery during Stage 3 will managed on an individual basis, however the essence of delivery at both stages 2 and 3 should translate to the principles detailed above. 

 

 

 Stage 2 Quick reference table – Current approach –DECEMBER 2020