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As most news pieces about coronavirus begin, we have to start with saying how suddenly lockdown came upon us. It was unbelievable in a way, with none of us ever having experienced this before. 

At Yorkshire Housing, we went full steam ahead to respond to the lockdown measures introduced and now we’ve got a short time to look back while responding to local restrictions and looking ahead to how things might continue to change in the coming months.  

It’s an unpredictable time however we wanted to take the opportunity to share some of the amazing things that have been happening in our communities over the last few months.  

One of the things we’ve seen is a real sense of community across our colleagues, tenants and residents and hope that you’ve felt the same within your immediate community, and with our colleagues. New friendships have been struck up and we’ve all got to know our neighbours a little better, wherever we are. 

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Click the button above to see how Margaret embraced her community and encouraged them to celebrate VE day in style. 

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Click the button above to see how Ursula used helped her community when she saw the effect coronavirus and the lockdown was having on those around her.

At Yorkshire Housing

Here at Yorkshire Housing we developed and launched our Customer Assistance Scheme within a few days of lockdown being announced. We chose not to furlough our staff but to move them into new roles to support customers. Some colleagues also supported existing parts of the business that we knew would need more focus, such as the income team, so that we could work with customers as the pandemic created a host of new situations for everyone.   

One of the schemes we launched was our welfare calls to vulnerable customers, identified either due to age or health reasons. Colleagues made 5,823 welfare calls offering anything from a friendly chat to helping those who were struggling to access essentials such as food and medicine.  

The Help at Hand and new homes sales teams roles changed overnight too as they made a further 4,668 befriending calls to help those combatting isolation. This benefitted both customers and colleagues as many colleagues were now faced with living and working alone and looked forward to chatting with new people.  

Beth, one of the Yorkshire Housing colleagues making calls, said: “I couldn’t wait to get started each morning – I’m normally out and about visiting customers, which I love, so it was a big change to be faced with working alone and being inside the whole time. We did weeks of calls and after the first couple of weeks the conversation really flowed and we would chat away and built real friendships 

“As lockdown has been eased we’ve had to stop the calls as we return to our usual roles although I know Yorkshire Housing are looking into how we can continue to offer this type of service. We’ve still been able to support customers in a different way which is great. I know some colleagues are still doing shopping for some customers and I’ve been helping those I had been chatting too with getting repairs logged and other small tasks while doing my usual role. 

Other colleagues from across the business focused on setting up and running essential provisions stores, providing food parcels and vouchers to customers. There were four set up in total; York, Sheffield, Skipton and Bradford with a total of 35 volunteers from across the organisation.  

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On Reflection

Both our Yorkshire Housing colleagues and customers echo the mood we’ve seen across the country – that despite the long term changes to the way we live and work, there’s been a community spirit that’s really grown out of it. We’ve all had to adapt and it’s been difficult at times, but what we want to do at Yorkshire Housing is focus on the positive changes we’ve seen and what we have learned so that we can continue to provide homes and services that make us proud.  

If you’re reading this and your neighbour helped your community we’d love to know. Comment below with your community hero.  

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