This we we continued to focus on projects to support our residents and the communities we work in to thrive. Despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic we continued to offer financial support, employment and training opportunities to help residents into employment. Our services for older residents have also been really successful this year, reducing isolation and improving mental health in over 80% of the people using the service.
Case study: Supporting residents during the COVID-19 pandemic
In March 2020, with the COVID-19 pandemic and the country going into lockdown we worked quickly to asess the impact the pandemic could have on our residents. We're really proud of the speed of innovation from our colleagues across the business to ensure we are there to support our residents.
After our team of volunteers from different teams across the business made over 1400 welfare calls to our older or more vulnerable residents, our referral system helped identify those, who would benefit most from our support, including those shielding at home, as well as arranging financial support for those that could still go out and shop, but were struggling with their finances.
On 1 April 2020, Friends of St Pancras, introduced a COVID-19 grant fund, increasing their annual grant to help our residents from £20K to £30K . This helped us develop a financial support scheme for those in most need to provide vouchers for supermarkets and chemists along with arranging food parcels delivered directly to our residents homes. In just over 12 weeks of running the programme we’ve distributed nearly £8.5k in emergency food and medical vouchers to over 100 households, and over £7.5k organising direct food parcels delivered to our tenant’s doors to help out during difficult times. The feedback we’ve had from our tenants has been very motivational to our colleagues across the business.
“I hope this email finds you well. I just wanted to write to you to say thank you and everyone at Origin Housing for your help and generosity during this difficult time. Me and my children are incredibly grateful for the vouchers, and that you left your home and family to come and hand deliver them to us. Also thank you for giving us a phone call just to ask if we’re doing ok and if we need help. That was really nice of you x. Thank you again and we hope you’re keeping safe.”
Meet Gary and his Support Worker Ali
Before the lockdown, we met Gary, who told us about some incredible changes in his life since meeting his Support Worker Ali. We want to celebrate Gary's story and the work of our amazing frontline workers like Ali who work to hard to support the people they work with to help them live happier, healthier lives.
Financial support for our residents
Our Financial Support Team helped our residents access a total of over £1.1 million (based on a years entitlement) in unclaimed benefits to help sustain tenancies and maximise their household income. They also secured £23.7K for residents in backdated Housing Benefit, Universal Credit and in Discretionary Housing Payment awards. and provided Debt and Benefit advise to 138 residents.
This meant we could secure over £62K in advance rent payments to ensure our residents could maintain their rent accounts, reduce arrears and maintain their tenancies. Click here to find out more about the financial support we offer!
Our volunteering work to support our residents
Our colleagues from across the organisation volunteered a total of 1,284 hours to support our local communities. Origin encourage each member of staff to spend a day each year volunteering in the communities we work in.
Over the past year, before the pandemic, our staff volunteers have been out to visit our estates through our Neighbourhood Explorers project, speaking with residents and getting feedback on what we could do to help improve the areas and communities they live in. To make sure this continued, while keeping everyone safe during lockdown, we changed the project to become digital, phoning residents in the estates we'd usually have been exploring in person.
The We Are Ageing Better project has grown lots this year with over 1500 older people accessing our services which help tackle loneliness and isolation by bringing people together doing activities they enjoy like trips to the seaside, boccia or visiting landmarks across London. 80% of the older people attendng We Are Ageing Better projects feel less lonely and 83% reported their health had improved since getting involved with the project; and that's something that can make us all smile!