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barber gardens

A Lifeways service which provided accommodation to vulnerable people in the early months of the pandemic last year has been shortlisted for a national award.

The shortlisted service is Barber Gardens, a Lifeways supported living service in Chatteris, Cambridgeshire. The service, which is made up of 18 self-contained apartments, could win a Public Private Partnership Award in the LaingBuisson Awards 2020 later this month.

Here’s the story behind Barber Gardens’ inclusion to the award finals.

Early last year, Lifeways had been looking forward to opening Barber Gardens to adults who live with learning disabilities and autism.

But as the spiralling COVID-19 pandemic delayed the opening plans, Lifeways began talks with Cambridgeshire County Council to see if we could help.

With a need to free up hospital beds, Lifeways and the Barber Gardens service partnered with Cambridgeshire County Council, supported living investors Triple Point, and landlords Inclusion Housing CIC.

Speedy transformation

Working together, Barber Gardens was transformed over a period of three weeks into a rapid response accommodation unit to house vulnerable people during the pandemic.

The flexible accommodation, comprising of individual flats and bungalows, offered a lifeline for vulnerable people who otherwise might have remained in hospital – occupying a limited supply of hospital beds.

Once transformed, Barber Gardens was also suitable for anyone requiring support and currently living with parents in a high-risk category who needed to be shielded.

Fully self-contained

As all the apartments are fully self-contained, the service was also perfect for any high-risk individuals who may have needed to self-isolate.

At the height of the first wave of the pandemic, Barber Gardens supported seven people to live safely.

At the time, Justin Tydeman, CEO of Lifeways, said “This is a great example of how partnership working can bring about positive change in times of need.

“I’m incredibly proud of all our teams who have pulled together and made this resource available so quickly. We are proud to help support and shield the most vulnerable in society while helping to ease the current pressure on the NHS.”

Strong relationship

Now, one year later, the initiative has further strengthened the relationship between Lifeways and Cambridgeshire County Council.

The teams now know each other and have experience of working well together.

The partnership between Lifeways and the council has continued as referrals for longer-term residence at Barber Gardens are made. The council is confident that Lifeways can deliver high-quality support to anyone who moves in.

Awards time

Lifeways is also shortlisted for two more LaingBuisson gongs: the Excellence in Training Award and Supported Living Award.

The awards ceremony announcing the winners will be held live online on 22 April, from 4-5:30pm.

About Lifeways:

With 11,000 colleagues supporting almost 5,000 people in 1,500 locations across England, Scotland and Wales, Lifeways is the UK’s largest team of professionals providing support for adults in the community.

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