Blog from Managing Director of Property Services, Conor Bray

United Living Property Services Managing Director, Conor Bray, talks through his lockdown experience, Covid-19 and getting his business back to work.

Alok Sharma MP, Secretary of State Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy penned a letter to the industry at the end of March. He said: “The construction industry has answered the call to action. Whether by building temporary hospital wards, installing complex and life-saving oxygen systems, constructing the infrastructure that society needs to function or ensuring that people have safe and healthy homes to live in, you are delivering for our Nation through this difficult time. My heartfelt and personal thanks for everything that each and every one of you is doing to support our joint national effort.

Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick announced the Safe Working Charter on the 13th May and called for those working in housing maintenance to continue to do so with enhanced PPE and adhering to the guidance.

Over the past few months we have all been affected by Covid-19, none more so than those who have lost family and friends. You continue to be at the forefront of my mind and my thoughts go out to you and your families.

Queuing for groceries, home schooling, looking after vulnerable friends and family and social distancing have become part of the daily routine. Navigating our way through this has, for me personally and as a business, been challenging. However, we are all managing to find a way to adapt to our ‘new normal’ way of living and working.

As a business, we have continued to operate and provide essential services to our clients and customers throughout the lockdown, at a time when it has never been more important to keep customers’ homes safe and warm. We have continued to deliver emergency responsive repairs and gas servicing as well as some key safety critical projects such as emergency re-cladding work.

Behind the scenes we looked at all our projects and worked tirelessly to ensure each had a project plan that would enable us to continue working safely. We also put together new risk assessments and Covid-19 management plans that are specific to each site and client, following the guidance set by the government and the Construction Leadership Council.

This meant setting out each site operation so that social distancing could be maintained at all times – securing the correct PPE for each worker, whilst ensuring we didn’t impact on the NHS supplies; marking out the site floors to allow for one way access only; making sure site inductions take place outside with plenty of space for people to keep at least two metres apart; installing wash stations so that teams can keep washing their hands; keeping in contact throughout with residents to keep them up to date with the changes we made and why we made them and also answering any questions they have.

We have adapted our ways of working on site and in our offices to ensure we create a safe working environment and prevent further infection.

Our Community Liaison Manager, Jaqueline Noon has supported our clients though these difficult times. She has; supported volunteers at the Pepy’s Social Supermarket, in the Lewisham Homes community in getting food hygiene training so that they can support the foodbank at a time when they need it most; worked with Clarion Housing Group and their community project, ‘the Mid Surrey Community Fridge Hub’, which delivered 2,916 bags of food in April to vulnerable residents; became a befriender with Peabody, to help support isolated people in their communities; making check-in calls on vulnerable/shielding residents for Westminster City Council.

As a nation we seem to be turning a corner in our battle against Covid-19, although we must continue to be vigilant and follow the guidance.

We continue to have daily dialogue with our clients, working closely with them and our health and safety teams to ensure we re-start sites and services in a controlled and safe manner.

Throughout May we re-mobilised a number of projects and we have agreed pilot schemes to test our safe working methods with numerous clients.

I am confident that we will continue to create opportunities and grow as a business and I am proud of my whole team and how they have really pulled together during these times and worked to find solutions as challenges arise.