Social-distancing in direct provision
COVID-19 has been a really stressful time for everyone but when you live in direct provision and are told to stay inside and keep your distance from others, it is even more challenging. How do you socially-distance when you are sharing a room and you don’t have your own kitchen or bathroom?
It’s important to focus on the things you can control. You can make sure that you take all the precautions available to you.
Wash your hands
I know, you know. You’re singing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice while you wash your hands. You need to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds and use soap. Soap is better at removing bacteria and viruses than sanitisers. Here’s a link to the science.
Wash your hands before you leave your room and when you return. There should also be hand santiser in every centre.
Missing soap in the bathroom? Then you need to let the centre staff know and they should replace it asap.
Sharing a room
Some young people are sharing rooms. This might be with a family member or just a roommate. It’s very hard when you don’t have any personal space or privacy. The Department of Justice have tried to limit the number of people who are not family members sharing a room so some people have been moved to different centres so there should be no more than 2-3 people who are not family members in any one room anymore.
If you’re not feeling well and think you have some symptoms, call your GP.
People living in direct provision are in a priority group for COVID-19 tests, so if you have: Fever and a cough, or fever and a shortness of breath you should be assessed for a COVID-19 test. You should also let a manager in the centre know as you may need to be moved to your own room on-site or to another location for people who are self-isolating.
If a roommate starts showing any symptoms, encourage them to call their GP and let centre management know immediately. If your roommate or someone else you have come into contact with in the centre is diagnosed with COVID-19 or thinks they have COVID-19, and you any of the following symptoms you should call your GP immediately.
- runny nose,
- sore throat
- body aches
Looking after your mental health
Many young people in direct provision have lost all of their social outlets like school, college or volunteering. You might be trying to do coursework with patchy internet or in a room full of younger siblings. We know that’s hard.
- Coursework – let your teacher or lecturer know that you’re having difficulties. They should be able to talk to you about alternatives or give you more time or extra help with your work.
- Check-in with your friends – its really important to stay connected with your friends and family. There are so many ways to get in contact so make a point to say hi to someone everyday.
- Ask for help: If you’re anxious or feeling down, let someone know. There are services out there that can help eg Jigsaw's new phoneline service.
We've asked some of the young people in our Connect Project who are living in direct provision at the moment for their advice.
Q, who lives with his family and is studying for his exams at the moment, says:
Stay strong. together anything is possible and in this situation we will surely overcome it. Happy days are ahead.
Elton, already a talented artist, has been using the time to work on his art portfolio. He's hoping that he'll be able to study art in college next year.
Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.
Click through the gallery to see some of the amazing pieces Elton has shared with us.
Self-isolation - what does that mean for someone in direct provision?
There are a number of reasons why you might be asked to self-isolate.
- You are waiting for the results of your COVID-19 test and you are able to self-care (ie you are well enough to take care of yourself and do not need to go to hospital)
- You have tested positive for COVID-19 and you are able to self-care
- You have some symptoms of COVID-19, you are waiting for a test, and you are able to self-care.
- You have come into contact with someone who has COVID-19, you are waiting for a test and you are able to self-care.
There are a number of ways in which you can self-isolate. Your GP and the public health team will decide which is most appropriate. While you are in self-isolation, you will need to stay in your room. You may be able to take a short walk for exercise, depending on whether it is safe to do so at your location. Your meals should be brought to your room for you and left at your door.
If you are sharing a room with your family, you may all be asked to self-isolate together in your room.
Some centres have spaces on-site that you can stay in while you self-isolate.
One of the dedicated locations for people who are self-isolating. These are hotels that have been taken over for a few months during the crisis. You should have an en-suite room and you will be assigned a support worker who will call you at least once per day to check in with you and make sure you have everything you need.