One Year On: An update from Aaron, KLS Director (18Mar21)

18th Mar 2021

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We wanted to share our Director’s (Aaron) regular update he’s sending out. Just to keep you in the loop!

Contact Us

If you need anything during this difficult time then please get in touch with us on 

020 7223 2845 and [email protected]

Aaron’s update

This week is the one-year anniversary of having to shut up shop and move to a ‘virtual’ KLS. A very big thank you to everyone who’s supported us over the last year. We couldn’t have done it without you. I’ve always said that we are not a community centre or a building but a charity that is lucky to have one. The past year has proved me right at last (phew!). We’ve been responding, adapting and refocusing our work to meet the needs of local people during this Covid-19 crisis.

None of us truly knew the path we’d actually tread. Nor the extent of transformation we’ve gone through, the new things we’ve learnt, the outpouring of support and generosity by local people and our supporters, nor the depth of relationships and partnerships we’ve built over the pandemic. This has been alongside the hardships, loss, rising inequalities, isolation and loneliness that so many of us have faced over the last year.

I don’t really want to reflect here on the past because we’ve done a lot of this already. But to say it’s been an incredible year. We’ve learnt a lot and have been documenting the last year through our news blog (159 posts since 17th March 2020), our regular e-updates and Annual Review. Instead, I want to focus on all the exciting, and challenging, things we’re grappling with right now, and then look towards the future.

1. Here and Now

Reopening

From 12th April, we’re planning to gradually re-introduce our face-to-face work and re-open our community centre. We’ll be doing this slowly, cautiously and safely, together with our members. Initially, this will take the form of outreach and doorstep home visits, alongside small ‘bubble’ groups, whilst continuing with our telephone and online support. We will invite some of our tenant groups to return too.

As the restrictions ease further, we will re-establish our main face-to-face programmes. We aim to have these all up and running by the autumn, in time for a very busy Christmas programme (which we normally do) filled with events, parties, carol services, trips, concerts and performances with local schools and other community groups.

We’d like to host some memorial services for members, family and friends we’ve lost over the pandemic, as well as celebrations and parties to bring everyone together again. But we’ll have to see what’s possible further down the line.

Social distancing and vaccines 

There will be a requirement that everyone maintains social distancing, masks, hand washing, enhanced cleaning etc. when we return to our centre for the next few months – until government guidance says otherwise.

We’re a big fan of the vaccine. 79% of our staff have already had the first dose of vaccine. We’re asking all staff, volunteers and our members to get the vaccine to help protect themselves, each other and those clinically vulnerable groups we work with. We’ll also be asking people to get regularly tested too.

We literally can’t wait to see everyone. Rest assured we have a plan. We’re taking the experience and learning from re-introducing our face-to-face services at the end of the first lockdown in July/August, and applying this as we re-open from April. We’re following government guidelines, drawing upon our extensive experience and expertise, talking to everyone, making risk assessment and using a healthy dose of common sense and humour to inform our decision making, plans and community services.

We’re so looking forward to welcoming everyone back soon.

2. Future

The next period for us will be about recovering and reconnecting. Our members have told us they need a period of healing and commemoration, as well as celebration. The joy of being back together again will be weighed up with the loss of family and friends, getting back to a semblance of normality, as well as dealing with a loss of confidence and the on-going fears and worries that our members understandably have around their livelihoods and of course Covid.

With a looming recession and increased unemployment likely at the end of 2021-22, which always hits those on the lowest-incomes the hardest (i.e., all the local communities we work with), lives will continue to get harder. It is imperative we support them through this difficult period, and extend our offer of support. I’m confident we’ll be able to do this as we have a fantastic team of staff, volunteers, supporters, partners and of course our members.

New strategy

Fortuitously, we’re developing a new 5-year strategy for 2022. This is a fantastic opportunity to shape KLS to meet the needs, wants and changes happening in our community. We’re going to spend most of this year talking to everyone gathering ideas, concerns and suggestions. More about this soon.

Partnerships 

We’ve deliberately been growing many of our partnerships over the last year and we will continue to invest in these. Working collaboratively with friends is a powerful way to ensure local residents get the support and services they need. As these partnerships further evolve and mature – be they with Battersea Communities (together we set up Battersea Coronavirus Angels), Wandsworth Digital, Wandsworth Covid Food Providers Group, Battersea Older People’s Provider Group or the Battersea Alliance (supported by Big Local SW11 and Winstanley and York Gardens Joint Venture) – we will be able to reach and support more local people and communities.

There’s no doubt that life is about to get even harder for many of the people and communities we work with; as well as the charities and community groups working with them. But I’m confident that together we will weather this storm.

Take part in ‘Spring Steps for KLS’ (12-19March)

We’d love for everyone to take part in our ‘Spring Steps for KLS’ challenge (12-19th March) – staff, volunteers, our supporters and members. We’re asking everyone to walk 1 million steps during this week – for our own health and that of the wider local community. Find our more and sign up here and speak to Annabel on [email protected] who’s organising it.

Find out more about KLS

There’s a lot happening across KLS at the moment. Check out the news section on our website – we’re posting 2/3 updates about aspects of our work each week here. If you’d like to feature something then do let me know.

Contact 

If we at Katherine Low Settlement can help you in anyway during this third lockdown (and beyond) then please contact us on

020 7223 2845 and [email protected]

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