Coronavirus update from our Housing Division

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Update for Southdown tenants from Jim Aspdin, our Director of Housing:

As the number of national cases of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) grow, I wanted to write to you to let you know what Southdown are doing to keep our tenants, clients and colleagues as safe as possible.

The details below set out Southdown's current priorities and the support and practical assistance that Southdown are able to provide you with in the short term, and over the weeks ahead.

Because of the potential risks posed to tenants and staff through transmission, we have set out some of the ways our service to you will be changing.'re

If you've been told to self-isolate and we're due to visit your home, it is critical you let us know beforehand. This is vital for the safety of our staff and your neighbours.

We know that you may be worried about COVID-19 and its knock-on efects: be that about staying safe; basic supplies; access to money, medication or healthcare or paying your rent. We are here to help so please get in touch and we can provide support and guidance. You can contact us by calling your Housing Officer or contacting our head office on 01273 405800.

Our key priorities, as we navigate the evolving situation, are:

  • To protect the safety, health and wellbeing of all our clients, tenants, staff and their families.

  • To work flexibly and in collaboration with local authorities, NHS and other providers to ensure the safe delivery of services for the most vulnerable people within our communities
  • Ensuring that we have sufficient staff resources deployed across our services to continue to provide safe levels of care and support for our most vulnerable tenants and clients
  • To develop strategies for keeping tenants safe in supported accommodation.
  • Continue to provide support and reassurance to all of our community support service clients even if we have to reduce face-to-face contact and close wellbeing venues
  • Provide an effective emergency and urgent repairs service for our tenants
  • Maintain core central services to support the running of the organisation and business and financial processes

How your service is changing

1. Contact with staff

Following guidance from the NHS, Southdown has taken positive steps to reduce the potential transmission of the virus and to allow us to continue to provide a Housing Management and Maintenance service to tenants.

guidance from the NHS, Southdown has taken positive steps to reduce the potential transmission of the virus and to allow us to continue to provide a Housing Management and Maintenance service to tenants.

We are following the Government’s recommended social distancing guidelines to prevent the transmission of Coronavirus as much as possible. This means that we will be reducing face-to-face contact between staff members, as well as with tenants, as much as possible. We have reduced staffing to local offices and staff have begun to work remotely, to provide practical and emotional support through this difficult time.

As we decrease non-essential face-to-face contact we are increasing telephone contact with you through our Housing Officers and Housing Assistants. Where support is provided by Southdown’s support services they may take the lead on this.

As well as checking in with you about your health and wellbeing, our workers may be able to provide practical support with essential supplies and may be able to access funds or supplies on your behalf.

2. Repairs

We are re-prioritising the repairs service from Southdown to focus upon emergency repairs only for the time being. This decision will reduce social contact and allow us to focus upon safe delivery of the most important services. We will continue to keep this approach under review. If you are concerned about a delay to a particular repair, or if you feel the issue needs to be treated with more urgency please get in touch via: property.services@southdown.org or 01273 898744. 

We will continue to carry out these emergency appointments in a way that is safe for you, your family and our colleagues. This will mean that colleagues and contractors will ask you a series of questions before we carry out any works, they will wear necessary PPE and may ask you to move to another room when work is being carried out.

If you are self-isolating or have a confirmed case of coronavirus please tell us as soon as possible. Please contact us by calling your Housing Officer or contacting our head office on 01273 405 800. As well as requiring this information so that we can do what we are able to in order to help control the spread of the virus, we may also be able to provide you some practical assistance if required. 

3. Properties with shared facilities

We are working with our cleaners, support teams and contractors to develop specific tailored responses to minimise transmission of the virus in shared accommodation.

In housing with shared facilities, we will be providing additional cleaning with a particular focus upon commonly touched surfaces. As even regular cleaning of these areas will not eliminate the risk of infection, please continue to practice regular handwashing. In properties with shared bathroom facilities we are looking to nominate specific bathrooms for individuals who become unwell.

If you live in a block that is owned by another landlord, we will endeavour to pass on any communication received from them. It is likely however that other landlords will also be writing out to residents about Coronavirus,

Please continue to keep yourself updated on how you can keep yourself and others safe via the NHS and gov.uk websites. 

The UK government has made some temporary changes to the law to help prevent evictions during this national crisis. Government guidance for landlords and tenants, setting out these changes, is available here. 

If you are struggling to pay your rent because of the Coronavirus, or its effects upon your employment, please get in touch as soon as possible. We can help you to access appropriate welfare benefits and other sources of assistance.

Southdown will continue to track developments as the situation evolves and will endeavour to keep you updated.

It is currently predicted that a number of us could contract a variant of Coronavirus over the coming weeks and months. The vast majority of people will recover from the illness but we should all be especially careful about the direct and indirect contact we have with others, particularly the elderly or those with a weakened immune system.

We would encourage you all to be extra mindful of your neighbours and the spaces you share. We will do our utmost to support you through the weeks ahead.

Best wishes,

Jim Aspdin, Director of Housing at Southdown.