WERS Update: Coronavirus (COVID-19)

19th March 2020

Dear all Further to our update of 17th March, we wanted to communicate with you on the actions we are taking at West End Refugee Service (WERS) to help keep clients, volunteers and staff safe and healthy, whilst continuing to support our clients as best we can.

Hardship Payments

 We are continuing to give hardship payments to clients in 4 week cycles (rather than weekly and fortnightly). This is being distributed at the front door of the building between 10am and 12noon on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and between 11am and 12noon on Wednesday. Clients and staff are requested to maintain the recommended distance of 2 metres from each other.

 We are exploring alternative ways in which we can continue to distribute hardship payments with minimal or zero face to face contact.

 We are continuing to give an increased number of toiletries, sanitary products and other essential items we have available, to give out to people who receive hardship payments.

Clothing Store

 The Clothing Store remains closed. However, clients who are in receipt of hardship payments, and others in urgent need can let a member of staff know what essential items are needed. The staff member will then obtain an item from within the current stock.

 We are unable to accept donations for the Clothing Store. WERS does not have the space to store large amounts of items, and we are already up to capacity. In addition to this, Coronavirus can remain on surfaces, including clothes, for up to several days. We respectfully ask that supporters do not leave donations outside of the building.

Advice & Support

 We are advising clients to access advice and support over the telephone. At present this will be available during our usual operating hours up to Friday 27th March:  Monday 09:30 – 13:00, 14:00 – 16:00  Tuesday 09:30 – 13:00  Wednesday 11:00 – 13:00, 14:00 – 16:00  Thursday 09:30 – 13:00  Friday 09:30 – 13:00

 Clients can contact WERS on our office number 0191 273 7482 or using Whatsapp on 0782 622 1719 and 0782 611 7308.

 Clients can also text or send Whatsapp messages to the mobile numbers above if they need someone to call them back. We will get back to enquiries as soon as possible within the office hours.

 If clients are unable to get through to a member of staff on the telephone, they should leave voicemail and a member of staff will respond as soon as possible within operating hours.

 From Monday 30th March, until further notice, telephone support will only be available from 10am until 12noon Monday to Friday. This is to ensure we have enough staff to provide support.

 All partner surgeries held at WERS offices continue to be suspended until further notice. This includes North East Law Centre, Welfare Rights, Education Support, National Energy Action, the MP’s office, British Red Cross. If you require access to any of these services please speak to a member of WERS staff who will support you to access them in another way. We have also displayed the telephone numbers for these partners outside our building, for clients to access direct.


 All SkillsMatch sessions continue to be suspended until further notice.

For volunteers

In line with government guidelines around minimising contact between people, we are suspending any volunteering that requires face to face contact – this includes befrienders, support workers, skillsmatch buddies, and our clothing store volunteers. Befrienders will remain in contact with their befriendees via alternative communication methods (phone, Whatsapp, video calls etc), and we will continue to support volunteers and clients within this scheme. We will also continue to update our volunteers if there are other areas or ways in which they are able to offer support to our client group in these constantly changing circumstances.

All volunteers should have a mobile phone number for a member of the Volunteer Team so that they can contact them if they have any questions or concerns. If you’re a volunteer and don’t have a contact number, please email volunteers@wers.org.uk . We understand that people rely on WERS to access and understand important information, so, we will review our responses as things develop and will continue to provide updates to volunteers, service users and supporters as soon as decisions are made. We will keep our website and social media pages updated on the situation. We would like to reassure you that we are doing everything we can to take necessary precautions and are following Government Guidelines to inform decision making.

We have put a call out to all our volunteers to ask for help in supporting any clients who are self-isolating and require additional assistance at this time.

If you have any general questions or would like to chat with a member of the team, please do contact us on the usual number 0191 273 7482 or email info@wers.org.uk

Thank you in advance for your support and understanding.

Sean Gladwin


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