Coronavirus – some answers about our services

by The Gateshead Housing Company & filed under Posts.

Update – 07/07/20

We wanted to let you know of some changes to the services that we provide for you. We are continuing to follow advice from Public Health England, and the safety and wellbeing of our customers and employees remains at the heart of what we do.

In line with Government guidance, we restarted some further services from 6 July. These include repair inspections, urgent internal repairs, and electrical safety checks. Where they are essential to support customer needs, we have started making home visits. All our neighbourhood offices remain closed, with the majority of employees working remotely where possible.

All the work we do will follow social distancing guidance. Before we visit you in your home we will contact you and explain the safety measures we have in place.

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Please do keep checking our website and gateshead.gov.uk/coronavirus for updates. 

You can find multi-language information on the help available from Gateshead Council on their website. There are videos in Punjabi, Urdu, Arabic, Kurdish, Hindi, French, Bengali, and Farsi.

On 18 May, the Government published a letter to all social housing residents, setting out its aim for a phased return to housing services across the country: Government’s letter to social housing residents.

Getting in touch

Our offices are currently closed to the public. However, you can still contact us by phone or email between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Thursday, and 9am to 4.30pm on Fridays.

General enquiries
Email enquiries@gatesheadhousing.co.uk or call 0191 433 5353.

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Current service information

HomeRepairs

We are now addressing the work raised with customers before lockdown. Smaller external jobs, for example on gates, fencing, guttering, roofing and brickwork, will be tackled first. We will be in touch with those customers to make arrangements. We will also send a reminder text on the day.

You may see our property inspectors on your estate, assessing the external works that need to be done. They won’t need to come into your home, so this shouldn’t cause you any inconvenience.

We continue to focus on carrying out essential works in customers’ homes, and our emergency service is operating 24 hours a day, every day.

At present we are unable to offer you an appointment or give you a timescale for completion on non-emergency repairs. As soon as that position changes, we will update you.

We have carried out a thorough risk assessment of all the work we do to make sure it is safe for you and our colleagues. We may wear appropriate protective clothing depending on the type of work we are doing.

If we are due to come to your home and someone in your household is self-isolating or has coronavirus symptoms, please tell us.

We’ll ask you a series of questions before we visit your home, and again and at the time we visit. Please don’t be offended – our only intention is to make sure that risks associated with the virus are minimised for us all. And please also feel free to ask our staff if you have any questions about our safe working practices.

To help keep everyone safe, we ask that you maintain a distance of at least 2 metres (6 feet) from our employees. If possible, you should stay in a different room while our repairs team is working in your home.

Construction and investment work

In May we restarted some of our building and maintenance work to external and shared areas of some buildings.

While we are keen to get back to full service levels, the safety of our customers and employees comes first. For this reason, we are only carrying out jobs that can be done safely. All our work that is now going ahead has been risk-assessed. We will write individually to every customer whose home we need to visit, outlining the steps we are taking to keep residents and employees safe.

Gas safety checks

We continue to carry out our programme of essential gas safety checks. We are following the same process of safe working as we are with all home visits – please let us know before your appointment if anyone in your household is self-isolating or has coronavirus symptoms. When we do visit, maintain social distancing from our employees, staying in another room if possible.

Building safety

We have restarted our programme to replace door sets in our high-rise blocks, as part of essential fire safety work. We will write individually to every customer whose home we need to visit, outlining the steps we are taking to keep residents and employees safe.

Moving home

From 18 June, we restarted advertising a limited number of homes for rent on Tyne and Wear Homes

Please only bid on a home if you are in a position to move.

Viewings will still take place, but we will wait outside while you have a look around. We will be fully sanitising the property in between viewings. Please limit the number of people you bring with you to a viewing.

Watch our video below for more details:

You can register for choice-based lettings at the Tyne and Wear Homes website.

We intend to reopen the mutual exchange programme once we have put safe working practices in place.

If you have nowhere to stay, email housingadvice@gatesheadhousing.co.uk or call 0191 433 3174.

Financial advice

If your income is reduced, please call us on 0191 433 6150 and we will look at how we can help you. We can help you apply for benefits, grants and help towards paying your rent. We can also help you with any debts. Please be reassured that our aim is to help you manage your tenancy and remain in your home. Support and advice on Universal Credit and benefits is still available over the phone.

If you have a pre-paid energy meter and can’t leave home to top it up, call your energy supplier, who will discuss the options available to help you stay connected.

Paying rent

There are several ways to pay your rent from home:

  • call our automated 24-hour service on 0800 052 3455 to pay with a debit or credit card
  • set up a login on ‘MyTGHCaccount’ and make payments via our website
  • the easiest and safest way to pay is by Direct Debit. You can download a Direct Debit form here. Fill it in and either email it back to us or post to Rent and Income Team, The Gateshead Housing Company, Civic Centre, Gateshead, NE8 1JN

Antisocial behaviour

We will respond to all reports of antisocial behaviour, however we are prioritising the most serious incidents and those affecting the most vulnerable tenants.

We will only carry out home visits or face–to–face interviews in exceptional circumstances, with safe working practices in place.

Many people continue to work at home during the day. Please be considerate of neighbours by thinking about how noise from your home could cause a problem for others and please try to be tolerant of household noise and activity that you’re not used to hearing. If you are experiencing excessive noise, which you can’t resolve between yourselves, please get in touch.

Domestic abuse

We’re here to help if you are experiencing domestic abuse. If you don’t feel safe in your home please contact us.

Domestic abuse comes in many forms, including:

  • Physical assaults
  • Sexual assaults
  • Emotional abuse
  • Isolation
  • Economic abuse
  • Threats
  • Stalking
  • Intimidation

Other services that can help:

Housing Domestic Abuse Outreach Team on 0191 433 3174 for advice. Or you can visit our website for further information about how we can help.

Gateshead Council’s 24-hour Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0191 433 3333 or visit their website.

In an emergency call 999 – if you are unable to speak, you can confirm you need help by pressing 55 when prompted.

Multi-storey blocks

The caretaking service continues to deliver essential services in each block. Caretakers are focusing on keeping the communal areas regularly sanitised and free from debris/rubbish. You can help by disposing of your rubbish using the chutes and recycling bins in each block. Regular health and safety checks are also a priority and are still being carried out.

The concierge service in Warwick Court, Regent Court, Redheugh Court and Eslington Court is operating during its usual hours. To maintain social distancing, there is only one employee working at a time.

Sheltered accommodation and supported housing schemes

Until further notice, communal lounges are closed, and no social activities will take place.

To protect some of our most vulnerable residents, we are asking friends and family to follow Government guidance for households.

Employees are on hand in schemes to support with customers’ day-to-day needs, and residents can still contact us for help and support. All our sheltered scheme residents continue to receive daily check-in phone calls from our team. 

Leaseholders

Financial help
Email Leasehold Services at leasehold@gatesheadhousing.co.uk if you are struggling financially due to Coronavirus. We will work with you to discuss payment terms and the potential to temporarily postpone payment of service charges and major works bills.

Paying service charges
There are several ways to do this from home: 

Any restriction of services will be taken into account when we issue the actual service charge invoices in June 2021. 

Garden Tidy Service

This restarted on 1 June. All customers should have received a visit within the first four weeks of the service restarting. The weekly charge has been added back onto customers’ rent accounts from 1 June. We have written to all Garden Tidy Service customers to let them know. Contact us at enquiries@gatesheadhousing.co.uk or on 0191 433 5353 if you have any questions.

Decoration vouchers

Johnstone’s Decorating Centre is open from Friday 26 June and you can use your decoration allowance as normal. Any vouchers that expired during lockdown are now valid until 22 September 2020.
Email investmentteam@gatesheadhousing.co.uk or call 0191 433 5490 if you have any questions.