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A year where the world as we had known it changed beyond all recognition

Sally Thomas, SFHA Chief Executive, reflects on the past year as we mark the one-year anniversary of the UK-wide Covid-19 lockdown.

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It’s hard to comprehend that today marks the one-year anniversary of the UK-wide coronavirus pandemic lockdown. No doubt, like all of you, I could never have imagined then that we would spend 2020 in and out of national and local lockdowns and most of us would still be working from home.

The past year has been a roller coaster of challenges, uncertainty and disconnection as well as a Groundhog Day of repetition, of our home environment, the people we see and the routines we have had to adopt. And, through it all, having to manage a difficult and complex mix of emotions – fear, sadness, loneliness, anger and loss – both in our own lives as well as in the wider world. 

The pandemic has been particularly difficult for those who have been personally affected by Covid and especially those who have lost loved ones.

I want to take this opportunity as we mark the anniversary to reflect on the past year. A year where the world as we had known it changed beyond all recognition.

Our members were quick to respond to Covid-19, introducing remote working while continuing to deliver vital services as well as adapting and creating new ones. Housing associations and co-operatives have more than proved their worth as pivotal community anchor organisations, forming new, local partnerships in order to support those who needed it most. They have supported communities across Scotland by delivering food and medicine, providing access to technology and the internet to keep people connected, carrying out wellbeing calls, and donating emergency hardship funds.

Not only has the pandemic shown just how vital having a safe, warm, energy efficient home is, it has also shone a bright spotlight on the value of housing associations and co-operatives and their wider impact which goes far beyond delivering affordable housing.

Our lives and work have changed forever. Despite the many challenges, we’ve also learned many things, not least the need to move faster on modernising our working practices and services.

I know that, as we climb cautiously out of the crisis, the changes we’ve started to make, some forced, some through choice, will continue and flourish; the passion we bring to our work will give us the energy and enthusiasm for what comes next. 

Our sector has shown just how resilient it is during the past year. I can’t praise all of you enough for all that you’ve done, for your tenants and residents, their communities and your colleagues, who’ve walked with and beside you through it all. It makes me so proud to work in a sector that has not only stepped up but stepped beyond, doing more than any of us would have thought possible.

I know this has been a long and exhausting year. Keep focusing on the hope that has sustained us throughout the crisis and will see us out of it. The social housing sector is going to be a crucial part of Scotland’s recovery from the pandemic, and, together, we will get through the task that lies ahead.

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