Sarah Armstrong is a familiar face at HYELM Old Street. As manager, Sarah spends her time providing support, making sure the building facilities stay safe and managing staff. The pandemic means lots has changed in the day-to-day running of the development, and although Sarah is continuing to work remotely, there are some jobs that have to be done in person. Here’s how she spent a typical week during lockdown.
First on the agenda every Monday is to check in with the team on the ground. It enables Sarah to find out about any operational problems from the night before and sort them out straight away. She will then brief the team on the day ahead. Normally, following this, she would take a quick walk around the building to double check that everything is running as it should. However, due to working remotely, today the walk is completed by the onsite duty management team.
Sarah then spends her afternoon focusing on the maintenance work taking place, checking the jobs that need doing and calling the various contractors to get the works sorted. These jobs vary from assessing issues within the flats to general building work. Sarah also ensures the contractors are following the correct safety procedures, as they have been living at HYELM during lockdown.
Sarah makes sure to check in with residents who are feeling the stresses and strains that have come with the pandemic. The residents are the heart of HYELM, and with so many of them being key workers it’s important to Sarah to provide as much support as possible. Sarah loves the personal bonds she forms with the residents, but as a result of COVID methods of communication have changed. HYELM have set up group Zoom sessions so residents have the opportunity to discuss any issues, or in case any just want to see some friendly faces.
One resident has helped organise a free virtual yoga class in an attempt to alleviate some of the anxieties caused by lockdown, which Sarah joined. Although becoming a yoga master was not in Sarah’s job description, nobody said anything about HYELM team members getting involved!
The morning begins by evaluating the current procedures in place to see if any should be adjusted or initiated, to ensure HYELM continue to comply with government guidelines.
A lot has changed at HYELM since the start of the pandemic. We’ve implemented one-way walking systems throughout the building and increased the cleaning schedule in a bid to help prevent the spread of the virus. We’ve checked that the residents have enough hand sanitiser and disinfectant in their flats, and even offered our laundrette services free of charge. We know the difference a small gesture can make, and want to do everything we can to ensure the safety of our residents.
In the height of lockdown we also provided complimentary ‘everyday essentials’ packages, including toilet roll and cleaning supplies so that our residents could limit their trips to the shops. We also offered food parcels for any residents who were self-isolating, to further help them out.
Our occupancy is constantly changing at HYELM as residents move on to other rented accommodation, or get their first foot on the property ladder. This means viewings often need sorting for potential residents. While Sarah and the team normally do viewings face-to-face, today she emailed pictures and videos of available flats to prospective residents. Sarah also offered a contact-free signing-up process to those who wanted the rooms.
Every Thursday Sarah meets up with the CEO, director of operations, director of finance and the finance team to discuss different aspects of HYELM and pressing items that focus on resident issues, including what is working well or needs improving. The last few months have been a change for us all so it is vital to report if something we’ve done hasn’t worked well during this time. The meeting also provides a chance to have a well-being check on the HYELM staff.
Sarah’s morning begins with a video meeting with residents who are feeling the financial implications that COVID has thrown their way. They discussed the support that HYELM can offer including arranging rent deferment schemes. We’re dedicated to making sure that no resident is left without a roof over their head, so chats like these are not uncommon.
In the afternoon Sarah decided to relax a bit by doing some cooking. HYELM has been working with food blogger, A Mouthful of Mark, who has been sharing affordable, quick and nutritious recipes for residents to recreate. Sarah had a go at his latest recipe. Her verdict: delicious!