As we start to move towards “life after lockdown”, and understand what that might mean for us, it is important to recognise that there will still be ongoing restrictions in place for the foreseeable future, and the way we work will not be the same for some time.
Over recent weeks, there have been significant challenges, not only in terms of how we deliver our services to increasingly isolated people, but also in how we support our staff to work safely throughout.
We have seen a dramatic increase in the demand for some our core services too, in particular the need for refuge accommodation and refuge for the homeless – we expect this will continue for some time.
During the ongoing crisis, our aim has been to provide help, support and guidance as best we can; always doing the right thing for the people who most need it and this means we have had to make a number of changes to the way we do things.
We have been careful – Wherever we saw that work could continue in carefully controlled conditions, and well within government guidelines, we have continued to work in that capacity and monitor the situation closely. Where is was not safe to carry on working, we have paused the delivery of those services until it is safe to resume.
We have been considerate – Providing our residential services and those for higher-risk customers has been particularly challenging. However, I am proud of the dedication our staff have shown to ensure that customers in care or recovery have received the very best support they can.
We have been creative – Whenever we saw opportunities to provide help and support online, we introduced new services such as live chat, video calls and virtual support groups. Our systems and processes have been updated to allow for homeworking and our staff have been flexible in how they work.
I would sincerely like to thank our customers for their continued support and understanding as we have made these changes, and I would like to thank our staff for their determination and commitment throughout. I would especially like to thank those who have volunteered to help others in their local community – even when furloughed.
What happens next
We have started to understand a little more about what will happen next; how we will need to keep changing in response to the situation, and what that will mean for our customers and staff.
We can’t predict the future, but we do know that it will not go back to “the way it was before” – at least not for some time. In the short term we expect little difference as we continue to deliver the majority of our services as we have during the crisis.
We do however, recognise that the work we do makes a real difference people’s lives, and that we have a responsibility to our people, customers, partners, and the wider economy to do the right thing and support them through the coming months.
Our commitments to you:
We will still prioritise our work around the needs of the most vulnerable people in our communities and, for repairs services, we will make emergency repairs jobs our top priority.
Although some services may take longer, or may be delivered differently due to safety guidelines, we will ensure that the wellbeing of our customers is our top priority. Where additional support is needed to help our most vulnerable customers, we will identify ways to do this.
We will continue to offer and develop online or remote services for customers who are isolated or vulnerable.
We recognise that people will need to self-isolate or be shielded for many weeks to come. Where we have introduced new services to help customers, and these have worked, we will ensure that these are still provided.
We will ensure that services that are reopening, or restarting on site, will be done as safely as possible, in keeping with and, if possible, exceeding Government Guidelines.
For our new build construction sites, Ring Stones will resume works with reduced numbers of staff on site and will work well within government guidelines. Likewise, we will ensure that community and residential services are delivered with safe social distancing maintained, and this will be closely monitored.
Supporting staff so they can support you
In order to help us look after our customers, and to ensure that the services we provide them with are protected, the health and wellbeing of our staff will always be very important to us.
We understand that everybody’s circumstances are different, and that we all have own challenges whether at work or home (or both). We will always take this into consideration and will still encourage homeworking wherever possible. This means that when our offices reopen, staffing will only be at reduced levels, and on a much smaller scale.
We kindly ask for your patience and understanding as we help our staff to continue to help you.
As we move forward, we will not forget the devastating impact the Coronavirus has on thousands of lives and our deepest sympathies goes out to the all the families and friends who have lost a loved one.