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.

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

Keeping people secure at home

We understand the financial pressures of the pandemic and will work with tenants to keep them in their homes.

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. Any resident worried about paying their rent should contact us straight away for help.

 

A word from our Chief Executive

Everyone at Bernicia is committed to doing all we can to ensure we keep tenants, customers and communities safe during the pandemic.

All our services are operating as normal but we recognise that life for many may be far from normal at the moment.

The Covid pandemic, the ending of the Government’s furlough scheme and the removal of the temporary uplift in Universal Credit are all placing pressure on people’s finances.

Our message to tenants is clear – if you are having difficulties paying your rent, then please tell us immediately.

There is support available and we are here to help you.

Our repairs and maintenance service is fully operational, including our programme of essential servicing of heating, water and electrical appliances.

National logistical difficulties may lead to a delay in us receiving some items – so please bear with us if your repair appointment takes a little longer than normal.

Our colleagues are continuing to operate safe systems of work in people’s homes – when our repairs team call at your home they will be wearing a face mask, shoe coverings and gloves.

They will ask if anyone is isolating in your home with Covid or its symptoms before entering and will observe the two-metre social distancing rule when inside your property.

If you have an emergency repair, rest assured we are here as always for you, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Please call our customer advice team on 0344 800 3800 for help.

We are allocating homes as normal, available through choice-based lettings schemes with our local authority partners – details of which can be found on our website.

In our sheltered housing schemes, our lounges and communal areas are now open for all tenants and social activities are starting up again.

Visitors are welcome and we are maintaining an enhanced cleaning regime in the properties to ensure we continue to do everything we can to maintain a safe and welcoming environment.

There’s a host of information and support available to access about our services during the pandemic in this section of the website – and we’ll continue to keep tenants informed of any updates.

Thank you and best wishes.

John Johnston,

Chief Executive.

 

September 2021.

 

 

 

 

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 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

Our repairs and maintenance team are delivering services as normal, including essential repairs to heating, water and electrical appliances.

National logistical problems are causing delays with some items, so please bear with us if your appointment takes a little bit longer than normal.

Our emergency service continues to operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year – contactable on 0344 800 3800.

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.

Moving home

Our full lettings service continues for people moving home.

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? 

Our team continue to investigate complaints of anti-social behaviour reported to us.

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 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

Lounges and communal areas at our sheltered housing schemes are open with activities for tenants taking place again.

Visitors are welcome and we are keeping a programme of enhanced cleaning in place, concentrating on touch surfaces, to make the environments as safe and welcoming as possible.

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

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Coronavirus (COVID-19): free school meals guidance

Contacting us

If you need to speak with us, our telephone lines continue to operate as usual, so please call 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.