OPINION: Responding to the Latest Lockdown and Supporting Homes at the Heart

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The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted us to introduce a number of changes to ensure we can still provide our services whilst keeping our staff, volunteers and clients safe.

A COVID-19 planning team, comprising members of senior management, HR, communications and administration, meet virtually on a weekly basis to discuss the latest Government updates and put plans into action on how best we can react and continue our vital work supporting vulnerable people.

Our supported accommodation services have kept running throughout the pandemic. Our staff have been working very hard to maintain strict hygiene and social distancing, keeping clients informed and supporting them through the challenges lockdown and other restrictions have brought.

Our maintenance, repairs and property checks have also continued in line with Government guidelines. Our floating support services are continuing. Support workers have been visiting clients in their own home, in line with Government guidelines, and providing support by phone or online.

The latest lockdown has meant that all staff and volunteers who can work from home are being asked to do so, with meetings and training being delivered over the internet.

At our offices and Training Centre, we are abiding by social distancing regulations and have numerous signs on display and sanitisation stations dotted around the buildings. You can see these changes in action for yourself below.

Our staff, volunteers, clients and people across the district have benefitted from the fantastic work by some of our volunteers as part of the Sew and Save Lives campaign, making reusable face coverings for people in the city.

The pandemic has brought new challenges, but also new opportunities, to review the way we deliver services. I would like to thank our staff, clients and volunteers for their continued hard work to keep everyone safe.

The type of support and accommodation we offer is vital to many people experiencing housing need. More social housing funding is essential to make sure that we can continue to provide a lifeline as demand for our services increases.

As today marks a special moment in the National Housing Federation’s Homes at the Heart campaign, there is no better time to reflect on the issues we have faced during the pandemic and try to look towards a brighter future.

In four months, the Homes at the Heart campaign has reached over 6.8 million people and received widespread recognition in the media. Calling on huge government investment in social housing, we have supported the campaign throughout with blog posts and social media videos, looking at the benefits of housing from improving the economy to how homes can enhance people’s mental health amongst many other positive outcomes for people.

Due to the devastating impact of COVID-19, unemployment levels and job losses are going to rise. With 3.8 million people already in need of social housing in England and low-income workers being almost twice as likely to lose their jobs due to the pandemic, now is the time to act to ensure homes are at the heart of our post-pandemic recovery.

For more from our CEO Paul Gartland, click here.