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Housing associations look to ease loneliness as tenants are asked to self-isolate because of coronavirus

Mar 20, 2020

Housing associations have drawn up plans to tackle feelings of loneliness as more tenants are forced to self-isolate to prevent further spread of coronavirus.

Clare Budden, chief executive of Clwyd Alyn housing association in North Wales, said that the organisation will aim to increase communication with tenants who are forced into isolation – particularly older residents.

She said: “What we agreed at our planning meeting is to pull together a list of all our known vulnerable customers and, through our contact centre, calling those people once a week to check how they are and see if there’s anything we can support them with.

“Particularly for older people loneliness is a really big issue. People might feel safe at home but they are going to feel quite lonely as well.”

Another Welsh housing association, Merthyr Valley Homes, said it is also increasing communications with its vulnerable residents in an attempt to prevent loneliness.

The group said it is setting up a telephone well-being service for those who are particularly affected, including the over-70s, those who are vulnerable because they may have a condition, and residents of sheltered accommodation and over-50s schemes.

It will be “offering practical emotional support for people who are feeling isolated and frightened,” said Michelle Reid, chief executive of Merthyr Valley Homes.

Brendan Sarsfield, chief executive of 55,000-home Peabody, said the group already has a “floating support service in our homes”.

“We are looking at how that can be directed to become a phone-based service to support many more people than we traditionally do, to support people in this difficult time,” he said.

The plans come after health secretary Matt Hancock warned that the over-70s could be asked by government to self-isolate for a “very long time”.

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