L&Q offers office staff chance to support vulnerable people during pandemic

Published on 12/05/2020

An office worker has described what it’s like to swap spreadsheets for saucepans by turning his hand to cooking for vulnerable people during the coronavirus pandemic.

Stratford-based housing association L&Q has offered employees the opportunity to help out at its schemes which support vulnerable residents after being inundated with requests to volunteer.

James Varley, Head of Joint Venture Partnerships in the Counties region, has recently started cooking on Sundays at one of L&Q’s mental health support schemes in east London.

James, who completed food hygiene and safeguarding training and an induction before being allowed to volunteer, said: “Their usual cook has been having to self-isolate so I’ve started going down and making a Sunday roast for all of them.

“The staff in these schemes are on the front line at the moment, and it didn’t feel right to have a bit of spare time and not go down and help. The food seemed to go down well – all of the residents ate it and there were a few that came back for seconds.

“Everyone was friendly and the staff were really helpful. It was nice to be able to take over in the kitchen and let them get on with taking care of the residents.”

James also said the experience helped break up the monotony of lockdown.

He added: “At the moment we are all under lock and key, but me and my family are well and healthy and it feels good to do something outside of the home. It’s also a change from all the meetings and spreadsheets I spend my time on during the week. Having some face-to-face interaction with colleagues and residents has been really nice.

“I was approved to volunteer for the NHS as well, but it’s felt good to do it with L&Q colleagues and help support the business during this time.”

Charlie Culshaw, L&Q's Director of Care and Support, said: "My teams have been doing an amazing job of keeping everything running smoothly during the pandemic, but we have also been really impressed by the number of staff from other parts of the business who have wanted to come and help out.

“It just goes to show that people see working at L&Q and supporting the most vulnerable members of society as a vocation rather than just a job.”