The Welfare Call Task Force made over 890 welfare calls, over five weeks, to residents; checking they were safe and providing practical support with food shopping and medication. Volunteers made weekly calls to support residents, and support for volunteers was provided through regular catch up meetings and peer support.
Residents welcomed the contact and support offered through the weekly calls. They told us the calls helped ease the anxiety and fear that the COVID-19 pandemic had created, especially for those who lived alone. Residents also told us the calls helped with feelings of isolation and loneliness. The task force had a newly created directory of COVID-19 services to draw on offered by different local authorities, which they used to signpost residents to services such as Foodbanks and local mutual aid groups. The directory proved particularly useful to residents who were self-isolating and unable to leave the house for food, as the welfare team were able to help ensure they received food packages.
Residents also reported any concerns relating to the welfare of their neighbours, when they noticed little to no activity from neighbours who usually were active. This meant our Neighbourhood Officers were able to contact these residents to check on their welfare.
The task force was also able to help residents who had concerns with finances, due to having working hours reduced or stopped. They passed their information on to our Income Officer, who was able to supply real-time advice on benefits and other financial help available for them.
Our staff who volunteered found the experience enjoyable and eye-opening, as it allowed them to interact with residents they normally would have had no contact with.
Zaiba Qureshi CEO for Housing for Women, commented “We are pleased that staff and volunteers across the organisation have been able to provide practical and emotional telephone support to our more vulnerable and isolated customers to help them to cope with their individual challenges as a result of the pandemic”.
"Helping residents has been very satisfactory. I can see my work has a positive effect on their wellbeing. It is nice knowing that I can help someone have a better life, even by just listening to them. These weekly calls keep the spirits up—both theirs and mine. I have been given family recipes for wonderful bakes, discussed the weather, news, music, films and outdoors activities during calls.
For the past six weeks, I have made calls to an extremely clinical vulnerable resident, who needs a daily carer to assist her with basic tasks such as taking the rubbish out, cooking or preparing a cup of tea. Her carer is also vulnerable and shielding and unable to visit. By undertaking the welfare calls, I have been able to sort a volunteer for the resident from a local mutual aid group to help collect her prescription from the local pharmacy. I arranged food parcels be delivered to her home address, and recently I liaised with our Older Tenants Officer to coordinate a referral to Adult Social Services for the resident. I had to contact the NHS who dispatched paramedics to the resident as a result of one of the calls. It turned out that the resident needed medical treatment for a long-term illness. I sometimes wonder, what would have happened if Housing for Women had not provided the extra support of the Welfare Call Task Force."