Community spirit emerges despite the pandemic

As Covid-19 continues to bring challenges to people across Wales, Tomas Jackson, Neighbourhood Housing Coach at Hafod Housing, talks about how the community is pulling together, and what he and his colleagues at Hafod Housing are doing to support tenants.

“Being a neighbourhood coach is always challenging and rewarding but during the COVID-19 pandemic it has enhanced both elements of the role. It’s very rewarding being part of the front line supporting many residents in different situations that have and are being affected by this horrible virus.

As home visits are no longer possible due to social distancing advice, I’ve adapted the way I work. I’ve been speaking with residents on the phone to make sure they continue to receive the support and service they deserve. Since the lockdown we have been doing a number of tasks on top of our day-to-day role, ensuring that we stay connected with our residents.

Along with my colleagues, I’ve been calling residents who have been identified as being vulnerable and ensuring they have the support network around them during these difficult times. This has enabled our housing or income team to connect with the community and get support to those who need it the most during this ever-changing environment. I have also been out delivering essential food parcels to tenants who don’t have family or friends to call on and are unable to access food banks and other support in their area.

While contacting those in our ‘elderly who live alone’ group, I’ve been able to engage with a wide range of residents that I may not have met or had any contact with previously. One particular resident I have built a strong relationship with, she is very isolated and lives alone as her family live away. I’ve been calling her on a weekly basis to see if she needs any support, help with shopping or just a general chat. We now have a weekly catch-up, which I enjoy as much as she does!

It has been great to connect with our residents and hear the stories that all the different communities in the area are sharing, pulling together as one to support each other during these challenging times. I’ve heard of areas across south Wales where residents have received notes through their doors, from neighbours in the street who they have never spoken to before offering support, such as going shopping or the pharmacy, to a friendly person to call if they need to have a chat due to isolation.

It’s been great to contact so many residents and offer support if they’ve needed it. As you can imagine many residents have existing support networks and therefore may not need it whereas others do. The consensus that I felt from the exercises we’ve conducted and continue to do so, is one of thanks and appreciation as residents were grateful of being thought of during these tough times.

For me it’s important that we build relationships and connect with our residents and show that we are with them on this journey, and we will continue to do our best to support and make lives better.

We are continuing to work very hard across all areas and look to contact more residents offering as much support as possible linking in with all community support networks, as together we strive to make lives better and support our residents through these difficult times.”

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                 

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