RESIDENTS at retirement housing in Prestonpans were given a bear hug with a difference from caring staff.

Staff at Johnny Moat Place kept spirits high and gifted 27 residents with a ‘bear in the box’ gift as a positive memento of this year’s lockdown.

The kind gesture took place before the Scottish Government announced tighter restrictions on communities last week.

Johnny Moat Place is a retirement housing development with one-bedroom flats suitable for those over 60, run by the charity Bield.

Ada Johnston, casual staff member, said: “It’s really fortunate that no one at the development has contracted the virus; however, like many, it was a tough time for our customers, who have not been able to receive any visitors and have been restricted to their flats. As we started to move out of lockdown, staff got together to think of ways to show our appreciation. 

“We found a ‘Ceramic Bear in a Box’ gift and thought it was quite fitting as the message was ‘Sometimes all you need is a big bear hug’ – which is something many will resonate with after the last few months. 

“We put the gifts into individual bags and delivered to each customer’s door.

“They were delighted – many quite overwhelmed – which made our gesture totally worthwhile.”

Staff were doing their bit throughout lockdown to help those at the housing development by carrying out basic shopping for those with no family or friends close by.

They also frequently provided afternoon tea for residents in their individual flats.

Johnny Moat Place offers a meals service; however, not everyone uses it, so staff visited each flat every day with tea, coffee and biscuits, providing people with some interaction as well as treats.

The development also recently received a socially distanced visit from the local day centre, bringing cakes and flowers. The local branch of the Salvation Army also regularly visited the development to entertain residents.

For VE Day, residents received a visit from performers, with some residents watching while sitting outside and others watching or listening from their windows.

Johnny Moat Place backs onto the P1-3 campus of Preston Tower Primary School, where a hub was available for children of key workers and vulnerable families.

The development’s scheme manager Katrina Cunningham gave treats to the children, who showed their appreciation by making thank you cards and posters, which now have pride of place in the office window.

Ada added: “In recent weeks, our customers at long last have been able to have limited contact with family and friends which has been amazing. Although our communal areas remain closed, customers have been able to have a visit from the regular hairdresser in their own flat.

“As a development we look forward to the day we can reopen our communal lounge – in the meantime, we will continue to do what we can to maintain the spirits and health of our customers.”