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.”