Coronavirus Information

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We’re committed to doing everything we can to keep tenants, staff and stakeholders safe and we’ll be updating these pages to keep you informed about your tenancy and our services during the Coronavirus outbreak.

Our promise to you

We’re working closely with tenants, local government, the NHS and others to respond to the coronavirus crisis. We’re keeping tenants safe and supported in their homes, keeping vital services running and helping communities to respond.

We know that many tenants will be worried about their income. So during this crisis we’re committed to:

Keeping people secure at home

No one will be evicted from our homes as a result of financial hardship caused by coronavirus.

Helping people to get the support they need

We’ll help residents to access benefits and other support to alleviate financial hardship.

Acting compassionately and quickly where people are struggling

We’re working with tenants to understand how we can help them. This can include flexibility on collecting rent where that would make a difference. Any resident worried about paying their rent should contact us straight away for help.

 

 

A word from our Chief Executive

We’re continuing to operate full services, working in safe ways for our tenants, customers and staff during the pandemic.

Repairs will continue as usual as will letting properties and other housing services.

A lot of our work is done inside your home, so before we visit or enter your home we will continue to ask if you have any Coronavirus symptoms or are self isolating.

When we are in your home we’ll maintain a safe distance and where needed we’ll wear appropriate personal protective equipment.

You can help us by answering our questions and by providing a clear access route through your home by opening all doors that lead to the area where we need to work.

We’ll maintain a safe social distance and ask you to stay in a separate room. We will complete our work as quickly as we can when we visit.

The use of communal facilities at our extra care and sheltered housing schemes will continue to be limited.

Bernicia is committed to doing everything we can to keep tenants, customers and communities safe.

If you are having difficulties paying your rent at this tough time, please get in touch, we’re here to help and advise you.

Unfortunately our offices at Durham, Berwick and Ashington will remain closed to the public

So for any enquiries you have, please call our customer advice team on 0344 800 3800.

Please be assured that Bernicia will continue to do as much as we can to support our tenants, customers and communities at this difficult time.

Thank you.

John Johnston.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rent and Finance

We’re here to help

Never has having a safe place to call home been more important.

Our homes provide the safe haven where we can help protect our families, ourselves and others from the effects of the Coronavirus (also known as COVID-19).  Anyone can get it; anyone can spread it.

We support our tenants and customers in all sorts of crisis situations.  And while the current Coronavirus pandemic is unprecedented, we’re still here to help.

For many, the pandemic has impacted significantly on the ability to work resulting, suddenly, in income being lost or reduced.  For our tenants who are affected in this way we can offer help and support to manage rent payments during this difficult time. All we ask is that you talk to us – there is support available and we’re here for you.

We can help you claim the benefits you are entitled to, agree affordable payment plans and offer you a range of ways to make payments, as well as telling you about and signposting you to other things that may help you.

Download our rent and money advice guide which has lots of useful information and contact numbers to help you plan and manage your finances.

How will I pay my rent if I can’t leave my home?

There are a number of ways to do this without having to worry about social distancing.

You can pay over the phone via the Allpay automated service by ringing 0330 041 6497.

If you don’t like automated services you can ring us and we’ll take your payment.

You can also set up a login on ‘My Bernicia’ and make payments via our website or through the Allpay website www.Allpay.net or by using the Allpay app.

The easiest and safest way to pay your rent is by direct debit, you can do this directly through Allpay or if you need any help just give us a ring.

What happens if my income is reduced?

We recognise the impacts of Coronavirus are far reaching and people may be affected financially, for example if businesses reduce services or close.

If you face such circumstances please get in touch, you may be entitled to help towards your rent or may need some advice on what can be done to help manage your payments. The important thing is that you keep us informed, we are here to help on 0344 800 3800.

Tenancy, Repairs and Maintenance

We are continuing to operate our full repairs service, including carrying out non-urgent repairs, using safe systems of work.  We will:

  • Continue to prioritise emergency and urgent repairs.
  • Undertake repairs to external areas such as walls, fences, gates, roofs etc.
  • Offer appointments for any new repairs reported.

We know how important repairs are and we’re absolutely committed to ensuring our excellent service continues to run smoothly during the pandemic.

Our emergency service will still operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year

Safety checks and servicing 

Our servicing programme continues.  This has been, and remains, vitally important to make sure the appliances in your home are safe.

We absolutely respect and understand the extra risks people who are clinically vulnerable face and, rest assured, our safe ways of working have been designed to reflect such needs. Please continue to let us in and be assured we have, and will take every precaution to make sure our staff work safely in your home.

Home improvements and major works 

We’re delivering internal work packages such as kitchen/bathroom refurbishments, electrical and heating upgrades etc. and we’ll only proceed once we’re assured that it’s safe to do so.

We have also re-planned our programme of improvement works for the year, making sure we concentrate on works that we can deliver and those which will be acceptable to you.

If works are planned for your home it’s still our intention to proceed with these, although some may inevitably be delayed and rearranged for a slightly later date. If your home is included in our 2020/21 programme we’ll contact you directly.

Moving home

Moving home is possible and our full lettings service continues.

If you’ve been offered another Bernicia home and are self-isolating or shielding we’ll work around these periods to ensure you get the home you need.

When you’re offered another Bernicia property we’ll need to visit you to check your current home.  This will be done by a prearranged appointment and our staff will use safe systems of work when in your home.

Will I have to disclose if I am self isolating or have any symptoms related to the virus?

We’ll ask you a series of questions before and at the time we visit your home.  Please don’t be offended by these, our only intention is to make sure risks of transferring the virus are minimised.

What if I am a victim of anti-social behaviour? 

Cases will continue to be prioritised to ensure we deal with the most serious of these.

Face to face interviews will still only take place in extreme circumstances.  As most information can be taken over the telephone or exchanged via email, limiting interview situations will not stop cases being managed and progressed.

Please continue to report anti-social behaviour or any concerns you have.  Anti-social behaviour is taken very seriously and you shouldn’t suffer because of it.

 

Domestic Abuse

Coronavirus is impacting everyone’s day to day life. But for a victim and their children experiencing or witnessing domestic abuse, the impact is significant and can put them in even more danger. Social distancing and isolation mean victims and their children are now left with the prospect of being isolated in their house with the perpetrator.

We know that victims and their families are worried about accommodation, emotional wellbeing, negotiating child contact, accessing welfare benefits, as well as their safety and that of their children. We want to reassure you and your family that we’re still here and that services, although they might be delivered differently, are still available. You still have options and we will do everything we can to help you.

As always, if you or someone else is in immediate danger please call 999 and ask for the police. Silent calls to the police will work if you are not safe to speak – use the Silent Solution system and call 999 and then press 55 from a mobile.

Download our guide which explains how you can get advice, help and support if you are suffering from domestic abuse Domestic Abuse advice and guidance

Information on housing allocations and options click here 

Information on Safeguarding for adults and children click here 

If you’re a neighbour, friend, or family member, and think someone might be at risk, please report your concerns or get advice from the services listed below.

 

Local support 

Northumberland

Domestic Abuse Support Service (DASSN) 

Tel: 01670 820 199 (24hr)

Sunderland

Wearside Women in Need 

Tel: 0800 066 5555 (24hr)

Newcastle 

Newcastle Integrated Domestic Abuse Service (NIDAS)

Tel: 0191 214 6501

South Tyneside

Places for People Refuge 

Tel: 0191 454 8257

Gateshead

Domestic Abuse Team 

Tel: 0191 433 3333 (24hr)

Redcar and Cleveland

Foundation UK – Redcar and Cleveland Domestic Abuse Services

Tel: 0300 456 2214  (free for mobiles)

Darlington

Refuge 

Tel: 01325 364 486

North Tyneside, Durham, Hartlepool,  Stockton On Tees and  Middlesbrough

Harbour 

Tel: 03000 202525  

 

National support

All victims of domestic abuse

National Domestic Violence Helpline

Tel: 0808 200 0247

Women victims

Refuge

Tel: 0808 200 0247

Male victims

Men’s Advice Line

Tel: 0808 801 0327

www.mensadviceline.org.uk

Mankind Initiative

Tel: 01823 334 244 (Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm and 7pm to 9pm)

www.mankind.org.uk

Children & Young People

Childline

Tel: 0800 1111   www.childline.org.uk

NSPCC

0808 8005000 www.nspcc.org.uk

Elder Abuse

Action on Elder Abuse

Tel: 0808 808 8141 www.elderabuse.org.uk

LGBT

Galop – LGBT Domestic Abuse Helpline

Tel: 0300 999 5428 or 0800 999 5428  www.galop.org.uk

Stalking and harassment

Victims of Stalking

Tel: 0808 802 0300

Forced marriage

The Forced Marriage Unit

Tel: 020 7008 0151 (00 44 20 7008 0151 from abroad) – 24hr

 

Some helplines are 24 hours and others open at certain times of the day.

All details correct at time of posting and may be subject to change.

 

Sheltered Housing Schemes

Sheltered housing

Due to social distancing rules, communal lounges and activity rooms will have to remain closed.

Current government guidance allows six people to meet in outdoor areas.  Should you wish to enjoy some quality time with your loved ones in the communal garden areas outside your home, we are putting arrangements in place to help you do so.

All our sheltered housing schemes have been set up with a QR code to assist with the Track and Trace for footfall in our buildings.

We’ll make sure that, where needed, access routes are available so you and your visitors can safely move outdoors to gardens and seating areas.

Please make sure any visitors observe government guidelines for social distancing and hygiene.

Your Warden will continue to keep in touch remotely and will only enter your home in certain circumstances.

Enhanced cleaning practices will continue to concentrate on disinfecting all touch surfaces.

 

What about the community alarm service?

Our 24 hour service will continue as usual.  We’ve been in touch to ensure we have the correct contact details for your next of kin so our records are up to date.  It’s really important that you inform us of any future changes.

Advice and Guidance

We know there is some great advice and support out there to help people right now. Here you can find advice and links to a range of information we think might be helpful for you.

Click ‘download our guide’ for information on your local authority details and service provisions plus:

  • Government Vulnerable Register
  • Current Information through WhatsApp
  • Letter to all UK Households from PM
  • Generic – G.P, Chemist and Care Packages For national updates and guidance, keep checking the NHS website and www.gov.uk/coronavirus

Voucher scheme launches for schools providing free school meals

Coronavirus (COVID-19): free school meals guidance

 

BBC Teach

Whether you’re at home or at school, you can use BBC Teach for free. The website is home to thousands of free curriculum-mapped videos, arranged by age-group and subject

https://www.bbc.co.uk/teach/teaching-rom-home-advice-for-parents/zv6bbdm

Contacting us

Our offices in Ashington, Berwick upon Tweed and Pity Me will remain closed to the public. Where they can and it is safe to do so, our staff are working from home.

A limited number of staff will continue to work in our Covid secure buildings if their job requires them to do so.

If you need to deliver anything to us for example a letter or keys, post box facilities are available in each office.

Telephone lines continue to operate as usual, so please ring 0344 800 3800 and one of our contact advisors will be there to speak to you.

If you need to report something or require any information or help you can also use the My Bernicia tenant portal or the Contact Us form.