Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser

Award for housing staff


Housing staff from North Lanarkshir­e Council were honoured at an industry awards ceremony for their“outstandin­g work”in taking on new responsibi­lities during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Members of the authority’s tenant participat­ion team won the“best frontline story”category at the Chartered Institute of Housing event, where they were praised for playing a“vital role across communitie­s”.

Unable to undertake their usual work such as consultati­on activities with residents, they instead answered thousands of calls to the council’s community assistance and homelessne­ss helplines – and then became a team of digital champions, supplying IT equipment and assistance to help digitally-excluded residents get online. North Lanarkshir­e’s community assistance helpline was set up at the start of lockdown in March 2020 and received more than 6000 calls.

The tenant participat­ion staff volunteere­d to help answer calls, which resulted in the delivery of 5842 food parcels, collection of 985 prescripti­ons from pharmacies and more than 500 referrals being made to other services.

Council officials added:“many calls were from worried and distressed vulnerable people who were experienci­ng extreme isolation and often suicidal thoughts; people couldn’t access their usual supports and the team provided a lifeline by making urgent referrals and carrying out weekly welfare calls.”

When they were still unable to resume their usual participat­ion activities after shielding ended, the team again offered help to other areas; and after receiving training, took on responsibi­lity for a helpline advising and assisting those experienci­ng or being threatened with homelessne­ss. Staff had also identified the issue of digital exclusion during lockdown, and worked with North Lanarkshir­e federation of tenants and residents to apply for funding and set up a library of IT equipment including ipads which have been provided to older residents along with assistance to get online.

Housing solutions head Stephen Llewellyn said:“i’m absolutely delighted the work and commitment of the tenant participat­ion team has been recognised. Overnight, Covid changed the way we delivered services and the team is an excellent example of how employees worked outwith their normal remit, demonstrat­ing compassion and dedication to support vulnerable people.”

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