Migrant Help, like so many other organisations, is putting in place various changes to the ways we operate in light of the Coronavirus outbreak. We are doing this to allow us to continue to provide critical support to some of the most vulnerable people in our society. This support is key to their protection and wellbeing and so we aim to continue to deliver it while reducing risks to our own staff who are so important in bringing expertise and compassion to our work.

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement that people should work from home wherever possible, many of our functions are moving to operating remotely in part or in whole.

As part of our business continuity planning, we have been making changes to our IT systems and infrastructure over the past year. These allow a greater proportion of staff to work from home in cases of operational challenges at our sites. 

Within our regional offices, these changes have been largely implemented and we are therefore able to change a great deal of our service delivery to remote support by telephone. We look to maintain only a reduced number of staff working out of our regional offices to coordinate the remote working and attend to matters that require physical presence. We will endeavour to collate as much information as we can electronically, and most interviews will take place by phone. This will mean that where face to face work is essential, it can be as short as possible. This is intended to reduce contact to a minimum and also provide adequate space for appropriate distancing.

Within our call centres, we have a number of separate teams delivering out of several sites. This provides greater resilience and a reduction in the risk that all staff would be simultaneously affected. In addition, we have a good proportion of staff already using flexible equipment and we are currently deploying more home working equipment so that a significant proportion of the staff are able to work from home. This is intended to reduce contact between colleagues and provide greater space for appropriate distancing.

Within our support services, we are moving to home working in most cases, with only a minimal number of staff in the office at one time. Senior management maintain daily presence in the office with a rota system and are available on call 24 hours a day.

We have requested that staff with health vulnerabilities and women who are pregnant work from home.

We are working closely with our commissioners, partners, accommodation providers and other NGOs to keep these critical support services open to our clients, albeit in different ways than they were delivered before.

We ask for support from our sector and the community to help direct our clients appropriately, particularly in encouraging clients to use our free national telephone line (0808 8010 503) for asylum queries.

With our social enterprise subsidiary, Clear Voice, we are providing pro-bono translations of key Covid-19 information for selected partners. We also have a phone app that allows interpretation services without having the interpreter present.

These measures are either already in place or are being implemented this week and we anticipate they will be in place for the near future. We will, however, continue to review related risks daily.

In light of the new advice around social distancing, we have advised colleagues not to attend face to face meetings unless absolutely necessary and to participate over the phone instead. We have also asked our people to review their plans for the weeks ahead and cancel any non-essential travel.

We will continue to follow the national advice coming from the Government about measures to adopt going forward.

We thank you for your time and support of these measures. We wish you and your loved ones safety and good health.

Caroline O’Connor

Chief Executive Officer