Service Updates and Advice on COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
The health and safety of our residents, their families and our staff is our number one priority.
In response to Government guidelines following the COVID-19 outbreak, we have made some changes to how we provide services to our customers. All updates will be posted to this page and more information can be found on our social media channels.
UPDATED: 30/06/20 13:00hrs
We are closely monitoring Government guidance around coronavirus (COVID-19) and our response as a landlord and employer.
We will be reviewing our services in line with Government guidelines and will continue to keep this web page updated with the latest changes to our services.
Please be assured that the health and safety of our residents, their families and our staff remains our number one priority and we will not put any plans in place unless a full risk assessment has been carried out. Residents and their friends/family should continue to follow the latest Government and Public Health England guidance on coronavirus (COVID-19).
We are also monitoring Government advice around local lockdowns and we will highlight any specific service changes for each area should they arise.
Official Government guidance for landlords and tenants can be found in the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government document (PDF).
We are operating a reduced postal service as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Therefore it is particularly important that we can contact you by e-mail at this time so we can still keep you informed about our services and operations.
You can use our sign up for important updates form to provide us with your e-mail address.
Below are more details on how our services have changed.
Following the Government’s advice to minimise non-essential travel, and to support the request for people to work from home where possible, we have closed our offices to all visitors.
Housing, Homeownership and Income officers will no longer be making routine appointments. We will, however, make sure we are in contact with the more vulnerable in our community by phone or email. We are focussed on ensuring that everyone we support, or who works for us, stays safe. Please see our latest health and safety guidance.
If a member of staff is due to visit your home we would like you to take the time to check our latest health and safety guidance.
There are a number of steps we need you to take to ensure your own safety and those of our colleagues when they visit your home. Most importantly, we are asking you to keep a two-metre distance at all times. If a colleague does not feel you are following this guidance they may deem it unsafe to finish the repair. There are also things we commit to doing to ensure your safety. You can use the guidance to check we’re doing everything that we need to when we visit your home.
You can still contact us by calling, texting or filling out our online form.
From 8 June 2020 we will begin to contact customers whose routine repair was postponed during the government lockdown in March, April and May.
We have a significant backlog of routine repairs to work through. And because of current challenges with accessing materials and adopting enhanced working methods to ensure your and our staff’s safety, we are still asking residents to only report new emergency repairs for the time being. We hope to be able to resume bookings for new routine repairs in due course and will update you as soon as we can.
We will be regularly reviewing our approach to routine repairs in line with the latest government guidelines.
By law, we must carry out an annual service and safety check of all Sanctuary gas appliances in your home, this includes boilers, cookers and fires. Gas safety checks are continuing as normal.
Our registered Gas Safe engineers may need access into your home for these checks, which take no longer than an hour. You do not need to have direct contact with anyone visiting your property to complete these checks.
Please follow sensible precautions to keep yourself safe when our staff are visiting your property, as outlined in the Governments public health guidance.
If you are due your annual gas safety check and are self-isolating or are a shielded vulnerable patient, please let us know so we can understand how best to protect you and your family by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Download our Gas Safety Leaflet (PDF)
If you live in one of our Housing for Older People schemes and are experiencing any Covid-19 symptoms or are worried about how the virus might affect you, please let us know via the warden call system or by calling us on 0800 917 0092 (0300 123 3599 from a mobile).
To keep everybody safe, we have put in place the following measures:
- All communal lounges, kitchens, libraries and common rooms are now closed to both external visitors and residents.
- All coffee mornings, communal lunches and community activities are suspended.
- No further guest room bookings will be accepted and any bookings from Monday 23 March will be cancelled.
- If there is a communal laundry at your scheme, you will be asked to only use this at allocated times to limit the number of residents coming into contact with each other at any one time.
- Non-essential visits to our properties should not take place.
- We will not be visiting you in your homes or carrying out face to face contact to limit the spread of the virus.
We will continue to carry out the regular checks of our buildings to ensure safety and compliance and we will make regular contact with you via the warden call system or telephone. We will continue to use our best endeavours to keep the communal areas clean and hygienic.
Please do not approach staff that are on-site and make sure you maintain the social distancing guidelines set out by the government of at least two metres at all times. Please do wave or say hello, and if you need any assistance please ask them to call you when they leave the site.
Find out more about our Housing for Older People
To help limit the spread of COVID-19, and in line with government advice, we have put most lettings and viewings on hold whilst the country is restricted to essential travel only.
We will operate a limited lettings service to provide emergency accommodation for the most vulnerable people in our communities, working with local authorities and other relevant bodies.
We will monitor the situation and will review our operations in line with government advice.
We are contacting any customers who are currently in the middle of the lettings process with us. If you have any questions about your application or have any urgent concerns regarding your current housing situation, please contact us.
All existing mutual exchanges and tenancy changes have been put on hold and letters have been sent to everyone affected. We will be in contact again when we can restart the process and will aim to complete these as quickly as possible.
If you wish to make a new request, your options are to wait until normal service resumes or send your details to us and we will keep a record of them and contact you when we are able to process your mutual exchange/tenancy change.
We believe that no one should be concerned about the threat of eviction during this difficult time and, we are committed to working with our customers to establish an affordable repayment plan, taking into account customers' individual circumstances.
We recognise that we need to be flexible in response to unexpected events and will make reasonable adjustments based on individual circumstances.
While we will continue to collect rent and service charges as we normally do, it is vitally important that you let us know as soon as possible if you are having difficulty paying or are worried about meeting future payments. We want to work with you, so please email Customer Service Team (Income).
If you are unable to attend your benefit appointments, please let the Department for Work and Pensions know as soon as possible by reporting it on your online Universal Credit account.
Should you find yourself with no income due to the impact of coronavirus, if you do not already claim benefits, you may be eligible to apply for Universal Credit to help you pay your rent and service charges. You can find out more about Universal Credit and eligibility on the Money Advice Service website.
There is also further information for people affected by COVID-19, including information about eligibility for Statutory Sick Pay on the Government website.
New emergency measures with the energy industry have been agreed by the government to protect the domestic energy supply of those most in need during the disruption caused by COVID-19.
From Thursday 19 March 2020 customers with pre-payment meters who may not be able to add credit can speak to their supplier about options to keep them supplied. This could include nominating a third party for credit top-ups, having a discretionary fund added to their credit, or being sent a pre-loaded top-up card so that their supply is not interrupted.
More broadly, any energy customer in financial distress will also be supported by their supplier, which could include debt repayments and bill payments being reassessed, reduced or paused where necessary, while disconnection of credit meters will be completely suspended.
The current isolation measures that have been put in place by the Government are likely to mean that you will be spending a lot of time at home and this may mean a pressured situation could get worse.
If you are in immediate danger, please call 999 and ask for the police.
It’s understandable that not only our residents but communities everywhere will be worried about how their lives are going to be affected over the coming months.
The Government has provided guidance on social distancing for everyone in the UK and how we can all work together to protect older people and vulnerable adults. This includes steps you can take to stay connected with family and friends during this time:
- Draw on the support you might have through your friends, family and other networks. Try to stay in touch with those around you over the phone, by post, or online. Let people know how you would like to stay in touch and build that into your routine. This is also important in looking after your mental wellbeing and you may find it helpful to talk to them about how you are feeling.
- Remember it is okay to share your concerns with others you trust and in doing so you may end up providing support to them too.
The Mental Health Foundation has useful information on how to look after your mental health during the virus outbreak and it can be found on its dedicated website page.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, try talking to your family and friends and sharing how you feel. If you are worried that you may need more help, the following support is available:
Free 24-hour listening support
Samaritans is available to listen at any time of the day or night. You can talk to them about anything that's troubling you, no matter how difficult.
Call free on 116 123 or visit the Samaritans website.
Shout offers confidential 24/7 crisis text support for times when you need immediate assistance.
Text "SHOUT" to 85258 or visit Shout Crisis Text Line.
In a life-threatening emergency, you should dial 999.