Our first proper update on life at LASSN for quite some time. Apologies for the delay. You'll see we've been quite busy...
Although the Pandemic restrictions mean we can't meet up in person, we'd still love to meet with you, to share even more about what we've been up to over the last year. As usual, we hope it will be fun, entertaining, informative, and a chance for us to share some of the challenges and triumphs of the last 12 months. As well as meeting other our supporters, volunteers and well-wishers from across the city, we hope you will find out more about the last year at LASSN, and the progress we have made towards securing our aims, hear about our plans and priorities for 2020/2021 ask questions vote for Trustees to join our Board cast your eyes over our finances and hear about how we've secured and spent money appoint our Accountants for the coming year Sadly due to the logistics of delivering food to everyone at home, it will be self- catering this year. How to join us Please click on the Meeting link:http://bit.ly/lassnagm20 If you are prompted, the Meeting ID is 816 6912 7820 and the Meeting code is: 12345 If you have not used Zoom before, or a bit uncertain about how things will work, we will be having a practice run at 18:00 that evening, to make sure your camera and microphones are working ok. We'd love to see you, so if you can, please come and join us.
Since the Pandemic - and the importance of keeping socially distant - we've been trying to get as many of our resources as we can online. You may have seen the huge library of ESOL resources English at Home have produced for teachers and learners of English (we can never thank our volunteers Julie and Clive enough for this.) We've also been busy trying to support our (learners) and volunteer tutors to get online, embrace Zoom, and learn how to unmute and share screens. It's not been easy. A lot of trial and error, and a lot of frustration - but we're getting there, we think. Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we now have a small stack of laptops and smartphones we can loan or give away to folks who need them., and we can provide a modest amount of wireless broadband each month to people without. We've tried to capture some of our learning in this new resource - designed for new English at Home Volunteers - but we think - useful to anyone trying to teach English online right now. Have a look and see what you make of it. If you think it's any good, please use it, or forward it on to someone you know. As ever, we're proud to share what we have with anyone who might find it useful. David is responsible for this excellent piece of work btw (although he's far too modest to say so himself.)
As you will be aware, Leeds City council announced new restrictions on Friday 25th September, in an attempt to slow the further spread of Covid-19 They said “In order to help prevent the spread of coronavirus you must not: host people you do not live with in your home or garden, unless they’re in your support bubble meet people you do not live with in their home or garden, whether inside or outside of the affected areas unless they’re in your support bubble” LASSN's advice is Please do not meet up with the person you are matched with until the restrictions are lifted. Please maintain contact with the person you support by phone or by computer Please make sure they are getting the £10 a month towards their communications costs from LASSN If you have worries or concerns about the person you are matched with, or think there is a need to see them face to face, please discuss this with your Volunteers Manager or the Director ASAP. All our numbers and emails are on org.uk/contact We remain massively grateful for your support and your patience through this difficult and confusing time. It is hugely frustrating not being able to see folks we care about: but we owe it to them, and to you, and to everyone in Leeds to play our part in halting the spread of the virus. We will be in touch as soon as the restrictions are lifted about the possible ways of seeing people again in person. Thanks once again and please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions, queries or comments. Yours, Jon, Director 07845 298047 [email protected] (and Andrew, David, Emily, Jo, Rawand, Riley, and Tina too.)
We’re using Refugee Week as a way to explain how the work of LASSN has changed during Lockdown. Each day we’re offering examples of how we’ve adapted what we do, to make sure asylum seekers and refugees and other migrants at risk of harm remain supported, empowered, and integrated. What's changed? Like all the other LASSN projects that depend on face to face contact and support, Lockdown has been very disruptive. New referrals have been put on hold and we've suspended volunteer recruitment until we can do this safely. However, we've also been able to ensure that people who are still waiting to be matched with a CO befriender have not been left on their own. We've trained and deployed existing volunteers to become temporary ‘CO Telephone Befrienders’ to make sure everyone on CO Befriending waiting list has some form of contact during lockdown. As cafes and trips out are no longer possible, Volunteer Befrienders are now reliant on phone contact, Whatsapp, or Zoom to keep in touch. Everyone has been offered extra phone credit to help to make this happen and some matches are speaking more regularly now they are not meeting face-to-face! We've developed a weekly peer-support session for all LASSN volunteers called ‘Monday Meet Up’ to help share ideas and sharpen our online support skills. The online learning resources developed by English at Home have been particularly useful for Befrienders looking for virtual activities to do with their Befriendee A few participants decided to postpone Befriending for the time being – because they are too busy with childcare responsibilities, or – due to the emotional strain of Covid-19 - they just don’t feel able to focus on Befriending right now Our ‘Tea and Talk’ sessions have moved online, thanks to the energy and enthusiasm of our brilliant volunteers. Taking a large-ish social group running in a massive cafe in town on line is no small feat - and takes a lot of energy to rapidly overcome the barriers of confidence, technical knowledge, and equipment to get online, get into the meeting, feel welcomed and supported and for it also to be fun! We've done this by focusing on what's important to the folks who attend tea and talk - using a ‘Tea & Talk’ Whatsapp group to make communication easier and to choose topics for conversation. We've also made us of a lot of visual aids to facilitate conversations, i.e. ‘Show and Tell’: sharing an object that is special to you with the group, and explaining why it's special; sharing decorations made during Ramadan, photos and recipes. “Thank you…You don’t know how much I enjoy these lovely two hour talks. Time really flies.” I’m Laura . I’m Egyptian. I have been in the UK since 2014. I came first to North Wales. I stayed 2.5 years there . I felt so lonely . I didn’t know anybody there. Nobody asked about me . I felt very depressed. After this my husband came to Leeds and started a [...]
We’re using Refugee Week as a way to explain how the work of LASSN has changed during Lockdown. Each day we’re offering examples of how we’ve adapted what we do, to make sure asylum seekers and refugees and other migrants at risk of harm remain supported, empowered, and integrated. What's changed? Lockdown came at a strange time for Befriending - we'd only just nicely completed and publicised our Evaluation of Befriending and made our plans for the next year, when all this was thrown up in the air. As social distancing was introduced (and Lockdown soon afterwards), Befrienders found that they could not longer meet with the person they were matched with, and faced the new challenge of how supporting someone they could no longer meet. After months and months of building confidence to to get out of the house, to share a cuppa in a cafe, and to maybe to meet new people - asylum seekers and refugees were suddenly being told to stay inside, and to socially distance from others. Our fledgling social groups were hit particularly hard. In the months running up to lockdown we had placed particular emphasis on developing and expanding our Meet and Connect project. The aim of Meet and Connect is to assist isolated asylum seekers and refugees to meet up with other people in cafe spaces across Leeds in order to buld their confidence, practice English and to find out more about (and eventially to connect with) their local neighbourhoods. Lockdown meant we could no longer meet up like we used to, and the key message from the project set up to combat isolation and loneliness was "Stay Home, Save Lives and Protect the NHS." So, like English at Home, Befriending has stopped taking new referrals for the time being, and to concentrate on maintaining contact with the people we already know, to ensure they have sufficient food and resources to keep body and soul together accurate and accessible information on the Pandemic, and the key Public Health messages sufficient phone credit, and digital devices to keep in contact with their volunteers, and other sources of support volunteers who are sufficiently trained and supported to make the leap from face to face to online and phone support. Our Digital Inclusion scheme (supplying phone credit, wifi dongles and smartphones) is a direct response to the loneliness and isolation experienced by people on low incomes during Lockdown. And with the help and support of Leeds City Council's 100% Digital team, the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commisisoner and friends at Solidaritech we have managed to extend support far beyond LASSN's befriending and Meet and Connect participants. Nicolla, our volunteer has been receiving orders, packing up bundles of phones and SIMS and other tech before couriering them out to folk who need them. We've set up regular Zoom calls (Monday Meetups) to help volunteers to grapple with the new technology and to build their confidence in maintaining meaningful relationships at a distance. This has not [...]
We’re using Refugee Week as a way to explain how the work of LASSN has changed during Lockdown. Each day we’re offering examples of how we’ve adapted what we do, to make sure asylum seekers and refugees and other migrants at risk of harm remain supported, empowered, and integrated. What's changed? Since Lockdown, we've put Emergency/night-to-night Hosting on hold. Hosting has always been about what is do-able, and we will never put pressure on Hosts to host. Even so, we managed to get everyone we knew into longer-term placements before closing to new referrals. One of our Hosting Coordinators - who arrange matches on day to day basis - captured some of her thoughts during the last days before lockdown It’s become a cliche to say we are living in extraordinary times, but, we certainly are. In amongst the extraordinary anxiety and some extraordinary silliness, the extraordinariness of Grace hosting has come shining through. I had the pleasure of being Coordinator on a day when some of the restrictions on social contact and movement were beginning to kick in. It wasn’t easy, asking if volunteers were able to host that night. But every volunteer I contacted responded quickly and with care. Some were apologetic (absolutely no need to apologise) but because of their particular vulnerability, had to pull back from hosting. Others offered to host and, where they could, offered additional nights so that guests were shielded from having to move around. Everyone wanted to do what they could to help. This meant we started Lockdown with 10 people staying with Hosting households, and 4 people staying at the newly opened Grace House. We supplied guests with accessible information about COVID-19 and helped them to learn the new rules about social distancing, hand-washing, and their responsibilities to other members of their household. This was a big change. Our hosting guidance encouraged Guests to spend most of their days outside the house and to come back in the evening. Now, Hosts were asking Guests to stay at home all the time and to drastically reduce contact with the outside world. 3 months down the line, 4 of these arrangements are no longer in place - all 4 people have accommodation elsewhere (either with friends, relatives, or accommodated by the Council under the Everybody In arrangements) Lockdown meant that most hostels and night shelters were closed overnight, and the Council placed a total of 220 people into hotels, apartments, and other temporary accommodation. This included around 20 asylum seekers with No Recourse to Public Funds in a Hostel in Holbeck, 11 of whom had previously stayed in the WYDAN Nightshelter. Hosting During Lockdown A host writes My guest and I are both deemed vulnerable and are self isolating together. We sit in the garden in the mornings drinking posh coffee ie.percolated. We enjoyed the sun yesterday. I take out my papers and crosswords and he gets lots of calls from his friends who are lovely and all pass on good wishes to me. [...]
We're using Refugee Week as a way to explain how the work of LASSN has changed during Lockdown. Each day we're offering examples of how we've adapted what we do, to make sure asylum seekers and refugees and other migrants at risk of harm remain supported, empowered, and integrated. So what's changed? Three months ago, LASSN's English at Home project was the only way asylum seekers and refugees in Leeds could learn English at home. And of course, since lockdown, every ESOL class is held at home, which is kind of brilliant, but also comes with its own challenges. Sadly, we've had to put new referrals on hold for the time being, as well as suspending volunteer recruitment. We're doing this until we can work out the best way of assessing the level of English of people being referred, and checking out the skills of new volunteers - without being able to meet them face to face We're still managing to re-match learners with existing volunteers, and deploy some of the unmatched English at Home volunteers into new roles (as telephone befrienders), We've also been providing weekly skill-share drop-ins to help volunteers make the difficult transition from providing face-to-face learning and support to online learning. And, in addition to all of this, Riley has had to be furloughed (working from home isn't do-able whilst the schools are closed). Which basically means David has been holding the fort. Online learning resources, free for everyone We started lockdown by trying to support our English at Home matches to explore new ways of learning, and issuing new guidance to our volunteers on how to teach in socially distant ways. We also knew that without our help, many of the people we knew would not be able to afford to stay in touch with the person they were matched with - so a key part of our strategy was to issue phone credit to all clients and volunteers who needed it. Since then. we've also been able to supply mobile phones, and laptops, and wifi dongles using our Digital Inclusion scheme with the support of our friends at Solidaritech. We've told you before about the hundreds of free teaching resources we've created posted online (https://lassn.org.uk/teaching-resources/) thanks to the diligence and hard work of Clive and Julie our online librarians. And since lockdown, we've added a whole new range of resources for Tutors and Learners who are not used to learning/teaching online - and which are designed to build confidence and to involve the whole family. Our friend Daniela Prataviera created a half-hour webinar on Using online communication with low-level learners and we've either found or made accessible information about how to use Zoom David writes: Head to the Ideas and Activities section for numerous suggestions that can be used straight away with your learner. They can all be easily adapted to suit any level of learner, and can be used as a starter or whole lesson. Amy, one of our wonderful volunteers, has created Read Along [...]
We're using Refugee Week as a way to explain how the work of LASSN has changed during Lockdown. Each day we're offering examples of how we've adapted what we do, to make sure asylum seekers and refugees and other migrants at risk of harm remain supported, empowered and integrated. How is LASSN working towards Digital Inclusion?* We try to look at Digital from the perspective of folks living in extreme poverty, who might struggle to find or to use kit for all kinds of reasons. A decision to “Go Digital” doesn’t necessarily include more people or reach those in need. Unless it’s carefully thought through, it can frequently exclude the very people you intended to help. When thinking about how we deliver our projects in non-face-to-face ways - our starting point is: “what’s the best way of building on what people already know and feel comfortable with?” This might be more phone calls to start with. It might be a WhatsApp chat. It might mean upgrading someone’s phone so they can look at the internet. It might mean building the confidence and knowledge of their volunteer, so the volunteer can suggest trying new things. We also have to work hard at planning our online contact and not just hoping things will happen naturally. If limited access to data means you have to choose between half an hour of Peppa Pig on YouTube and half an hour of Zoom call, the Zoom call has to be at least as interesting as Youtube for you AND the kids. So our contacts now assume we will be supporting not just individuals but other members of their household too. We’ve developed materials to help with this. And of course, like everything LASSN does, we put this online for free for anyone to use. We are committed to sharing our learning and make this all free and publicly available. We’ve worked with Solidaritech to distribute the tech they refurbish. This relationship has come into its own during Covid-19. Longer-term, we know we need a cross-sector structural response to digital inclusion, that takes into account the structural inequalities at play. Operation Wifi is campaigning for wifi to be made open access using existing broadband infrastructure. What support are you providing? At the start of Lockdown, we told all the people we support and all the people who support them that we would provide them with phone credit. If social distancing measures require us to limit our support to phone and video calls, we need to make sure people are connected. We took the money we'd put aside to cover transport costs, or tea and a bun in a cafe somewhere, and provided phone-top ups instead. This has not been easy - each Network provider has their own individual systems - but we have gradually figured out the best of way of doing this. Internally, we are supporting volunteers and staff through training and peer group calls to grow confidence, share challenges and solutions to aid remote [...]