It’s been a busy few months at Crisis Skylight Birmingham and we spent our first few weeks adjusting to the way we work during lockdown ensuring we put our members first. A lot of this work was ensuring we could still connect with our members, even if we aren’t seeing them face-to-face, so we provided members with phones, tablets or laptops depending on their need.
Since then and with the help from our Member Working Group (who are the decision board for all things member events) we have re-started up our member groups – only this time they are on Zoom! Over the past 2-weeks we have help 3 groups which are aimed at promoting inclusion within our skylight: Power Up! Women’s Group, BAME Group and our LGBT+ group.
These groups are spaces for our members to discuss their thoughts on our service and important topics, try out new activities, learn new skills and socialise with one another.
Here’s what we got up to:
June is Pride Month, and on the 23rd May we were supposed to be marching at Birmingham’s Pride Parade, of course this wasn’t able to go ahead. So at Crisis skylight Birmingham we decided to throw our own online Pride Party!
Prior to the event our members were sent a craft pack and shared with us 2 songs that come to mind when thinking of Pride. When we got together online, we all created our own rainbows with the theme #StrongerTogether, had a little boogie to a fab playlist (consisting of Ru Paul, Frank Ocean and even a song from Phantom of the Opera!) and discussed what Pride meant to us – with varying views about it being political and a celebration, talking about the roots of the Pride parade following the Stonewall Riots in 1969.
Feedback from our members were:
Reasons for attending – to meet new people, to build confidence and to have fun.
Why did you enjoy about the group? – Well-organised, Fun activities, non-judgemental staff, and chatting to friendly people with similar views.
In the same week our BAME group met for the first time. We wanted to ensure our members felt they were being supported by Crisis, were safe in the environments they were in and had a space to raise any concerns they may have. We discussed the Black Lives Matter movement, and underlying systemic racism present in society today – asking members to share their views and most importantly have a space to talk to others who are feeling the same way. We plan to learn from one-another about how Crisis can support its members and the movement to ensure a fairer and equal world.
Following this discussion, we spoke about COVID-19 including any support we can provide to our members. We understood that we needed to ensure consistent messaging when we plan to return to the office and members shared self-care tips with each other. We finished with Bill our Clinical Psychologist giving an overview of our mental health support options and providing our members with re-assurance.
We plan to meet with this group in a couple of weeks’ time for follow up and to plan a programme of online events and discussions.
Power Up! Women’s Group:
Our Women’s group happened a week prior to these and consisted of a session of chair yoga. Our women’s group is a space for anyone who identifies as female to feel safe and confident to talk about any issues facing them. We focus on building confidence, developing skills, trying out new activities and socialising with one another.
This month we did chair yoga, which was new for us all! We had a wonderful relaxing time and found space for laughter when someone’s foot would pop up on camera! We also looked into events in the future and what else our members would like to do. Next month we have decided on having a session using recycled materials and magazines to create art work, which will be run by our Arts Tutor Danielle, and other suggestions have included cooking*, origami and board games.
It may seem strange linking events to ending homelessness but at all our member workshops, events & meetings we see confidence growing, social groups forming, member wellbeing increasing and so many more positive factors to support our members on their journey out of homelessness.
We also pride ourselves on ensuring that all are welcome at Crisis and use our diversity groups to ensure that no matter how you identify you have a space to have your say on our service and talk about your experience of homelessness in a setting which you feel most comfortable.
*if anyone has any ideas on how we can do a cooking workshop over Zoom – please let us know!!