Coronavirus information: updated 27 March 2020

Official update from Adur and Worthing Council:

Those people in the community who are feeling vulnerable during the coronavirus outbreak are being given the opportunity to connect with a neighbourhood team that may be able to help.

Adur and Worthing Councils together with colleagues in the NHS and volunteers are currently establishing neighbourhood teams which will help vulnerable people who are isolated and in need of help with practical issues (see below)

If you have received a letter or text from the NHS or your Doctors Surgery titled “Important Advice”, as someone at risk of severe illness please also ensure you have registered with gov.uk to ensure that you receive additional support from the government and West Sussex County Council, this includes provision of a basic food package and household essentials will be supplied and delivered by major food service suppliers with established national delivery infrastructure.

Alongside this help for those who have received the letter we aim to support people living alone and self isolating without help from friends or family.

Community support might include help with food, help with money for example benefit claims, having someone to talk to, mental health support, safety advice, for example avoiding ‘scams’, and with accessing digital services

We aim to assess and support your needs as soon as possible and will deal with urgent requests first. Personal details will be safely shared with our community partners, which includes registered volunteers. Follow this link to register
Adur and Worthing Council Community Support

If you cannot do so it is fine to ask a family member or friend from whom you are currently isolated to do it for you. This is the most efficient way of registering for help. If you cannot go online you can ring a hotline to register and someone will complete this form on your behalf on 01903 221222 which will be open Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm. You should expect some delays if you choose this option.

Once you have filled in this form your needs will be assessed and if deemed appropriate passed to one of our Neighbourhood Teams who will arrange to contact you.

We anticipate that many of the issues that people might need help with might include:
• Help with food
• Financial guidance – help with your money, for example benefits claims
• Social isolation – Someone to talk to
• Mental health support
• Safety advice – scams
• Support with accessing digital technology

Thank you

Update:

Rent concerns

We are getting a number of enquiries from customers who are worried about paying their rent due to a loss of income. We are of course understanding of the situation and want to reassure you.

If you pay your rent weekly the next two weeks (Monday 30 March and Monday 6 April) are rent free weeks. If you pay monthly by direct debit then these weeks are already taken into account in your monthly rent calculation. We won’t be taking any court action against such arrears during this time, but we urge you to pay what you can, as if you do fall behind it can be really difficult to catch up.

If your income has been reduced, you may be eligible for support through universal credit. Please see our website for useful links or try https://www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/coronavirus/. Many employers are also now implementing the government’s job retention scheme which should mean you are paid 80% of your wages while you are unable to work. Speak to your employer to see if this is the case. You may still be able to claim benefits for the reduction in income depending on your earnings. Once your payments are in place, your rent should be paid as usual.

If your situation is complex or you are worried and would like further advice, please contact your income recovery officer, you can find their contact details at https://www.worthing-homes.org.uk/your-home-and-you/neighbourhood-team-lookup-tool/

Gas safety checks

The government advise that it is still essential for us to carry out our landlord gas safety checks. The risk of an accident due to a faulty gas appliance outweighs the risk of us entering your property, unless you have coronavirus symptoms and are self-isolating. We will take all appropriate precautions, with our engineers to ask residents before entering property as to whether they are self-isolating or have symptoms: – if yes or demonstrating visible symptoms, heaters are to be left at the front door and engineer to depart- if no, engineers to enter property equipped with issued PPE clothing, use of disinfectant, maintaining 2m distance from resident where possible.

If you have an appointment pre-booked please let us know if you have any symptoms or are self-isolating.

Repairs

Please only call us to report an emergency repair. By this we mean an uncontainable leak, toilet repairs, electrical repairs that require a fast response.

 Preventing blocked toilets

Please be extra careful with what you are flushing down your loo. It is essential that items such as kitchen roll, baby wipes and face wipes are NOT flushed down the toilet. They will cause blockages. In the current circumstances and due to the nature of the job, unblocking toilets if a high risk activity for our operatives. Please help to keep them safe and out of your home by preventing unnecessary blockages.

Community House

At this time we have had to close the Community House, but if circumstances change we will let you know

We’re still here

Our customer experience team are still working to answer your enquiries, but we are operating a reduced service. Please bear in mind that all Worthing Homes employees are working from their own homes.

The best way to get in touch is by message through our website www.worthing-homes.org.uk, or by emailing info@worthing-homes.org.uk.

You can still call us on 01903 703 100 but please only do this to report an emergency repair.

Thank you for your patience and support.

Update: We are now following the guidance to help stop the spread of Coronavirus  by closing our offices to the public, unless you have an appointment, after 5pm today (Tuesday 17 March 2020). This closure will remain in place until Government guidance changes.

If you are attending an appointment a member of staff will come and meet you at the door at the allotted time.

If you need to make a payment, report a repairs etc please follow the guidance below:

To make a payment you can do this via our website or any outlet displaying the Paypoint sign

To report a repair you can do this via our website, call us on 01903 703 100 or email us at repairs@worthing-homes.org.uk

For anything else please contact us, call us on 01903 703 100 or send an email to info@worthing-homes.org.uk

As always any issues with gas heating or gas powered hot water must be directed to BSW, our gas contractor. Their no. is 0800 158 5690

Please note:

We have all seen in news reports and social media feeds that the Covid-19 pandemic has led to some people panic buying essential items like toilet paper. This is leaving others to be “caught short” and having to find alternatives. Please remember that your toilet and drainage system is only designed to flush away the 3 P’s – Pee, Poo and (toilet) paper. Any other items, including things like wet wipes, kitchen paper, blue roll, newspaper, napkins and tissues will cause the drainage system to block and overflow.

As resources become stretched at this time, please help Worthing Homes to ensure that any risk to your home and your family’s health is reduced by making sure that your toilet and drainage system is used correctly. In the event that toilets become blocked and overflow as a result of misuse, residents will be recharged for the unblocking and other related works as a result of any damage. There may also be unavoidable delays in contractors being able to attend due to availability during this time.

Please see link for further help and advice https://www.southernwater.co.uk/help-advice/keep-it-clear

You may well have received emails from other companies that you deal with, and like all businesses we are closely following the government and Public Health England guidance on Coronavirus (COVID-19) and best practice to slow down / stop the spread.

At the moment we are still open for business but would encourage residents to use our online services to report repairs, pay rent etc. to help minimise contact (if you don’t have online access please telephone us); this is for your safety as well as ours. Our Monday morning financial inclusion drop-ins have also been cancelled for the foreseeable future.

If you are self-isolating or not feeling well and have any outstanding repairs or meetings booked with us, please call us to cancel these from taking place.

Likewise if you are well and have ordered a repair which you would now like cancelled, then please let us know as soon as possible.

Repairs are continuing to be carried out at the moment but we are in discussions with our contractors concerning their ongoing plans.  Emergency repairs will continue to be actioned but in the near future we may need to postpone non-urgent repairs; we will keep you updated on this.

If you are due a necessary visit from one of our staff or contractors, please don’t be offended if we call you to ask a few questions beforehand. This might be to ask if you have any cough or fever like symptoms, have underlying medical conditions (we don’t need to know what they are, just if you are high risk).

If you are worried about losing income if you are off sick, please follow this link: https://www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/coronavirus/or you can speak to our financial inclusion team on 01903 703 110

Please look out for future updates on our website www.worthing-homes.org.uk;

our Facebook pages https://www.facebook.com/WorthingHomes/, https://www.facebook.com/groups/chatatworthinghomes/;

and Twitter https://twitter.com/WorthingHomes

For up to date Government advice please visit https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-people-with-confirmed-or-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection

General advice and guidance is also available from Citizens Advice

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/health/coronavirus-what-it-means-for-you/

Remember, to protect yourselves and your community please follow these steps:

  • 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 are not 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

Finally, please look after yourselves and each other!