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

Following the recent Government announcement, we want to give clarity to our tenants and communities about our own approach to the process of re-introducing our full service offer.

From the outset we have been firmly focused on the health, safety and wellbeing of our tenants, staff and communities.  With safe systems of work in place and adhering to Government guidance we have continued to deliver critical and essential services, including emergency repairs and our comprehensive programme of compliance servicing, which includes gas appliances, fire equipment, and water hygiene and lifts for example.

Essential services to ensure tenants’ wellbeing have also continued, including our 24/7 community alarm and visiting warden services, support for vulnerable people in our retirement and care and support accommodation, advice and support for people experiencing financial difficulties, emergency allocation of properties and fitting aids and adaptations to peoples homes, so that they can continue to live safely and independently.

We have also continued with our vital work on tenant engagement, albeit through digital means.

Responding to feedback from our engaged tenants, we have introduced virtual meetings and new communication platforms, including our own facebook page, so that tenant views and priorities continue to feed into how we design and deliver services.

As the government has now set out a road map, with critical tests in place, as to how some of the current measures may be relaxed, we will feed these into our own plans for the return of more services that are valued by tenants and communities.

We will do this through our robust and established tenant engagement framework, seeking tenants’ input into how and when services should be resumed and what priority these should take, always placing safety at the forefront of our decision making process.

The views of tenants will be sought at our upcoming ‘check and challenge’ meeting, with our involved tenants on 20th May.  The views gathered will then be incorporated into plans that will be presented to our Customer Services Committee for approval on 9th June.

This approach makes sure, as always, that our tenants’ views are a central part of decision making here at Bernicia. Following this process and timeline, I will write to all tenants individually, to keep everyone updated on the continued delivery of quality services here at Bernicia.

We have successfully introduced effective home and mobile working arrangements and it is an extension of these, together with our dedicated and skilled staff, that will allow us to reintroduce more services, as we anticipate that for the time being our offices will remain closed to the public.

In the meantime, if you require any service or advice from us, please contact us on 0344 800 3800, our lines are open and our staff are available to support you in a variety of ways. If you want to keep up to date on what’s happening at Bernicia, please check our website for regular updates, or our Bernicia Group Facebook page.

Updated 15 May 2020.

 

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.  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.

Tenancy, Repairs and Maintenance

What will happen with repairs service?

We are focussed on maintaining this critical service. For a period of time we will be scaling back on non-urgent repairs, but still operating an emergency and urgent repair service.  Urgent repairs will be limited to things that might turn into emergencies if we don’t fix these.

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

If you still want to report non urgent repairs we can record these but we’ll not be able to currently offer you an appointment or give you a timescale for completion.

What if my heating is due to be serviced?

Making sure heating appliances are safe is extremely important therefore we’ll carry on as normal with our servicing programme.

We’ll need access to your home so please continue to let us in and be assured we have taken every precaution to ensure our staff can work safely in your home.

I’m due to have improvements done to my home, will these still go ahead?

It’s likely the works planned for your home will be delayed, we’ll let you know when these can go ahead.

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 be prioritised as we may be only able to deal with the most serious of these.

Face to face interviews will only take place in extreme circumstances, again with safe working practices in place.

Most information can be taken over the telephone or by email or letter therefore limiting interview situations will not stop cases being managed and progressed.

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 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

I live in a sheltered housing scheme, will anything change? 

Due to social distancing, no activities will be able to take place in communal lounges and / or activity rooms.

You’ll have to think carefully about visitors to your home and ask visitors to stick to the government’s advice on hygiene. We do accept that your loved ones will want to make sure you are safe and well.

You will be contacted daily by your warden or a member of our retirements services team.

Enhanced cleaning practices have been triggered and these will ensure all touch surfaces are regularly disinfected.

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.

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

 

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.

 

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/885686/Covid19_Letter_to_social_housing_residents.pdf

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/885687/Covid19_Letter_to_social_housing_residents_LARGE_PRINT.pdf

 

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

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.

Contacting us

Our offices in Ashington, Pity Me and Berwick are now closed to the public.  If you need to deliver something to us, for example a letter or you need to return keys, post box facilities are available at each office.

Telephone lines will operate as normal and our customer service team can be contacted on 0344 800 3800

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.