In this post, Isabella Fleitas Fermin, Sanctuary Hosting’s Project Worker in Reading, will be sharing how her new virtual work week look like in lockdown.

As we all have experienced, Covid-19 has changed the way we operate at all levels. While a lot has changed in this rather uncertain world, I feel very grateful to share that the most beautiful aspects of Sanctuary Hosting’s work have remained intact: such as the unconditional support of our wonderful hosts and support workers, and the ability to give individuals a chance to have a place to be safe and temporarily call home.

In general, a Project Worker’s agenda during in the lockdown virtual world ranges from webinar and meetings with staff and other colleagues in the sector; training and consultations sessions for volunteers; and weekly check-in phone calls with guests. For example, a Monday morning would begin by responding to emails. I would normally have arranged to meet guests in the afternoon to catch up at a café, but now we get to do it via phone call from the comfort of our home. The following day consists preparing meeting notes for my weekly updates for our virtual team meeting on Tuesday morning. Afterwards, I review a prospective guest’s application and collect references after interviewing them.

This week, Wednesday is both a networking and learning day: I attend a meeting with local homelessness organisations regarding community-based responses to Covid. We have been working collaboratively with local Councils and organisations to make sure that the most vulnerable are protected during this time of crisis, and ensure that their rights are protected moving forward, post-lockdown. I then ‘zoom in’ to the University of Oxford’s Refugee Studies Centre weekly webinar on Strengthening refugee-led humanitarian response during the Covid-19 pandemic to learn about the experiences of colleagues across the world, which is open to anyone and I would highly recommend. As Thursday comes around, the end of my part-time working week approaches and my day consists of ticking off boxes in my to-do list before signing off.

For me, one of the wonderful things about Sanctuary Hosting is our outreach work, and the fact that you get to connect with people and build purposeful communities. I definitely have been missing interacting with volunteers and guests in person, but am very grateful to have technology that allows us to keep building rapport with the Sanctuary Hosting community and interact through creative activities.

What I love the most about Sanctuary Hosting is the fact that there is no day like the other, every day presents a new opportunity to learn, connect, and advocate for the rights of individuals looking to rebuild their lives through the safety of hosting. Undoubtedly these are the moments that I cherish the most – knowing how much of an impact the fact of having their own personal space through hosting can have on our guests’ wellbeing is what motivates me to work during these rare times.