It's good to talk
Since 16 March, when the UK went into lockdown, Selwood Housing Group has been working hard to provide essential services for its customers, whilst ensuring staff and customer safety.
The Wiltshire based housing association provides local, affordable homes for its customers with over 6,500 homes for rent and shared ownership under its care.
Alongside delivering emergency repairs, gas services and essential caretaking duties, a new service has been introduced to make phone calls to 2,000 of its customers who may be vulnerable at this time, whether through risk of isolation or from health conditions. These calls allow Selwood Housing to check that its customers are safe and have a point of contact should they need help.
Verena Buchanan, group housing director at Selwood Housing Group shares:
“We have developed this service because of the coronavirus pandemic and have redeployed teams so we can make these calls.
As a local housing association, we feel part of the local community and we want to ensure that our customers are safe.
“For some customers, hearing another's voice makes a big difference – one of our callers spoke to a customer who lives alone and would normally rely on voluntary work for social interaction. However, with this not currently being possible, he was very grateful for our call and the chance to speak with us. He is looking forward to our call-back next week.
“There's also been a number of occasions where we have supported people to get emergency food packages and have been able to signpost customers to local supporting organisations and official advice.
“We're working closely with Wiltshire Council to support their coronavirus activities, including emergency lettings to support people that may otherwise become homeless.”
Nick White, a property surveyor at Selwood Housing, is one the welfare callers on the team.
Nick shares, “In my normal day job, I'm a property surveyor and would be out visiting customers, planning for upcoming repairs or works within our communities, but that's just not possible right now. Supporting the welfare calls means that I can still contribute at this challenging time for our customers.
“It's not just a one-off call, we offer a weekly call-back for the customer if they want this. They don't have to take this up, but for some, it's a real support to know that we will be calling again. At present, we have just under 380 customers who want a weekly call-back.
It's been a really great service to be part of and as well as supporting our customers, it's also given me a lift too and a great sense of community spirit.