The saying 'every cloud has a silver lining' has proved true for the residents of Hightown's Mably House over recent months. Since lockdown began, the temporary supported housing scheme in Hatfield has experienced a renewed sense of community spirit, with residents coming together to support each other through the crisis and even creating their own food bank for neighbours in need.
Residents at the scheme - which accommodates single people, couples and families in 35 self-contained flats, all whom have experienced homelessness and are living with challenges such as mental health, alcoholism and domestic abuse – pulled together thanks to a daily 'lockdown' email from support worker Tracie Caswell. Containing a fun quiz and useful advice on shopping and other essential services, the email also provided a point of contact for residents who needed or could provide help to each other. Before long, residents had joined forces to build up a foodbank to help neighbours who were facing particular hardship.
Support worker Tracie Caswell (far left) with some of the residents of Mably House
"The foodbank came about completely from the residents' own initiative, having decided not to burden the foodbanks in town that were already coping with a massive increase in demand. Residents would leave boxes of food and other essentials that they didn't need themselves and we would re-distribute the items. Within two weeks we were completely stocked up.
"Despite the fact that some residents' level of need has increased throughout lockdown, overall it has proved to be an extremely positive time. People now know their neighbours and lasting friendships have been forged. Residents are now a lot more mindful and caring of each other, for example cleaning down the bannisters and door handles in communal areas to prevent the spread of infection. Fortunately, we had no cases of the virus. So much good has come out of the experience – the residents have totally wowed me."
Now that lockdown restrictions have been partly lifted, staff are planning a pizza party to thank residents for their support.
"The hope is that the community spirit at Mably House will continue once the crisis is over. I'm pretty confident it will – we already have plans in place for a 'Mably's got talent' competition, as we have some budding musicians at the scheme. Watch this space!"