A charity has thanked two of its volunteers who were among those named as community champions by the mayor of Brighton and Hove.
Sheila Nuttall and Peter Taylor give up their time to help vulnerable residents at the Archway project run by Brighton Housing Trust (BHT).
The project runs two care homes in Hove for people with intensive mental health support needs – both so far free of the covid-19 coronavirus.
The awards were announced just before the start of Coronavirus Mental Health Week which runs from Monday (18 May) to Sunday (24 May).
The outgoing mayor, Councillor Alex Phillips, named about a hundred people across Brighton and Hove who had gone above and beyond the call of duty during the coronavirus crisis.
She thanked them for their practical help at Brighton and Hove City Council’s Annual Council meeting which was held “virtually” for the first time because of the coronavirus lockdown.
BHT said: “While these awards have been given to Peter and Sheila to recognise the work they are doing in the current crisis, both of them have been volunteering at the Archway project for many years.
“They work alongside the project’s key workers and encourage residents to get involved in various activities to help their recovery.
“The activities are as varied as the residents and can include walking, gardening, cooking, online learning, playing Scrabble or simply having a chat and a cup of tea.
“Peter even brings in his therapy dog who has proved extremely popular.”
Both care homes – in Portland Road and Sackville Gardens – are funded by the Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and have been rated outstanding by the official watchdog, the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
BHT said: “Early adoption of safety measures at Archway such as PPE (personal protective equipment) for all, rigorous cleaning, a moratorium on visitors and clearly communicated risk assessments and continuity plans have meant that thankfully these care homes have remained free of covid-19.
“However, the virus is of course still having an impact. Support for residents from other external services has had to stop and staff and volunteers must think creatively about how to support residents to find meaningful things to do to sustain their recovery while keeping them safe.”
Sheila Nuttall, one of the project’s community champions, said: “The best thing about volunteering at Archway is developing a relationship with a resident, seeing their trust in you develop and their social confidence develop.
“The staff team are great to work alongside, supportive of what you do and good at enabling it.”
Peter Taylor, the project’s other community champion award winner, said: “You have the luxury of time being a volunteer. You can spend two or three hours with someone and some residents we build a real bond with.
“I genuinely like going there. There is a sense of fulfilment from going in. It makes me feel good too and like I’ve achieved a lot.”
The Archway project’s operations manager Ian Wilson said: “Sheila and Pete come every week. They are incredibly dedicated and really lovely to have around. The residents and the staff look forward to their visits.
“Whether it’s in-house activities, socially distanced walks, baking, watching films with a resident, shopping – you name it they’ve given their time to our residents to help and we’re immensely grateful to have them on our team.”
BHT provides support for rough sleepers and homeless people as well as specialist support services and legal advice and representation.