“Being stuck at home is already a reality for many of the people we work with. That doesn’t mean that the lockdown has been any easier for them, though. They still need the reassurance of a visit, or some basic human contact, so being isolated or alone can really set them back.

Others might have physical health issues, like asthma or other respiratory problems. As you can imagine, the fear of being infected with the virus is even more worrying for them.

“We work with people who have severe and enduring mental health issues – what’s called a ‘dual diagnosis’. This includes things such as expressions of trauma, depression, anxiety and psychotic symptoms.

We also work with people who have severe and enduring mental health issues co-existing with alcohol and/or substance dependence, physical health issues arising from chronic alcohol use, like mobility problems, or issues with their stomach or liver.

“It’s hard not being able to see people in their own homes, as that’s such a big part of what we do – we ‘reach in’ to where we’re needed most. And for many of those we work with, their homes are the only place they feel comfortable opening up to us.

“If anything, though, we are almost busier now than we were before the lockdown. We’re still keeping in touch with people through regular phone calls, and if a person is experiencing a severe crisis, we will go out to see them, but we always have to keep our distance.

“What we need – and what they need – are the practical things to get by day to day. That can be anything from food vouchers, to credit for gas and electricity. In these challenging times, it’s about fulfilling people's basic requirements - to stay warm and fed, and to live safely in their own homes.

That’s where Extern’s Hardship Appeal is really making a big difference – and quickly – to so many of these people. The donations people are making to our appeal go straight towards helping those who need it most, when they need it, so from the team and I, we’d like to say a massive and very sincere thank you to everyone who has donated to our appeal.

“With our support, around 99 per cent of people that we work with are able to maintain their tenancies, which is incredibly positive given the often chaotic lifestyles they might lead. We’ve also been supporting them to link in a lot more with their families, which means they have positive support networks around them, so their physical and mental health has massively improved. It's those kind of stories that really inspire us to keep going back to people, again and again.”

For details on the team, visit here or tel: 028 9033 0433

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