Lifting Spirits and Raising Hope at Rotholme Family Shelter

We are all in this Together

Continuing in the spirit of gratitude for all staff throughout Mission Services of London who are continuing to provide assistance to those most vulnerable in this time of crisis, we would like to share another story in the We are all in this Together series from one of our five branches: Rotholme Family Shelter.

Lifting Spirits and Raising Hope at Rotholme Family Shelter

It is no secret that the London community is struggling with feelings of worry and fear in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The team at Rotholme Family Shelter is no different. “They were worried about their job, their safety, and their health,” acknowledged Stacey Wilson, Program Supervisor at Rotholme. In response, Stacey set out to do everything she could to provide a safe and calm atmosphere for her team and the residents of the family shelter.

In addition to rigorous housekeeping regimes and physical distancing protocols, Stacey concentrated on disseminating accurate and up-to-date information about the virus and how to protect oneself and others. “We’re continuing to have house meetings every Friday (with physical distancing) to answer questions for families in shelter,” she explained. “Everyone knows that we are taking every precaution possible to make sure their health is top of mind”.

She also introduced ‘Weekly Wednesday Staff Theme’ to further create an environment of togetherness. Every Wednesday, Rotholme staff members dress up according to a theme from pajamas and band t-shirts to superheroes and crazy hair. “With all that’s going on in the world, it’s a good time to feel a sense of community and teamwork at Rotholme, and have fun in the workplace,” remarked Stacey (pictured right).

Feeling like part of a safe community is important, particularly during a time of change and uncertainty. “Things are changing almost daily, one day we’re doing this and the other day we’re doing something else. Staff have been really accommodating to changes so we can ensure their safety”.

One of the most profound changes has been the move that some families have made from Rotholme to a local hotel in order to practice physical distancing. The Rotholme staff continue to provide support to those staying in the shelter space as well as those in the hotel. In fact, staff have set up an office at the hotel and provide 24/7 support which includes daily meal deliveries.

“The kitchen team is able to provide really healthy, wholesome meals. They’re not just sending sandwiches for every meal, they’re sending hot meals for everybody,” said Stacey. The kitchens are grateful to have both ongoing and new partnerships with food businesses that continue to graciously donate meals and ingredients throughout the pandemic.

In addition to meal deliveries, the residents of Rotholme’s transitional housing units received a pleasant surprise on their doorsteps this Easter. When the Executive Director of Mission Services, Peter Rozeluk, dropped by Rotholme with Easter lilies, he suggested that the Rotholme team deliver the flowers to families. “We dropped an Easter lily on their doorsteps just to brighten their day a little bit. Those kinds of efforts go a long way,” Stacey noted with a smile in her voice.

Ongoing support also includes housing selection services offered to clients staying in Rotholme as well as the hotel. “One really great thing that has happened as of April 1st, we had four families who were living at Rotholme and/or the hotel who found stable housing,” Stacey beamed. “We have a Housing Selection Worker who helps those families by communicating with landlords and other programs and services in the community. That was all done over email and texting”.

Since speaking with Stacey in April, two additional families have secured housing and have moved out of shelter in May. Another family has also made arrangements for housing and will be moving out of Rotholme on June 1st.

The staff at Rotholme have been diligent and flexible as they continue to serve families in need and adapt to our new circumstances. For instance, while they continue to support neighbours in need through their regular duties, many have also taken on additional tasks like assisting in the kitchen as the demand for meals and delivery to hotels rises, and tending to the front office which is open 24/7.

“I am thankful for a really supportive and accommodating team… It’s really helpful and we can alleviate some of the stressors for the families. I see that it’s more than just a job for them. This is something that they’re passionate about,” said Stacey. “We are here and Mission Services is doing its absolute best to help people in the community and provide services in a time when there is a lot of uncertainty.”

“This is what we’re meant to do – we’re meant to help people,” Stacey concluded.

Visit the Rotholme Family Shelter webpage to learn more about this branch of Mission Services of London.

Written by:

Amy Bumbacco
Communications and PR Coordinator
519.433.2807 ext. 2108

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