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Coronavirus – how our services are operating

Tower Hamlets Homes -
16 October 2020

Advice and support for residents

There are a number of ways we can help residents through the coronvirus period.  We have three three community centres providing support for elderly and vulnerable residents and a Financial Health Centre to advise on money, benefits, training and employment.  Get more information about this on our coronavirus support pages here. 

Changes to our services 

To protect our staff and provide the best possible service to our residents who may  be affected by Coronavirus, have caring responsibilities or subject to working or travel restrictions, we need to operate a limited service.

Longer waiting times for  telephone calls

Customers are likely to experience longer waiting times than usual when contacting us by telephone and we encourage everyone to access our online services through MyTHH wherever possible. 

For repairs which are not emergencies you should always use MyTHH and you can use it to check on the progress of repairs which you have ordered.

The situation is changing rapidly and we will continue to update you. The list below contains information about most of our services which have changed temporarily for the duration of the crisis.

Fob and Gerda keys 

 As our front counter services are not currently operating, residents who require a key can contacts us in the following ways:

  •  Email: Contactus@thh.org.uk"
  • MyTHH
  • Phone: 02 07 364 - 5015 (option 5)

We will contact residents to arrange delivery of the keys. Gerda keys will be posted by recorded delivery.

Applications for parking spaces, garages and sheds

Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic and in order to protect our customers, colleagues and contractors, all applications for parking spaces, garages, sheds and bike shelters are on hold.

These will resume once we return to a full service.

You can still email us if you have an urgent enquiry on contactus@thh.org.uk or call us on 0207 364 5015 then press option 5 and then option 2.

We apologise for any inconvenient caused and thank you for your patience.

Domestic abuse - you're not alone

If you're in danger, please know that you're not alone. If you or someone you know is at risk of, or suffering domestic abuse, help is still available.

We are committed to protecting the support we give to victims of domestic abuse. We also want to reassure you that the government's household isolation guidance as a result of coronavirus does not apply if you need to leave your home to escape domestic abuse.

Remember, in an emergency always call 999. If you’re in danger and unable to talk on the phone, call 999 and then press 55. This will transfer your call to local police who will assist you without you having to speak.

Although our main THH office locations are closed, our staff can still help you if you call us on 020 7364 5015.

If you are concerned that a friend or neighbour is experiencing domestic abuse, always call 999 in an emergency, otherwise call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 to report it anonymously.

Other useful numbers include:

Tower Hamlets Victim Support – 020 7364 7957/2448 Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm

Victim Support 24-hour support line - 0808 1689 111

National Domestic Violence Helpline for free safety advice and refuge spaces is open 24 hour support line 0808 2000 247

You can read more about all of the different support services that are available across the borough here.

Rent accounts questions

We know this is a time of huge uncertainty some of you will no doubt be worried about being able to manage to pay your rent and bills during this time.

The government has announced that they will protect renters, but this does not specifically allow a ‘rent holiday’. Rent will continue to be charged and you will still be liable for paying this as a tenant, but we will be working even more closely with you now to fully understand your individual circumstances, provide specialist advice and support to maximise your income during this time. If you do fall into arrears because of the situation we will work with you to put in place realistic and affordable future payment arrangements.

We urge you to contact the rents team as soon as possible if you experience or expect to experience difficulties in meeting your rent payments or other financial commitments. The government have put measures in place to protect jobs and income so we will explore all of this with you and ensure that you are not missing out.

We are committed that we will not take any legal action because of rent arrears against any customers affected by Coronavirus during the next three months and again urge you to contact us as soon as possible to discuss your situation.

We will be able to take calls for urgent questions only and would appreciate it if questions about things like rent balances could be done online at my.thh.org.uk.

Repairs service

When the Coronavirus lockdown regulations began on 23 March, Tower Hamlets Homes (THH) were only able to provide an emergency repairs only service; following Government advice to social housing providers to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.

THH had high levels of staff absence, both for our own staff and our main Repairs Contractor (Mears) due to issues such as illness, self-isolation and caring responsibilities for dependents including children unable to attend school.

Repairs to communal areas (non-urgent)

This situation is now easing and Government have issued new guidance, so we have begun to slowly lift restrictions and to take repair requests for non-emergency communal repairs.

We will further increase the service we are able to provide from Wednesday 3 of June. From that date you will be able to request non-emergency repairs online through myTHH.

Repairs to individual homes (non-urgent)

Over the coming days and weeks we will contact those who asked for a repair just before lockdown regarding internal repairs to your home.

Working safely in your home

Repairs operatives working in your home will be required to operate safely and will be following the guidelines recently issued by the Government. You can read these here.

Working safely will include communicating with your household prior to arrival to ensure that you understand the social distancing and hygiene measures that must be followed as the work commences.

Please note, there are still some types of repairs that cannot yet be carried out e.g. where it is not possible to observe social distancing to carry out the work safely because a repair requires two repairs operatives. Our officers will advise you if this is the case.

THH will ensure that repairs operatives understand their obligations and are safely equipped with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including gloves and respiratory equipment such as face masks where appropriate. Full PPE will not be required in all cases.

Working through the backlog of repairs

Initially there may be delays in responding to your request as an anticipated backlog is worked through and we would ask for your understanding and patience.

Emergency repairs

For all emergencies, please continue to contact us by telephone in the normal way on 020 7364 5015.

Services for leaseholders

Uncontainable leaks – our normal policy is to identify the leak and advise the leaseholder to get their own contractor to repair. During the pandemic, if THH contractors identify a straightforward source of a leak and are able to repair it during that visit, they will.

What we are not doing

  • Major brick and wall repairs
  • Major paving or larger slab repairs
  • Major roofing works
  • Internal repairs that are not an emergency

We will be unable to carry out jobs that need two or more operatives if social distancing cannot be guaranteed; and we will not be fitting aids and adaptations recommended by occupational therapy.

Housing management

We are providing an emergency service to residents.

Caretaking

Caretakers will be changing their duties to focus on key tasks, such as ensuring fire safety. We will assess the needs of each block and estate weekly according to staff availability and service requirements. Caretakers are currrently focusing on these key areas:

- Increased cleaning of areas such as communal entry doors, lifts, door handles and banisters

- health and safety checks in blocks and spot cleaning where necessary

- removal of bulk rubbish from communal areas

- keeping bin areas and chute rooms tidy

Financial Health Centre

Our office at Massingham St is closed, however we recognise that residents will be facing urgent and difficult issues relating to their financial health more than before so we will continue to provide a telephone service.

If residents need urgent help or advice on benefits, universal credit, debt or other financial issues please contact us Mon-Fri between 10am-4pm 0207 364 2200 or email us at fhc@thh.org.uk

Anti-social behaviour

A service dealing with urgent work is operating.

We are reviewing our services every day, so please check this page for the latest updates of follow us on Twitter, @THHomes.

In the meantime please help us by following our Coronavirus advice. The latest health updates are available from Barts Health Trust and contains information on community languages.

Complaints

If you have concerns regarding the service you receive from us, please give us an opportunity to put things right for you by emailing contactus@thh.org.uk. Sometimes we do get things wrong so if after contacting us we have not resolved your concerns and you wish to make a formal complaint please make an online submission using the e-form on the THH website - www@towerhamletshomes.org.uk or email us at contactus@thh.org.uk.

As most of our back office staff are still working remotely, our ability to receive and send post continues to be very limited. In order for us to respond to your complaint please provide an email address and an up to date telephone number.

As we gradually come out of the lock down there will inevitably be a backlog of repairs and follow on works. If you have an existing complaint and you still have outstanding repairs you should have already have received a phone call to get any outstanding works booked in for completion. If this is not the case please send an email to contactus and we will get this booked in for you. We appreciate your patience whilst we work through the backlog.

Better Neighbourhood works

We are continuing to carry out our major repair works to housing blocks and estates where it is safe to do so in line with government guidelines during the Coronavirus epidemic.

The Government has advised that essential works can continue and we are making sure that the safety of our residents and workforce is our highest priority. We will ensure that we make any changes to our work practices if government guidelines change.

We will ensure that we follow government guidelines around travel, social-distancing and hygiene. We are following the latest guidance and advice from the construction industry and from Public Health England.

What we are doing to minimise risk

We have put in place the following measures to managed risks associated with Covid 19:

  • reviewing all building works on site with the aim of suspending any non-essential works which involve direct contact with residents
  • suspending any capital works which are not essential and involve direct contact with residents
  • ensuring contractors have suitably revised their work practices to take into account the 2m social distancing rule
  • ensuring contractors are continuing to take suitable precautions in terms of Personal Protective Equipment; (both in relation to COVID-19 and other risks, for example dust)
  • carrying out additional checks on the security arrangements around sites to prevent unauthorised access
  • ensuring contractors carry out additional cleaning around blocks where they are working.

Access into your home

We will only ask for access into your home if it is absolutely necessary and will always talk to you first whilst observing the recommended social distancing measures.

If we do need enter your home we will ensure all staff is wearing the correct personal protective clothing required.

More information

Residents Liaison Officers (RLOs) operate at all of our sites and the contactor will have provided you these details. The RLOs are the first point of contact for residents who would like help or have questions about the work.

If you require any further information, please contact THH resident liaison coordinator.

If you need to find out the details of your RLO or the THH RLC you can do so on our website here

You can also contact us on Property Services (THH) PropertyServicesTHH@towerhamlets.gov.uk

 

Posted on Tuesday 24th March 2020

Tower Hamlets Homes -
16 October 2020