Organisations are continually evolving from one year to the next, but the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered an evolution no one could have anticipated. The effect globally, nationally, within our own State, City, Community and to the immediate world around us has been unimaginable.
As a Community, we have had to change how we live and interact to survive and protect the most at risk. It has been difficult. Old habits are hard to change. However, most will say the hardest change of all was the thought of or losing a loved one and the social isolation. We have had to adapt to socially interacting online while being physically alone or socially distanced.
In delivering Homelessness Services to some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people in our Community, MOSS has been determined to continue to provide services now and into the future by being as proactive and innovative as we could.
Early in March 2020, due to the COVID Pandemic, MOSS had to move quickly to allow staff to work from home. Perseverance from staff really made this transition happen with minimal interruption. Communication with one another did not suffer, in fact, it was to the contrary. We could attend more meetings, provide better opportunities for confidential interactions and provide better supervision to once-isolated staff.
Consumers’ needs had to be considered and at the heart of any programmatic changes. Safety for both staff and consumers needed to be the focus. The speed and quality of the implementation of this new way of working, whilst continuing to deliver effective and sensitive services was a testament to the fortitude of MOSS staff.
In the Community
While some of the MOSS Services and staff were able to be delivered from home, many Staff continued to interact with consumers in the community, delivering services in Housing Towers in Northcote and Brunswick.
Our 24/7 Catchment youth service continued to operate throughout all lockdowns to provide a safe place for young people. MOSS also continued to provide outreach services to people in the wider community, in transitional housing, rooming houses and those living without shelter. Our service delivery became a hybrid model of socially distanced face-to-face, and phone contact.
The Bright Futures Program also pivoted their group delivery sessions for children affected by homelessness to online sessions with great success, supplying internet connectivity where required to families to participate.
MOSS took the opportunity during this year to reflect upon our operations and rewrote our Mission and Vision statements and our promise to consumers with the development of a “Consumer Commitment Model”.
Our Consumer Commitment Model is really about what Consumers can expect when interacting with our service: Welcome, Connected, Involved, Supported and Secure. This is also how we want our staff of MOSS to feel working here for this fabulous organisation.
MOSS successfully completed our Tri-annual Homelessness Standards Accreditation in February 2020. This was a huge effort by all staff, which resulted in a fantastic outcome. All staff are to be congratulated on efforts in producing this result.
As a medium-size organisation with 75 staff, MOSS should feel proud when reflecting on the delivery of diversity and breadth of services we have delivered. This year staff provided homelessness services to over 1300 individuals. A truly amazing result under any circumstances.
We were successful in creating a new partnership with Darebin Council to deliver the Darebin Assertive Community Outreach Program. This Program has been effective in engaging rough sleepers in the Darebin LGA and assisting with housing and identified needs. This is a two-year pilot program in which we hope not only continues, moreover, Darebin Councils innovative response to rough sleepers, is modelled upon by other Local Governments.
MOSS has also begun delivery of the High-Risk Accommodation Response project which supports older people residing in the High-rise Office of Housing towers in both Brunswick and Northcote during the pandemic. This project was developed by MOSS support staff in partnership with DHHS, Your Community Health and Merri Health with MOSS providing both case-managed and after-hours response to older people pertaining to COVID issues.
Some of the variables ahead for the year will be to review and possibly implement some of the positive learnings of staff working from home, reviewing office space required to deliver services and living with PPE. The world has changed dramatically over the last year and MOSS has revised its systems to ensure safe, timely professional service delivery that will continue to be innovative and adaptive in the pursuit of ending homelessness.