“Sometimes these discussions can be upsetting and she gets a little teary. I want to reassure her that things will be ok and give her a hug but I can’t.” These are the words of a support worker for young people who have left the care system, she tells us how coronavirus has changed her job.

The Worcestershire Care Leavers Team has more than 600 young people who need assistance For a lot of them, this is the only kind of help or support they receive – the closest thing to family they have.

We caught up with Sue Miller, a support worker from the team, who told us about her day: “The morning starts with an early visit to a property. Adhering to social distancing guidelines, wearing a mask and gloves and trying to ignore the surreal nature of my days now.

“Some of our young people are alone in isolation and seeing the smiles on their faces when they see me is really rewarding.

“This young person is understandably anxious.We talk about what she wants to do in the future, which for all of us is temporarily on hold at the moment. A personal visit, for some of our young people, is critical for their emotional and mental wellbeing. Mine too.

“Since Covid-19 hit, we’ve been making sure we contact every care leaver at least once a week to see how they’re coping. It’s so important to keep in touch as many live alone.

“It’s weird, phoning people whilst sitting at my dining table with the dog curled up at my feet. I miss my colleagues and I can’t wait to get back to an office base but, for now, this is the way things are.

“The calls offer up a number of issues to resolve. One young person had moved into a new (empty) flat before lockdown and it’s been almost impossible getting deliveries. Another was due to start work in a restaurant at the end of March but had to remain on Universal Credit as the restaurant had to be closed. Some of our young people have lost work and money through business closure. For one this also meant she lost her accommodation and was faced with nowhere to live.

“These are the problems we’re facing now and we’ve had to be more creative to resolve them.

“Care leavers can face homelessness, mental health issues, isolation and loneliness - these have not stopped during the pandemic and the lockdown has only exacerbated them. I call my team manager to discuss the mental health of one of my young people and discuss support options.

“I then carry out a few admin tasks, arranging a food parcel for one of my young people and organising ID for another who has lost his driving license.

Another wants to spend some of her Setting Up Home grant on a TV, an essential item in normal times and even more so now as a way of reducing loneliness in isolation, so I liaise with my manager and once agreed I use my procurement card to make the purchase online. I finish off the afternoon by typing up pathway plans and prepping for an early morning visit to Liverpool tomorrow. It’s been another really busy day, I’ve worked an hour longer than I normally would – and if I don’t take my dog out for a walk soon my carpet’s in trouble!”