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Michelle’s update: December 2020

This year, the festive season will take a different shape for us all as we adjust to the restrictions put in place to manage the pandemic. As we draw closer to 2021, I wanted to reflect on what we have achieved this year and to remind you of what we are doing to support you and deliver the best service possible.

At the start of the pandemic, we called over 80,000 vulnerable and elderly residents to ensure they had the support they needed, we kept our services going despite a national lockdown and worked hard to pull together and support communities.

Despite the ever-changing situation, we are continuing to deliver a normal repairs service, with our teams operating under Covid-secure ways of working to keep you and your families safe. We are also doing our best to support those of you who are experiencing financial difficulty or need support finding employment. This is a year-round service so if you’re struggling, please reach out by completing this form and a member of our Guideline team will be in touch.

We’re also doing our bit to make life a little easier with our new and improved online account. Since we launched our new website in September, we have seen the number of residents benefitting rise to 35,000.

The new online account offers flexibility and security, and you can tick off tasks from any device. We are working hard to introduce new personalised features in the new year, so please keep a lookout for future updates. If you haven’t registered, it’s easy to do. If you already have an account, you simply need to reset your password.

We are continuously looking for ways to support you, which is why each year we produce the Clarion Index report. This allows us to shape our services based on your needs. Over May and June, a unique and unprecedented time when restrictions from the first lockdown were being lifted, we spoke to 2000 residents about issues affecting them.

This year, we specifically asked a number of questions to shine a light on how the pandemic has affected the lives of our residents. Although everyone has felt the impact, I was heartened to note that 86% of residents were ‘coping well’ and it was particularly reassuring to see this in our older residents. This is testament to our tight-knit communities and services that make me feel incredibly proud and inspired, and we are already putting in place other ways we can help our residents who have found things tougher during this period.

I was also encouraged to see that those who had gone without food dropped significantly this year and those concerned about finances also improved. It goes without saying that the numbers are still too high, but we believe they reflect the vital work our Clarion Futures and Tenancy Sustainment teams are delivering to support people in financial difficulty.

Although we are still in the midst of a turbulent time with much uncertainly ahead, we are hoping that the year ahead brings more positivity. In my next issue, I’ll be updating you on our 2040 strategy, aimed at making our existing and new homes the best they can be, our new local offer initiative and the new ways you can get involved.

Before I sign off and wish you all the best for the new year, I wanted to touch base on the work we do with St Mungo’s, a cause that is very close to my heart.

St Mungo’s is a homeless charity, dedicated to getting people off the streets. With the pandemic bringing new challenges and winter approaching, we are working with them to get people into warm, safe accommodation. This year, Clarion began a three-year partnership to raise funds and offer support, with resources and expertise to help tackle the causes of homelessness and support people in rebuilding their lives.

We have already made significant steps in our mission, securing £1.3m in Government funding to provide homes for former rough sleepers, and opened the doors to a temporary accommodation scheme in Brighton. Ten brave Clarion staff also abseiled 260 feet down the ArcelorMittal Orbit, raising more than £3,000 for St Mungo’s.

We will continue to do all we can to tackle this important cause.

Finally, I would like to remind you all that we will be operating special opening hours during the Christmas period but we are on hand if you need us.

We wish you all the very best for the festive period and the year ahead from us all here at Clarion.

Michelle Reynolds