The Coronavirus is tightening its hold on the everyday lives of everyone, affecting our movements, our relationships, our health and daily routines. Its impact is perhaps even more pronounced on our clients, who are true survivors.
I was interviewed today by an academic researcher investigating the impact of the Coronavirus on our services and on our clients and thought I would offer an insight from Adavu as we continue to offer casework support to survivors of modern slavery in the West Midlands.
First and foremost, the lockdown and social distancing is having a tremendous impact on the mental health of our clients, the vast majority of whom suffer from anxiety and depression at best to complex PTSD and suicidal ideation in more complex cases. Not being free to move about, attend college, visit friends or sit in nature is bringing memories of forced exploitation to the surface. Many clients are struggling with anxiety in the confines of their four walls. Many are fearful of dying or of their children falling ill. They are unable to have the all-important unhindered social interaction with friends and some worry about their estranged families back home, wondering if they will survive the pandemic where the health care system is not as efficient.
Many of our clients also have serious underlying health conditions that necessitate strict self-isolation so we are receiving significantly more requests for food and toiletry deliveries. Three of our clients are facing giving birth without the support of a birthing partner.
We are trying to find ways to lift the spirits of our clients (regular calls, What’s App conversations, activity parcels, birthday cards) as well as continuing with our casework (helping with financial matters, advocating in areas of housing and health) but we do miss the face-to-face contact that we all need as human beings.
We are in tough times but we are digging deep and will hold on. We will all come out of this, having learned much from the resilience and strength of the survivors whom we walk alongside.