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Kind-hearted Betty is neighbourhood hero

A customer who jumped into action to support neighbours in one of our retirement living communities near Wolverhampton during the coronavirus crisis, has been shortlisted for a top award.

Betty has always enjoyed helping people and in lockdown she found new ways to support her neighbours. Now she has been shortlisted for a national award being presented by the Housing Quality Network (HQN). The Frontline Stars Award recognises frontline workers, volunteers and members of the public who have gone the extra mile to make a difference to the lives of others during the pandemic.

Social distancing measures introduced in March brought the temporary closure of the popular on-site restaurants in our retirement living communities and a halt to the usual social activities. Family members kept apart to protect older and vulnerable residents and although the Care Plus team provided individual support and made thousands of reassurance calls each week, we understand that it has been a worrying time for all our residents.

When lockdown happened in Betty’s scheme, the good neighbour started by contacting a local pub, to arrange twice-weekly carvery meals. With the help of our staff, she organised socially-distant ordering, payment and delivery of hot meals:  “People just have to pop them in the microwave. I’ve been really careful of course. I don’t go into anyone’s home and keep my distance but I think everyone has enjoyed having someone to talk to. While we haven’t seen as much of our families, it’s been good to have a chat. My rounds took longer every week!”

As well as providing the meals and keeping in touch with everyone, Betty also put her sewing machine to good use by making countless kit bags for carers.

Neighbour June, said that Betty has been a good friend during the crisis: “If ever you are in trouble or want anything Betty is always there. She went above and beyond with what she has done and nothing is too much trouble. I think she definitely deserves to win.”

The daughter of another neighbour was also full of praise: “During the pandemic Betty has been so helpful. Knowing that my mom has dementia and that I was unable to visit, she contacted me to ask what sort of meals mom liked and even offered to pay! I am so grateful for all the assistance she has given to mom and myself.”

Kathryn Smoczkiewicz is the Care Plus housing and wellbeing manager at Betty’s scheme. “As a manager, one of my main concerns was when our restaurant had to close. So many people rely on the restaurant and its closure was always going to have a big impact. When everyone had to stand back, though, Betty stepped forward. Our team worked hard to make sure residents were supported and Betty worked with us. She’s really shone.”

The HQN Frontline Star Award will be presented in a virtual ceremony on 16 July.