For our 15th Insight Hub survey, we explored the impact of the Omicron variant, vaccination uptake among clients, changing causes of homelessness and an update on working with people affected by the crisis in Afghanistan. This bulletin presents data collected from 40 organisations across the UK.
Section 1: Organisational impact of Omicron variant
In light of the Omicron variant:
- 83% of organisations have made changes to their service provision
- 50% have reduced operation of some face to face services
- 65% told us they have updated their Covid-19 risk assessment, while 28% have not.
Other issues related to Omicron include: Staff anxiety about contracting Covid at work (68%), the absence of staff / volunteers on sick leave with Covid, and the difficulty of making decisions under changing government guidance.
“As a very small organisation the impact of one staff member with possible Covid affects the whole charity. Planned work had to cease with no notice and it was difficult to explain this on the phone to a client group who often do not speak English as their first language.”
Section 2: Impact of Omicron on clients
- 77% of organisations have clients who have contracted the Omicron variant
- The main issue clients have experienced in relation to having to isolate or shield was missing appointments that can’t be moved online, including medical (48%) and other appointments (48%).
- 100% of organisations (21) reported language issues as being the main problem their clients face when trying to access treatment for Covid / long Covid symptoms.
Section 3: Client uptake of the vaccination programme
- Respondents estimated the percentage of their clients who had received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. The mean reported proportion of clients who had received at least 1 dose was 75%.
Barriers for unvaccinated clients to getting a vaccine include:
- Clients do not want to have the vaccine, for a number of reasons (reported by 68%)
- Historical mistrust due to the hostile environment (50%)
- Administrative barriers (48%)
- 88% of respondents have done vaccine promotion work with their clients, and some of the approaches found to be effective are listed in the main bulletin.
Section 4: Homelessness
- Responses suggested an increase in rates of homelessness or risk of homelessness among people in the immigration system over the past 6 months.
- Factors included the ongoing impact of the pandemic such loss of employment and clients staying with family or friends having to leave due to exhausting hosts’ generosity, overcrowding or Covid risk.
Factors related to immigration status include:
- Evictions from Home Office accommodation on receipt of asylum decisions
- Difficulty for some EU nationals in securing EU Settled Status or Pre-Settled Status, leading to an increase in rough sleeping.
“There is definitely a sharp increase in the Eastern European rough sleeping community; there aren't enough winter and night shelters (it's never been so bad as it is this year).”
Section 5: Afghanistan crisis response
Resettled Afghan refugees
16 respondents are supporting Afghans who are part of a UK Government Resettlement scheme. The top areas of need for this group are:
- Emotional and mental health support (81%), consistent with the findings in Bulletin 13 conducted in September 2021.
- Support to register children in school (69%)
- Social & cultural activities and ESOL training (63%)
- 50% of respondents working with resettled Afghan refugees feel they have insufficient staff capacity to provide support.
“Mental health and wellbeing support is working well when it's integrated into the provision at the hotel. We have some group work but it's essential that this is backed up by more intensive 1:1 or family therapy for those who need it.”
Afghan asylum seekers with active claims
21 organisations told us about the needs of Afghan asylum seekers who they are supporting.
The top areas of need for this group in this survey are consistent with the findings in Bulletin 13 in September 2021:
- Emotional and mental health support (90%)
- Legal advice on their immigration cases (62%)
- Support or advice for friends and family in Afghanistan (57%)