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09 April 2020

Adapting to Change

Adapting to Change
With Covid-19 affecting households across Wales, for housing associations it’s more important than ever that tenants are able to access vital support. Cartrefi Conwy has been working round the clock to ensure that older tenants feel fully supported at this time, and established a new Wellbeing team to provide support. Dan Hall, Income Manager at Cartrefi Conwy says:

“It’s safe to say these last few weeks have been an absolute whirlwind; so much so that I am struggling to keep track of what day of the week it is!

Like the rest of the sector we have been thrust into these circumstances with little time to prepare; but it never ceases to amaze me the adaptability, commitment and resolve of our frontline colleagues who have been putting our tenant’s welfare at the heart of everything they do.

The unique make up of our 3900 housing stock is that a third of it is sheltered accommodation, meaning we have a higher proportion of older tenants than most. We immediately set up a Wellbeing team made up of various Neighbourhood Services and Creating Futures colleagues and set about contacting each and every one of our tenants who are over 70 years old. The purpose of the calls was to serve as a welfare check, establish any support needs and provide reassurance. So far our Wellbeing team have made over 1000 calls to vulnerable and elderly tenants.

We are now extending this support to all tenants starting with those who live alone. With an underlying message - we are HERE TO HELP…. which coincidentally is the name of our social media campaign launched to raise awareness of our services and includes a new colleague feature each day, putting a face to the name with a reinforced message that we are #heretohelp.

Our digital avenues of communication have helped us keep key information up to date on services and advice for our tenants. We’ve sent emails to local community groups with information on new funding streams along with online learning opportunities.

Managing mental health at this challenging time is also very important with many people coping differently. We are all in this together and that’s the message we’ve wanted to convey. We’ve been busy sharing top tips from keeping occupied to structuring our days. We’ve even recorded a meditation session for tenants and colleagues. Trying this out was tougher than expected for me as I had the added distraction of my 9-month old daughter to contend with!

As the ‘lock down’ situation developed it become obvious that some of our more vulnerable tenants would not able to get out and do essential tasks such as shopping or pick up medication. We therefore set up a delivery service with designated colleagues that would enable us to do these tasks on their behalf. This also made it possible for us to reach our rural communities where isolation could be a huge problem.

Over 60% of calls received by our rent team have been from tenants worried because they have lost their jobs. Having a money support team has meant we can signpost quickly to provide advice to over 100 tenants on benefit applications, better off calculations, utility support, budgeting and much more!

It has been an extremely testing and busy time for us all at Cartrefi Conwy but colleagues across the organisation have adapted quickly, our customer service team has been resolute in managing calls…… and not forgetting our frontline officers/repairs team who have remained committed and professional to ensure our tenants are safe.

We have also seen the community come together to help one another, one of our tenants who did not have internet access to speak to her family online. A neighbour heard about this and allowed her into her home (following the social distancing rules) to use her PC and surprise her family on facetime. It’s at times like this where people really do come together for each other and it’s a privilege to be able to serve our communities and help where we can.”

Housing associations in Wales will be profiling the work they are doing to support tenants in Wales through a new campaign called 'With You'. Follow this campaign through CHC's Twitter page @CHCymru and searching for the hashtag #withyou