We work hard to involve customers’ relatives in our services. But, for one in five, we may be the closest thing they have to family.

This week I attended the launch of a fascinating report from Ageing Without Children which says that 1 in 5 people over 50 don’t have kids. By 2030 it’s estimated that there’ll be more than two million over 65 who don’t have adult children.

It’s an issue that’s not discussed very much and for me it emphasises that the support, care and friendship we give our customers really matters. 

That’s true in all our services and customers living with dementia can feel particularly isolated. But our sector-leading Anchor Inspires programme and our varied dementia care activities can make a huge difference.

Families help each other out and I’m really pleased the Anchor family has been doing just that by knitting “twiddle mitts” – knitted mittens or hand warmers with beads, buttons and objects sewn on to them. “Twiddling” with them can calm agitation and restlessness – both common symptoms of dementia. 

Mitts have already been a big hit for customers living with dementia and we always need more. Colleagues across the country have taken up the challenge for Dementia Awareness Week and have knitted over 150 twiddle mitts  which will be handed out over the next few weeks. 

Many colleagues have already signed up to be a Dementia Friend – a short session which enables you to help and support anyone with dementia in the right way.

We’re also leading the way with the work that we do with our LGBT customers and colleagues. Last week, Brenda Metcalfe, our Customer Engagement Manager, was recognised as a Diversity Champion for Housing and awarded a Certificate of Excellence at the national Diversity Awards. Well done Brenda!

We are working hard to make sure that our customers have a voice through our various forums. We’re surveying tenants and leaseholders now on our approach so we can continuously improve. 

We have the same commitment for colleagues. This week I hosted the National Colleague Forum in London, where 15 colleagues from Housing, Care and Support Services got to together to discuss the Your Say 2016 results in more detail. It was a great opportunity to hear their regional issues as well as learn that our Sunday Times Best 100 ranking is having a positive impact on recruitment.

That’s proving important in all our services, but nowhere more so than in our new developments. Last week, I was at the official opening of Bishopstoke Park, where journalist and broadcaster Fiona Phillips praised the village.

With the official opening of Hampshire Lakes coming soon too, the Anchor family is getting bigger!

View all