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Celebrating our Unsung Heroes of 2020

Thank you to News on the Block for celebrating our industry’s Unsung Heroes of 2020. They have recognised those people who have gone above and beyond this year and worked hard to make these difficult times a little easier for their residents and customers.

18 FirstPort employees were included in the list, which can be seen in full here.  You can also read below what makes them so special:

Canary Central Site team

Team nomination: Abraham Mansaray, Connie Karemire, Basit Khan, Stella Koort, Adeneyi Ojubanire, Bryan Hood, Patrick Muganga, Lilia Macovei, Jobrul Hussain

Canary Central Team

Many residents have written in to tell us how well they were looked after by the team at Canary Central during the pandemic. From the cleaners who increased their efforts in high touch point areas, to the maintenance staff who made sure the grounds were immaculate and that signage around the development was clear and reassuring, helping everyone to follow the Government guidance on social distancing.

The concierge team has been a constant reassuring and friendly presence and given a personal touch that has helped so much in these challenging times. For example, during the peak of lockdown, some residents were looking for specific dietary ingredients which were not readily available. After mentioning it to the Concierge team, they kept a note and contacted the residents immediately when they discovered available stock.

Here are just a few comments from residents:

“Communications during Lockdown earlier this year were timely, clear and helpful, and the team made efforts to maintain their visibility and availability throughout.”

“The team at Canary Central are absolutely brilliant – they are so supportive, always on hand and have been first rate throughout the pandemic too. We feel safe, valued as individuals and grateful for all they do.”

“Since Covid, the team have been the absolute epitome of going above and beyond. I could not be any more impressed with how they have thought about and handled just about everything you can imagine. This is the blue print for any building management team”

“The team at Canary Central have done a fantastic job in such a testing time. They have worked tirelessly throughout the coronavirus epidemic to make us feel safe & secure with an emphasis on cleanliness throughout the complex. It is fantastic that they have now managed to return the gym & spa complex back & running with an easy to use booking system for residents.”

Mo Miah, Development Manager, Capital East Phase One

Mo Miah, Capital East Phase 1

As if managing a development wasn’t hard enough in a pandemic, Mo had the additional burden of being down two members of Concierge staff – including his Head Concierge – for the majority of lockdown as they were stuck abroad.

In the midst of a crisis, Mo got completely stuck in, taking on the roles of Development Manager and Concierge all at the same time. He worked constantly throughout lockdown so that standards remained high for customers.

Whilst behind the scenes, Mo was frantically busy, he never complained, nor did he let his customers know the pressure he was under – for them, everything continued to run like clockwork and he continued to receive some of the highest preforming development scores across FirstPort in areas such as site standards and health and safety.

One resident commented: “Mo has been very helpful and professional and works very hard to ensure that our development is a safe, peaceful and clean environment to live. This has been difficult especially through the pandemic, and I feel Mo has gone the extra mile. He ensures that we are regularly updated and kept informed, and I feel that the he works with us residents.”

Jahshel Douglas, Development Manager, Balcon Court

Jahshel Douglas, Balcon Court

Newly employed, Jash, started a pen-pal scheme during the pandemic where residents had to write to each other anonymously, trying not to give too much away, but at the same time trying to gather information to pinpoint who they were writing to. Initially it was going to run for six weeks, but it was extended to 11 weeks due to its popularity.

Jash has also initiated a daily riddle competition and a weekly newsletter. She has helped residents find new ways to keep active, either in their own apartments with gentle exercise, or a stroll down a corridor at quiet times. She has also supported them to keep in touch virtually with their families through things like Zoom and What’s App calls.

Resident, Maggie, said: “Jash had hardly arrived in her job before the lockdown commenced, and she has been very active ever since, trying to keep up people’s spirits, and support in everyday tasks.”

Suzanne Hicks, Development Manager, Penn Court

Suzanne Hicks, Penn Court

Suzanne has used the power of song to support her residents through the pandemic . She hosts ‘Tunes at Noon’ every week day come rain or shine, where she takes the speakers outside and plays feel-good songs. Many residents join her with a sing-a-long or dance, all suitably social distanced. Suzanne also creates a weekly newsletter packed full of things to keep residents entertained.

Linda and Andy, residents at Penn Court, said: “Suzanne is a wonderful manager. When we first moved in, the estate agent said, “You have a great development manager here”, and we thought why do you need a development manager? But we soon found out how they can make your home such a happy place to live. Suzanne does the ‘tunes at noon’ and this also benefits people who are isolating, as they can see it from the window. She also did a ‘last night at the proms’ allowing for social distancing, of course. She also made picnic boxes for us all. Her newsletters keep us very informed and she is the best reason for living here.”

Janice Webb, Development Manager, Regent Court

Janice Webb, Regent Court

As well as juggling the demands of her own development, Janice also attended another development three times a week to help cover absence during lockdown. She also helped deliver notices for unmanned sites on her way home from work. As a registered counsellor, she has also provided support to fellow Development Managers who have needed extra help in these challenging times.

Fellow Development Manager, Marie, said: “During the lockdown period I experienced some stress due to work and a personal matter. It was during a remote Teams meeting that Janice picked up on this, simply through my voice. She phoned me immediately afterwards and offered me help and support. I felt able to open up to her and she listened, was non-judgemental and an enormous support in the following weeks and months. In practice this meant she phoned me daily, even when she was away on holiday.”

Resident, Sonia, added:

“Janice has been a tower of strength to us all during lockdown .She is so bubbly and happy in her job that it rubs off on us residents, if we are feeling down or depressed, one dose of Janice and you instantly feel so much better.

“Janice has made sure that we are all safe and well, this has meant that on numerous occasions Janice has done shopping for a number of residents, as well as ordering and picking up prescriptions, taking personal items to hospital for people that have been taken in hospital and have no personal items with them.

“Nothing is too much trouble for Janice, anything you ask her to do you can be sure will be tackled with enthusiasm and always with a smile on her face.

“Janice organised a food bank in the development and residents left food there for other residents. She also keeps in touch with residents families that live a distance away and are not able to get to see their relatives, she also organises face time calls from her mobile, so the families get to see their loved ones.”

Sarah Howard, Development Manager, Homepoint House

Sarah Howard, Homepoint House

Sarah helped to keep her residents spirits high by providing a ‘lockdown timetable’ including a Tuesday quiz, Saturday fish and chip supper delivered to residents’ doors, and a daily newsletter and messages from families. For Mental Health Awareness Week, she made a kindness board with friendship slips for residents to post through the doors of someone they would like to chat to with their phone number on. She also has a travelling chair that she takes around with her so that she can have chat with residents if they’re struggling.

Wesley Gill and Jamie Forsyth, Development Managers, Homeross House

Jamie Foryth and Wesley Gill, Homeross House

Wesley and Jamie have adapted incredibly well to the Coronavirus situation and gone above and beyond to make sure residents are fully up-to-speed on the latest information and are well-entertained, even arranging for a piper to perform for residents from the car park one evening during lockdown. They have also stepped in to carry out shopping trips for the more vulnerable residents. As if that wasn’t enough, when they had major lift issues during lockdown, Jamie moved into the guest suite over a weekend to carry out the reset at various intervals so that residents didn’t have something else to worry about.

Sandra Darlington, Development Manager, Gheluvelt Court

Sandra Darlington, Gheluvelt Court

Sandra has been praised by colleagues and residents for her lovely, caring nature, which has shone through during the pandemic. She has worked tirelessly to keep residents safe, including working extra hours over weekends to making sure that all contact surfaces were cleaned down when the cleaner wasn’t available.

Resident, Ruth, said: “Since the Coronavirus began to impact our daily lives, Sandra has provided increased support to all of us. From her friendly, welcoming smile to the way she always has time for each individual, and the practical steps she has taken to ensure our safety and protection during this difficult period, Sandra’s consistent concern for residents has been evident. I speak on behalf of a number of residents in expressing our gratitude for all that Sandra brings to the life of our community. Gheluvelt Court is our home, our refuge, our safe place in very uncertain times.

Mustakim Momin, Assistant Development Manager, Jacobs Island

As soon as lockdown and shielding was mentioned, Mustakim, without prompting, referred to his current list of
elderly and vulnerable residents and started a ‘buddy system’ for all shopping, contact etc. He was instrumental in preparing a plan to ‘close down’ the 24-hour concierge operation placing himself as 24-hour emergency contact.