Our homes are spaces of security and comfort. Now, as much of the world is confined to them, this has never felt more true. We retreat to our homes for shelter, safety and warmth. Each of us is lucky to have a space to call our own.
As well as being places of comfort, Way of Life buildings are sites of connection. Residents see them as social hubs, gathering in our lounges, libraries and studios (now all, of course, closed). Our buildings are also entry points to community participation. We find joy in supporting local businesses and seeing residents giving back to local causes. All of this is what makes a Way of Life home.
But life has changed rapidly for all of us in the past weeks. Those communal areas usually so alive with activity are quiet, those local businesses we support have shuttered doors. We are adapting. Our central question is: how can we maintain a sense of togetherness between our residents, our team and our wider community – even the nation at large – as physical connection becomes an impossibility?
Thursday night’s Clap for our Carers was electrifying. Our team was overwhelmed with the response, and now they’re working to extend that thank you even further. Despite the government’s promise that no one should lose the safety of their home due to COVID-19, evictions are on the rise. Key workers including NHS staff are not exempt. Way of Life is now working to provide housing to essential staff, so that they can see out the storm in a place they feel safe, as they work to protect us all. We’re also offering free parking for NHS staff working in the hospitals nearby our buildings.
Some of the UK’s key workers live within our buildings, and we’re making sure they take time for themselves, too. The mental health charity Mind offers a monthly subscription box called Pause, which boosts wellbeing with prompts for meditative activities like journaling or origami. As a business we’ve signed up all NHS workers and vulnerable residents in our buildings to receive a subscription to Pause, the proceeds from which will go back to Mind.
We’re reaching out – figuratively speaking, of course – to our local community as well. Many of our residents have stepped up as community liaisons, joining COVID Mutual Aid UK groups to protect the most vulnerable. Those enterprises that are still up and running will be our ports of call for food deliveries, as we support self-isolating residents with essential goods. Meanwhile local businesses who have had to temporarily close their doors know that we’ll be back as soon as they are.
We’re proud to say we can still offer the same sense of connection to our residents even when the majority of our team is working from home, through video calls in place of face-to-face interactions. Our social platforms have become digital hubs for tips on coping with self-isolation, including recipes from our in-house nutritionist Hope Pointing. We’re moving our clubs online where possible, and have launched complimentary online fitness classes while our studios are out of use.
It is sad to see the shared amenity spaces empty in our buildings, for those are really the heart of Way of Life. We look forward to opening them up when it is safe to do so. In the meantime we are doing our best to maintain a sense of connection with our team, residents and community. For that is really what makes a Way of Life home.
Way of Life Team