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Yorkshire Housing’s Customer Assistance Scheme is making a real difference to people’s lives at this difficult time – with befriending calls earning rave reviews.

Staff have made 2,685 calls to 721 customers plus a further 5,723 welfare calls to date.

And they are receiving plaudits for ​the positive impact these are making to some of the Leeds-based housing association’s most vulnerable tenants.

The service was by set up by James Haigh and Lesley Sharp to delivery vital help to about 5,000 customers classed as vulnerable.

These people are aged 70 and over or have an underlying health condition that means they are self-isolating from the coronavirus pandemic.

They are receiving regular phone calls and, where necessary, food parcels, deliveries of medication or referrals to other Yorkshire Housing or third-party services.


See videos here​ ​​and​ h​ere​ for more information about the huge impact Yorkshire Housing’s Customer Assistance Scheme is having.​

A team of 25 befrienders from across Yorkshire Housing are making regular calls to people.

Comments from customers include “…fabulous service”, “…so grateful…”, and “…good of YH to show this level of support.”

And some of the feedback either breaks or melts the heart depending on what situation customers find themselves in.

Helen Bannister, Yorkshire Housing’s volunteer coordinator, said she is in touch with a man whose hospital operation has been cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The customer was also feeling down due to suffering a recent fall at home around the time of his birthday.

Helen explained: “We usually have good chats and share jokes each week.


“This week, Ian was feeling down because of his recent fall.


“He told me that it was his birthday this week and would probably not speak to anyone on the day.


“I offered to phone him again on his birthday and also check in by phone to see how he was feeling.”

Helen did this, only to discover Ian had sadly had another fall and was in Leeds General Infirmary undergoing tests.

She added: “Hopefully, Ian will be out of hospital in the next few days. Ian says my calls really boost his morale.”

The befriending calls help combat the feelings of loneliness and isolation that can be experienced in lockdown.

And they give an early warning if someone has a problem that YH colleagues can help with, such as food shopping or referral to external services.

Susan Lowe, a sales consultant, described calling a customer who needed that type of support.

She said: “One lady is very lonely and has little contact with others.


“She always thanks me for calling her and has taken my office number in case of an emergency.


“Because she is so grateful for the call, I tend to call her a little more frequently than the others.


“She always seems happy to chat for a while and has invited me to visit if I’m ever in the area.”

And in another case, Susan told a heart-warming tale about a woman in her 80s in the Keighley area.

“She enjoys knitting little cardigans for babies at her local hospital, Airedale, for the premature babies’ ward,” Susan said.


“She has donated thousands over the years and loves taking them in and seeing the babies and nurses.


“And she’ll continue to knit these until she can do so no longer.”

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