COVID 19 (Coronavirus) customer update

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 and that our colleagues can work safely.

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&A’s on the main changes we are now making and how they may affect you.

Q. I have an emergency repair, what do I do?

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

Due to the current coronavirus pandemic we are only able to complete emergency repairs or minor adaptations to your home. You are able to still report other repairs to us but unfortunately, we cannot tell you when this repair will be carried out.  If you’ve reported a routine repair which gets worse and becomes an emergency please call back, otherwise we will contact you with an update when normal working is resumed. We will keep you updated on this page when things change.

Please note 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.  For example, we may ask you to be in a separate room while the emergency repair is undertaken. Operatives may also be wearing protective clothing, such as disposal suits, masks or gloves.

As from the 1st June 2020, we will have a phased start-up of our repairs and maintenance service.

Q. Are you carrying out gas servicing and solid fuel serving?

A. Yes, this is continuing and is an important annual safety check that we must carry out. We would greatly appreciate your cooperation so that we can carry out this essential visit, so please arrange to provide access when we make contact.

Q. My repair isn’t an emergency, what do I do?

A. We will have a phased start-up of our repairs and maintenance service from the 1st June 2020 and begin to undertake all repair work.

Q. I have a repair booked in, will this still be going ahead?

A. We will only be carrying out emergency repairs. As from the 1st June 2020, we will have a phased start-up of our repairs and maintenance service. We will contact you to schedule any work you have previously booked prior to this date.

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

A. We have suspended all our works including Barnsley Homes Standard, central heating schemes, community refurbishment scheme and new builds.

As from the 1st June 2020, we have started to plan to deliver the home standard works and 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.

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

A. 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 see the Rents FAQs which may offer you further help and advice.

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

A. Barnsley Council has launched a new COVID-19 emergency contact centre to help if you need emergency support after being impacted by disruptions due to coronavirus.

If you are vulnerable and don’t have any support networks then please contact the centre.  They can support and help you with essential supplies, help with medication or even have a chat over the phone so you don’t get lonely. Please follow this link to contact them and for further information.

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

A. We are sorry for any inconvenience caused but there is currently no vacant property list. From Friday 29th May we are pleased to announce that the property list will recommence, and you will be able to apply and bid for homes from this date.

Q. Will you be carrying out visits?

A. 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.  Follow this link to find details of your Housing Management Officer.

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

A. 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.

Q. I have an outstanding complaint and want to know when this will be resolved?

A. We’re aiming to fully resolve and respond to all complaints in line with our complaints procedure. If we can’t due to the Coronavirus we will let you know.  We will investigate and respond where we can and leave the complaint open until we are in a position to respond to all points.

Q. Can I make a change to my tenancy?

A. 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.

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

A, 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 to arrange this using this link or phone 01226 775555.

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

A. 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 to all queries within 24 hours wherever they can.   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.   You can follow this link here for further information and advice.

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

A. 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 please follow this link.

Q. 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 follow this link for help and advice. You are not alone and it’s important you #SpeakUp.

Q. Are your Independent Living Schemes still open?

A. 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.

Q. I have a prepayment meter have you any advice?

A. If you pay for your gas or electric via a prepayment meter it’s worth considering topping these up now if you can.

Q. Are community events and meetings still taking place?

A. 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.

Q. Can I enter your annual Garden Competition?

A.It is with regret that due to COVID 19 we have had to cancel our Garden Competition this year and we are sorry for the disappointment this may cause.

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

A. If you have any concerns about COVID-19 you should follow the NHS and Public Health England guidance. Information and advice is also available on the Barnsley Council website via this link.

Age UK has put together a useful guide which you can download here. 

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