A word from Steve Close, CEO Together Housing9 July | More Than Homes | News
In my long career in housing I have not witnessed anything affecting our communities, our society, and the economy, in the way that this pandemic has. The coronavirus crisis has had a massive impact on everyone aside from the tragic loss of life, many people have been hit hard financially.
Furlough has been beneficial for many people working in sectors that have been the most adversely effected, but it has meant a reduced income for many households. Other people unable to access this scheme have lost their income completely without any warning and many have had to turn to food banks as a way of surviving.
This has put food banks under tremendous pressure. Not only has there been a huge increase in demand for their vital services, they’ve also had to respond quickly by changing the way they work. Their usual drop-in services have been replaced by home deliveries to reduce the risk of spreading the virus and to help people who are isolating. Shielding has meant many of their volunteers have been unable to work.
Throughout the crisis, staff from across Together Housing and our social enterprise, Newground, have been working hard with partner organisations to support food banks in our communities. Staff have volunteered to help with making deliveries to deal with the huge increase in demand and to raise the much-needed donations from local food suppliers. Jointly, we’ve helped to ensure that food parcels go to those who need it most.
We have made over 15,000 calls to date, to our vulnerable residents, as many of our employees were moved from their traditional roles within the organisation to contact them and make sure they are safe and well or whether they needed further assistance.
In extreme cases people have told they literally feel we have saved their lives, as they have been able to eat after days with no access to food. Many more tell us that we’ve given them hope because someone cares and they have someone to turn to for support.
As well as supporting local food banks in our communities, we’ve also pledged our support for a nationwide campaign to raise £1m for the Trussell Trust. This charity is working with its network of 1,200 food banks across the UK to support those unable to afford food as a result of the crisis. The campaign, More than Homes, brings together charitable organisations at the heart of local communities to support those most in need.
The financial impact of the pandemic will stay with us for some time and our income and employment teams are working hard to build financial resilience amongst tenants who are struggling.
Housing associations are anchor institutions, rooted within our communities, and our strong social purpose has never been more relevant. Together we are making a difference.