Reponding to the crisis - Community Gateway Association

Tuesday 26th of May 2020

We asked Tpas member, Sian Coulton, Community Engagement Manager at Community Gateway Association the tell us how she has responded to the crisis in your engagement role. 

As the crisis hit, staff at Community Gateway Association (CGA) got together to devise a plan of action to enable them to continue to deliver the best service and support possible to all their tenants.

They quickly launched a Coronavirus Support Hub service, offering help at the end of the phone or online. The team has already helped 731 people and dealt with nearly 856 different requests. These range from families struggling to buy food or get to the shops, others with job worries concerned about mounting electricity bills or redundancy, those self-isolating or “shielding” unsure how to get medication or elderly people simply wanting someone to talk to. Every vulnerable tenant also gets a personal call to check they are okay.

Sian Coulton, Community Engagement Team manager, said: “Our priorities have been two-fold. Firstly to provide the support needed now– we’ve delivered nearly 5,500 food parcels and run a Mobile Pantry for example - but secondly to make sure that despite lockdown rules, our engagement with tenants continues and grows in novel ways. We’ve ramped up our digital offer with employment and skills training online including live Q and As, quizzes to combat social isolation, educational resources and useful “how to” guides. Our social media following is growing and our tenant-only Facebook group allows customers to feed back and share. We hold committee meetings virtually, so tenants still have the opportunity to shape services and we’re supporting community groups with our Community Fund.

My personal favourite project has been “Kids in the Kitchen” – a partnership with local charity, The Larder. CGA colleagues delivered food and recipe cards to local families, whose children were then able to join in a lunchtime video cooking class. It not only helped address food poverty, but was also a godsend for parents struggling to entertain children at home.