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Posted 21 July 2021

Rural Housing Association

As part of Rural Community Network’s ‘In This Together Project’ showcasing the positive side of rural communities through COVID-19 Ruth Montgomery, Business Development Manager, tells of what is happening within the Rural Housing Association.

What impact is COVID-19 having on your organisation or the street/community where you live?

COVID-19 has had a significant impact on Rural Housing Association tenants.  Many tenants fall into the vulnerable category due to their age or health conditions.  As a result, many RHA tenants have been heavily impacted by shielding measures aimed at protecting them from COVID-19.  Whilst these shielding measures are vital to protecting the health of RHA tenants, it has meant many tenants in rural communities are feeling extremely isolated and lonely.

Are you aware of examples of good positive relations in your community? Have you been directly involved yourself in any positive actions?

Rural Housing staff have been working with all tenants to identify which tenants require support.  This has included regular check-in calls, referrals to support agencies and food deliveries to those tenants with no family members to offer support.  Rural Housing Association has also been linking in with local community organisations as part of this process and has witnessed first-hand the immense efforts taking place in rural communities across NI to support the most vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic.  A new sense of revived community spirit has emerged during this crisis as communities work together to support those most in need within rural communities.

What are the challenges and barriers to your work at the minute?

Whilst the logistics of supporting tenants in rural communities right across Northern Ireland has been a challenge during lockdown, Rural Housing Association has been working in partnership with local community organisations and businesses based in rural communities to ensure that tenants most impacted by shielding measures have access to food and support services where required.

What are your hopes for the future?

We hope that following the COVID-19 epidemic this community spirit which has emerged during a time of adversity remains a lasting legacy.  It is these relationships and support networks, focused on supporting the vulnerable in rural communities, that can bring people together and reduce the impact of rural isolation.

YouTube - Ruth Montgomery, RHA