Teamwork Trust’s response to Covid-19 has been praised by service-users, parents and carers – and it’s all thanks to the charity’s committed staff for delivering the new remote and online support.

“My main priority now is to make sure our service-users stay happy, active and safe at home”

Meet Tallie Vanzwanenberg, our Senior Support Development Coordinator at the Kettering centre. She talks about how her role has changed since the temporary closure of Teamwork’s three centres…

“The first week or so after we closed was tricky as we all found our feet and got used to the new situation. I have always been based at the Kettering centre supporting members in person with activities in classes and helping them with their work tasks on the factory floor. Suddenly we had to change everything so that we could help our adults – who all have varying learning disabilities and mental health needs – from a distance. My main priority now is to make sure our service-users stay happy, active and safe at home.”

Tallie has been busier than ever, working closely with the Kettering centre manager to maintain regular contact with members – devising daily quizzes, compiling activity packs with fun and relevant things to do, writing emails and letters, and making phone and video calls.

“Everyone is different and I’ve found I’ve had to really tailor my support around the needs of the individual – I have had to get really creative with how I communicate in some instances too. Some people don’t like speaking on the phone for example, and others don’t like using video or technology so I’ve had to find new ways of building a rapport in order to stay in touch with everyone and make sure they’re doing ok.”

Tallie says it took her over a month to help one service-user feel confident enough to speak over the phone – finally managing to break down the barriers by setting a mutual competition for each other to try new sandwiches!

“There have been lots of the challenges but many positives too, and I have learnt so much more about our service-users over this period because I have been speaking to them individually. I have learnt about their strengths and weaknesses and used those to devise daily activities and talking points. I have also built up some strong relationships with parents and carers too who have also benefited from our support in ways we never really appreciated before. It’s surprising how this situation has brought us all closer together.

“Another thing that has really shone through in all of this is the ability of our members to adapt. They are using their imagination more than ever and suddenly have way more confidence to voice their own ideas, telling me what the focus of our next call should be and even coming up with suggestions about how we can improve things when our centres reopen. It is so wonderful to see and hear them so empowered and to know that I helped in some way with that.

“They have all worked so hard to learn new things during this period and we are all feeling excited about returning to the centres when it is safe to do so. For now we are making the most of the current situation and surprising ourselves with just how well we can all adjust.”