When the Covid-19 pandemic struck in 2020, it changed everything. Not least the way in which we delivered services to our residents. Our people went above and beyond in meeting the challenges of working in a pandemic.

Here you can find out some of the different ways in which our people continued to do their best for our residents and colleagues:

Chris, caretaker

“The estates I look after suddenly looked very different when the first lockdown began. Far less people were out and about on their daily routines and there wasn’t the chance to stop and chat with people and find out how they were as I normally would. I tried to check in on the older residents as much as I could, checking they were OK by speaking to them through their windows.

“Understandably, many of them were frightened to leave their homes and many had been advised to shield due to their age or health conditions. One day, one of our elderly residents knocked on the window to get my attention while I was working outside. She was very upset and told me she didn’t have any food in as she hadn’t been able to get a delivery slot. She only wanted some bread and milk but it must have taken so much for her to ask. Of course I offered to get them for her without hesitation and told her it was no trouble at all. I was only happy to be in the right place at the right time and brought her round the supplies she needed that day. Had I not been there when she was in need, I wonder how long she would have had to wait until she was able to get those vital supplies.

“The pandemic has shown just how important our job, being out and about on the estates all day, really is.”

Frances, LiveSmart manager

“I’m a LiveSmart Manager, looking after one of our schemes for over 55s in Surrey. I oversee the health and safety compliance at the scheme, as well as its maintenance and I’m there to support residents.

“The first lockdown was a big shift change, I began to work from home rather than on-site and we closed all the communal areas apart from the laundry room. It was tough for everyone but residents knew they could still reach me on the phone and we kept in touch regularly, checking on their welfare – especially those who had been advised to shield. Fortunately in our community there is a food aid programme. This proved to be a real help to some of our residents and I alerted the charity whenever I identified someone was in need. For those with health issues, I was able to put them in touch with the local emergency response volunteers who could help with collecting prescriptions.

“It was really fantastic to see what the community could do when we all pulled together to protect the most vulnerable. The residents of the scheme were very stoic throughout and they understood the need to keep themselves safe. I really missed seeing them every day but following guidance, we were able to adopt Covid-19-safe measures and return to the scheme. The whole experience has taught me we’re stronger than we think. You don’t fully appreciate how well you’re able to cope until you have to cope!”

Kevin, lead youth worker

“I am the lead youth worker at the Roman Road Adventure Playground which is owned and managed by Clarion. The playground has come to form a well-loved facility in the community here in Bow. It was a big loss for the children having the adventure playground closed during the first lockdown, in what was a really uncertain time for them. And especially so for children that didn’t have siblings to play with at home, or access to outside space.

“I’m a big believer in learning and making sense of the world though play and exploration. I’ve seen first-hand how the adventure playground can really aid kids’ development. I had to do whatever I could to get the playground up and running again, in a safe way for families. I quickly got to work researching Covid-19-secure measures that could be deployed for outdoor play areas to make sure the playground was as safe as possible.

“With the measures in place, I contacted parents to arrange visits in groups, creating play bubbles for the children, using WhatsApp to co-ordinate arrangements. It was fantastic to be able to welcome them back. This year I was awarded the Outstanding Practice Award by a national charity called the Foyer Foundation for my efforts in ensuring that children had a safe place to play.”

Jessie, property services performance analyst

“Day-to-day I’m a property services performance analyst at Clarion, in the team responsible for helping make sure our homes are well-maintained and safe. But I’m also one of Clarion’s mental health first aiders. This scheme was launched at Clarion before the pandemic and no one could have guessed how important it would become given the challenges ahead. It relies on staff volunteers who act as ‘first aiders’ for colleagues who are struggling with their mental health.

“We’re a friendly face they can approach completely confidentially. We are here to listen and guide and sign-post people to appropriate support if needed. I have received specific training to encourage people to talk more freely about mental health, reduce stigma and create a positive culture around it.

“At Clarion we have a big emphasis on being able to fully be yourself at work. For people that might have been struggling with their mental health before the pandemic, not having the usual distractions or not being able to deploy some of their tried and tested coping mechanisms will have only compounded the problem.

“Even for the people that were not struggling beforehand, suddenly finding themselves working from home, with significantly reduced social interaction, can start to take its toll. I like to help people and have always been told that I’m a good listener and very approachable. If I had a problem and wanted to talk something through, I’d want someone down to earth like myself to be there.”