The view from: Peabody
Our blog series, The View From, explores how housing associations have been responding to the Covid-19 crisis. In this blog, Stephen Burns, Executive Director Care & Communities at Peabody, discusses how Peabody has responded to the Covid-19 crisis.
Each year we strive to increase the impact our Community Foundation has on the lives of our residents and their sense of community spirit. The Covid-19 pandemic presented unprecedented challenge. Following government guidelines on social distancing, we took the difficult decision to close all of our offices and community buildings to the public, in an effort to stop the spread of Coronavirus. As an organisation, we quickly responded by keeping critical services running and putting in place a range of emergency measures and adapting services to ensure the most vulnerable received the support they needed.
As part of this, we set up a Resident Wellbeing Project, a new strand of work led by our Communities, Tenant & Family Support, Financial Inclusion and Residents Services teams. This ensured that we were able to quickly put measures in place to support our residents in ways that would help them most. We also looked at the organisation as a whole and how we could best use available resources, including redeploying staff to support resident wellbeing.
Our teams contacted over 10,000 residents who were known to us as being vulnerable or in the older, high risk, categories. This led to us setting up a food delivery network that has provided almost 2,000 emergency food parcels to our most vulnerable residents since the start of the pandemic. We have also been working closely with local partners to ensure we have a co-ordinated local response. This has included supporting local authorities and mutual aid groups through our partnership with the London Food Alliance, providing space for food distribution, with some of our community centres operating as distribution hubs and providing weekly ready meals through our partnership with The Plattery and Ink Squid Bar. Our partnerships with FareShare and the Felix Project have enabled us to provide essential food and supplies to residents and households in need throughout this time.
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Massive thanks to Nicola, Ivan and all of the Peabody team involved in getting food to the community from Parkside in SE10, Pembury and all over London and the south-east. Thank you as well to all our partners and friends helping to support vulnerable people. #PrideOfPeabody
Watch the Peabody team at Parkside, Nicola Walters and Ivan Banton, organising daily food parcels and hear from our food delivery teams of his experience during the lockdown.
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Staff from across the organisation have been working hard to ensure that food packages and other essentials have been getting to those who need them most. Thanks Carl! You’re a legend. #PrideOfPeabody #LondonTogether #meettheheroes #keywork #communityheroes #pembury #hackney #london #peabodyldn A post shared by PeabodyLDN (@peabodyldn) on
Carl Singh making use of the mini bus normally used to take older residents on trips and outings.
Frank Bridges from the Peabody Handyperson Service talks about why he is ensuring food gets to Peabody’s most vulnerable residents.
Our Financial Inclusion team has similarly been inundated with requests for support from residents experiencing a change in their financial circumstances. Which has seen the team helping residents to urgently access Universal Credit and other benefits. We have also helped mobilise and coordinate support through our many partnerships with local authorities, small grassroots organisations and other stakeholders.
Other ways in which we have been supporting our residents include:
- 104 matches to our befriending programme
- Assisting 103 households with fuel concerns;
- Supporting 101 people through our Pharmacy Approach scheme.
We have also made more strategic changes to our services. The Peabody website now has a dedicated section on wellbeing that provides information and links to help and resources available to residents and communities through local authorities and local organisations. Peabody residents are able to refer themselves or a neighbour for support through the website.
We have also successfully managed to transfer many services online and are now delivering virtual youth clubs and sessions for parents and families to connect and share their successes, worries or concerns. We have successfully delivered online training programmes and employment support in addition to online business forums to support our enterprise programmes. We have established wellbeing area coordinators to link residents with sustainable local services during this time and we are also continuing to design new services using virtual design tools such as Mural.
Peabody also donated an additional £100k to help small charities and grass roots organisations provide critical support to vulnerable residents through the lockdown period. The donations were pledged to London Community Fund’s London Communities Coronavirus Appeal and Islington Giving’s Crisis Fund. This has enabled them to provide emergency funding to small organisations working with communities across the capital.
Through it all, our 1,300-strong team of care & supported housing staff have continued to provide critical care across our sheltered housing, homelessness and special needs schemes in London, Essex, Kent and Sussex. While the pandemic may have brought extraordinary challenges for us all, it reinforced that residents and communities are at the heart of everything we do.