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Caring in COVID: Community support gives a boost to Avalon Court

Residents and staff at Sanctuary Supported Living’s Avalon Court, a supported housing service in Ipswich for people with physical and learning disabilities, were overwhelmed with the support they’ve received from their local community over the past few months.

At the start of lockdown, residents began taking part in the ‘Postcards of Kindness’ project, receiving cards, postcards and photos from people of all ages, from across the country. Residents enjoyed responding to them all, with support from staff when needed. They also received letters and pictures from staff at other Sanctuary services, with everyone working hard to spread as much positivity as possible.

As many residents have underlying conditions that meant they were vulnerable or shielding, receiving something nice in the post really brightened their day. They have since created a letter-shaped wall display for all their post, so residents can stop by and read them whenever they want.

Staff also got a little lift when they received little stone decorations from a mystery sender, which were hand-painted with rainbows and ‘thank you keyworker’. Staff commented how much it meant to them, to know that their community was thinking of them, especially during the more difficult days of lockdown. Local Service Manager Katrina also brought in homemade cakes each week, to give staff a mood-boosting treat during their breaks, after stressful shifts wearing full PPE.

As well as all the letters and cards, residents received donkey-themed activity packs, including games and colouring, from ‘Miniature donkeys for wellbeing’, who provided an entertaining mini donkey visit at Avalon Court last year. While the donkeys were unable to visit due to restrictions, residents had fun completing the activity packs and remembering how much they enjoyed spending time with the animals.

When the kind team at the local Asda Stoke Park in Ipswich heard how hard the staff were working to support residents and keep the service free from Covid-19, they donated two food hampers, one savoury and one sweet, as a pick-me-up. The hampers were well-received by staff and residents alike, and included tea, hot chocolate, cakes and activity books, as well as some rainbow and ‘pocket hug’ decorations made by local schoolgirl Dejah, in her ‘Operation Spread a Smile’.

The community district nurse team generously donated a mobile phone to the service, so that residents could more easily contact their families. Many residents found it particularly difficult to be separated from their family and friends during lockdown, so having the mobile phone provided reassurance that they could easily keep in touch with loved ones.

Katrina said: “We’re so grateful to our community for all the support we’ve received. Since the pandemic and lockdown began, the kindness we’ve been shown by so many people, both locally and across the country, really means a lot and has got us all through some tough times. It’s wonderful to know that we are in a supportive community that supports us to care for some of the most vulnerable people in our society.”

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