‘We’ve been forced to reflect on what’s important’ – social care boss on impact of virus

Staff and tenants from Hatfield Road, Ipswich. Picture: MAVAM GROUP

Staff and tenants from Hatfield Road, Ipswich. Picture: MAVAM GROUP - Credit: MAVAM GROUP

As it celebrates its 10th year, a Suffolk social care company hopes more people will choose to work in the care sector as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Mavam Group's first sheltered housing project. Picture: MAVAM GROUP

The Mavam Group's first sheltered housing project. Picture: MAVAM GROUP - Credit: MAVAM GROUP

On the Mavam Group’s 10th anniversary Matthew Morris, the group’s director of development, said they had seen a lot of people wanting to switch careers into the care industry in the wake of the virus.

“I think it’s inevitable that wherever people experience challenge and trauma it will have a knock on effect to their feelings and what has happened to them,” he said.

“We know from the emotional consequence and the social consequence of Covid – the economic downturn and the job losses – that there will be a knock on effect.

“Hopefully coronavirus has caused people to reflect on how adaptable human beings can be. The other thing we’re finding is that there are more people looking for a change and want to move into our line of work.

One of the Mavam Group's newest sheltered housing projects in Combs. PICTURE: MAVAM GROUP

One of the Mavam Group's newest sheltered housing projects in Combs. PICTURE: MAVAM GROUP - Credit: MAVAM GROUP

“Maybe one of the plusses will be that there will be a new group of people working in social care.

“I don’t think the clapping for carers will be restricted to that time and place.

Most Read

“We’ve all been forced to reflect on what’s important. And I think there’s a greater awareness of how important essential workers are – not just in health and social care but beyond.

“I think Covid has also highlighted the social inequalities that were always there. Hopefully one of the positive outcomes of this horrible virus will be to realign our values as a society and I think that’s very much linked back to why Mavam was started in the first place.”

The Manor, one of the Mavam Group's newest sheltered housing projects in Sudbury. Picture: MAVAM GR

The Manor, one of the Mavam Group's newest sheltered housing projects in Sudbury. Picture: MAVAM GROUP - Credit: MAVAM GROUP

MORE: Suffolk jobs at risk as Marks & Spencer announce 950 job cuts

The company was started by Mark and Alex Goulbourne ten years ago this week.

The couple both worked in mental health services before they started the Mavam Group – which was formerly known as the Stepping Stones Community.

“They were both aware that there were people who got missed by the mainstream services, who fell through the gaps,” said Mr Morris.

“Their main aim and drive was to provide for those people, but also to move away from people’s needs being classified according to a diagnosis, but actually to look specifically at who they were as people.”

The company started when the couple and their five children moved out of their house on Gippeswyk Road, Ipswich, and turned the house into their first supported housing project.

At first the company only supported five people, but now it has grown to support 174 people across sites in Ipswich, Stowmarket and Sudbury.

Despite the growth of the group, their mission remains the same.

“The aim is to provide staff supported living for anyone with a need,” said Mr Morris.

“It’s a mixed group, we’re not specifically mental health or a learning disabilities.

“We’re a private company, but we’re contracted with Suffolk County Council. Then on the community side we trade as ‘Your Life Our Help’. We provide help and support in people’s homes. We also have supported flats in and around Ipswich.”

MORE: East Anglian housing association boss warns of ‘tough times ahead’ in coronavirus crisis

Over its 10 year history Mavam has grown to employ 107 people – from estates maintenance, to head office and an IT team – many of who were first hired by the company as apprentices.

“Looking ahead to the next ten years, having established ourselves, we’re looking to give back to the community. We’re establishing an academy both to train our own staff but to offer training to the wider community as well,” said Mr Morris.

Like all organisations, Mavam had to adapt during the coronavirus pandemic. At first they, like many companies, struggled to get hold of PPE but they managed to get by according to Mr Morris.

“It’s definitely been stressful,” said Mr Morris.

“Suddenly you’re having to adapt to new ways of working for us and for the people that we see.

“But it does feel like there has been a lot of teamwork going on in Suffolk and it’s always remarkable how adaptable people are.”