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Protecting yourself and your community

11 March 2020
Stay alert, control the virus, save lives

UPDATED: 14/05/20 16:50hrs

We are closely monitoring government guidance around coronavirus (COVID-19) and our response as a landlord and employer.

Following the Prime Minister’s latest announcement, 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).

Official Government guidance for landlords and tenants can be found in the Ministry of Housing, communities and Local Government document.

Stay up-to-date

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.

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 will continue the usual way.

The cleaning of communal areas and grounds maintenance work, such as grass cutting and landscaping, will be completed in line with the latest Government guidelines. Please note visits to carry out these works may be reduced due to staff resource.

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

We are continually monitoring Government guidance around repairs and will keep this page updated if and when that advice changes.

For the moment, we would appreciate it if you only contact us should your repair be an emergency.

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

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.

It is advisable that you must follow sensible precautions to keep yourself safe when our staff are visiting your property, as outlined in public health guidance found here www.gov.uk/coronavirus.

During an emergency repair appointment, we strongly advise you take additional measures such as remaining in separate rooms during any visits and following Government advice on hygiene and cleanliness before, during and after visits.

You do not need to have direct contact with anyone visiting your property to carry out repairs.

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 or outside 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.

Any non-emergency repairs in or outside 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.

We have also suspended our ground maintenance services which includes grass cutting and landscaping works.

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 public health guidance found here www.gov.uk/coronavirus

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 contactus@sanctuary-housing.co.uk.

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 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.

HM Government advice of 2 Metre distance for Covid-19

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 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.

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 are operating a limited lettings service, working with local authorities and other relevant bodies, to provide emergency accommodation for the most vulnerable people in our communities and those that need safe and secure accommodation or are overcrowded in their current homes.

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 email contactus@sanctuary-housing.co.uk.

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.

If you have any queries, please email contactus@sanctuary-housing.co.uk.

We are in unprecedented times where we are spending extended time together in our homes. The knock-on effect of this may mean that you are more aware of noise levels from your neighbours, which may include general household noise and children playing. 

Please try to be tolerant of the noise levels you might experience during this time, and please consider the impact your household noise levels and behaviour may have on your neighbours.

If you are experiencing repeated issues of antisocial behaviour you can report it to us by emailing contactus@sanctuary-housing.co.uk.

If you are threatened with violence or are concerned for the safety of yourself or others, please call the police immediately on 999.

We will continue to manage existing antisocial behaviour cases, through your preferred method of communication, providing regular updates, signposting you to helpful support networks and discussing further action where appropriate.

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.


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 reviewed the services we provide to our customers and made some changes. More information about our response can be found on our dedicated webpage. We hope you understand why we have had to make these decisions.

We will continue to monitor the situation daily and keep you updated of any changes via this website and our social media channels.

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