‘Cautious’ call from Stonewater as national restrictions set to lift

Leading social housing provider, Stonewater, is taking a “cautious” approach to the lifting of Government Covid restrictions next week amid concern over rising transmission and infection rates.

Nicholas Harris

Chief Executive, Nicholas Harris, says: “While we welcome the increased social freedoms the Government strategy brings as a positive step forward, we have taken the decision to remain cautious. The lifting of restrictions will allow people to choose how they socialise and meet up in their own time. But as a responsible employer, Stonewater has a ‘duty of care’, to our colleagues, customers and working partners.

“While infection rates remain high, businesses need to manage the impact on absence rates, which could affect our ability to deliver services. We recognise we have vulnerable customers across all our portfolios, not just in Supported Housing and Retirement Living, as well as colleagues who may be more vulnerable themselves, or have vulnerable family at home.

"Safety and wellbeing remain a top priority and we’re asking colleagues and contractors to continue with established Covid protocols. We believe that many customers will still expect or appreciate this. We’ll continue to be led by their requirements to encourage confidence, recognising that we can’t impose service delivery on those who feel uncomfortable or anxious. We will also ask customers to respect the safety of anyone meeting with them or present in their home.

“The Covid protocols we have in place are working well and for the safety of our colleagues, customers and partners they will remain from the 19th, but we will adapt elements as things evolve,” says Mr Harris.

“We’ll continue to ‘watch and wait’, and to listen carefully to what colleagues and customers are telling us. We’ve been really successful in changing the way we work and have continued to provide a first-class customer experience, which has managed not just to meet, but to surpass, pre-set targets against an unprecedented backdrop. There is certainly light at the end of the tunnel and we hope the removal of national restrictions will help address any sense of isolation and aid personal wellbeing, but we’re balancing this with sensible precautions while the situation remains so uncertain.”

Stonewater moved to remote working for their 700 employees after the first lockdown in March 2021 and was the first in the sector to announce (in May this year) that it would permanently retain a hybrid working model.