Embracing change to maintain community connection through Covid-19

How do you maintain such kinship when everyone’s locked down? How do you satisfy the needs of people when your doors are closed? How do you maintain your existing alliances and build new ones?

Steve Sharma

Communications Officer, Witton Lodge

Lockdown has changed the way we live forever. For Witton Lodge Community Association, society’s new culture has meant its own daily service delivery challenges – supporting tenants, training clients, guiding job seekers, helping the elderly and vulnerable – suddenly became an issue.

Engagement is key to operations; interpersonal communication which establishes connection, builds relationships and fosters trust has been the bedrock of growth and development for the Perry Common, Birmingham-based enterprise.

How do you maintain such kinship when everyone’s locked down? How do you satisfy the needs of people when your doors are closed? How do you maintain your existing alliances and build new ones?

To counter the impact of the lockdown imposed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, like many others, the Association turned to technology.

As the community, the country, the world began to embrace digital solutions to personal problems  so Witton Lodge also redefined the culture of its service delivery to ensure those who depended on it, who needed it, who relied on it, were reached and supported. The message was simple, we are still here and we are here to help you.

The world wide web gave people access to all of Witton Lodge’s key services – advice and guidance around employment and health & wellbeing.  Facebook, Zoom and Whatsapp are now staples in community support, hosting digital tools and resources.

Iram Fardus, Business Development and Performance Manager for Witton Lodge explains why it was vital people still had access to the Association’s services and provision. “The circumstances we have found ourselves in made it even more important that we reach and connect with people to ensure they receive the support and information they need,” she said.

“While these are unprecedented times people’s needs remain a priority for us and we know from the conversations we were having with clients that having access to support services is absolutely critical.

“Knowing there is someone out there you can talk to, who can help you, is a massive boost for people who would otherwise be cut off from the support they are dependent on.

“And while the focus is on service delivery around employment and wellbeing, it’s just as important – in the current climate – to offer people the chance to connect and engage with others.”

Delivering support sessions online, Witton Lodge’s team of trained support specialists also provide insight and advice to alleviate the concerns and frustrations people have been having during the period of self-isolation.

“Since the lockdown was imposed it has been absolutely crucial for people to remain connected,” adds Iram.

“As a community organisation it is our responsibility to ensure people receive a level of support, care and attention which mitigates the impact of isolation.”

Visit Witton Lodge Community Association‘s website for details of all online workshops, sessions and group meetings – and how to access them.