Life during lockdown in sheltered housing

Susan Ferry and Christine Glenwright at Bowmont House during lockdown

A huge “thank you” to our housing officer Susan Ferry for writing this blog about life during lockdown for tenants and staff at our Bowmont House extra care sheltered housing scheme in Great Park, Newcastle.

“Christine Glenwright and I (pictured above) have worked at Bowmont House during the lockdown period in what has been the most surreal times.

“While it has been challenging and sometimes worrying, we have had some lighter fun moments and enjoyed coming into work and have felt privileged to be able to ensure that some of our most vulnerable tenants were well cared for, supported and safe when they couldn’t see or have visits from their own families.

“Our windows have been decorated with rainbows, we have posters telling everyone to stay at home and stay safe ,we made a newsletter each week with various topical articles such as VE Day with pictures, brief news updates about the virus and its rules, quizzes and poems and some of our tenants took part in the Thursday ‘NHS Clap’.

“Our communal lounges were closed for sitting and socialising in but we made a “walkway” through our main lounge with two rows of chairs so tenants could go outside to the garden for some fresh air on sunny days if they wanted to – the hairdresser has not been in so none of us were looking our best, the restaurant was closed but the kitchen staff have still been at work cooking and between the carers and ourselves, we have delivered a three course hot meal and a light tea everyday to everyone.

“During this time, we have been shown kindness from complete strangers as well as families of tenants, a sporting club and the mother of one of the carers.

“Jasmine who is one of the carers has had her mother trying out her baking and icing skills and bringing staff the results every week, needless to say we have all gained lockdown weight!

“And when family members were dropping shopping off for their parents, they were leaving biscuits, chocolates and sweets for all staff to share which again has done nothing for our waistlines.

“A woman who works for GNER and was furloughed lives here on Great Park and she asked on her Facebook page if anyone wanted to write letters, postcards, drawings etcetera to be given to everyone who lived in Bowmont House and a couple of care homes in the area to which she had a great response.

“She has been in twice over the last five months with bags of letters and cards and small rainbow hanging decorations that had been made or written by her children, their friends, relatives and strangers to which our tenants were very grateful.

“We have had weekly donations of food from Sporting Chance North East, a not-for profit local community organisation based in Cowgate.

“They came to Bowmont in the first week of lockdown with a food parcel for one of our tenants but they didn’t realise until they got here that there were 39 other flats and staff on site in the building.

“They told us they were acting as a “hub” to accept and distribute food items as their community sport programmes and boxing club were closed so Christine and I were welcome to go and collect what we wanted.

“Since that first day they have rang weekly for us to go to their community centre and pick up anything from loaves of bread, milk, fruit, veg, yoghurts, hot cross buns, salad items and eggs.

“Anything that came in large quantities such as mushrooms, loose tomatoes, and leeks were given to the kitchen staff who used them to make soups and pasta sauces.

“As things are starting to relax we have family visiting again and everyone is much happier, our hairdresser has returned and our lounge is open for anyone to come and sit in although the tables and chairs are now set out to adhere to social distancing, we have had a couple of coffee and cake afternoons which has been welcomed and much appreciated as the tenants have missed being able to sit and chat to all their friends and neighbours.

“We hope in the next week or so we will be able to reopen the restaurant which will be another bit of normality for our tenants.

“Stay safe and alert everyone.”

Susan x