Message from our Chief Executive

COVID-19

I write to advise you of the action the Trust is taking to ensure it can provide the maximum support possible to all involved within our industry. The actions we have taken may appear to be somewhat stronger than many other organisations but we have to be mindful of the fact that we have within our care umbrella over 400 very vulnerable residents on our estates. Our actions therefore are driven by the care we need to offer to three particular groups: firstly our residents and their families, secondly our own staff, volunteers and affiliates, and thirdly the largest group, the millions of colleagues who work in retail and its support services industries.

Residents and their families

To protect the most vulnerable in society, who make up our resident group, we have taken the necessary but unwelcome decision to go into lock-down on our estates where no non-essential visitors will be allowed to enter the estates. Whilst this may cause some dissatisfaction amongst family members, our duty of care transcends any considerations.

We are making every effort to ensure the social isolation this causes is kept to a minimum. We are looking to introduce virtual friends in the shape of Amazon Echo Show devices wherever possible to allow contact between family members and their nearest and dearest on the estates by way of the video facility. This will also allow us to monitor residents remotely demonstrating any vulnerability or health symptoms of concern. Also 42% of our non-estates staff are now helping their colleagues on the estates. This will give us additional resources to help with simple household jobs for residents, shopping and befriending services to ensure we are on top of maintaining a high degree of resident wellness. 

We have also started to create food banks on all the estates which residents will be able to access if their normal shopping habits are curtailed. We are still in need of more volunteers to help support the staff and residents on the estates. At some point, we may need to close the restaurant areas and deliver meals to residents in their own flats or cottages. We would still plan to prepare meals for the residents but might need to stop them congregating in the restaurant if we had a resident suffering from COVID-19. Our cleaning staff are carrying out deep cleaning on a regular basis to ensure we minimise any possible risk.

Our employees, volunteers and affiliates

We are ensuring that as many of our staff and affiliates are protected by asking them to operate from home. We have already had over 60 of our regular face-to-face counsellors volunteer to deliver telephonic counselling to minimise social contact. So far, we have seen no major downside in ensuring we continue to support our colleagues in retail and its supporting service industries. We are monitoring our effectiveness every day. The safety and security of all is paramount. No one who cannot work will be financially disadvantaged.

Colleagues in retail and the supporting services

We are conscious of the fact that demand for our services is only going to grow exponentially over the coming months. We are increasing both physical resources and digital resources to ensure we can cope with an increase in demand in the short-term, which may be up to 50%. We are setting aside additional financial resources. Over the next three months we will be investing in a chatbot for myrtwellbeing.org.uk to deliver a much more robust service around-the-clock. We have dedicated content on COVID-19, which is attracting high levels of use. Please feel free to direct your staff to the relevant articles on myrtwellbeing.org.uk

Visit myrtwellbeing.org.uk

With the forecasted increase in demand for financial support, we are planning to work in partnership with key retailers to create a capital appeal to support those retail workers suffering hardship as a result of COVID-19. We have already been approached by a number of retailers seeking our help to create hardship funds for their staff. If this would be helpful for your organisation, please get in touch with us.

Our retail colleagues are working extremely hard to support the nation and it is only fitting that we seek the help of the general public to support those selfless workers.

With the country about to go into what will be undoubtedly be a period of lock-down, great disruption and uncertainty, I would just like to assure everyone that having weathered the last 188 years, we are confident that the Trust will weather the once-in-a-lifetime challenges of the coming year. It does feel a bit like a battle zone at the moment but the resilience for which our nation is renowned around the world will serve us well.

I would just like to thank all of our supporters, our residents, our business partners, our staff and volunteers for the wonderful support they give year in, year out. It is truly humbling to see the joy and relief that our services bring to those in need. 

Be well, be safe and be careful.

With best wishes,

Richard Boland 
Chief Executive | retailTRUST