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A letter from the Chief Executive

9th July 2021

Dear All,

It’s coming Home

As our minds have recently focussed on celebrating footballing success (with more to come we all hope!), it has also been a joy this summer to see further progress made in the long battle against the virus. The opening up of more holiday destinations, the anticipated removal of ‘work from home if you can’ guidance and the ongoing successful roll-out of the vaccine are causes for collective optimism. But, as we have all been repeatedly advised, we are sadly not out of the woods yet. We need more people vaccinated (the scientific evidence is overwhelming that vaccines protect individuals and those they come into contact with) and not just in the U.K.

So, what does this mean for Stoll? As a charity, supporting our veteran community has remained foremost in our endeavours since we all first heard of Covid-19 last spring and, with your support, we have applied ourselves to doing our utmost to house, to help and (of paramount importance) to safeguard those who live with us throughout the past almost eighteen months. This approach will continue as we all now eagerly anticipate our Government easing restrictions on 19th July. As you know, our staff have been on hand throughout the pandemic, whether emergency feeding vulnerable residents in its early stages, or coordinating vital support services across our five schemes throughout. In smaller staff numbers (reflecting National ‘work from home’ rules) yes, but present nonetheless, but sadly less visible and thus less evident than any of us would like. You will I trust have noticed the recent increase in staff on site and we are planning for this to accelerate now as we move beyond 19th July. We are coming home, we are back!

As a veteran working in a veterans’ charity, it is an immense privilege to serve our community and I see our return as very welcome. We will also be increasingly reopening our communal facilities and you can expect to hear more about this shortly on a scheme by scheme basis. Naturally we need to be guided by the Government guidance and that’s not yet completely clear but the direction of travel is very apparent. You will already have seen various maintenance activities (paused last year) being undertaken across the schemes. I expect more of this and more activities to recommence too. Allotments, archery, sailing, summer BBQ, coach trips, perhaps even an outdoor theatre event (Sir Oswald Stoll would approve!), to name but a few. Much of this is in planning and of course some hinges upon our success in tackling the pandemic.

I have been asked by quite a few people what they can do to help. If you’ve yet to be vaccinated, that’s the first thing you can do (good for you and good for others). But also, please do get involved, generate ideas, offer to help, look for opportunities. For now, and as we said at recent residents’ meetings, thank you for everything you do to support each other and the staff that support you. It is much appreciated, as are you various thank you notes. They mean a lot, thank you. I’m keen to work ‘together with tenants’ wherever possible and so we will be exploring in the next few months how we can work with you to improve engagement with you all. This important work will be led by the new Director of Housing, Nick Coverdale and you can expect to be involved.

I suspect that, as we reopen facilities and look to restart activities, there will be a few hiccups and a need for ongoing collective patience, but it is good to now be moving forwards. Of course, it’s not impossible that there will be further waves of the virus and lockdowns so we may have to constrict again. But, for now, let’s focus on what the 19th July brings and celebrate what that means for our Stoll community. Right, back to the football – let the lions roar.

Warm regards,

Richard Gammage
Chief Executive