On March 17th 2020 BIRCH Trustees made the decision to scale down the contact we have with our beneficiaries because of  the Covid-19 Coronavirus outbreak and the resultant Public Health advice.

Hosting – We are not able to take any new referrals at this time. However, we are directing enquiries to agencies who are now obliged to find accommodation for any one with NRPF (no recourse to public funds). Our existing  guests continue to remain living in their household placement. Our staff member is in regular contact with volunteer hosts & guests. This communication is being done via email, social media, phone or text message. Some door step conversations (with masks) are now taking place (as of July 2020).  We have advised all households to contact us if anyone falls ill and to follow the Public Health guidance. We have suspended new referrals. This will be reviewed at the end of the current lockdown whenever this happens in 2021.

Family Befriending – No new matches are taking place. Since “lockdown” began in mid-March 2020 we have  encouraged befrienders to contact young people via telephone, video messaging, social media etc. At the time of writing (July 9th 2020) some “face to face ” meetings have been taking place in public spaces providing “social distancing” is maintained. There are plans that home visits may start to take place providing “social distancing” is maintained and both host and young people are comfortable with arrangements.

Meet & Greet for newly arrived asylum seeking families with children – Contact and Initial Accommodation visits to beneficiaries was halted on 12th March 2020.  Our much valued volunteers are being contacted on a weekly basis to keep them informed and to make sure they are safe and well. Over the past few months We have been in contact with families living in hostels and hotels and have handed out activity packs, games and footballs for children.

Please watch this space for any further information about our service provision. We will continue to follow the advice of the Public Health authorities.