03/04/2020

Covid-19 ARK's update for tenants

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You will be aware of the recent UK and Scottish Government announcements with regards to the threat of Covid-19, the “stay at home” announcement made on the 18th of March and in particular the steps we should take to follow the policy of social distancing to minimise contact with other people. 

As part of our response to the social distancing guidance, we have decided to close the Priory Office in Edinburgh and the Forres Office from the 18th March 2020 and all those based there will work from home. These offices will remain closed whilst the Government “stay at home” advice is in place.

We issued a statement on our website/ Facebook/ Twitter on the 20th March however, we know that not everyone will have seen this or been able to access it and that is why we have also sent a letter to all our tenants.

The “stay at home” advice presents significant challenges to our community-based housing and care services. We have had to review what services we can deliver and the way we deliver these. We have identified a number of business critical activities to ensure we deliver key services over the coming weeks so that the organisation continues to operate as effectively as possible. 

We understand that our efforts should be focused on ensuring that our customers continue to receive the services they require and our employees are enabled to achieve this and we have developed detailed plans to ensure this continues to operate effectively.

However, the ability of staff to undertake routine visits to tenants will be severely limited. If you have any concerns relating to your tenancy/property please contact your Housing Services Officer or Maintenance Officer by telephone or e-mail as noted in this document and they will respond to you as soon as they can.

Maintenance and Repair Service

In accordance with the various guidelines and updates from organisations such as Scottish & UK Government, Gas Safe, Health & Safety Executive and Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, ARK shall continue to undertake works of a Statutory, Mandatory and Approved Code of Practice element’s such as:

  • Gas Safety
  • Electrical Safety
  • Legionella Testing
  • Fire Alarm & Emergency Lighting Testing

These categories of planned maintenance shall continue based upon this guidance and includes information around where there may be ”No Access” issues due to a person or persons self isolating or someone has been showing symptoms of Coronavirus. If you are self-isolating are showing symptoms, please let us know if you need to contact us.

Contractors will follow government and employers social distancing guidelines at all times during home visits.

This arrangement shall continue until such times as we are advised differently from any of these organisations.

Other maintenance matters

For all other maintenance matters, and for the time being, our staff and contractors shall only respond to requests which come under our emergency work categories, involving gas or electrical, leaking/flooding and anything which may be of a significant risk to the occupants of that property.

Our programme of summer Grounds Maintenance is due to commence this month (April 2020) however, we have decided to defer the work for the time being due to this being non – essential work. We shall continually assess the situation and provide tenants, service users and staff with regular updates and constant monitoring of the Guidance we receive for this element of work.

Tenancy Matters

You may be having difficulties with your job, income or benefits as a result of coronavirus. Our Housing Services Officers are contacting any tenants whom we know are working, but if you are affected and you have not spoken to a Housing Services Officer, please contact them as soon as possible to make them aware of any financial difficulties that you might be experiencing and they will discuss options with you. You can also get some advice from the following government websites.

www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-support-for-employees-benefit-claimants-and-businesses

www.mygov.scot/discretionary-housing-payment

www.mygov.scot/scottish-welfare-fund/crisis-grants

Participation and involvement

Given the situation, we’ve also taken the decision to suspend all our local and organisational group meetings which supported people usually attend, until further notice. These are:

  • HUB Group
  • Voices Group
  • ARK Working Group
  • Speak Out Groups

Our Participation Officer will be in touch with group members to look at alternative ways to continue our engagement and participation function. If you have any questions related to this you can contact Gloria on 07912 054 607.

Domestic Abuse / Sexual Violence

There is a significant body of evidence that domestic abuse increases during large scale emergencies. With Covid-19 that is increased by enforced contact between partners in homes having to self-isolate, people feeling trapped and unable to leave, changing family dynamics and challenges to gendered role expectations, increased drinking at home, children being more present and complications over child contact arrangements, stretched police services and reduced access to support services.

There are challenges to continuing to deliver services and specialist domestic abuse / sexual violence services are changing how they can offer help to protect their staff and families they work with.

Some of those at risk have been reluctant to contact services because they think they will be too busy. We need to make sure those at risk continue to get the help they need and further advice can be found here safelives.org.uk/news-views/domestic-abuse-and-covid-19

Additional Support or Assistance

ARK is looking into the practicalities of providing a volunteering service for those that need extra help during this pandemic. Members of staff will contact all tenants aged 70 or over to ask whether they need any additional assistance and we will feed this back to the co-ordinator. If you have not heard from us and you think you may need additional assistance, please contact us on one of the general e-mails on this document.

Updates

We will provide updates on our website www.arkha.org.uk but if you have any additional queries please contact us and someone will get back to you as soon as possible.

You can also get regular updates from the following websites:

www.gov.scot/coronavirus-covid-19

www.nhsinform.scot/self-help-guides/self-help-guide-coronavirus-covid-19

Category: Housing News

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