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Housing Staff In Crisis Response

Housing officers in South Tyneside are being praised for going above and beyond to support older tenants during the coronavirus crisis.

South Tyneside Homes' Housing Plus officers and Neighbourhood Officers immediately contacted all residents across the organisation's 31 Housing Plus schemes, Joseph Collin House, Riverside Apartments and Durham Court, when the Government introduced measures around social distancing, staying and home and avoiding all but essential journeys.

Since then, more than 130 residents have been supported with issues around food shopping and picking up prescriptions and then referred to Age Concern for ongoing support.

Councillor Ed Malcolm, Chair of South Tyneside Homes Board, said: "The Government's restrictions on people's movements and calls for residents to stay at home amid the coronavirus crisis affects every single person. Everyone is having to change their way of life to stay safe. These are very challenging times for society.

"But for our older residents this can be particularly worrying and frightening. Many of them are extremely vulnerable, in the most 'at risk' group and shielding at home in line with the rigorous measures to minimise all interaction and avoid any face-to-face contact to prevent being exposed to the virus. Many of them don't have any other means of support.

"Our housing officers immediately made contact with our older tenants to see how they were and if they could support in any way, offering both practical and emotional support to those feeling isolated and frightened.

"Thanks to the commitment and willingness of housing officers to go the extra mile, our older residents continue to receive the help they need with getting essentials, medical supplies and support if they are struggling with their wellbeing."

Age Concern spoke to all the tenants within 36 hours of receiving the referral being made by South Tyneside Homes, with the majority of them contacted on the same day. All those who have needed shopping and prescriptions have received support and added to Age Concern's weekly welfare call.

Grahame Cassidy, Chief Officer at Age Concern Tyneside South said: "I am proud to say that working in partnership with South Tyneside Homes has been a genuinely good experience. In record time we have set up smooth communication channels and processes.

"South Tyneside Homes are identifying tenants at risk who require our assistance and referring them across within a very short timeframe. This has meant that we are able to assist people before it becomes a crisis reducing hardship for the older person and reducing the risk of hospitalisation. The South Tyneside Homes staff have shown a real desire to support their residents during this difficult time."

The feedback from the residents has been extremely positive with some saying it offered them a lifeline at a time in need. One resident of Calf Close House in Jarrow said: "Big thanks again for the help, I'm really thankful for everyone's support."

South Tyneside Council also continues to operate a Covid-19 Support Hub for people who are 'shielding' or isolating without any other means of support. The support also includes regular welfare checks by the Council as well as signposting to financial or welfare support, befriending services, mental health and third sector support.

The service available, on (0191) 424 7575,operates from 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday, from 9am to 1pm, on Saturdays and Sundays.

Further information about the local support available is available at www.southtyneside.gov.uk/coronavirus