28 August 2020
Summary:During the pandemic, the transformative role a safe and affordable home plays in people’s ability to live well been brought into focus. From creating jobs, improving health outcomes and supporting prosperous communities, the value social housing brings to our economy and society has never been clearer.
As the country went into lockdown, we all witnessed the incredible spirit of our residents, communities and frontline teams. At MTVH, frontline colleagues at our supported housing schemes worked tirelessly to enable vital services to continue, so that we could support our customers to live well, despite all the new challenges in front of them.
We spoke to one of our Housing with Support Managers, Sally Jackson, to hear about what a ‘week in the life’ looked like for her and her frontline colleagues during the lockdown. Sally worked alongside community partners and Rushcliffe Council to support residents at Spring Meadows, a scheme providing sheltered accommodation and care facilities for older people. Sally’s experiences clearly show that supported housing schemes sit at heart of the community and play a crucial role in the work MTVH does to support customers and local residents to live well.
The week began with making welfare calls to our customers at Spring Meadows. As we went into lockdown, our main priority was to understand what support was available to our most at-risk residents and identify who would benefit from regular check-ins with our Housing Officers. Over the lockdown period, our team made over 10,000 calls to our customers to keep them updated on government guidance and make referrals to community partners such as the ‘Cotgrave Community Response’, for support with deliveries of essential items. These calls enabled our Housing Officers to offer emotional support to our customers, many of whom were self-isolating and appreciative of being able to connect with someone who understood their needs.
During the lockdown, we partnered with the Cotgrave Super Kitchen to organise a hot meal delivery services for Spring Meadows customers and the wider community. It was important for us to ensure customers had access to regular hot meals and other essentials such as milk, bread, fresh fruit and vegetables.
Tuesday was a delivery day. Alongside two of our Spring Meadows customers who volunteered their support, we distributed free hot meals and food parcels straight to the doorsteps of those in need. Times of crisis often bring people together and this was real community building initiative. Our customer volunteers always looked forward to supporting the Super Kitchen as it gave them a sense of purpose during a difficult time.
We had begun hearing of increased attempts of scams and data fraud relating to Covid-19. On Wednesday, our frontline teams began contacting our most at-risk customers to let them know of how they could protect themselves from these scams and where they could access trusted information and support, such as Action Fraud and Citizens Advice.
It quickly became clear that this issue was adding to the overall sense of uncertainty and frustration our customers were facing as a result of the lockdown. To help customers who might be in need of companionship or emotional support, I utilised the incredible community support network we have at Spring Meadows. Through sharing the contact details of willing customers with a partner in the community, we set up a befriending initiative and support network for customers in need.
On Thursday, we held a Zoom meeting with the other Housing with Support Managers in the Rushcliffe area. As we adapted to running our services during lockdown, it was important for us to regularly check-in for support and to share best practice on new challenges we were all facing at our schemes.
Our frontline teams distributed care packages to put together by the MTVH Community Investment team including recipes, crosswords and resources on taking care of yourself. With social distancing measures in place, usual services such as our weekly coffee mornings and exercise classes were put on hold and we wanted to make sure our customers had something positive to focus on to support their wellbeing.
Friday was another delivery day for the Cotgrave Super Kitchen. As many of our community volunteers started to make a return to work, we partnered local charity, The Rosie May Foundation, to distribute the hot meals and food parcels to our customers and the local community. It has been humbling to see community organisations come together, in partnership with the frontline team at Spring Meadows, to support local people through the lockdown. As we move into the recovery, we’re looking to build on these relationships and the sense of community spirit that’s been fostered to continue to serve our customers better.
At MTVH, we recognise the incredible work our frontline teams and communities have been involved in during this unprecedented crisis. As Sally’s testimony demonstrates, the combination of a secure home and tailored support offered by sheltered and supporting housing schemes can be transformative – allowing customers to live healthy and independent lives. As we look to the future, our frontline teams will continue to work closely with communities to help people manage through this crisis and support our customers to live well.