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Advice on Coronavirus COVID-19

We'll use this page to share all the latest from us on Coronavirus COVID-19. Click or tap on the tabs towards the bottom of the page to view any previous messages we've shared. 

Please be mindful that Government guidance is subject to change.

Please click here for the latest Government guidance on Coronavirus COVID-19.

(Thursday 21 January, 2021) A thank you from us

All of us at Bolton at Home would like to thank you for helping us through the Coronavirus pandemic. We’re working as hard as we can to look after your homes and do everything as safely as possible.

Thanks to your support, we’ve managed to complete over 24,000 emergency repairs and over 16,000 gas and electrical safety checks since the start of the first lockdown. All while keeping people safe from COVID-19.

 

Why prioritising emergency repairs has meant there are non-urgent repairs waiting for us to fix

Since March last year, the impact of the pandemic and the restrictions put in place by the government to slow the spread of Coronavirus have meant we’ve been unable to carry out some non-urgent repairs. The government has allowed us, and other housing providers, to continue doing emergency repairs throughout, so rest assured we’ll be there to help you if you need us. As an emergency repair could result in harm to people or property if it’s not fixed quickly, these continue to be our priority.

With approximately 300 members of technical staff looking after 18,000 properties, adapting how we do things to conform with government and health and safety guidelines has been a logistical challenge for us over the last ten months.

At any time some colleagues and contractors have needed to shield or self-isolate at short notice. We require building materials, and external supplies have been affected. And, while we’re well supplied with personal protective equipment (PPE), our operatives still need to maintain two-metre distancing when travelling and doing jobs. This can affect the type and amount of work we can do depending on the situation.

These are not only issues for Bolton at Home of course. All trades-people, contractors and other housing associations have faced similar difficulties.

It’s meant that when resources have been limited, we’ve needed to focus them on emergency repairs and vital safety checks of your home.

Recent changes in government rules have meant we’ve been able to provide a range of repairs and maintenance services that comes closer to pre-lockdown arrangements. However, like many other businesses, we have also had greater levels of sickness absence and other colleagues have needed to self-isolate. So technical staff that may have been available for less urgent repairs have had to be moved onto emergency work. This means that while we’re now allowed to carry out more and different types of repairs and maintenance work, the progress we can make still depends on the availability of staff.

We’re very sorry if you’ve been expecting a repair and we’ve had to postpone it. Please keep supporting us as we continue to work through the backlog of less urgent repairs. Keeping you, other tenants, and our staff all as safe as possible is our number one priority. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

 

What we need you to do if we’re visiting your home

If we need to carry out a repair at your home, we’ll generally phone you 48 hours before to make an appointment first. We’ll wear a mask and PPE, and stay socially distanced from you.

In return, we ask you to do the following. These actions apply to all reasons we might visit you at home.

In all cases:

1. You and all members of your household must wear face masks for the duration of our visit. The only exception would be if it’s not possible for Careline customers who need the urgent help of our Careline Response Team in an emergency situation.

2. Ventilate the room where our staff will be, by opening windows, unless this negatively affects a health condition of anyone remaining in the room.

If we visit for repair and maintenance purposes like a gas safety inspection, emergency repair or a general repair that can be done safely:

3. You and all members of your household must also move to a different part of your home, away from the room we’ll work in.

If we need to come into your home for another type of appointment with you:

4. All other members of your household not required for the conversation must also move to a different part of your home, away from the room we’ll meet you in.

If the conversation we need to have with you isn’t confidential, but can’t be carried out by phone, we’ll speak with you by socially distancing at your doorstep and without entering your home.

 

How you’ll know it’s us

For the vast majority of home visits, we’ll only come after we’ve already made an appointment with you and so you know to expect us. There can be some urgent and specific situations when we need to visit tenants unexpectedly, but in all cases we encourage you to ask to see ID. Please don’t worry, our staff won’t be offended. We want you to be confident we are who we say we are and understand the reason for our visit.

We’ll continue to work hard to keep you up to date with the progress of any outstanding repairs.

Thank you again for both your patience and for following guidelines while we work safely.

Stay safe.

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 7 January, 2021) How we’re working during the latest lockdown

We’re approaching the next two months with the same commitment we’ve had throughout the pandemic, which is to work responsibly to prioritise your health and safety.

We’re sure most, if not all, of you will be aware of the latest restrictions and guidance announced by the Prime Minister on Monday 4 January. Just in case you aren’t, or if you’d like to double check, you can read the details on the Government’s website here: bit.ly/3bfYRRh.

We’d also recommend you read the latest advice shared by Bolton Council here: www.bolton.gov.uk/coronavirus-support-1/local-restrictions-can-cannot/1. Please do so frequently, as Government rules and guidelines can change with the circumstances and sometimes differ locally.

 

What you can expect from us with home visits currently

We’re still able to visit homes for purposes such as gas safety inspections, emergency repairs and some general repairs (where these can be done safely), for safeguarding purposes, and for some other housing services, which include support from our Careline community alarm service.

We’ll update you if the situation changes.

The measures we take to keep people safe are consistent with the latest guidance. You can expect our staff visiting you to work responsibly, always wear a mask and other personal protective equipment (PPE) when entering your home, and stay socially distanced from you for the duration of our visit. Please note that our Careline Response Team can’t socially distance whilst attending to a customer in need, if they’ve had a fall for instance, but our team will wear full PPE.

 

Keeping the situation under review to adapt if we need to

We promise you that we’ll continue to work as effectively as we can during this period of lockdown to run services and provide any support should you need it, while we remain highly responsive to the Coronavirus situation.

Every day we’re taking advice from specialists working within Public Health, the Government, and the National Housing Federation among others. And every week, we’re reviewing the number of COVID-19 cases in Bolton, monitoring staff absences, assessing if our staff are catching Coronavirus due to contact with others during the course of their work, and contingency planning for if the situation requires us to move our face-to-face service provision to emergency services only.

We’ll update you if the situation changes.

 

Confirmation of what we need you to do if we’re visiting your home

In all cases:

1. You and all members of your household must wear face masks for the duration of our visit. The only exception would be if it’s not possible for Careline customers who need the urgent help of our Careline Response Team in an emergency situation.

2. Ventilate the room where our staff will be, by opening windows, unless this negatively affects a health condition of anyone remaining in the room.

If we visit for repair and maintenance purposes like a gas safety inspection, emergency repair or a general repair that can be done safely:

3. You and all members of your household must also move to a different part of your home, away from the room we’ll work in.

If we need to come into your home for another type of appointment with you:

4. All other members of your household not required for the conversation must also move to a different part of your home, away from the room we’ll meet you in.

If the conversation we need to have with you isn’t confidential, but can’t be carried out by phone, we’ll speak with you by socially distancing at your doorstep and without entering your home.

For the vast majority of home visits, we’ll only come after we’ve already made an appointment with you and so you know to expect us. There can be some urgent and specific situations when we need to visit tenants unexpectedly, but in all cases we encourage you to ask to see ID. Please don’t worry, our staff won’t be offended. We want you to be confident we are who we say we are and understand the reason for our visit.

 

Please note

If anyone refuses to cooperate with these requirements, our staff member may chose not to continue with the visit. We also reserve the right to charge tenants the appropriate amount of money to cover our costs for call outs where we’ve had to withdraw our services for these reasons.

We ask that you continue to respect our colleagues. Any abuse or antisocial behaviour directed towards our staff will not be tolerated. This includes instances where tenants experiencing COVID-19 symptoms don’t report them to us before our colleagues enter their home.

Thank you for your understanding and support during these challenging times.

 

Questions or concerns?

If you don’t want us to come into your home because of health vulnerabilities, such as a health condition requires you to shield, please contact us directly.

If the repair isn’t an emergency and can genuinely wait, then we may be able to postpone your appointment. Any work that’s classed an emergency will still need to be carried out.

We encourage anyone with any questions or concerns to phone our Contact Centre Team on 01204 328000.

Take care and stay safe.

(Monday 4 January, 2021) What happens if we need to come into your home

We hope you’re all well and have enjoyed a good break over Christmas and New Year. Of course, it continues to be a difficult and worrying time with the pandemic.

We’re all in this together and so it’s vital that we continue to look after each other.  

The health and safety of you and your family, and our colleagues, remains our top priority. And we’re sure you’ll join us in doing what’s required to protect one another if we need to visit you at home for an arranged appointment.

Here are some details on what we ask of you and why, and what you can expect from us.

 

Why we’re asking you to take even more precautions

Bolton, along with the rest of Greater Manchester, is following Tier 4 COVID-19 restrictions*. The latest restrictions are in place in response to a national rise in infections caused by a new variant of the COVID-19 virus, and the high risk of people spreading it to others.

As residents we must all be careful and not leave our homes except for specific purposes like for work, education, childcare or medical attention, or to get food or exercise outdoors.

If you haven’t already, we'd recommend you read the latest details of the restrictions shared by Bolton Council here: https://www.bolton.gov.uk/coronavirus-support-1/local-restrictions-can-cannot/1. Please do so frequently, as Government rules and guidelines change with the circumstances.

*Please note that the Prime Minister will address the nation at 8pm on Monday evening and further restrictions might be announced.

 

What we need you to do when we visit you at home in all cases

1. You and all members of your household must wear face masks for the duration of our visit.

2. Ventilate the room where our staff will be, by opening windows, unless this negatively affects a health condition of anyone remaining in the room.

If we visit for repair and maintenance purposes like a gas safety inspection, emergency repair or a general repair that can be done safely

3. You and all members of your household must also move to a different part of your home, away from the room we’ll work in.

If we visit for another type of appointment with you

4. All other members of your household not required for the conversation must also move to a different part of your home, away from the room we’ll meet you in.

 

Please note

If anyone refuses to cooperate with these requirements, our staff member may chose not to continue with the visit. We also reserve the right to charge tenants the appropriate amount of money to cover our costs for call outs where we’ve had to withdraw our services for these reasons.

We ask that you continue to respect our colleagues. Any abuse or antisocial behaviour directed towards our staff will not be tolerated. This includes instances where tenants experiencing COVID-19 symptoms don’t report them to us before our colleagues enter their home.

Thank you for your understanding and support during these challenging times.

 

What you can expect from us with home visits currently

We’re still able to visit homes for purposes such as gas safety inspections, emergency repairs and some general repairs (where these can be done safely). We’ll update you if the situation changes.

The measures we take to keep people safe are consistent with the latest public health advice. You can expect our staff visiting you to work responsibly, always wear a mask and other personal protective equipment when entering your home and stay socially distanced from you for the duration of our visit.

 

Questions or concerns?

If you don’t want us to come into your home because of health vulnerabilities, such as a health condition that previously required you to shield, please contact us directly. If the repair isn’t an emergency and can genuinely wait, then we may be able to postpone your appointment. Any work that’s classed an emergency will still need to be carried out.

We encourage anyone with any questions or concerns to phone our Contact Centre Team on 01204 328000.

Take care. 

(Wednesday 4 November) What happens if we need to come into your home

With a second national lockdown due to start on Thursday, here’s a reminder of the measures we’re taking to ensure we can continue working safely and responsibly, and how you can help too.

We’ll still be visiting homes during the lockdown for things like gas safety inspections, emergency repairs and some general repairs (where these can be done safely).

The measures we’re taking to keep people safe are consistent with the latest public health advice, and include:

·         we’ll always wear a mask and other personal protective equipment when entering your home;

·         we’ll ask you to confirm that you or family members aren’t experiencing any coronavirus symptoms before entering;

·         we’ll now ask you and family members to also wear a mask or suitable face covering during the visit;

·         we’ll stay two metres away and will ask you and family members to stay in another room while work is carried out;

·         we’ll ask you to ventilate your home by opening windows for the duration of the visit.

We thank you in advance for respecting these safety measures as not engaging with these precautions could increase the potential risk of transmission and give us cause to withdraw our services.

If you don’t want us to come into your home because of health vulnerabilities, such as a health condition that previously required you to shield, please contact us directly. If the repair isn’t an emergency and can genuinely wait, then we may be able to postpone your appointment. Any work that’s classed an emergency will still need to be carried out.

Thank you for your patience and understanding during these challenging times. We ask that you continue to respect our colleagues. Any abuse or antisocial behaviour directed towards our staff will not be tolerated. This includes instances where tenants experiencing COVID-19 symptoms don’t report them to us before our colleagues enter their home.

We don’t anticipate a major impact on our services over and above what we’ve been dealing with in recent months but please be assured that the health and safety of you and your family, and our colleagues, remains our top priority.

We realise that for many people this will be another difficult time, so we encourage anyone with any questions or concerns to contact our Contact Centre Team on 01204 328000.

(Thursday 22 October) Testing for our tenants in extra care housing

Do you or a relative live in one of our extra care sheltered housing schemes?

As part of Government plans to control the spread of COVID-19, Bolton at Home is taking part in a pilot scheme to test tenants and staff in our extra care housing. This is being done to understand more about how the virus may spread in such settings.

It means tenants in our four extra care schemes – Merton (Deane), Eldon Street (Tonge), Maxton House and Campbell House (Farnworth) – will be given the option of having a COVID-19 test.

What is extra care housing?

Our extra care schemes offer older people their own home, together with access to care and support services. As these services are provided by dedicated on-site teams, extra care can help older people to continue living independently within the setting of their own home.

How will the testing pilot scheme work?

Bolton Cares staff will be managing and carrying out the testing, either by supporting tenants to self-test, or by carrying out the test for tenants if necessary. The testing is optional, and we hope that tenants will take up the offer so we can work together to control the virus.

What happens next?

Over the next few weeks our Sustaining Tenancy Advisors and Bolton Cares staff will be discussing and advising our tenants at the schemes when the test will be carried out and whether they wish to participate. Tenants who agree to a test will have to sign a consent form. All the tests will be completed on the same day to enable them to be collected immediately and processed as soon as possible.

If you have any queries or concerns about this testing pilot scheme, please contact:

Paula Macleod for Campbell House 07770 481 621

Rebekah Wiseman for Eldon St 07776 160 793

Geraldine Pawson for Maxton House 07748 321 245

Janet James for Merton 07766 443 136

 

Or our Housing Services Admin Team can take your details and arrange for someone to contact you. Phone 01204 328062.

(Monday 5 October) Help with antisocial behaviour

Affected by antisocial behaviour? Want help but not sure what to do? 

Our Neighbourhood Safety Team sensitively investigates reports, supports victims and takes appropriate action against offenders.

If this is new for you, please don’t worry. Our team’s experienced and working as close to full speed as is possible at this time.

The current Coronavirus situation calls for patience with our service. Our team’s safely working through 170 cases at the moment and, if it’s needed, will also support the police to crackdown on those involved in illegal household gatherings at this time.

The situation also calls for some perspective, so we don’t take away an exaggerated view of things.

The overall number of antisocial behaviour cases represents less than 1% of the total number of tenancies with us. And the overwhelming majority of neighbours live in harmony in their communities and are united against spreading Covid-19.

But if your quality life has been affected- we’ll do our best to help so you can start feeling safer, more secure and happier at home.

Please contact us if you’re a tenant and impacted by antisocial behaviour, noise nuisance, a hate crime, domestic abuse or a dispute with a neighbour where our Resolve mediation service could help.

Phone 01204 328000

Email Bhtenancy.enforcementservice@boltonathome.org.uk

Please report any criminal activity, for example drug dealing, to the police.

Take care. Stay safe.

(Thursday 10 September) An update on our repairs service

We're working to get the full repairs service up and running while keeping you safe.

We take the safety of you and your family very seriously. We’re continuing to follow government guidelines and best practice across the housing sector to minimise the risks posed by COVID-19. 

While it feels like some things in life are getting back to normal, we all know that the virus will be with us for some time. At the moment we’re only carrying out emergency repairs, but we’re working to get the full repairs service up and running soon. We hope to be able to give you a further update on this in a few weeks’ time.

For those of you with outstanding non-emergency repairs, we’d like to assure you that resuming the service is a big priority for us and we thank you for your patience and understanding over the last few months.

Emergency repairs – what you need to know

If we need to visit your home to carry out an emergency repair, we’ll take every precaution to keep you safe. As part of these important safety measures, we’ll:

• ask you if you’ve had any symptoms of COVID-19 when you report a repair

• sanitise our hands before entering and leaving your home

• wear full personal protective equipment if you have symptoms or are self-isolating

• stay a safe 2-metre distance away from you, and we might ask you to move to a different room while we carry out the repair.

Your repairs questions answered

Some of you have called our contact centre to ask how our operatives will work safely in your home. Here are some of the common questions asked together with our responses.

Why are operatives only wearing masks and not full personal protective equipment (PPE)?

In line with the government’s safe way of working guidance, our operatives aren’t required to wear PPE. However, they’ll wear masks or a visor and will santise their hands before and after every visit. If you’d like an operative to wear gloves, please ask them to do so when they arrive.

If I or someone in my household has COVID-19, what additional PPE is worn?

Depending on the work that needs doing, we may postpone the visit.  If the work is an emergency or essential, the operative will wear a mask or visor , disposable gloves and a disposable paper suit.

Can I ask the operative to wear additional PPE?

If you’d like an operative to wear additional PPE, please tell us when you report your emergency repair. Please be aware though that there is still a global PPE shortage, and we’re carefully monitoring our stocks to ensure that staff have appropriate PPE when situations require them to wear it.

Do I need to ventilate my home for the appointment?

Where possible we ask that you ventilate your home by opening windows for the duration of the visit.

What if I refuse access to my home?

We ask that you co-operate with us and allow operatives into your home to carry out any necessary repairs. Government guidelines state that, after 1 August, those who’ve been shielding because they’re clinically vulnerable no longer need to. If you’ve been shielding, we understand that you might feel nervous having people come into your home. But we want to reassure you that our operatives have received all the necessary training to keep you safe in your home.

I’ve been shielding – will you be doing a gas safety check now?

You might have received a letter to say that we’ll be carrying out a gas safety check in your home – even if you were shielding. This is an automated process that we should have stopped so we apologise for any confusion this might have caused. However, we contacted everyone on the shielding list to say that we’d only begin the safety checks after 1 August (in accordance with government guidelines). Now that shielding has ended, it’s a legal requirement for us to carry out these important checks. If your home is due for a gas safety check, we’ll be in touch with you to arrange an appointment.

You can still report an emergency repair 24/7. An emergency repair is one that might result in harm to people or property if it’s not fixed quickly. Please phone us on 01204 328000. If you smell gas, call the National Grid emergency number 0800 111 999.

Take care and stay safe.

(Friday 21 August) We've pledged to continue to support tenants whose lives have been affected by Coronavirus

We’ve pledged to continue our work to support tenants whose lives have been affected by Coronavirus.

On Sunday 23 August, the government’s temporary suspension on evictions across the country is due to be lifted (update: ministers have announced this will be extended until 20 September).

We’ve signed-up to the three pledges below to reassure tenants who might have financial difficulties caused by Coronavirus.

The pledges have been coordinated by the National Housing Federation (https://www.housing.org.uk). The federation represents housing associations across the country.

1. Keeping people secure at home:

No one will be evicted from a housing association home as a result of financial hardship caused by coronavirus, where they are working (or engaging) with their housing association to get their payments back on track. 

2. Helping people to get the support they need:

Housing associations are helping residents to access benefits and other support to alleviate financial hardship, including supporting people to get work where possible. 

3. Acting compassionately and quickly where people are struggling:

Housing associations will work with any resident who is struggling to find arrangements to pay rent that is manageable for them in the long term. Legal action will only be taken in serious circumstances – for example as a last resort where a resident will not agree a plan with their landlord to help them pay their rent, or where it is needed urgently in cases of domestic abuse or of anti-social behaviour that is putting other residents or communities at risk. 

We’ve signed-up to the pledges as both Bolton at Home and as one of the 26 social housing landlords that make up the Greater Manchester Housing Providers partnership (https://gmhousing.co.uk).

The pledges are in-line with how we work to support people to become more financially secure where needed. We know that anyone can have financial difficulties at times in their lives through no fault of their own.

Since the start of this pandemic, housing providers like us have been working closely with communities, local government, the NHS and others to respond to the Coronavirus crisis. We’re doing what we can to keep people safe, keep vital services running, and help communities to cope and recover. 

If you’re worried about getting into debt and being able to pay your rent, please contact us on 01204 328000.

(Friday 17 July) Homefinder Services update

Wanting or waiting to move?

Steps to take to apply for a home with us or another social housing provider in Bolton:

1. Make sure you're registered with Homes for Bolton.

2. You can register, see all available properties and apply for them here: www.homesforbolton.org.uk.

When you apply for a Bolton at Home property listed on the Homes for Bolton website, it’s our Homefinder Services that deals with your application. The team manages the allocations, lettings and ending of tenancies with Bolton at Home.

Our Homefinder Services fully resumed on Wednesday 8 July. Tenants who had been waiting to move because of lockdown are now settling into their new homes.

We’ve made some changes to how we work to keep all involved safe, including:

  • Phone interviews first to limit physical contact and speed up the process.
  • Checks to ask if people have had any symptoms of COVID-19 before meeting for viewing appointments and sign-ups.
  • Sensible viewing appointments and sign ups that involve limited numbers of people, social distancing and our staff wearing face masks to reduce the risks of catching and transmitting Coronavirus.
  • Also, we’ve now got a central location for tenants to drop of their keys when ending their tenancy with us.

A big thanks to everyone we’ve supported and currently helping, for your understanding that we need to work a bit differently now.

We appreciate your complete respect for keeping viewing appointments, social distancing, wearing face masks during your appointments if you can, and providing references quickly so we can do everything that’s needed to get you into your new home as efficiently as possible.

(Thursday 16 July) Repairs update

Thanks for your patience and understanding with any outstanding repairs. We’re still carrying out emergency repairs and working to get our full repairs service up and running as soon as we can, all in ways that will keep the risk of infection to a minimum.

If you need us to do an emergency repair, we’ll be careful and take precautions if we need to come into your home. We’ll:

  • ask if you’ve had any symptoms of COVID-19;
  • sanitise our hands before entering and leaving your home;
  • wear full personal protective equipment if you have symptoms or are self isolating;
  • stay a safe distance away from you - we’ll be sticking to social distancing of 2 metres and we might ask you to move to a different room while we carry out the repair.

If you’re wondering how soon we can safely return to doing less urgent repairs too, we’re well on with the planning of this in line with Government’s safe way of working guidance and our own risk assessments. Resuming our full repairs service is a big priority for us and we’ll be sure to update you on this very soon.

While it feels like some things in life are getting back to normal with the gradual easing of lockdown, we all know that the risks of catching and transmitting Coronavirus will remain for some time. So there’s lots for us to consider to provide you with a responsible, reliable and effective repairs and maintenance service during a pandemic when it involves hundreds of employees visiting tens of thousands of homes and delivering millions of pounds worth of work each year.

We know that for many tenants, the repair and maintenance of your home is the most important service we provide so it’s essential that we get it right and do it safely.

If you had a repair appointment postponed previously due to the impact of Coronavirus, we’ll contact you and arrange a new appointment that’s convenient for you when we’re able to resume a full service.

We’ll update you on here on our website and Facebook and Twitter, so you know when we can take new reports to respond to less urgent repairs.

You can still report an emergency repair 24/7. An emergency repair is one that might result in harm to people or property if it is not fixed quickly. Please phone us on 01204 328000.

If you smell gas, call the National Grid emergency number 0800 111 999.

(Tuesday 21 April) We’re here to help

A huge thanks to all of you for saving lives by staying at home these last few weeks.

With the lockdown expected to last at least another three weeks, we just wanted to remind you we’re here to help if you need our support.

Help with money matters

If you’re concerned about your financial situation, contact us to discuss the support we may be able to offer. Please phone us on 01204 328000.

Our Money Advice Team helps people to reduce living costs, lower bills, access available benefits and prevent debt. In the last 12 months our team has supported 1,351 Bolton at Home tenants and helped them make financial gains in excess of £6million.

More information about our money advice service and tips on looking after your money, what benefits may be available, and other sources of support and advice is available on our website here.

Government has a range of guidance on its website if your work has been affected by coronavirus or if you’re struggling with COVID-19. The information includes financial support available and starts from this page on its website.

Receiving Universal Credit?

If you receive Universal Credit please be aware that you need to keep your Universal Credit journal updated with any rent changes. Please update your journal before your deadline date otherwise you’ll be responsible for paying any shortfall.

If you need assistance, please don’t hesitate to phone us on 01204 328000 and ask to speak to a member of our Money Advice Team.

Help for those worried about domestic violence

Staying at home for long periods can put some people at increased risk of domestic abuse or violence.

If you’re experiencing domestic abuse or violence, or are worried about someone else, more information about local and national support can be found on our website here.

Remember, dial 999 if you or your children are at immediate risk of harm.

Emergency repairs and gas safety checks

We’re continuing to carry out emergency repairs and gas safety checks providing these can be done safely. We may also be able to do external repairs where access to your property isn’t needed.

If you need to report an emergency repair, please phone us on 01204 328000.

If we need to come into your home to carry out an emergency repair, as a precaution we’ll need to ask you if you’ve had any symptoms of COVID-19. Our operatives will sanitise their hands before entering and leaving your home, will wear full personal protective equipment if you have symptoms or are self-isolating, and will stay at least two metres away from you. They might ask you to move to a different room while they carry out the repair.

We’re doing all of this in line with Government’s safe way of working guidance and our own risk assessments.

Help for older people and those most vulnerable

We’re making welfare phone calls to tenants living in sheltered housing, extra care schemes and those aged over 70 living in our general let housing. If you’re a Careline customer living in our general let housing and would benefit from welfare calls during this time, please phone us 01204 328000.

We’re mailing a printed newsletter to 4,343 households. You’ll receive it if you live in a Bolton at Home extra care scheme, sheltered housing, in general let with Careline or if you’re aged over 70 and live in our general let housing without Careline. It’s the fourth issue of our Quarter Turn newsletter and includes information on staying safe during the pandemic and details of available support, particularly important to someone who can’t access the internet. Quarter Turn should be delivered next week and you can find a copy of it on our website here.

We also remain in contact with our partners in the Bolton Family to co-ordinate food deliveries to those who’ve been identified to us as being vulnerable and struggling to get their shopping due to COVID-19 shielding or self-isolating and without a support network.

You can find all our COVID-19 updates to-date 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.

Please stay safe and positive.

(Thursday 9 April) Delivering essential services over Easter weekend

Tenants can still report emergency repairs and our Careline and Concierge services will operate as normal.

Emergency repairs will be carried out responsibly to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus. If we need to come into your home to carry out an emergency repair, as a precaution we’ll need to ask you if you’ve had any symptoms of COVID-19. Our operatives will sanitise their hands before entering and leaving your home, will wear full personal protective equipment if you have symptoms or are self-isolating, and will stay at least two metres away from you. They might ask you to move to a different room while they carry out the repair. We’re doing all of this in-line with Government’s safe way of working guidance and our own risk assessments. Report an emergency repair on 01204 328000.

Careline remains on hand for urgent assistance. Our community alarm call handling service will continue to run as normal, 24 hours a day, as will our emergency mobile response service as long as this can be done safely. If you become unwell or have a fall, our team will make sure emergency help comes to you either through ourselves or the emergency services. Contact Careline using the equipment provided to you to alert our operators if you need urgent assistance day or night. Please remember to wear your Careline pendant at all times.

Concierge will continue to support communities 24 hours a day. These services include communal door access control, CCTV monitoring and an out-of-hours response to incidents of antisocial behaviour.

Also, caretakers from Starts with you, Bolton at Home’s social enterprise, will continue to provide cleaning services in several under one roof sheltered housing schemes and extra care sites.

We wish you a good bank holiday weekend. Keep yourself, your loved ones and others safe.

(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.

Stay safe.

(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 moneyadviceteam@boltonathome.org.uk.

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.

Stay safe

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.

Continued services

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.

Preventative measures

Please do:

  • 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.

Please don’t:

  • 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)

Public Health - What to expect after your COVID-19 vaccination (several languages)

Decorative thumbnail displaying the cover of the "COVID-19 vaccination - What to expect" leaflet from Public Health England.

If you've had the vaccine, check out this leaflet from Public Health England. It's designed to run you through everything you should expect after having your COVID-19 vaccination and answers these questions:

  • What are the side effects?
  • Can I catch COVID-19 from the vaccine?
  • Can I go back to normal activities after having my vaccine?
  • What do I do next?
  • What should I do if I am not well when it is my next appointment?
  • Will the vaccine protect me?
  • Can I give COVID-19 to anyone, now I have had the vaccine?

 

It's available in several languages and shouldn't take long to read:

PHE-What-to-expect-after-your-vaccination-(English)-[pdf]-551KB

PHE-What-to-expect-after-your-vaccination-(Kurdish)-[pdf]-363KB

PHE-What-to-expect-after-your-vaccination-(Farsi)-[pdf]-936KB

PHE-What-to-expect-after-your-vaccination-(Arabic)-[pdf]-958KB

PHE-What-to-expect-after-your-vaccination-(Turkish)-[pdf]-999KB

Bolton Council/NHS - Wellbeing & mental health during COVID-19

Decorative screenshot 1 of the 'Wellbeing & mental health during COVID-19' booklet Decorative screenshot 2 of the 'Wellbeing & mental health during COVID-19' booklet Decorative screenshot 3 of the 'Wellbeing & mental health during COVID-19' booklet

Why not take a couple of minutes to check out this fantastic booklet created by Bolton NHS and Bolton Council? It contains plenty of advice around wellbeing and mental health during COVID-19, such as:
  • Beating coronavirus anxiety
  • Making plans and having a routine
  • Supporting young people
  • Working well from home

Wellbeing-&-Mental-Health-during-COVID-19-[pdf]-2MB

British Islamic Medical Association - Taking the vaccine during Ramadan

It's likely that many Muslims will be invited to take the first or second dose of their COVID-19 vaccine during Ramadan. Check out these graphics from the British Islamic Medical Association (BIMA) if you're unsure about taking the vaccine whilst fasting:

If you'd like more information and myth-busting from BIMA, click here to visit their website.

  Poster headed with "Q&A for Muslim communities - Fasting and COVID vaccinations". A full text version of this poster is available below.

Text-based:
"1. Can I take the COVID-19 vaccine whilst fasting?
Taking the COVID-19 vaccines currently licensed in the UK does not invalidate the fast, as per the opinion of Islamic scholars. Individuals should not delay their COVID vaccinations on the account of Ramadan.

Subcutaneous, subdermal, intramuscular, interosseous, or intra-articular injections for non-nutritional purposes whilst fasting do not invalidate the fast, regardless of the injected content entering the blood circulation. These routes are not classed as entry sites that would invalidate a fast. Receiving the COVID-19 vaccine as an intramuscular injection, the only route for the vaccines currently available, therefore does not invalidate the fast.

2. What if I experience intolerable side effects?

Most side effects are mild, lasting a few hours, and self-limiting. However, should an individual become more unwell after receiving the vaccine then the general principles pertaining to illness and fasting apply."
 

Poster headed with "Can Muslims take COVID vaccines in Ramadan". A full text version of this poster is available below.

Text-based:
"1. Can Muslims take COVID vaccines in Ramadan?
It is likely that Muslims will be invited to take the COVID vaccine (either their 1st or 2nd dose) during Ramadan. BIMA has reviewed fiqh opinions from different schools of thought below.

Taking the COVID-19 vaccines currently licensed in the UK does not invalidate the fast during Ramadan as per the opinion of the majority of Islamic scholars."

If you'd like more information and myth-busting from BIMA, click here to visit their website.