Covid-19: Our Response

As a small charity that supports young women from difficult backgrounds, we understand the anxieties that both our service users and partners within our sector have been experiencing as a result of Covid-19.

 

The systemic closure of health and social services since the arrival of this disease has served to further increase the many challenges faced by socially disadvantaged groups / the women we engage with and so it is through our unwavering commitment to helping young women and girls develop mental wellbeing, build resilience and ultimately recover from their negative experiences of the care system that we have put in place / sought to provide a number of resources that are specifically geared towards their continued growth in light of this unprecedented situation.

 

Our Covid-19 Holistic Support Programme was an immediate and comprehensive response to the crisis, with the aim of supporting the essential needs of our sisters during the pandemic, ensuring no care-affected girl is left behind or put at further risk.

The programme provides emergency food, hygiene and sanitary baskets which can be delivered for those at risk or who may be shielding on a weekly or fortnightly basis. Peer2Peer mentoring supports sisters’ well-being and provides a positive peer network, reducing isolation and providing a ‘professional friend’.

These interactions aim to fuel and foster a positive mind-set, increase resilience and reduce the risk of becoming victims of mental deterioration, economic deprivation and coercion into crime. 

Our community based workshops such as ‘Walk ‘n’ Talk’ and outdoor fitness sessions with a focus on non-contact boxing and yoga provide a Covid-19 safe and appropriate socialising opportunity whilst keeping sisters fit and well.

 

But we could not have done this alone and are grateful to our partners with whom we work closely and who have continued to support us in our mission to deliver outstanding support to young women and girls who remain at risk of neglect, exploitation, and violence in all its forms. 

 

Central to Sister System’s approach is our Theory of Change model which you can read about here.

The government’s current Covid-19 roadmap* outlines the key dates at which England will be expected to come out of its current lockdown phase.  although with data constantly under review, these dates may be subject to change. 

Covid-19: Updates

April 2020

 

Our service users have been devastated by Covid-19. We have seen our disenfranchised, care-affected young women unable to meet their basic needs. They have seen their jobs disappear and their essential support services closing. On top of this they are isolated, scared and unable to meet  their emotional and  mental needs. We have delivered food, hygiene products, increased 1:1’s, added programmes and sessions to our offer and signposted them to local support services. For those in school, their core safety, support and opportunity to have a hot meal and sustain engagement with other services disappeared. For those not in school many have experienced diminished support as key workers self-isolate. Demand for Sister System support has increased quickly. 

 

These girls are now at heightened risk of exploitation. Many have been forced to return to unsafe homes or relationships in an urgent attempt to stay safe. Some have taken on carer responsibilities, even sleeping on floors.Their already fragile mental and emotional well-being is unable to manage this situation. We have moved accredited courses to an online delivery model and kept over 47 young women engaged in their educational and support programmes with us.

April-July  2020

 

Sister System's fantastic team rose to the occasion to support both the pre-Covid existing service users' needs, and the new urgent demand for our service. Having been awarded emergency funding form Haringey Giving, the FORE Raft fund, the London Community Response, Bridge Trust, The National lottery, Feminist review and Rosa, alongside the incredibly generous donations of the public via our Crowdfunding page, we mobilised an outstanding response to ensure that no girl that is working with Sister System was or will be left behind because of Covid-19.  

During the first lock-down we were immensely proud to have risen to the challenge with many staff taking on additional and voluntary work to ensure that these young women were supported and looked after:  

 

 Rapidly responding to the urgent new needs of existing and new referrals of up to 99 care-affected young women in Haringey & Enfield, we are proud to have delivered an additional 2,363 of direct contact comprising of:

 

  • 700 additional therapeutic mentoring sessions

  • 480 requests for emergency food and hygiene support with 168 basket drop offs across 3 months of lockdown and further collections once our office re-opened, and we continue to deliver to those who are shielding and/or are unable to leave their homes. 

  • 40 virtual high risk safeguarding panel meetings 

  • An additional 98 remote resilience workshops to our vulnerable young women with an additional 768 hours of collating and delivering food & hygiene baskets,

  • 113 meetings and 164 peer led interventions. 

  • Continued payments to 4 of our Big Sisters. 


 

July-August  2020

Once our offices re-opened in July and following the NYA risk assessments and guidance we then moved back to some face to face delivery whilst still supporting our sisters that are shielding and/or were unable to get to our Head Office for a plethora of reasons. We are currently an NYA amber service provider and as such are delighted to be able to welcome our sisters back. Turnout was high with up to 20 young women wanting to attend, and with the donation of PPE and flexibility of use of space both in and outside our building, we ensured we kept everyone safe without having to turn anyone away. 

 

 

September 2020

 

We continue to run our pre-covid programmes funded by the Postcode Lottery. We have been able to continue to  supply food and hygiene baskets, weekly peer2peer sessions, weekly therapeutic mentoring sessions and with the additional funds are running the Sisterhood programme and a host of additional soiree drop in sessions. Our Big sisters have amongst other things launched book clubs, transition clubs, support me now and supported each other in creative and dynamic ways.

 

We have identified the need for an entirely new programme ‘honour thyself’ which we will launch alongside our education partner OCN. 

 

We would like to thank all our volunteers, funders, our board, our statutory and community partners for their continued support and most of all the sisters themselves who at a time of great uncertainty came together and maintained our community. 

 

We are currently a NYA approved provision on Amber and adhere to both NYA guidance and that of our office building landlords, the Trampery. 

 

With another 6 months of restrictions ahead of us and a long cold winter we are preparing to continue the vital work of Sister System within these unprecedented times.

We are committed and dedicated to ensuring that this pandemic will not adversely affect some of our communities most vulnerable young women.

 

We are the big sisters they never had.

Covid-19: Our Response

As a small charity that supports young women from difficult backgrounds, we understand the complex needs and challenges that both our service users and partners within our sector have been experiencing as a result of Covid-19.

 

The systemic closure of health, education and social services since the arrival of this disease has served to further increase the many challenges faced by socially disadvantaged groups which includes the women we engage with and so it is through our unwavering commitment to helping young women and girls develop mental wellbeing, build resilience and ultimately recover from their negative experiences of the care system now compounded by the impact of Covid-19 that we have sought to provide a number of resources that are specifically geared towards their continued growth in light of this unprecedented situation.

 

Our Covid-19 Holistic Support Programme was an immediate and comprehensive response to this crisis and which has the aim of supporting the essential needs of our Sisters during the pandemic, ensuring no care-affected girl is left behind or put at further risk.

The programme provides emergency food, hygiene and sanitary baskets which can be delivered to those at risk or who may be shielding on a weekly or fortnightly basis.

Our Peer2Peer Mentoring programme supports Sisters’ well-being and provides a positive peer network, reducing isolation and providing a ‘professional friend’.

These interactions aim to fuel and foster a positive mind-set, increase resilience and reduce the risk of becoming victims of mental deterioration, economic deprivation and coercion into crime. 

Our community based workshops such as ‘Walk ‘n’ Talk’ and outdoor fitness sessions with a focus on non-contact boxing and yoga provide a Covid-19 safe and appropriate socialising opportunity whilst keeping our young women fit and well.

If you or somebody you know of could benefit from any of Sister System's programmes, please get in contact here

 

Sister System exists because of the collaborative efforts of our team and we are entirely grateful to our partners with whom we work closely and who have continued to support us in our mission to deliver outstanding support to young women and girls who remain at risk of neglect, exploitation, and violence in all its forms. 

 

Central to Sister System’s approach is our Theory of Change model which takes our Sisters through a journey of enhancing their mental and emotional resilience in order to enable socio-economic mobility and personal empowerment measured through 'I feel', 'I can', 'I am', 'I do'.


 You can read more about our Theory of Change model here.

Covid-19 ROADMAP

The government’s current Covid-19 roadmap* outlines the key dates at which England will be expected to come out of its current lockdown phase.

For many people, the lifting of lockdown measures means businesses can reopen, families can meet and friends can re-establish relationships, but for many of our young women, the process of recovery is a complex one requiring a more bespoke and personalised response.
 

Sister System's Covid-19 Roadmap 
 

Our community - from the board of trustees to our volunteers, partners, delivery, and operations team - is committed to ensuring that no care affected girl - who of course remain central to our mission - is left behind because of the impact of Covid-19. 

 

Despite the many challenges we’ve faced over the past year, we continue to work collaboratively with the network of statutory service providers, not-for-profits (NFPs), statutory bodies and practitioners with whom we have become embedded across North London.

 

Together, we have formed excellent support strategies for the young women that Sister System serves, and have risen to the immense task of meeting not just their pre-coivd-19 needs, but also those that are new and emerging. 

Throughout the pandemic we have worked hard to continue to deliver our programmes as well as put in place a wellness and recovery strategy that supports our community.

Sister System's approach to wellness is underpinned by a solution focused approach, reflective practices and Snyder's Model of Hope

Our Team:

We have put a wellness strategy in place for the team which includes a traffic light system, regular team meetings, team and peer-supervision, and continuing professional development (CPD) to better understand how best to meet the ever-changing needs of the wider community, 

With flexible working times, spaces and faces, we are not only able to ensure resilience, but that there is a continual support structure that exists across the team.

 

The successive months of the pandemic has been incredibly tough on everybody involved who remain integral to effective delivery, and we also recognise the disproportionate affect this has had on the admin team, the majority of whom are of African descent and all-female.

Our collective focus then, has been to ensure that our personal and inter-personal well-being remains at the forefront of our work. 

A well team enables and enhances a dynamic and interactive delivery model"

 

Our Covid-19 Road Map is therefore built around our 3 Pillars of Success and aims to improve engagement, mental and physical wellbeing, relationships, educational attainment and employment prospects:

We will achieve this through our programmes and in-line with our Pillars.

 

Health and Wellbeing: Reflecting on the pandemic as it unfolded led to the co-creation of the Covid-19 holistic support programme which addresses the core of our Sisters’ health and wellbeing. 

We have been running this programme as a reactive measure since March 2020 and have since formalised it as a holistic programme with clear measurable outcomes for our team and cohort, and which is backed by our funders who have enabled us to deliver this much sought after programme. 

The programme is facilitated by our team of passionate volunteers and we will continue to offer this throughout 2021-22. when we will once again review its relevance for our young women. 

Educational Attainment: Forging pathways back into education, employment

and training has been refocused to make sure that our sisters are ready, willing

and in a position to continue learning.

The majority of our programmes are designed equip young women with the

proper tools, skills, knowledge, and qualifications to not only enter careers that

are in-line with their ambitions, but are also suited to the new and emerging sectors

within digital, green, financial and science-based industries.

As with all our programmes and pillars, we consistently review their effectiveness

and tweak them to ensure we are offering programmes that best meet the increasingly

complex needs of our young women.  

Healthy Relationships: We are dedicated to providing a safe space for our community of young women more than 90% of whom have experienced violence in some form. In this regard we have been keen to ensure that all young women are able to access the kinds of provisions we often take for granted on a day-to-day basis. 

We are proud to be a part of the Major’s pan-London Violence Against Women and Girls (VWAG) reduction programme which seeks to empower our entire community through collaborative means. 

Further to this, our The Sisterhood programme is specifically designed to help young women begin the process of healing and take their first steps towards that of a survivor and in so doing, disrupt the cycle of violence they will have experienced.

We continue to ensure that these young women remain empowered throughout their time on our programmes by way of competent and effective delivery models, a global online presence, community hubs and seats on influential panels such as the Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) and those dealing with Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE).

The Sisterhood programme will run into 2023. 

As a member of the Employers Domestic Abuse Covenant (EDAC), our aim is to be a part of the solution for survivors. 

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Covid-19: Updates