Before the Coronavirus pandemic, a graduate from our 16th Employment Preparation had been offered a job at The Royal Academy of Arts, which she was excited to start. This meant her benefit cap would be lifted, and she was slowly getting her independence back.

The outbreak of Coronavirus has meant she has not been able to start this job and her contract is paused. At the time of the outbreak, our graduates’ mother was visiting from her home country, but because of the travel ban, she has not been able to return. This means that two adults and one child are isolating in a one bedroom flat: the elderly mother sleeps in the bed, her son on the sofa, and our graduate on the floor. In the early stages of lockdown, this graduate was targeted by fraudsters, which added to her ever-growing anxiety.

Our graduate and her mother have also had to manage Coronavirus symptoms. This caused both to become very unwell and caused a decline in the graduates mental health, she was not eating or looking after herself. She continued to engage with our team and her mentor (who has been a fantastic support), which meant she has been able to keep providing meals for her son and is trying her very best to be his teacher. Thankfully, our graduate and her mother are now starting to recover.

To help, we contacted Westminster Foodbank who are delivering food boxes, which has relieved the stress of having to try and buy food on the small income she has. We have been speaking to this graduate twice a week to offer support around benefits, mental and physical health, and anything else we can.

We plan to continue support sessions over Zoom, as this graduates support network is incredibly small, and seeing a different face has been hugely positive.

We wouldn’t have been able to provide this vital support without you. We know times are difficult for lots of us but if you can donate, please do, here.