Prior to Lockdown, Maryhill Housing piloted an organisation wide, afternoon of remote homeworking to establish if it was possible to continue to deliver services with minimal disruption to our communities.
We wanted to ensure our Customer Contact Team was able to function as seamlessly as possible; they’re the first point of contact for the organisation, often dealing with hundreds of calls daily from residents. When lockdown was finally announced, our office closed with staff operating as routinely as possible, which was no doubt thanks to the pilot project. We communicated forthcoming changes about our service provision to residents on our website, social media, by text and newsletter.
An action plan of key priorities was developed, the first, identifying and contacting vulnerable residents. Housing Officers and Sheltered Housing Wardens did a call round and checked in on residents to establish if they needed any assistance. This varied from organising food parcels, meals on wheels services, to informing elderly residents of the dedicated shopping hours at local shops. Telephone appointments were made with our Financial Support Officers for those who needed help applying for benefits or grants. Contact numbers for energy providers were also provided.
In order to provide assistance immediately, we adopted an asset based approach, identifying existing local organisations already delivering much needed services and food provision, such as food banks and family support services that already had a list of willing volunteers to help. We looked at the services they provided and identified funding gaps. Funding given to us by the Local Authority was used to purchase more food and a Farmfoods voucher referral system was devised for families. Our Digital Inclusion Co-ordinator has been providing advice and tips by email and is promoting the online portal My Home, so people can access services through this. Our ESOL partner, Workers Education Authority are looking to adapt their service to deliver ESOL sessions to our tenants digitally or simply over the phone.
Partnership working has been key during the last few weeks. We’re involved in weekly conference calls with other housing associations, organisations and forums, keeping up to date with what’s going on locally and nationally. We’re working jointly on funding bids to provide essential services which are needed now more than ever by the communities which we serve.
(Update provided by Maryhill HA)