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.
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 lot has happened in the past few weeks since I last updated you.
Lockdown has been difficult but absolutely essential in controlling the virus. By playing our part and sticking to Government guidelines we’re now in a position to start getting a little more back to normal.
This means we can start resuming some of the services that had to be temporarily changed or limited because of our effort to control the virus and keep people safe.
We’re reintroducing our full housing repairs service meaning tenants can book an appointment for a new repair from Monday June 15.
This complements the emergency and urgent repairs service we’ve been operating since lockdown began.
Our safety checks servicing programme on appliances will continue and we are in the process of planning to deliver our programme of home improvements work this year.
Due to on-going social distancing restrictions, the communal areas in our sheltered housing schemes will remain closed, but we are working on creating safe outdoor spaces for up to six people to meet, bringing tenants closer to their loved ones.
Our full lettings service has resumed and we are working hard with tenants to tackle reports of anti-social behaviour in their communities.
If you’re having difficulty paying your rent at this tough time please get in touch, we’re here to advise and support you.
If you can’t get out to pay your rent, we can help you find another way to do this.
Unfortunately our offices in Berwick, Durham and Ashington, will remain closed to the public.
But our customer advice team are all contactable to handle any enquiries, ready to speak with you on 0344 800 3800.
We’ve worked with our tenants to make sure that as services are resumed and reintroduced they reflect your needs and expectations, whilst at the same time considering the ongoing concerns and risks Coronavirus still presents.
In planning the reintroduction of services we’ve meticulously followed Government guidance in developing systems of work that will keep you and our staff safe.
A lot of our work is done inside your homes therefore before we visit or enter your home we’ll continue to ask if you have any Coronavirus symptoms or if you are self-isolating or shielding.
When we’re in your home we’ll maintain safe distance and where needed we’ll wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).
You can also help by answering our questions, providing clear access routes through your home by opening all doors that lead to the area where we need to be and maintaining safe social distance by moving and staying in a separate room. We’ll complete work or conduct business quickly and wherever possible within one visit.
Please be assured that Bernicia will continue to do as much as we can to support our tenants, customers and communities.
Updated June 12.
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. But by staying at home we can do our bit and help save lives.
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 current lock down situation 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.com 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.
From 15 June, we’re starting to reintroduce our full repairs service, including carrying out non urgent repairs, using the safe systems of work. In reintroducing our full service, we’ll:
We know how important repairs are and we’re absolutely committed to ensuring our excellent service recommences smoothly and is maintained. We have a backlog of repairs to work through that will mean waiting a little longer for appointments for newly reported repairs and we appreciate your patience during this time.
Our emergency service will still operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
Safety checks and servicing
Our servicing programme has continued. 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 looking at ways to deliver 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’re also in the process of re-planning 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 is now possible and we resumed our full lettings service on 21 May 2020.
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 to be 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.
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 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.
Domestic Abuse Support Service (DASSN)
Tel: 01670 820 199 (24hr)
Wearside Women in Need
Tel: 0800 066 5555 (24hr)
Newcastle Integrated Domestic Abuse Service (NIDAS)
Tel: 0191 214 6501
Places for People Refuge
Tel: 0191 454 8257
Domestic Abuse Team
Tel: 0191 433 3333 (24hr)
Foundation UK – Redcar and Cleveland Domestic Abuse Services
Tel: 0300 456 2214 (free for mobiles)
Tel: 01325 364 486
Tel: 03000 202525
National Domestic Violence Helpline
Tel: 0808 200 0247
Tel: 0808 200 0247
Men’s Advice Line
Tel: 0808 801 0327
Tel: 01823 334 244 (Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm and 7pm to 9pm)
Tel: 0800 1111 www.childline.org.uk
0808 8005000 www.nspcc.org.uk
Action on Elder Abuse
Tel: 0808 808 8141 www.elderabuse.org.uk
Galop – LGBT Domestic Abuse Helpline
Tel: 0300 999 5428 or 0800 999 5428 www.galop.org.uk
Victims of Stalking
Tel: 0808 802 0300
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.
Due to social distancing rules, communal lounges and activity rooms will have to remain closed for the time being.
Current government guidance now allows six people to meet in outdoor areas. Should you wish to take advantage of the good weather and enjoy some quality time with your loved ones in the areas outside your home, we are putting arrangements in place to help you do so.
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 recently 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.
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:
Letter from the Minister of State for Housing
Please find below links to a letter from the Minister of State for Housing setting out measures in place to support social housing residents during the next phase towards reopening society.
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
CGI STEM from Home
CGI has launched the ‘STEM from Home’ programme (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). Each Wednesday, they will release an activity pack on the CGI website, with notifications and links shared via Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.
Our offices in Ashington, Berwick upon Tweed and Pity Me will remain closed to the public. Some staff will start returning to their work places and alongside this we’ll consider how we can safely start to receive visitors in our reception areas.
In the meantime 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.