Our slow but steady return Post Lockdown.
During last week’s update to customers, we mentioned our plans for a steady return to our new working. The attached letter has been sent via the Housing Minister, Christopher Pincher, to all social housing tenants about how the Government envisages this slow return will work in terms of services to social housing customers.
At WHA we will continue to endeavour to provide the best possible services we can, when we can, and at all times the needs of our customers and safety and wellbeing of our customers, colleagues and contractors will remain a priority. We ask that you bear with us as we navigate this new world too. We have detailed below how we intend to go about this and some of the key principles we will follow:-
Maintenance and Repairs
During lockdown, we focussed on providing an essential repairs service, undertaking work that was absolutely necessary, but aiming to ensure minimum disruption to our customers. Other repairs and maintenance works reported to us were recorded for action at a later date. From 1st June, we will start to work through those additional items, customers should continue to report repairs in the usual way via our website: https://www.wha.org.uk/im-a-resident/report-a-repair/ by telephone on 01925 246810 between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday or on 0844 8933986 for any emergencies outside of our office hours.
We will undertake works in a sensitive manner and will consider customers views, needs and expectations at all times. We will also ensure that WHA colleagues and any contractors who need to enter your home to carry out works do so in a safe and compliant way, following relevant safety and hygiene guidance.
Planned and Cyclical Works
WHA has a planned maintenance programme planned during 2020/21. However, the commencement of this work was delayed as a result of Covid 19. We are currently reviewing our programme and may need to amend some timings this year, to allow us to focus on those works that cause minimum inconvenience and allow for effective “social distancing” etc. We remain committed to providing the best quality maintenance service to your home. You will be contacted directly by our property services team as and when we anticipate doing any works in and around your home. We will aim to adjust/amend work as necessary to ensure that customers’ needs and expectations are at the forefront of our decision making. We will also ensure that WHA colleagues and any contractors who need to enter your home to carry out works do so in a safe and complaint way, following relevant safety and hygiene guidance.
Gas safety checks
We would like to thank our customers for helping us ensure that we have been able to remain 100% complaint with our gas safety requirements so far this year, even during Covid 19 restrictions. Every year, people die and are seriously injured by poorly maintained gas appliances and it is important that we continue to access your home to carry out these essential checks on an annual basis.
We need to continue to undertake these inspections and any necessary works, but will continue to do so in sensitive manner. If we inform you that an inspection is due, please make sure you let us know if you think it might be a problem, for example, if you are self-isolating or shielding and we will work with you to sort this out. PLEASE DON’T SIMPLY IGNORE OUR REQUESTS, by allowing us safe access to carry out this work, you will be ensuring your boiler continues to be safe to use and safeguarding your family and neighbours.
Those wishing to move home
For the period during lockdown, WHA suspended all transfers, mutual exchanges and lettings (except for this in priority need with the Local Authority). We are now able to slowly and sensitively recommence this service. However, we intend to do this in a way that does not disrupt, disturb or concern our existing customers. So please bear with us as the time taken to process, plan and arrange moves may take longer than it used to. As detailed above, once again, we will also ensure that WHA colleagues and any contractors who need to enter your home or empty accommodation near your home, do so in a safe and complaint way, following relevant safety and hygiene guidance. We will be following Government guidance and can signpost you to relevant information to help you plan your move.
At WHA we are dependent upon the rental income we receive in order to deliver services to our customers, including repairs and planned improvements and tenants are expected to pay their rent in the usual way and abide by all the other terms of their tenancy. We also support the National Housing Federation’s view that no-one should lose their home because of coronavirus and we will work closely with our customers and the NHF to try to ensure that this does not happen. However, if you are experiencing financial difficulties and worried about paying your rent, we urge you to get in touch with us as soon as possible so that we can help you access the right support.
Further to the above, we aim to provide a safe and secure environment for you to live in and we want to do everything we can to stop anti-social behaviour.
Anti-social behaviour can ruin lives and it’s important that you report any concerns that you have about anti-social behaviour in your area.
You can report it by completing the available forms on our website: https://www.wha.org.uk/helpful-information/anti-social-behaviour/ Alternatively, you can call us on 01925 246810 to receive these forms through the post, this might take longer to process at this time, due to limited access to our office.
When you report any anti-social behaviour to us, it’s helpful if you have the following information available:
- What happened
- Where it happened
- How often
- Who was involved
- How you and others were affected
We will take what you say seriously and treat you with respect. We understand that it might be difficult or frustrating for you to talk about what’s happening.
To make it easy and clearer to record everything we have an incident diary log sheet. You should fill this out and return to us. If there are any witnesses there is also a witness form for them to fill out. The more information we have the more we may be able to do.
Also if you are suffering from noise, Warrington Borough Council’s Environmental Health Department may also be able to help you. They provide a comprehensive noise control service for all residents living in Warrington which includes enforcement powers to control noise nuisance. You can contact them through the Contact Centre on 01925 443322 or email them on firstname.lastname@example.org. Their website is www.warrington.gov.uk
Customer Engagement and Wellbeing
The coronavirus crisis has presented a unique opportunity to really test our Together with Tenants drive of putting our customers at the centre of everything we do. We are incredibly proud of how the WHA team has rallied round and committed to keeping our tenants – and the wider community in Warrington – safe, cared for, connected and informed.
Although WHA has less than 1500 properties during the first week of lockdown were able to contact 950 of our customers with 3,000 calls and 250 referrals made during the first four-weeks. To date, we have also facilitated the delivery of 240 food parcels from Age UK Mid Mersey and Great Sankey Community Hub to isolated tenants and customers of our home improvement agency (WHiA) for those who cannot shop for themselves.
We will continue to work directly with Warrington Borough Council (WBC), Warrington Voluntary Action (WVA), local Councillors and other agencies locally to plan effective support and intervention for those that might need continued help and support.
It is not just the roof over our tenants’ heads which is important, but also what is going on in their heads, many of whom are isolating alone. Mental health wellbeing is more vital than ever.
The current crisis means the doors to LifeTime, our over-50s centre, are closed but colleagues and volunteers have found ways to maintain connections. More than 2,300 calls were made to LifeTime members over the first four weeks and we have established a new “online way of engaging with our customers throughout this crisis. LifeTime has developed a timetable of online activities – including coffee mornings, quizzes, puzzles, dance, yoga, mindfulness, Zumba and a Sunday singalong – that people can join from their tablet, computer or smart phone at home.
After just one week of lockdown there were already 40 LifeTime members active on Zoom. By the end of week five the numbers had almost quadrupled.
For more information about the activities available through Lifetime, please visit: https://lifetimegateway.org.uk/events/all-events-lifetime_calendar/
Our main office at the Gateway, will remain closed to the public for the time being, while we concentrate on colleagues being able to work from the office in a Covid Compliant way. We will advise our customers as and when this changes.
However, you can still contact us and we are able to arrange appointments and/or visits. Our aim for the time being will be to try to communicate directly via telephone, zoom or facetime and other forms of social media, in order to protect our colleagues and our customers.
Thank you for your patience as we adapt and slowly resume a new normal service.