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<Sent to customers with a registered email address on 15 - 16 July>

It’s strange to think that it’s now more than three months since the threat of coronavirus became so real and we went into lockdown. I continue to be inspired by stories of how people have been supporting their family, friends and neighbours to stay safe during this time.

The lockdown forced many of us to make changes to our lives from not being able to visit families, to changing our shopping habits. And we’ve seen how some of you have been changing your normal routines as well. As the lockdown took hold from March to May, we saw more of you found using your online account was an easy way to keep on top of your rent payments. In fact we saw a 24% increase in the number of customers making an online payment.

As we continue our work towards our new online customer portal this is really encouraging to see. If you don’t already have an online account, the good news is that it’s really quick and easy to set one up. Once it’s set up you’ll find that you can easily pay you rent and check your balance at any time or report a repair whenever it’s convenient to you.

Find out how easy it is to make an online payment

We’re also aware that the lockdown is putting strain on many people’s finances. So please remember if you think you are going to have trouble paying your rent at any time, talk to your neighbourhood coach, you can find their details on our website by following the link below.

Find your neighbourhood coach

In my last update I explained how we were resuming some of our non-urgent repairs and parts of our planned maintenance programme. The government’s introduction of the 1-metre plus approach has allowed shops, pubs and restaurants to reopen. It has also allowed us to continue resuming more services which we had stopped at the start of the lockdown.
I’m pleased to say that we are now able to complete most repairs in your home and have restarted our programme of window and door replacements and external painting. Next month we will also be restarting kitchen and bathroom upgrades in our homes as well.

Throughout the lockdown our neighbourhood coaches and colleagues working in our older person schemes have continued to support customers even though they’ve been unable to meet people face-to-face by working remotely through telephone or video calls. I’m happy to say that our coaches have started carrying out home visits again, initially for when a customer decides to move out of their home. However, we are regularly reviewing the situation to decide when it would be appropriate to carry out other visits as well.

In making this decision we’ve followed the government’s covid secure guidelines and have provided training to colleagues to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all when visiting you in your home.

Keeping you safe when we visitSo, when we arrange to visit your home:
• we’ll call in advance to let you know we’re on our way. At this point please let us know if you’d like our colleague to wear a facemask during their visit.
• our colleague will show their ID when they arrive at your home whilst maintaining social distancing.
• they will continue to remain at least 2 metres away from you whilst in your home. If possible, please wait in another room for the duration of their visit.
• while in your home our colleagues will use certified hand sanitiser and wear protective gloves and will dispose of them afterwards. Please ventilate your home by opening windows and doors to allow fresh air in.

For more information please visit the coronavirus frequently asked questions page.

From the outset of the outbreak we’ve been trying to play our part in helping keyworkers and the most vulnerable as well. Working with our local authority partners we have helped find homes for those who urgently needed one. This has included a family of five who had been living in a Premier Inn hotel, others who had been fleeing domestic violence and people who had been living in cramped, temporary accommodation. I’m proud of what we’ve been able to do to help those people, and for key workers who needed repairs completed as a priority.

As more services up and down the country reopen after this unprecedented period in our lives, I hope you and your loved ones continue to stay safe. I will keep you updated on any further changes to our services over the weeks ahead.

Best wishes and take care,

Paul Coates

With a 20 year career in housing, Paul is passionate about supporting customers to create thriving and sustainable communities.

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