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Blog: Eddington during coronavirus

Warren Forsyth, Operations Director at Eddington

The country and Eddington community have been staying at home to help reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), following Government guidance.

Before this, we had been working very hard to develop the community at Eddington, including activities and events to bring residents and neighbours together. The lockdown has meant we have had to do precisely the opposite of that and encourage people to stay apart. That is the biggest challenge for us, as observing what the lockdown requires means stalling our community work and acknowledging we cannot currently achieve what we want to do in terms of helping Eddington grow as a place.

From a technical perspective we also have a number of challenges. The first one is how do we look after our staff and how do we safeguard our operations whilst still providing essential services? So we have had to take some really tough decisions really quickly on the necessary processes and safety measures our staff have to follow. Staff are now on a rota in order to minimise the potential for spreading coronavirus if any of them were to get it. We have also worked closely with our supply chain, because those contractors are also being told to stay home. We have minimised the amount of activity on site by using technology as much as we possibly can to monitor and resolve any system issues from across the country. Our teams have been successful in this: Eddington is still running and we have emergency supplies ready to be used if necessary.

We have had to look very critically at all of our services to understand how we can provide the best support to everyone at Eddington. Essential services would be things such as breakdown in heating, water or a power outage. With regards to cleaning, we have stopped our routine cleaning of communal spaces such as corridors and walkways, but there are areas where it is really important that we continue to clean from a virus management perspective. These include touch plates and handles on doors, buttons around lifts and stair bannisters where the virus is likely to spread. We have also taken the decision to continue with grounds maintenance, which ordinarily would not be classed as essential. We felt it was important that Eddington’s outdoor spaces are safe, are accessible and are conducive to the good health of people living at Eddington who need breakout spaces.

We have always maintained electronic communications with residents, so we have been able to be agile in communicating with residents as frequently as we need to throughout lockdown. Some of our University staff tenants have an additional level of anxiety regarding what happens if they are coming up to the end of their employment and tenancy here when they are uncertain about travel options and government restrictions. We are supporting those residents where possible.

The problems our residents are experiencing are akin to those that the nation are: not having the ability to interact with people who they would normally speak to, with no regular social places for support and engagement. However, I know that lots of the community services at Eddington, such as MittFit exercise classes, Eddie’s community café, and Eddington Residents’ Association activities, have gone online and are proving really popular. I am especially pleased to hear that the Residents’ Association is supporting the city-wide efforts via the Castle Ward COVID-19 community support group offering assistance to vulnerable residents nearby. I think that is a testament to the resilience of our residents and how they are still keen for Eddington to be a new community embedded in Cambridge.

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