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Celebrating Our Everyday Heroes – Championing All At The Simon Community During COVID-19

As we grow irritable and fed-up at home, let us remember those who are doing all they can for others during this tricky time. 

As the world goes into total lockdown, we wanted to shine a light on the people keeping everything ticking over. 

Their kindness, courage and care are not going unnoticed – especially in times of increasing panic – so join us in celebrating some of Ireland's true heroes. 

Andrea Koenigstorfer, Counselling Coordinator, Dublin Simon Community

Andrea is the Counselling Coordinator of Dublin Simon Community’s Sure Steps Counselling service. The service available to all clients across Dublin Simon Community and provides 2,400 hours of free, one-to-one counselling each year.

Clients of the Simon Sure Steps Counselling Service are either homeless or at risk of homelessness and have experienced certain trauma. Common issues among the clients of the Simon Sure Steps service are addiction, depression, bereavement, self-harm, suicidal ideation or other psychiatric conditions.

The service is incredibly important, and its importance has only amplified since the outbreak of COVID-19, as clients become more confined and their feelings of isolation inevitably increase.

Many of Dublin Simon Community’s clients are immunocompromised and have difficulty dealing with their emotions, which is intensifying the impact of this extra stressor. Uncertainty about when this will end along with fears of contracting the virus also add to clients’ anxiety.

It is absolutely imperative that this service continues to operate throughout the COVID-19 Crisis.

In the interest of protecting clients from risk as much as possible, Andrea and the counselling team are in the process of rolling out a remote counselling service. Scheduled counselling appointments will take place over the phone in liaison with emergency and housing services and the team have also set up a hotline for people to call if they need support out of hours.

They have begun to create and send out relaxation and stress management materials to clients to help them through this difficult time.

Andrea and her team of staff and volunteers are everyday heroes because they are working around the clock to provide the same level of care and support to our clients from a social distance, while undoubtedly grappling with their own fears and concerns too.

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Like everyone, we don't know what the next few weeks and months will bring and we want to make sure we are prepared. At Dublin Simon Community, we provide approximately 1,000 meals a day to vulnerable people staying in our emergency accommodation, supported housing, treatment and outreach services. If you or your business has some surplus tinned food, packaged food with a shelf life of four weeks, packet soups, sauces, chocolate, biscuits, condiments, frozen meat & fish or frozen pizzas and chips, please contact [email protected] We cannot take: Bread, milk, eggs, yogurt, fruit and veg, baked goods, sandwiches, butter, anything opened or not sealed in a packet. Thank you and stay safe everyone #socialdistancing #covid19 #coronavirusireland #coronavirus #foodforsimon #supportsimon

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Ciarán King, Dublin Outreach Service Manager, Dublin Simon Community

Ciarán is the manager of the Dublin Outreach service which Dublin Simon Community runs in partnership with the Dublin Region Homeless Executive. Ciarán and his team are out on the streets from morning 'til night supporting people who are rough sleeping and trying to find suitable emergency accommodation for them.

Ciarán and his team are heroes because, at a time when many people are working from home and staying at home, they are out on the streets as normal, supporting people who are rough sleeping and putting the clients’ needs before their own.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, Ciarán and his team have had to adapt the way they work as they closely follow the HSE recommendations and respond to the crisis in real-time.

What’s most important at this time is keeping clients updated with the latest developments and information in terms of the virus and its impact on homeless services, providing them with PP equipment to help keep them safe and trying to find suitable accommodation for them so that they may be safe and supported during this difficult time.

Orla Condren, Nurse Manager, Dublin Simon Community

Orla is a Nurse Manager at the Dublin Simon Community treatment facility in Usher’s Island. At present, she is working in the newly expanded “Step-Up Step-Down” unit, run in partnership with Safetynet, which has provided an additional twenty medical “step down” beds for homeless people who are currently in hospital and now need less acute medical attention.

The recent expansion of the unit will mean that 36 beds will now be available in acute hospitals for those in need due to COVID-19.

The effects of homelessness and rough sleeping, in particular, can lead to many physical and mental health issues, with some individuals requiring medical attention on a regular basis. Dublin Simon’s “Step-Up Step-Down” unit is run in partnership with Safetynet and is fully staffed by nurses who are fully equipped to deal with these specific cases and provide patients with the wraparound supports they need while also facilitating the release of acute hospital beds.

Orla and her team are heroes because firstly because they are working extra hard taking on an additional caseload of vulnerable homeless patients in order to keep them away from infection in the hospitals and secondly because they are trying to take some of the pressure off the brave hospital staff fighting Covid19 by taking on some of their patients.

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Dublin Simon Heroes are on the frontline, working with the most vulnerable in society. During this national crisis, we need your help! Text DUBSIMON to 50300 to donate €4 #SupportSimon #crisiscover #communitysupport #NotAllHeroesWearCapes "All staff are trying to pull together to create a safe and healthy environment for the residents whilst also worrying about their own health and that of their families. Regardless of the staffs worries outside of work, they seem to park it at the door and it’s all hands on deck. On the bright side, everyone is pulling together and has the best interest of the residents at the forefront of their minds and work. Some residents have even gone so far as to make their own “wash your hands” posters which show the work everyone is doing is sinking in." - Rebecca, Service Manager at one of our Supported Housing Services

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Anne Jordan, Riversdale House Service Manager, Dublin Simon Community

Anne is the service manager of Riversdale House, which provides 24/7 support and a permanent home to twenty-three residents between the ages of 61 and 84 who have experienced long-term homelessness.

All residents are vulnerable to the virus as each has quite severe and debilitating physical health issues. A number have diabetes, COPD, heart conditions, vascular dementia and are immunosuppressed.

At least five of them use the aids of walkers and have dedicated HCAs giving them extra support with self-care and showering.

Anne is an everyday hero because, in addition to working as normal and ensuring the strictest protocols to protect the residents of Riversdale, she is also doing her utmost to allay the fears and anxieties of the residents, who are very afraid of contracting the virus due to their age and ill-health.

She has been holding regular house meetings with residents to discuss how they are feeling and has phoned the HSE helpline for two residents so far to help put their minds at rest, while also placing stickers and signs around the service common areas to act as guides for social distancing.

As we grow irritable and fed-up at home, let us remember those who are doing all they can for others during this tricky time. 

To visit the Dublin Simon website, or to donate to the work these tireless campaigners continue to do, click here. Otherwise, text DUBSIMON to 50300 to donate €4.

Main image by @modeblogg

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