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Protecting yourself and your community

11 March 2020
Catch it. Bin it. Kill it.

UPDATED: 27/03/20 15:35hrs

The health and safety of our residents, their families and our staff is our number one priority.

We are closely monitoring government guidance around coronavirus (COVID-19) and will keep you updated on our response as a landlord and employer as the situation progresses. Please continue to check this web page for the latest updates and changes to our services.

Residents and their friends/family should continue to follow the latest Government and Public Health England guidance on coronavirus (COVID-19).

In response to Government guidelines following the COVID-19 outbreak, we have reviewed our services to customers and have had to make some difficult decisions.

We want to continue to offer a safe and effective service, but we also want to protect our residents and our staff members by minimising non-essential contact and travel.

Therefore, we have taken the decision to move to an emergency repairs service only if we have to enter your home.

Compliance checks, such as Gas Safety; and communal repairs are being reviewed and risk assessed and the cleaning of communal areas will be completed in line with the latest Government guidelines. 

Our staff will no longer be making routine appointments and visits to your homes.

Housing officers will also no longer be making routine appointments and visits.

We understand this is disappointing for you and may mean that some non-essential repairs take much longer to complete than in ordinary circumstances.

More information about what has changed can be found below.

We will of course, continue to monitor the situation daily and review accordingly.

Emergency repairs

Please call us immediately on 0800 131 3348 (0300 123 3511 from a mobile) if you have an emergency repair in your home.

An emergency repair is:

  • No heating and/or hot water - Total loss of both heating and hot water with either no electric shower, or a vulnerable resident.
  • Uncontainable leak.
  • Dangerous electrical fault.
  • Disturbed asbestos.
  • Essential adaptations failures.
  • Replacement of gas cylinders (to avoid the loss of heating and hot water).
  • Property insecurity.

When you contact us about your emergency repair we will ask you some questions about your current situation and whether you are self-isolating or have an underlying health issue so that we can understand how best to protect you and your family, as well as the member of staff that attends your home.

If it is deemed essential that a member of staff does attend your home, they will:

  • Ask some further questions at the front door before entering the property.
  • Distance themselves by at least two metres from anyone in the property.
  • Avoid touching surfaces where possible.
  • Wear protective gloves and other additional protection equipment where necessary.
  • Ask you if they can wash their hands before and after the visit, if you are happy for them to do so.

All of our staff are encouraged to keep up-to-date with the latest government health advice, follow good hygiene practice and to inform their manager if they feel unwell. We will also insist that staff follow official advice, so if anyone is suspected of having the virus, we would expect them to self-isolate. No work will be carried out by a member of our staff who has coronavirus symptoms, however mild.

By following these steps, we want to reassure you that that is a low risk of infection from a home visit by a staff member.

Non-emergency repairs

If you have a repair in your home but it is not an emergency, then we are asking you to report this repair at a later date when normal services resume. At the moment, we don’t know when this will be but will monitor Government advice closely and seek to resume normal service as quickly as possible when it is safe to do so.

If we have not listed the repair in the above ‘emergency repairs’ then we would not currently class it as an emergency. Please remember we are trying to support social distancing and protect the health and safety of residents and our staff as much as we can during these unprecedented times.

We believe this is the best way to focus on supporting homes that have the most serious repairs.

If you are unsure about whether your repair is classed as an emergency, please call 0800 917 0092 (0300 123 3599 from a mobile).

From 18 March 2020, any non-emergency repairs in your home that were already scheduled will be postponed, and we will contact you to confirm this if you had an appointment. There is no need to contact us to postpone future non-emergency appointments in your home.

Any repairs outside of your home of which we are already aware – both emergency and non-emergency - are currently being reviewed and risk assessed, including compliance checks such as gas safety.

By outside of your home, we mean any repair where we do not need to enter somebody’s home. That includes communal areas, plant rooms, stairwells, gardens and property exteriors.

Please continue to contact us about emergency repairs outside of your home by calling 0800 917 0092 (0300 123 3599 from a mobile). Emergency repairs outside of the home includes anything that poses a severe security risk.

If you have a repair outside of your home but which is not an emergency, then we are asking you to report this repair at a later date when normal services resume. If you are unsure about whether your repair is classed as an emergency, please call 0800 917 0092 (0300 123 3599 from a mobile).

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.

You can still contact us by calling, texting or filling out our online form. Visit our Contact Us page for more information about how to do this.

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 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.

However, 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 use our best endeavours to keep the communal areas clean and hygienic.

We believe that no renters in private or social accommodation should need to 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 call us on 0800 916 1516 (0300 123 3579 from a mobile) Monday to Friday, 8am - 5.30pm, or email CIT.Income@sanctuary-housing.co.uk.

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.

Following the Government announcement on Monday 23 March, all lettings and viewings have been put on hold for the next three weeks, whilst the country is under ‘lockdown’. Doing this will help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as well as protecting our staff and residents.

We will be monitoring the situation and will review it again in three weeks.

We will contact 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 situations, please call us on 0800 131 3348 (0300 123 3511 from a mobile).

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.

If you are not in immediate danger but would like to talk to someone about something you or someone you know is experiencing, please contact one of these organisations.

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 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 their 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.