Learning the lessons of lockdown

14/07/2020

In a report published today, HACT evaluates A2Dominion’s response to the Covid-19 crisis.

“Since the UK went into lockdown, social housing organisations have been on the frontline of responding to the many challenges that have emerged,” Andrew van Doorn, Chief Executive of HACT stated. “The work they have been doing in ensuring the security and safety of their residents and communities has been absolutely vital. This evaluation report documents the response by A2Dominion to the numerous challenges they and their residents have faced.

“Building and learning from evidence is something to which we as a sector need to be committed. There is so much more we can do when we learn from the unprecedented experiences and responses of staff and residents during this period. Taking the time to reflect, as A2Dominion have done here, is central to ensuring our organisations and communities are prepared for the further challenges to come.”

Dawn Wightman, Director of Housing Services A2Dominion, said: “We have worked hard as an organisation to meet this challenge and put our customers at the heart of what we do.

“While we are proud of our response to date, we are committed to improving so we can continue to provide the most effective support for our customers and help them improve their lives.”

The report, entitled Responding to the crisis, sets out the five key main challenges faced by A2Dominion: confinement, finances and employment, digital connectivity, food access and medicine access. The evaluation is based on interviews and surveys with A2Dominion staff, partners and customers. The key findings were:

  • • Welfare calls: 2,775 calls made to customers over 70 years old, 18.8% of whom required further advice or support, as well as 192 calls to customers under 30 years old, of whom 67.1% required further support.
  • • Tenancy sustainment: referrals to this service were 121% higher than comparable months in 2019. In April, there was an unprecedented increase in claims for Universal Credit with 836 new cases, 6.5 times the monthly average from the previous six months.
  • • Staff redeployment: with spare staff resource from some business areas being used to increase capacity in frontline roles.
  • • Adapted working practices: shifting services for customers online and changing internal working practices to work remotely.

The report includes a number of recommendations for A2Dominion about future working practices including maintaining welfare calls and increasing frontline contact for staff, as well as implementing comprehensive mental health support for customers and staff, and extending and adapting their employment offer.

“If there is one thing this period has demonstrated, it is the value of being more than a landlord,” added Andrew van Doorn. “Across the UK, housing associations have played a vital role on the frontline of keeping their communities safe and secure. Within the sector there is sometimes a tendency to not consider community investment as core work. Covid-19 has demonstrated that this is false; community investment is central to why housing associations exist.

“The success of A2Dominion’s response to this crisis has been down to its commitment to community investment and is a clear reminder of the need to continue and extend that commitment.”

Notes to editors:

Responding to the crisis: an evaluation of A2Dominion’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic is available to download from the HACT web site.