Covid-19 - Coastal Housing Group

update to services

Covid-19 – How we’re responding

 

Update 28 August 2020

We’re happy to update that our lettings have resumed, complying to government guidance and we have also began our repairs service and maintenance inspections. Our contractors have now returned back onto site to continue work on our new developments, in accordance with the industry requirements relating to Covid-19.

Update 1 June 2020

We’re pleased to resume grounds maintenance services across our estates with effect from 1 June. We appreciate how important green space and wildlife has become to people during lockdown and will be making efforts to support the cultivation of these spaces through the implementation of no mow areas and other initiatives. We’ll aim to balance access and visual appearance with addressing the needs of pollinators and other wildlife.

We’re interested in hearing from residents about what they’d like to see in terms of a more sustainable approach to grounds maintenance services and would encourage you to submit these by email, join the Coastal Gardening Facebook Group or chat to our caretakers in person – whilst maintaining a safe 2m distance – when you see them out and about.

Update 1 May 2020

At the point where the UK entered lockdown, we suspended some of our housing, estates and repair services in order to keep people safe, minimise the potential for spreading Coronavirus and focus resources on the things that matter most to residents and communities, such as urgent repairs and waste management.

We’ve kept this decision under constant review along with monitoring the most up-to-date information available on how best to prevent the virus from spreading.

As lockdown continues, we recognise an increased need to adopt new working practices and additional personal protective equipment (PPE) to enable us to resume more of the services that many rely on us for. With those measures now increasingly in place, we’re confident the next service we’ll be reintroducing will be communal area cleaning. We’ve inspected all communal areas in the last week and found only a small number that need cleaning now, but we’re now planning for a gradual phasing in of cleaning over the coming weeks starting from Monday 4 May.

Our teams have been provided with updated risk assessments and PPE to enable them to carry out these duties safely. Please can we ask that as you see more Coastal teams out and about in your communities, you continue to keep yourself and others safe by adhering to the 2M physical distancing laws and maintain good hand hygiene.

We’ll continue to monitor the situation closely and act quickly on any new government guidelines, scientific evidence or other information relating to public safety.

We’ve been inspired by the community spirit we’ve seen in neighbourhoods up and down the country and are delighted to learn from the many conversations we’re having with residents that neighbours are building new relationships and strengthening older ones. We hope to see this continue long after the pandemic crisis ends.

We’ve also had contact from residents facing difficulties because of the current situation – whether that’s financial, emotional or just practical things like being able to shop for food or pick up medication. Coastal has links with lots of other organisations and initiatives so we can help with things like this. Just give our team a call on 01792 479200 or get in touch with us via Web Chat, Facebook Messenger or by email to ask@coastalha.co.uk

Update 9 April 2020

At Coastal we’re still here fore you despite the current lockdown. Our offices remain closed but we’re continuing to run customer services remotely and you can contact us by phone, web chat, email, Facebook messenger or Twitter DM. There’s also The Coastal App which lets you manage your account 24/7.

Our team are carrying out essential repairs. They have been provided with advice on physical distancing and we’d ask that you help them observe this when they’re visiting your home. If you have symptoms or are shielding and have a repair or other form of contact booked, please let us know so we can take extra precautions.

We’ve added new resources to our website today to help people deal with the financial and emotional impact of the Coronavirus pandemic and lockdown. You can find these under the Covid19 section of our website menu or use these quick links below.

Your Health & Wellbeing

Have Your Finances Been Affected by Coronavirus?

Update 3 April 2020

The Welsh Government Minister for Housing and Local Government has written an open letter to everyone who rents from Coastal and other social landlords to reassure them that the sector is doing everything it can to provide reassurance and support to residents in these uncertain times.

You can find a copy of the letter from Welsh Government here in English or Welsh.

At Coastal we’d already set out similar commitments and will continue to do whatever we can, where possible, to further the commitments made by the Minister in this letter.

Update 24 March 2020

Thanks so much to all residents for bearing with us as we adapt our services to a developing situation. We’ve made further changes at Coastal today in order to reflect government instructions on non-essential travel, limiting social contact and protecting our communities from Coronavirus.

Maintenance and Repairs – 01792 619400

  • We’re limiting caretaking duties to waste management only. We’ll provide this service for as long as we can but we’re suspending grounds maintenance and communal area cleaning at this time. We’ll keep this under constant review. Use of communal areas should be minimal due to government advice and residents are advised to follow good hand hygiene and social distancing protocols when entering or leaving buildings. If there are any serious issues with cleanliness in a communal area, please let us know.
  • ​We’re limiting repairs and maintenance to essential works only for as long as we can and whilst materials are available. Many builders merchants are closed today but we have great relationships with local suppliers who’ll do all they can to keep us stocked up to continue with essential services for as long as they’re able.
  • ​We’re continuing with gas servicing for as long as we can.
  • ​We’ll practice social distancing and good hand hygiene when carrying out any essential works or gas servicing in or around people’s homes. We’re risk assessing entering homes and adapting protocols accordingly but please tell us if you have symptoms or are self-isolating so we can keep you and our staff safe.
  • ​We’re logging all services that are not being delivered in this period so this can be adjusted in the following year’s charges when we fully understand what the impact has been.

Housing Management – 01792 479200

  • We’re supporting people in financial hardship or who may need our help to follow government advice because of self-isolation   – please contact the Customer Service Team or your Housing Officer to discuss how we can help in these situations.
  • We’re limiting new lettings and signups only to those currently in progress. We’ll continue to advertise homes to let and process applications for housing but we won’t be conducting viewings or making offers at this time.
  • We’re continuing to process rent payments online, via The Coastal App or over the phone.

It’s more important than ever that we can get in touch with you quickly and vice versa. Our CST and Repairs teams are taking your calls as normal during working hours but please bear with us if you experience any delays or technical difficulties at this time. You can also contact your Housing Officer direct if you prefer, find their details here.

If your contact information changes during this period, please let us know and/or update it using The Coastal App. If you’re waiting on anything at all from us, get in touch with us for an update.

Update 20 March 2020

The Department for Work and Pensions has issued new guidance on Universal Credit applications. If you are diagnosed with or are staying at home on Government advice due to coronavirus, you will be able to apply for Universal Credit and can receive up to a month’s advance upfront without physically attending a jobcentre.

Full info at https://www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/coronavirus/

Update 19 March 2020

We want to reassure residents that our current focus is on maintaining essential services and ensuring people are safe, not on evictions.

If you experience financial hardship because of Coronavirus we won’t evict you. Instead we’ll help as best we can and continue to call for financial assistance for anyone affected.

We’ve already added our voice to the call for a Universal Basic Income to help people, businesses and communities get through what is already an economic crisis as well as a public health one.

The benefits of UBI are well-established and the model is gaining momentum globally. It’s the single most effective means of financial support for the current situation and the only one that aligns with the central message that we need to act in the interest of others right now, not just ourselves.

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/302284

Update 17 March 2020

In response to a changing situation and government advice, we’re taking additional steps today to ensure the safety of our staff and of residents whilst continuing to provide high quality services. This page will always reflect the most up to date information regarding Coastal’s response to this unprecedented situation.

What we’re doing now
1. Closing offices to the public and providing support to people to work from home wherever possible. This includes our repairs and customer service call handlers.
2. Focusing our repairs and maintenance service on the most essential work.
3. Acknowledging there will be disruption to services and making residents aware of this.
4. Planning for staff redeployment if necessary in order for essential services to continue.
5. Looking at alternative ways of providing support for basic repairs work.
6. Putting measures in place to ensure the safety of staff and residents where in-person contact cannot be avoided.

What we we’re asking you to do
1. Manage your account online, via The Coastal App or by calling us on 01792 479200 for Customer Service or 01792 619400 for repairs.
2. Before reporting a repair, please consider whether it’s urgent or essential given the circumstances. If there is a danger to you or to others, or serious damage to the building please always report this as normal.
3. Tell us if you have a repair or any other contact booked with a member of our staff and you or anyone in your home has symptoms and/or is self-isolating.
4. Talk to us on 01792 479200 if you’re concerned about being able to pay your rent. We may be able to provide you with information or support.
5. Bear with us if you experience any technical issues with our website, app or when contacting us by telephone.
6. Remember that there’s a human being on the other end of the phone trying to give you the best possible service under difficult circumstances.
7. Follow UK government and public health advice in order to protect yourself and others.
8. Consider following @CoastalHousing on Facebook and/or Twitter to see future updates from us in your feeds.

Update 16 March 2020

We know people are concerned about their own wellbeing and that of their families, friends and neighbours at the moment, so we wanted to share with you the steps we’re taking at Coastal to help protect people whilst continuing to deliver the high quality service you expect from us.

Our 4 point plan to ensure we achieve this is based on:

1. Ongoing monitoring

  • We’re staying close to official guidance from public health bodies in Wales and the UK, government advice and world health organisations.
  • We’re checking in regularly with our staff on their health, wellbeing and that of their wider networks.
  • We’re talking to residents, particularly those that have upcoming repairs or other planned contact with our staff to check if their self-isolating or have any symptoms.

2. Minimising risk

  • We’re sharing advice on keeping yourself and others safe through effective hand-washing (20 seconds) and social distancing. This will continue to be updated to reflect the most up-to-date advice.
  • We’ve had hand sanitizer dispensers installed at our offices so people can use them as they arrive.
  • We’ve changed cleaning practices at our offices so that surfaces at higher risk of becoming contaminated such as lift buttons, door handles, taps etc. are cleaned more regularly throughout the day.
  • We’ve postponed planned social circle events, resident surgeries and other resident events. We’ve cancelled staff attendance at any external conferences or training and are stopping non-essential business travel.

3. Timely decisions

  • We’ve put plans in place for lots of ‘what if?’ scenarios so these can be implemented quickly if necessary. These include things like school closures or if lots of our staff are suddenly unavailable to work at the same time.
  • We’ve talked to suppliers and contractors to understand what they are doing to ensure our services are not disrupted.
  • We’re meeting frequently to monitor the situation and key decision makers are available out-of-hours so decisions can be made quickly if needed.

4. Regular and ongoing communications

  • At present people are still able to visit our office in Swansea in person to pay rent or deal with other account queries. This is under constant review and should this change we will ensure residents are made aware of this in good time to prevent unnecessary journeys.
  • Our hubs in Neath and Port Talbot have been closed to the public, to help reduce the burden on staff to service multiple sites.
  • We’re reminding residents who visit in person that they can manage their account with us online, via the Coastal App or over the telephone in order to reduce their risk of infection. This message is also being shared across Facebook and Twitter.
  • Any changes to Coastal’s service will immediately be updated on the home page of our website and across our Facebook and Twitter pages so we’d encourage residents to follow the Coastal Housing pages to ensure they see any relevant updates in their feed.

Thanks for your patience and understanding at what’s a difficult and unprecedented time for everyone. We’ve been inspired by some of the awesome things we’ve seen people doing for others online at #viralkindness and it’s clear that we’ll get through this by working together and looking out for our family, friends and neighbours.

^