One of the big challenges that all housing associations face is how to support residents who are socially isolated. This was true before the coronavirus pandemic, it’s certainly the case during it, and it will be long after it is over.
At Citizen we wanted to support our residents to connect during lockdown and, working with the Royal British Legion and the National Memorial Arboretum, we came up with a plan to help people mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day on 8 May.
The bank holiday was moved for this very special landmark and it’s likely that housing associations around the UK, especially in supported housing and retirement living settings, would have planned parties and other activities to help residents to mark it.
We didn’t want this to be lost, so working with the Legion and the Arboretum we created activity packs which could be sent or given out to residents to help them to mark the occasion in their own way during lockdown.
There are packs for adults and children and they include activities, Second World War recipes, Churchill speeches, puzzles, wartime song lyrics and other tools to help people commemorate this important moment in our history.
Our residents and staff have greeted this in a hugely positive way and we knew others would too, so wanted to share it with the sector. We created a pack for housing associations with everything they needed to do something similar for their residents and staff. This includes draft website and intranet stories, draft social media posts, pictures to use and more.
With the help of the National Housing Federation and our other networks we distributed this, and the response has been incredible, with several hundred housing associations up and down the UK accessing the pack and getting involved.
This means many thousands of people will get the chance to mark VE Day from lockdown.
What’s been so positive about the response is the extent to which people have so willingly got involved and not turned the opportunity down because it wasn’t their idea.
This is an approach I’d like to see us take forward and use more often. Some of the best projects I’ve been involved in during my career have been partnerships with others or have been inspired by work that others have done.
If ever there was a time to share work that can help us to support people in our communities, it’s now. And perhaps one of the positives to emerge from this unprecedented situation is that we can find ways to work together more closely.
Let’s use our collective genius and when we have ideas for projects like this, let’s share them and make it as easy as possible for others to get involved, because ultimately it is the people we exist to support that benefit.