To say this has been a challenging year for us all, would probably be an understatement! At Alive, before the pandemic hit, we were beginning to change the way we were offering our services, and COVID-19 has forced us to accelerate this period of change. My 9 months of leadership have certainly been a rollercoaster of huge ups and downs. To quote Charles Dickens, it really has been “The best of times and the worst of times”.
We have watched how care homes have had to cope with the difficulties and heartbreak of COVID-19. We have seen the staffing issues, PPE shortages, lack of support and guidance, grief and isolation, but have seen their response – the resilience, creativity, love and selflessness in how they have cared for our older people.
It has also been a time for partnership working, where charities and other groups have come together like never before. The work we have achieved, which in previous times may have taken months, instead has been achieved in weeks. In Bristol, we have been a founding member of the Bristol Support Hub, which has delivered food and emergency response, mental and emotional support and provided opportunities for activity online and on the phone. We are now a group of over 30 organisations working together for the wellbeing of Bristol’s older people – and we are hoping this will continue long into the future.
Like many charities we have been hit financially. With care homes closing their doors to visitors, our income disappeared overnight, and much of our future funding was wiped out too. Thankfully we have been able to furlough some staff and with the support of several funders have been able to repurpose other grants. We are so grateful for this support, it really has enabled us to continue to deliver activity to older people, both living in care and in the community. With the current uncertainty of lockdown we are still facing challenging times, but are continually striving to find new sources of income and develop partnerships.
As always, times of adversity alsobring positivity and opportunities. I’ve watched with amazement at how my staff team have responded to these challenges and continued to support older people in a variety of new ways. We’ve embraced new technology – and are connecting on a level deeper than we ever thought possible. We’ve harnessed familiar technology to keep existing connections and groups together. More than anything we have worked together and kept older people at the heart of everything we do. I couldn’t be prouder of my team and what they have managed to achieve.
From everyone at Alive, we hope you are all managing to stay safe and get to enjoy the summer.
Sending you all love and best wishes
Isobel Jones, CEO Alive