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Guidance for LASSN Volunteers during Tier 5 aka Lockdown 3, from 6th January 2021

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2021-01-06T17:38:20+00:006th January, 2021|Categories: Befriending, Connecting Opportunities, English at Home, Grace Hosting, Headline posts, Volunteering|

Although we’re all still getting used to what Tier 5 means – it’s clear that we’ll be in it for at least a couple of months, so it feels right to communicate our thinking on things (so far) with a smile and a sigh and to hopefully provide some useful resources to help you in your volunteering. We’re really grateful to everyone who continues to give their time and support to the asylum seekers, refugees and other migrants we know. Your kindness, compassion and willingness to bend and flex are massively appreciated. Thank you on behalf of everyone that LASSN supports, the staff team, Trustees and everyone else who donates their time, money and goodwill. Jon Beech, Director What are the new Tier 5 Rules?  Here are the Government’s “Stay at Home” rules What does this mean for volunteering at LASSN? The Government summarise their current restrictions as message as “Stay Home”. We want our advice to be equally clear and consistent. So we are advising everyone - volunteers and the people they support - to be extremely cautious and to act as if they have the virus, and to avoid meeting up for the duration of the Tier 5 restrictions. The Government rules say I can leave the house for volunteering – so why can’t I meet up? Yes, it’s possible to argue this – but the situation is complicated: different volunteers and clients have different clinical vulnerabilities. (People from migrant backgrounds remain over-represented in the number of people contracting and dying of COVID). The rules for meeting up – even socially distanced and outside – are also not simple. For example, you can walk together, but you can’t sit down on a bench together. The person you wish to meet may not be able to bring children/dependents with them. There are also risks associated with travelling to and from an outdoors meeting place. If you believe someone really needs contact in person, please discuss this with your Volunteers Manager and we will work out how they can get the support they need. This is so upsetting and frustrating. Yes. It is. We are trying to do everything we can to help to support people as best we can, but the new strain of COVID makes it even more difficult than it was in March 2020. We also have a duty of care towards our volunteers and staff – so we cannot and will not ask you to put you (or the people you live with) at extra risk. So – what can we do? Staying in touch by phone is really really important. Texts and messaging are really good ways of staying in touch, and are sometimes easier than awkward conversations. Over Christmas we doubled the amount of support with phone costs from £10 per month to £20 per month. (there are PAYGO SIMs with unlimited calls/data/texts for £20 per month). We will continue to provide all LASSN volunteers and clients with up to £20 a month towards [...]

Guidance for LASSN volunteers, at the end of Lockdown 2.0: 30th November 2020

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2021-01-06T17:16:13+00:0030th November, 2020|Categories: Headline posts, Volunteering|

When Leeds exits Lockdown 2.0 later this week, we will enter Tier Three or Very High Alert. Leeds City Council have published a detailed description of the restrictions in place, based on the National Guidance. They have also circulated a summary note here  for third sector organisations. In most respects, the local restrictions will go back to the way things were at the end of September 2020 - LASSN’s guidance to volunteers remains unchanged to the guidance we issued then. 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 money available from LASSN to help with communications costs 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 lassn.org.uk/contact Some Leeds organisations like PAFRAS, Meeting Point and RETAS are partially open for face to face contact. We support them in opening to deliver their critical services. We remain acutely aware of the risks our volunteers and clients may pose to one another, as well as the difficulty and sadness brought about by sustained isolation and loneliness.  As a staff team we are also very frustrated by the inability to see or meet people. We are trying to strike a difficult balance, which does not amplify the risks faced by anyone connected with LASSN. LASSN will be providing all clients (and volunteers) with double phone credit for December 2020 (£20 instead of £10) to reflect the need to stay in touch with others over this difficult period. This is sufficient for unlimited PAYGO phonecalls, texts and data. I am sorry that the end of lockdown will not result in a change to our guidance, or allow for greater opportunities to meet face to face. I know a lot of you will feel frustrated and let down by this. But I feel sure that when Leeds enters Tier two (and eventually Tier one and No Tier whatsoever) that we be in a position to start facilitating face to face meetings once again – and will issue new guidance as quickly as we can. Thanks once again for your continued support and please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions, queries or comments. We hope you and those close to you remain safe and well Yours, Jon, Director 07845 298047 [email protected] (and Anna, Andrew, David, Emily, Hala, Jo, Rawand, and Tina too.)  

A new Guide to Befriending during the Pandemic

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2021-01-06T17:16:49+00:0030th November, 2020|Categories: Befriending, Headline posts|

Tina Brocklebank, Volunteers Manager writes: Since the beginning of lockdown in March 2020, LASSN has been responding to the changing and emerging needs of Befrienders and Befriendees. This booklet is a way of capturing the key things we have learned during this time and to pass on ideas and suggestions. LASSN would be nothing without YOU and the time and care you give. As we prepare for a COVID winter we are really aware of the extra challenges this will present for us all; thank you so much for all you do and we hope this resource will help you in your Befriending role.

LASSN’s Annual General Meeting and Celebration: Wednesday 11th November 2020, 19:00 – 20:00

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2020-10-16T12:32:16+01:0016th October, 2020|Categories: Headline posts|

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.

A new Guide to teaching English at Home

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2020-10-14T21:46:02+01:0014th October, 2020|Categories: English at Home, Headline posts, Resouces, Volunteering|

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.)

Revised guidance for LASSN volunteers, following the additonal social contact restrictions 25th September 2020

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2020-09-30T14:57:26+01:0030th September, 2020|Categories: Headline posts, Volunteering|

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.)

Refugee Week 2020 Day 5: Connecting Opportunities

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2020-06-19T08:21:22+01:0019th June, 2020|Categories: Connecting Opportunities, Headline posts|

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 [...]

Refugee Week 2020 Day 4: Befriending

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2020-06-19T07:58:19+01:0018th June, 2020|Categories: Befriending, Headline posts|

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 [...]

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