School of Health Sciences alumna Leigh Andrews (Speech and Language Therapy, 2019) works with people who are living on the streets or hostels and have hit hard times in their lives. As the pandemic started those were living on the streets were the most exposed and vulnerable to the effects of the pandemic. “Some local councils have sourced hotel accommodation for people who are homeless so that they can safely isolate at this time. Many people welcomed the opportunity to be sheltered in a hotel, but it is not an easy time. All homelessness organisations have had to rethink how they work and there has been interruptions or closure of some services that are essential to people previously living on the street.” As the pandemic has caused disruptions in all sectors homeless organisations have opted to send the food packages, they would normally prepare, straight to the hotels.
Leigh got involved with the efforts of supporting the vulnerable through her company, “Westminster City Council recognised that some people hosted in hotels may have communication needs. They asked Change Communication to help guests understand the purpose of the hotel stay, the steps they could take to keep safe, and identify positive ways of spending the time while isolating.” She spent time getting to know people in the hotels, working with staff to support communication about important matters such as GP calls, and creating things like quizzes and puzzles that didn’t rely on literacy skills. “A City, University of London, student who had volunteered for our organisation joined us in paid capacity to support our work which was a great experience for us both!”
Having spent a great deal of time working in the hotels accommodating vulnerable people, Leigh found that their support helped some people to access and accept support from other health and care services while in the hotel. She was also able to talk about what speech and language therapy is with staff and raise awareness of how they could all help people with communicating needs.
As there is a growing need for effective communication support from homelessness and health organisations during the pandemic, Leigh has a lot of interest in the work she does which, together with getting to grips with Microsoft Teams and Zoom, has kept her busy helping the most vulnerable during the global pandemic.
On behalf of all of us in the City Community – thank you Leigh for all your work in alleviating the terrible effects caused by the pandemic isolation.