COVID 19 (Coronavirus) customer update

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At Berneslai Homes we appreciate that this is a worrying time for everyone and that the situation, along with Government advice to us all, is regularly being updated. We’ll do everything we can to ensure that we keep essential services running while keeping you and our colleagues safe.

This means that we need to change some of ways that we work and stop doing some activities. This will also mean that we won’t be able to meet our normal level of service.

Here are some Q&As on the main changes we are now making and how they may affect you.

I have a repair, what do I do?

Please report this in the usual way by phoning our repairs hotline on 01226 787878

We want to reassure you that our tenants and staff’s safety is of key importance.  When you contact us, we will ask if you are self-isolating because of COVID 19. Please don’t take offence at this, it’s so we can assess the risk.

What precautions will Berneslai Homes staff take when visiting my home?

Our staff and partners that visit your home will be working in line with ‘safe working practices’. These have been created using government advice. If we are undertaking work in your home we will:

  • Discuss with you before starting work to ask that social distancing guidelines are maintained. This will be to ask you and your family to move to a different room that our staff are working in.
  • We may also look to open windows to create additional ventilation and wipe down surfaces that are to be worked on before and after the work is complete.
  • If required we are happy to share with you our detailed ‘safe working practices’ that we have provided to all our staff. If you would like these please contact our Customer Services Team on 01226 774376.

Why didn’t your repairs staff wear PPE when coming to my home?

There is no need for our staff to wear personal protection equipment (PPE) such as face masks, goggles or protective suits, as the best protection is social distancing and hygiene. However, some may choose to wear these items out of personal preference.

The only time we really need to wear PPE is when working in a household with a confirmed case of COVID 19. This will only then be on an emergency basis.

What repairs and work are you now carrying?

A. We are now undertaking all repair and work types.

Are you carrying out major schemes like the Barnsley Homes Standard works and new build programmes?

A. This work is now back underway and we are planning the works for the rest of the year also. We will be in touch in advance to make sure you are reassured before we visit your home along with explanation of our safe working practices.

I’m worried about paying my rent what do I do?

If you are worried about paying your rent because your household income has reduced or you have been advised to self- isolate due to the coronavirus outbreak then please contact our Rents Team who are here to try and help you. Please email: rents@berneslaihomes.co.uk with your contact details, address and phone number and a member of the rents team will contact you.  You can also call us Monday to Friday on 01226 774613 or 774685.

Please visit the Rents FAQs which may offer you further help and advice.

I am unable to get to the shop and chemist.  Who can help me with food and emergency medicine?

Barnsley Council has a COVID-19 contact centre which provides help for those who need support due to the disruptions caused by coronavirus. The service is for people who don’t have any support networks to help them through this period, including those who are vulnerable and need emergency support with things such as essential food or help with medication.

Will you be advertising vacant properties and doing offers and sign ups?

We are pleased to announce that the weekly property list has now recommenced and you can now apply and bid for homes. We will carry out viewings and sign ups in a safe way in accordance with government guidelines.

Can I still apply to exchange homes?

Yes you can now apply to exchange your home. However during the Covid outbreak to protect our staff and customers we have enhanced safe working practices in place in dealing and processing such applications.

You can contact your local Housing Management team via our Contact Page for further information.

Also if you are considering moving home, please see the latest government advice on moving home during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak on the Government website. 

Will you be carrying out visits?

Our staff are now working remotely so we will be making more contact with you by phone and email.

Our Housing Management staff will also be delivering our service by use of the telephone and email.  Visit the Housing Management pages of our website to find details of your Housing Management Officer.

Can I fill in a new housing application form or update my existing one?

Yes you can we are registering new forms and processing change of circumstances etc as usual but will not undertake a home visit unless it is vital.

Can I make a change to my tenancy?

We will accept requests for changes to tenancy including joint to single, single to joint, during life assignment, change of name and mutual exchanges.  However, we may not process these as quickly as we can and where a home visit is required, we may have to postpone your request.

How do I drop off keys if I’m ending my tenancy?

We have had to close our offices and libraries so if you need to drop off keys for a property, then please contact your Housing Management Team. Visit the Housing Management pages of our website to find details of your Housing Management Officer or phone 01226 775555.

I am worried that I am about to become homeless – will the homeless service still be operating?

Yes, the Barnsley Council Housing Options Team, which offers support and help whether you’re homeless or worried about becoming homeless, is still open.

You can phone them on 01226 773870 or freephone 0808 196 3530 or email:adviceservices@barnsley.gov.uk and they will aim to respond within 24 hours where possible.

Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 and government advice on social distancing, in order to help protect our customers, communities, and colleagues their office is temporarily closed until further notice. Visit the Barnsley Council Housing Option pages for further information and advice.

I’ve lost my job and I just don’t know what to do, can you point me in the right direction?

If you have lost your job, are out of work, employed and at risk, or employed and want to do some free training to help progress at work or get a new job, then the Barnsley Employment Helpdesk can provide you with free support. It’s been launched by Barnsley Council’s Employment and Skills service, who’ve joined forces with Enterprising Barnsley and other employment support providers to make it easier for you to access employment and skills support.

They can also provide advice to see if you’re eligible for Universal Credit and how to start and prepare claims; job searching; getting a CV ready; support with applications and interviews; and access to free training, if you want to develop your skills for a new role or promotion.

The helpdesk is open Monday to Friday from 8.30am until 5.30pm.  They aim to talk to you on the same day and to book you an appointment with support within 24 hours where they can. For further details and to get in touch with them visit the support for employment section on their website.

I’m in an unhealthy relationship which is just getting worse as we’re self-isolating. I am so worried for my safety, what shall I do?

A. We understand that these are concerning and dark times for people living in unhealthy relationships. IDAS (Independent Domestic Abuse Services) are there to support you in different ways. Please visit their website for help and advice. You are not alone and it’s important you #SpeakUp. In an emergency, please call 999.

Are your Independent Living Schemes still open?

Communal lounges in the independent living schemes remain open but all activities including those delivered by Berneslai Homes staff have been cancelled.  Centre Managers will be attending site using social distancing and contact protocols.  Our standalone community centres have been closed.

Laundries, including the ones accessed via a community centre will be open as usual but guidance notes regarding social distancing and extra hand sanitiser and wash have been provided.

All of our under one roof Independent Living sites have been equipped with hand sanitiser (in bottles) and hand wash.

Are community events and meetings still taking place?

In line with Government advice to limit face to face interaction with potential vulnerable people, we’ve had to suspend a range of public, community events and meetings such as Estate Walkabouts, Your Community Your Say Meetings and activities in our community centres and Independent Living Schemes and we are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.

I need more advice about the coronavirus, where can I get this information?

A. If you have any concerns about COVID-19 you should visit the NHS and Public Health England guidance websites. Information and advice is also available on the coronavirus section of Barnsley Council website.

We are keeping the situation under regular review and will update this page as and when the situation changes.