This week we are celebrating EKM Heroes Week!
This week we are celebrating the fantastic things East Kent Mencap’s staff have been doing during lockdown. We are sharing these messages of praise and thanks directly with all of our staff, but we also wanted to celebrate publicly the amazing work they have done and continue to do during this challenging time.
A letter to all staff from the directors of East Kent Mencap
Since March, the directors have been kept fully informed about everything that has been happening with our services, members and colleagues. We have been holding our monthly meetings via Microsoft Teams and catching up on hearing the wonderful stories about colleagues going above and beyond in their duties.
Despite the learning curves everyone has had to go through quickly, we are constantly amazed and reminded of your dedication by the level of commitment that we have seen from all of you in terms of continuing contact with our members and making sure that our members’ wellbeing is being supported both remotely and in practice. We have watched the live videos and participated in virtual events which involve lots of preparation and adapting to new technology for many of us.
You have made sure that as many members as possible have been given access to different means of communicating and taking part in these events and that they have been given the
knowledge to set up their own virtual groups so they can carry on speaking with their friends in these unprecedented times.
This will have lessened anxieties and helped our members to keep some sense of normality, when they have been unable to get out and about in their usual routine. We also know that some of you have continued to provide one-to-one support to members when it has been necessary and this has obviously come at some risk to you.
We recognise that although some colleagues have been more visible throughout this time, there have been many more of you who have provided support in different ways and want to
acknowledge that we believe every one of you is a hero in your own right.
East Kent Mencap is being recognised for its dedication to our members in these difficult times by our partners and stakeholders and this is all down to every single one of you.
Lastly, we all have to recognise the fantastic leadership we have had from the Senior Management Team. They have worked so hard to access funds, provide equipment and make sure everyone is as safe as possible for all these new plans to work and have constantly worked behind the scenes to support and encourage everyone.
As far as we are concerned you are all heroes and we are in awe of you. Well done to every single one of you and thank you so much for everything you do.
With our very best wishes,
The Directors of East Kent Mencap:
Amy Rutland, Angela Stuart, Audrey Emmett, Keith Smith, Mandy Rackley and Bridget Crow.
Operations Manager Karen Loughrill, also wanted to share the following:
A person smiling for the camera Description automatically generatedI have been extremely proud to be part of the EKM team partly because I feel that EKM has been a supportive, responsive and creative organisation throughout this period but more so because of the dedication of the frontline staff in both Housing, Community and Day Resource who have kept working in spite of their own personal circumstances and anxieties. I have been moved to tears on a number of occasions simply because a staff member has said ‘yes I can do that’ when inside they could be thinking ‘OMG I’m worried about doing that’. So many people have shown that they put the people we support first and will step up and keep on going.’
Children & Youth/Complex Needs Team, Thanet Day Resource and GOLD have been up to over lockdown:
A close up of a logo
Description automatically generatedThe Children & Youth/Complex Needs Team have continued to provide an amazing level of support throughout this time and constantly show that they really care about the impact of lockdown on members and their families. There were members of the team even offering to come in on their days off in order to shop for families who were unable to leave the house. Their commitment to putting the needs of the children and young people first throughout this crisis has been incredible.
Staff came up with creative ways to keep members learning new skills and trying out new hobbies, including a photography challenge that was shared on EKM’s social media.
A close up of a logo
Description automatically generatedThe Thanet Day Resource Centre has continued to offer a welcoming and warm atmosphere to its members, delivering a whole host of amazing online activities as well as getting to grips and supporting one another with the IT and creation of incredible video content: from fitness aerobics, to making safety face masks, cooking, quizzes, bingo, paper sculptures, gardening, sketching, meditation, chart sessions and the Friday afternoon singing sessions. They have done this with seemingly endless creativity and positivity, coming way out of their comfort zones to present live virtual sessions, as well as making and delivering activity packs and supplies. Not forgetting those who helped with the technology and cleaned the buildings to keep us all safe.
Here you can see Natalie, enjoying reading the EKM Newsletter, safely back at home after her stay in hospital, suffering from COVID-19. The team’s support of Natalie during this time was amazing and hugely appreciated.
Members and staff stayed connected through technology when they couldn’t meet face-to-face.
cid:5c37a9ab-a66d-4c32-ae41-c786393eb6c7Here Support Worker Bev is cooking meals to deliver to people in the community. She also created brilliant cooking videos that were shared across social media.
Here you can see the team performing their live activities for members, from arts and crafts and cooking to exercise, meditation and music!
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Description automatically generatedThe GOLD team have been very busy linking with community groups and sharing information with members to keep them happy and safe. The team continuously offered creative suggestions to ensure the service was maintained. During this time, they unveiled the amazing Scrapstore, their newest project, which involves selling recycled craft materials to staff, members and the public. Check out how it’s going on their Instagram page here: @scrapstore.ekm
The team worked really hard to keep their vital services running remotely, checking in with all their GOLD members to see who had access to the internet, who would need calls over the phone and which members were living alone and therefore might need further support. They held Zoom calls and created videos on how to use masks safely, as well as holding a ‘Tuesday Tech Talk’ in which a member was supported to help other members with technical issues. Members also made their own videos of cooking, their pets and the importance of friendship, all showcased in a Wednesday Watch Party!
They also found the time to create a film called ‘The Weirdness’. Everybody worked from home and learnt the skills themselves to do animation or use TikTok, and staff at Open School East edited it together. Margate Bookie premiered it at the Filmy Festie and gave GOLD a Special Mention Award! You can view this marvellous creation here.
cid:image010.jpg@01D676D2.1AE3E140Here you can see Amy supporting member Ben with his Tuesday Tech Talks.
And here is Anne-Marie having a rummage in the brand new Scrapstore.
The team have also put in lots of time and effort crafting decorations for the Scrapstore, which look stunning!
The team also had their own celebrations, with Managers Suz and Sue awarding Simon with a banner as a thanks for his efforts keeping up team morale, and Amy a trophy for her on-going technical assistance!
Wednesday’s Highlight: Our Thanet SIS Community and Thanet/Deal SIS Housing teams have been working hard during lockdown:
A close up of a logo Description automatically generatedThe whole Thanet SIS Community Team have worked well together through a very difficult time demonstrating compassion and a desire to find solutions to difficult situations. The team have maintained good communication watching out for individuals who are most vulnerable, sharing information with clients to help them understand how they can keep safe as well as quickly familiarising themselves with KARA so that members could benefit from having the tools to keep in touch with family, friends and support. Shielding staff and those working at home were keen to keep in touch which really showed their care and concern for the members they support and have been working incredibly hard since returning!
The team supported members to shop safely in the community. Here you can see Susan taking a trip to Canterbury.
The team supported members to keep themselves entertained inside with new hobbies and hairstyles!
Here you can see brilliant knitter Anne-Marie showing off a new project – knitted car seats! Susan and Nicola are trying out pink and purple clip-in extensions!
The team also supported members to move house! Here you can see Steve and Nick enjoying a drink in their lovely garden.
The staff have helped members keep motivated and active safely. Here you can see member Kate enjoying a bike ride and Amy out for a walk.
Senior Support Worker Jasmine Davison has been on maternity leave during lockdown and was kind enough to share with us this photo of gorgeous baby Rory!
We are so pleased both mum and baby are happy and healthy!
We want to take this time to appreciate all those staff that have been working at home or shielding. It can be really hard and isolating to have to step back from work in order to keep yourself and others safe. All of you have been so keen to work, and since returning shown enthusiasm to get into the new swing of things. It is wonderful to have you back.
A picture containing shirt Description automatically generatedThe whole Thanet/Deal SIS Housing Team have worked tirelessly to ensure that members have been safe and well during lockdown. They have all gone above and beyond collectively within each house; providing activities such as yoga and cooking sessions and other entertainment, while supporting tenants to understand the ever-changing guidelines. There have been lockdown birthday parties, socially distanced meetings with family and friends, the constant cleaning and reminders for hygiene, all while getting to grips with a new IT system and tackling video calls.
Like many of our amazing EKM staff, they’ve been working longer shifts, wearing masks during a heatwave and showing incredible support to each other as well as our members.
Louise and Hilary were both supported to try new recipes to share with their housemates.
Member Joe was also supported by the team to try out some new recipes during lockdown.
The team, in collaboration with the Admin/Fundraising Team, were vital in sourcing and giving out free, reusable masks for members.
Here you can see members in William House enjoying a lockdown party thanks to the efforts of the team.
I’m sure anyone lucky enough to have seen Stephen’s live Zoom gig would consider this a lockdown highlight – a huge thank you to everyone involved in putting this amazing event together!
Tuesday’s Highlight: The Management and Admin Team have been working hard during lockdown:
The efforts of the management and admin team have not gone unnoticed during this time, with all sorts of projects and challenges going on behind the scenes to keep EKM running smoothly. The Fundraising & Communications Team had to reinvent their whole schedule and way of raising funds, as well as doubling their communication efforts to ensure everyone felt connected and informed during this time. HR and the H&S and Facilities Manager continued in their efforts to keep staff and members happy, healthy and safe as well as working on the transfer to company status alongside the Admin/Finance team. With processes such as invoicing changing due to COVID-19 as well as a huge spike in purchasing due to the need for crucial PPE, the whole Admin/Finance team has been making a huge effort – which is much appreciated! The Maintenance Team was also absolutely crucial during this time and worked hard to keep homes and offices safe and beautiful!
We must also recognise the tireless efforts of our brilliant leaders Jason Gerlack, Karen Loughrill and Sue Beaumont, as well as all the Directors, all of whom have carried us through this crisis with the staff and members constantly at the front of their minds.
We’d also like to say a special thank you to Mel Webb whose hard work meant we could stay connected via Microsoft Teams months ahead of schedule!
Here you can see members enjoying EKM’s very first Virtual Fun Day, run by the Fundraising Team!
…Which staff enjoyed creating as much as the members enjoyed attending!
Technology helped us all keep connected when we were apart. Here you can see the SMT and Admin/Finance team wishing member Neil a happy 40th birthday!
Huge effort went into packing up our lockdown newsletter for all our members and supporters! This included 635 newsletters, 1270 activity sheets and 70 activity DVDs.
The Fundraising Team put together this lovely collage to remind us and our members and supporters that we are all in this together.
A big thank you to everyone working hard in our Management and Admin team!
Monday’s Highlight: Herne Bay Day Resource and Canterbury SIS have been working hard to support their members in innovative and creative ways:
The Day Resource in Herne Bay stayed open to support three resource members who had a high priority of need and the team worked throughout, providing much needed emotional support as well as a sense of normality for the members and carers who would have otherwise struggled to cope in a difficult time. The team have all adopted new ways of working such as video calling which meant they could provide members with 10 Zoom sessions a week. The have also been a great support to each other. Managers Louise and Kelly said:
‘We greatly appreciate all of their work and having such a great team around us at the most difficult of times and know we all got through it together!’
During lockdown it has been a challenge but staying positive and active is key! The staff have worked every day keeping everyone safe but also supporting everyone’s physical & emotional health. Della’s lovely team have kept everyone motivated and active, they have encouraged a wide range of activities from keep fit to art, mowing to tasty BBQ’s, catching some rays to baking, dancing to getting out and about and even decorating! Plus, a whole lot more! Check out the photos!
Staff have supported members to keep fit…
And keep smiling!
And do some arts and crafts…
And some DIY and gardening!
Not to mention create a whole range of tasty treats…
…garden parties and lovely trips!
Check back in on this page each day this week to see other highlights on our staff teams who have been going above and beyond during this challenging time.