Advice on COVID-19 Header
(Friday 3 April) Rent support during the pandemic
During the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, all our staff are working to ensure that as many people as possible remain safe and secure within our communities and neighbourhoods.
We understand the coronavirus has also led to money worries for many people. Government has introduced measures to support employees who can’t work and people who are self-employed. However, we recognise that one of the largest payments at this time is rent.
If you’re worried about rent payments because the pandemic has led to reduced working hours or unemployment, or left you struggling in other ways, please get in touch with us on 01204 328000 and we’ll do what we can to help.
If you’re sick, caring for others, or can’t work for another reason due to coronavirus, we can discuss how we might be able to help you.
Please share with us how the pandemic has affected you and we’ll be as flexible as we can with the collection of rent at this time.
Our Money Advice page on our website also contains tips on looking after your money, what benefits may be available, and other sources of support and advice.
Nobody will lose their home during the pandemic for failing to pay their rent as a result of financial hardship caused by coronavirus.
This is a challenging time for all of us, but we’ll get through it by being responsible and supporting each other.
See our previous messages on Coronavirus COVID-19 below
View our previous messages on Coronavirus COVID-19 below.
Please be mindful of the dates these updates were shared and that government advice is subject to change.
(Thursday 26 March) Our shared responsibility to keep people safe
We hope you’re all managing to stay as healthy and happy as possible while we’re being advised to stay at home.
We appeal to all of you to make sure you continue to observe the social distancing rules set out by Government.
Most of you are doing a fine job to #StayHomeSaveLives. However, we’ve been made aware of several instances where people haven’t been taking the advice seriously enough.
We’ve heard reports of people continuing to invite people into their homes and even holding barbecues and garden parties because of the warmer weather in recent days. This kind of behaviour puts people at risk at a time when we should all be working together to protect ourselves and others.
Please be aware that we’ll work with organisational partners and the police to ensure the rules are observed.
Please also note that any communal areas in our properties are not exempt from the social distancing measures.
To recap, social distancing means you should:
- Only go outside for food, health reasons or work (but only if you cannot work from home);
- Stay 2 metres away from other people;
- Wash your hands as soon as you get home.
Thanks for your support and patience during these challenging times.
You can find all of our COVID-19 updates here on our website. Detailed official advice can be found on the government website.
If you have any specific concerns - please phone us on 01204 328000, use our Web Chat facility or direct message us on Facebook - and we’ll do our best to help.
(Wednesday 25 March) An update on our services
Following our update on Monday 23 March, we just wanted to offer further information on how some of our services are being delivered differently and to let you know some of the other ways we’re trying to keep people safe during this difficult time.
We’re still running essential services such as Careline, emergency repairs, gas safety checks, supporting hospital discharges and helping vulnerable customers. We’re doing all of this in-line with Government’s safe way of working guidance and following risk assessments.
Of course, what matters most is that we’re all observing the safe social distancing measures and generally staying at home to save lives. A reminder that the latest official advice can be found on the government website.
Here’s some more information on the action we’re taking and how to get support.
Help with paying your rent
If you’re concerned about how the current situation may impact your finances, including your ability to pay rent and bills or buy food, you can contact our Money Advice Team via the main number on 01204 328000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re sick, caring for others, or can’t work for another reason due to coronavirus, we can discuss how we might be able to help you through this difficult time.
Our Money Advice page on our website also contains tips on looking after your money, what benefits may be available, and other sources of support and advice.
Support for older tenants
Staying at home can be a challenge for us all, but we understand it may cause specific concern among some of our older tenants and those with specific needs. While we’ve had to suspend face-to-face support visits for those who use our support services, we’ll continue to contact those who need our support and we’re doing this by phone.
Our Careline community alarm and response service is still running and will continue to do so, offering advice, support and an emergency response for those who need it.
If you’re considering visiting someone, please don’t unless it’s absolutely essential. We urge you to follow Government’s latest advice to protect yourself and others – and the NHS - through social distancing, shielding and self-isolating as appropriate. The latest information on this is here: www.gov.uk/coronavirus.
Help for those worried about domestic abuse
One of the concerns that’s been raised nationally is the potential for the country to see an increase in domestic abuse and violence. For some people, staying at home could put them at increased risk.
If you’re experiencing this, or are worried about someone else, you can find more information about support that is available by visiting this dedicated page on our website.
Always dial 999 if you or your children are at immediate risk of harm.
Finding a home with us
Please note that property viewings and property moves won’t be available until further notice. We’re contacting everyone who was planning to move and we’ll honour the offers we’ve made to them.
We advise tenants to hold-off from seeking to terminate your tenancy now, unless it’s an emergency or you’re not safe, as the practicalities of moving will be extremely challenging at this time.
Thanks for your support and patience during this unprecedented time. We’ll continue to add updates and information on COVID-19 on our website here.
If you have any specific concerns, please phone our main number of 01204 328000, use our Web Chat facility or direct message us on Facebook. We’ll do our best to help and we’re sorry if you find it takes longer to reach us than normal.
(Monday 23 March) Reducing the risk of Coronavirus COVID-19
We understand you’ll have questions about the impact of Coronavirus COVID-19 on our range of services.
We’re working each day to put the right measures in place for you, which also follow the latest official advice, and we’ll do our best to keep you informed.
Please be assured we’re taking this seriously as we consider the health and safety of tenants, staff, suppliers and others. Reducing the risk of coronavirus is our absolute priority and we want to protect everyone.
Whilst this is a challenging time for all of us, we’ll get through it by being responsible and working together.
We’ll be doing our utmost to maintain essential services. We just need to do some things a bit differently for the time being.
We’re still providing, amongst other things:
- emergency repairs;
- support services through our Careline community alarm service and at sheltered and extra care housing schemes;
- new build works where possible;
- health and safety related planned improvement works by contractors;
- money advice and rent support over the phone;
- help for people experiencing antisocial behaviour or domestic abuse.
Here’s some more information on the action we’re taking.
Help for money worries
We understand many of you will be worried how current events will affect you financially and whether your home may be at risk if you fall behind with rent payments. Please be assured we won’t allow anybody to lose their home as a direct result of these events. We share the same position as Government and the National Housing Federation on this and we’re working through the details of how this is put into effect. We’ll do our best to keep you updated on this.
If you’re concerned about how the current situation may impact your finances, including your ability to pay rent and bills or buy food, you can contact our Money Advice Team via the main number on 01204 328000. Our Money Advice page on our website also contains tips on looking after your money, what benefits may be available, and other sources of support and advice.
Supporting those most vulnerable
We’re always working with our partner agencies in Bolton to see how we can mobilise urgent support for the people who need it most.
We’re seeing what we can be done at this time. As it remains a fast-developing situation we’ll continue to work in partnership and follow guidance from Public Health England, Bolton Council and the local NHS, so we take the most appropriate course of action to safeguard local communities.
Anyone with urgent concerns about food provision can contact us on 01204 328000 for more information about local support available.
We’re also following guidance from Public Health England and taking precautions to help protect local communities in our sheltered and extra care schemes against the risks of Coronavirus COVID-19.
Before visiting tenants, we urge people to follow Government’s latest advice to protect themselves and others – and the NHS - through social distancing, shielding and self-isolating as appropriate. The latest information on this is here: www.gov.uk/coronavirus.
Repairs and maintenance
From 8am Thursday 19 March, we moved to an emergency repairs service only.
We won’t be registering or appointing less urgent repairs for the time being and we’ll be in touch if you have a pre-arranged repairs appointment to let you know it will need to be postponed for the foreseeable future. We apologise for any inconvenience this causes. These are unprecedented times and we hope you’ll understand.
We’ll still attend your home to carry out emergency repairs and servicing for gas safety. We’ll also continue to do some external repairs where face-to-face contact or access to your property isn’t necessary.
UCAN centres and office receptions
Like other organisations we’re taking steps to minimise risk to tenants, colleagues and members of the public.
The social distancing measures we’re taking mean that we’ve had little choice but to temporarily close our UCAN centres and other offices, including our Valley House reception area, to visitors.
When we’re able to reopen, we’ll let you know through our website and social media channels. If you need support from one of our services while our centres also closed, please get in touch and we’ll do our best to help you as appropriate.
Community events and groups
Unfortunately, we’ve had to postpone the community events we had planned in the near future due to social distancing measures.
We remain committed to supporting groups, charities and social enterprises currently in receipt of grant funding or with contracts in place from our voluntary, community and social enterprise (VSCE) organisations. You can read more information about our latest commitments to, and what we ask of, VCSE partners at this time by clicking here.
Following Government advice
Due to the fast-changing nature of these events, it’s best to follow the official health advice from Government. This is what we’re encouraging all of our staff to do too, so we’re each doing our bit behind the scenes to take precautions and work responsibly.
The most up-to-date guidance can be found on Government’s dedicated coronavirus page. Health information from the NHS, including what to do if you have symptoms, can also be found on the NHS website here.
There is a quite a lot of fake news and bogus health advice about coronavirus circulating on social media and messaging platforms like WhatsApp, so news should be taken only from government and authoritative news sources.
Current events also have the potential to leave us all feeling anxious and lonely. Advice and support around looking after your mental health in relation to the coronavirus outbreak is available from trusted mental health charities. The charity Mind and the Mental Health Foundation have some useful tips on their websites. The BBC also has a useful summary with tips from the experts.
We’re here to help
If you have any questions about services and support available to you at this time please phone our contact centre team on our main number of 01204 328000, use our Web Chat facility or direct message us on Facebook.
(Wednesday 18 March) A change to our repairs service
As most of you will already be aware, the government recently announced additional measures to reduce the spread of Coronavirus COVID-19. We’re taking this situation very seriously as we consider the health and safety of tenants, staff, suppliers and others. We want to protect everyone.
We’ll be doing our utmost to maintain essential services during this time, but we have little choice but to do some things a bit differently for the time being. One of these areas is repairs as it usually requires our staff to come into your home.
From 8am Thursday 19 March, we’ll be moving to an emergency repairs service only. We won’t be registering or appointing less urgent repairs for the time being and we’ll be in touch if you have a pre-arranged repairs appointment to let you know it will need to be postponed for the foreseeable future. We apologise for any inconvenience this causes. These are unprecedented times and we hope you’ll understand.
We’ll still attend your home to carry out emergency repairs and servicing for gas safety, if you and the people living with you have no symptoms. We’ll also continue to do some external repairs where face-to-face contact or access to your property isn’t necessary.
If we do need to enter your home to carry out an emergency repair, please don’t be scared or offended if we ask if you’ve had any symptoms of the COVID-19 virus, or if our staff wear facemasks. Also, please rest assured that all our staff have been asked to self-isolate at home if they, or anyone in their family, has any symptoms of the virus.
If you have a pre-arranged appointment in the next few days, you don’t need to do anything. We’ll be in touch to cancel the appointment. We’ll also let you know as soon as this situation changes and our repairs service can return to normal.
We understand you’ll have some questions about the impact of Coronavirus COVID-19 on our range of services. We’re working each day to ensure we’re putting the right measures in place for tenants, which also follows the latest advice from Public Health England. We’ll share more information with you online as soon as we can to clear things-up and keep you updated.
This is a challenging time for all of us, but we’ll get through it by being responsible and working together. Stay safe and thanks for understanding.
(w/c Monday 16 March) Letter: Advice on Coronavirus COVID-19
We've sent a letter containing advice and guidance on Coronavirus COVID-19 and it should've arrived with all tenants by the end of the week beginning Monday 16 March.
Here’s a version of the letter than you can view on our website. We’ll update you as appropriate going forward.
Please be mindful that Government guidance is subject to change.
We advise you to check www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public for the latest public guidance on what to do if you have symptoms, and what the Government is doing about the virus.
We hope that you’re well.
We want to let you know that we’re closely monitoring the situation around Coronavirus COVID-19 and we can reassure you that it hasn’t affected us delivering our services to-date.
We will continue to follow guidance from Public Health England, Bolton Council and the local NHS, who are working together so we’re well prepared to deal with it in Bolton and safeguard local communities.
More generally, the UK is well prepared for these types of incidents and there is rapid and effective testing undertaken by Public Health England for this virus. The NHS has expert teams of highly-trained staff and specialist hospital units around the country ready to receive and care for any patients with any highly infectious disease.
Based on current evidence Coronavirus COVID-19 presents with flu-like symptoms including a fever, a cough, or difficulty breathing. Most cases appear to be mild.
Our main concern is your health and safety, and that of our employees. All of us are encouraged to take preventative measures to reduce our potential exposure to this and other viruses.
- wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds;
- always wash your hands when you get home or into work;
- use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water aren’t available;
- cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze;
- put used tissues in the bin straight away and wash your hands afterwards;
- try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell.
- don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.
NHS 111 has an online coronavirus service that can tell you if you need medical help and advise you what to do. Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. Call 111 if you need to speak to someone.
More advice and information about health symptoms is available online at www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public.
We are here if you need us.
It is also important to let us know if you think you have been in contact with the virus, have the virus or need to self-isolate. In this instance please do not attend our offices.
Please contact us on 01204 328000 in case we have a reason to visit you and we will make alternative arrangements to provide the necessary support. Please also phone NHS 111.
We will contact you if we need to rearrange an existing appointment.
Our lines are open from 8am until 5.30pm, Monday to Friday, switching to an emergency service at other times.
Yours sincerely and best wishes,
Jon Lord - Chief Executive (Bolton at Home)