PCHA'S SERVICES DURING THE CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK
1st June 2020: We just have published an update for residents on the services PCHA is providing as lockdown measures start to be eased. Click here to read more.
Click here for important info about paying your rent during the coronavirus outbreak.
As the Government has started to ease lockdown measures, we have drafted our own COVID-19 Recovery Plan to outline how we plan to return to providing a full service to our residents. You can find it here, or click the relevant icon below to download.
We have needed to make some changes to our ASB service during the pandemic. This leaflet explains the services we are able to offer at this time.
We have also updated our 'frequently asked questions' about the services we are providing and about paying your rent during this time. You can find them here, or click the relevant icon below to download.
CORONAVIRUS – PCHA'S RESPONSE
Monday 1st June
A couple of weeks ago we set out our recovery plan based on the Government's alert levels. Today, the 1st June, the alert level remains at 4, although the Government is starting to ease the lockdown and has announced a number of changes to take place over the next few weeks. These measures are primarily to kick-start the economy and reduce the public spending bill. Despite these measures, in principle social distancing remains in force and people are still being told that they should work from home if possible. The risk of infection is still high and a second spike is highly possible. Whilst this remains the case, PCHA staff will continue to work from home and deliver a service remotely.
The reality is that, until there is a vaccine, Covid-19 remains with us. Even when a vaccine is found, life will not simply return to a pre-Covid status. We will be living with this virus, and the economic, psychological and social effects, for many years. Life will simply not return to the old “normal” and we need to decide what the new “normal” might look like. Whilst this is scary, for PCHA there is a real opportunity to shape the way we do things going forward, and we would like your input in this. We now know we can do a great deal from home and by phone, and this gives us an opportunity to think differently about the future. For example, rather than simply returning to a Monday to Friday 9 to 5pm, we could work more flexibly to meet your needs… we literally have a blank page to redesign our services.
One of the current challenges is the number of mixed messages and inevitable confusion as the Government tries to ease out of lockdown. However, it is simply NOT “business as usual” and will not be for many months. We want to be honest about this. We all want to get back to normal but this is not a simple process and will take time.
In the meantime, for the foreseeable future:
The office will remain closed to the public – visits by appointment only (social distancing must be observed). We will be reconfiguring our office to allow for this
Home visits will be severely restricted
Most staff will continue to work from home where possible
Services such as rent payments, tenancy matters, ASB, complaints etc. are to be managed by phone or virtual meetings
Day-to-day repairs and maintenance work may start again, but with a risk-based approach – i.e. we will assess risk to both resident and contractor (and ‘willingness’ of both) to decide if and when work can go ahead
Repairs may be delayed due to difficulty sourcing contractors and supplies
We will continue to carry out weekly fire alarm tests at communal blocks together with monthly health and safety inspections.
We will continually review the situation and regularly publish updates here on our website and on our Facebook page.
We would welcome your input on how we can design our service for a post Covid-19 world. If you would like to be involved, please contact Karen on email@example.com.
Letter to Residents
On the 18th May, the Rt Hon Christopher Pincher MP, Minister of State for Housing, published a letter to social housing residents regarding the steps that the Government is taking to reopen society and support you and your family to move on with your lives. The Minister's letter can be found on the Government website.
We have set out our response to the Minister's letter in our own Letter to Residents. This addresses all the points made in the Minister's letter and details PCHA's position and the full list of services we are able to provide at this time. You can download our full Letter to Residents here. If you would like a paper copy of the letter, please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tuesday 12th May
Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on Sunday 10th May regarding changes to the coronavirus lockdown, here is a brief update on PCHA’s services.
As the Government’s advice is still to work from home where possible, our staff are continuing to work remotely and the PCHA office will remain closed until at least Monday 1st June. We will continue to offer our residents the same services and support as we have during the lockdown period so far. For the moment, this includes carrying out essential repairs only. In other words, for now it’s status quo!
We will review the situation by the 1st June and post any updates here and on our Facebook page.
We hope you are all safe and well.
Monday 20th April
Following the Government review on Thursday 16th April, the UK is entering a further lockdown period of at least three weeks. Echoing Government advice, we encourage all our residents to stay at home where possible and help save lives.
During this extended lockdown period, the PCHA office will remain closed but the team will continue to deliver a service to our residents remotely. Please continue to contact us in the same way as you have been for the last few weeks – by email if possible at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be kind and tolerant
We know that being stuck indoors can be difficult and can place an enormous strain on relationships, both inside the home and outside the home with neighbours. Now is a time for tolerance and understanding, and we would ask you to be patient and be kind.
Domestic abuse / helping your neighbours
For people who may be living at home in an unsafe situation from domestic abuse, the advice is different. You do not need to stay at home if it is not safe for you to do so. If you feel unsafe or need help, please contact us or speak to someone you trust. In the spirit of community, if you’re worried about one of your neighbours, please get in touch with us and we will do our best to offer help.
We know the next three weeks are going to be difficult for many reasons. Our aim is to stay in touch and continue to deliver the best service we possibly can. Please talk to us if you are struggling, either financially or practically.
We wish you and your families a healthy and safe three weeks. Please check in here or on our Facebook page for further updates should things change.
Tuesday 24th March
Following the instructions from the Government on 23rd March, we have reluctantly taken the decision to carry out essential repairs only so that we can protect you, other residents and our contractors from the spread of the virus as much as possible. We recognise that this may be frustrating but our priority is your safety and that of our staff and partners.
Our office will remain closed for at least the next 3 weeks. Our staff will be working remotely to continue to deliver a service to you. This service will likely need to be scaled down over the coming weeks but we will post regular updates on our website and Facebook page. We would ask you to direct queries by email wherever possible (email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org)
Tuesday 17th March
Given the current situation regarding coronavirus and guidance from the Government, we wanted to update you on our response here at PCHA.
Our staff and the services we provide have not yet been affected by the coronavirus and it is our intention to try to minimise the impact of the escalating situation as much as possible. Sadly, it is inevitable that the situation will worsen over the coming weeks and the virus will continue to spread across the country. This will cause widespread disruption to the country as a whole and will undoubtedly impact on our services. We will all need to make adjustments over the coming weeks and months but the safety of our residents and staff is our top priority.
On Monday 16th March the Government introduced some robust advice to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 and we believe it’s critical to do our part to help. Here are some of the steps we are taking to protect everyone in this ever-evolving situation:
• From Wednesday 18th March our office is closed to the public. Our staff will be working remotely to continue to deliver a service to our residents for as long as we can.
• We will not be carrying out any home visits or attending external meetings, training or events.
• All our staff are being briefed regularly with updates as more information comes available from the Government, the NHS and World Health Organisation. We are diligently following this guidance and recommended best practices.
• We are monitoring the threat levels and the situation daily and will provide regular updates through our website, Facebook and Twitter.
• For those residents who may be vulnerable, we will keep in regular contact to check on their wellbeing.
• We have a contingency plan in place should our staff become sick, which we will invoke if and when it becomes necessary. This is likely to mean we will only be able to deliver an emergency service at this stage.
How you can help us:
• Please consider whether a repair is urgent or if it can reasonably wait until things have settled down a little.
• Let us know if you are self-isolating when you report a repair – in this case most repairs will be delayed until after you have recovered.
• Please let us have your up-to-date mobile numbers and email addresses so that we can keep you updated about the rapidly changing situation.
We will be posting regular updates on Facebook and here on our website.
The most up-to-date advice from the government can be found here.
We are continuing to monitor the situation and will take all appropriate measures necessary to protect our residents, staff, contractors and local communities. Keeping everyone safe and healthy is our main priority.
While the environment around us is uncertain, we take comfort in the fact that we have a passionate and committed team and a fantastic and loyal community of residents.
We hope you, your staff and your families stay healthy and safe during this time.
From everyone at PCHA.
Newsletter Spring 2020 – Coronavirus Edition
Click the image below to download our latest newsletter. You will find lots of useful information about our services during the coronavirus lockdown, and hints and tips for keeping body and mind healthy during this time!
PAYING YOUR RENT DURING THE CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK
We recognise that as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, the way in which people work and carry out daily activities is changing overnight. This could have a direct impact on your personal finances and your ability to pay your rent. It may be that you are entitled to either additional Government support or an increased entitlement to existing benefits. You can find the very latest Government advice on this here.
In light of the coronavirus outbreak, the National Housing Federation which represents housing associations in England has issued a statement urging anyone living in a housing association home who is worried about financial difficulties to get in touch with their housing association. It has also said that no-one should face the threat of eviction as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak and at PCHA we strongly support that view. If you would like to read the full statement it can be found here.
If you find that you are struggling to pay your rent and are unable to make a claim yourself, please contact us as soon as possible at email@example.com. Our Resident Support Officer or another member of our team can assist you to make a claim for appropriate benefits and if necessary we will work with you to agree a suitable repayment arrangement should you fall into arrears. Please note, if you have existing rent arrears and are making payments under an arrangement or Court Order, you should continue to adhere to that arrangement. If you cannot for any reason you must contact us immediately.
Please note that our office is currently closed to visitors and therefore if you currently pay your rent by cash at the office you will need to make alternative arrangements. You can find a full list of alternative payment methods here.
PCHA's 50th birthday celebrations – drinks reception at the House of Commons
2019 was PCHA’s 50th birthday! We held two fantastic events to celebrate, both of which were a great success.
Most recently, we held a drinks reception at Portcullis House in Westminster for PCHA's shareholders, partners and friends. Our Chief Executive, Karen, gave a speech about PCHA's achievements over the last 50 years, as well as the impact of the ongoing housing crisis and PCHA's goals for future expansion to provide more and better social housing for the local community. MP Bob Neill and Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation Kate Henderson both spoke about the importance and impact of the work of small housing associations such as PCHA. We ended the speeches with a presentation of PCHA's specially made 50th anniversary video, which you can watch here.
Keep scrolling down to read about our residents' summer picnic – the first of our celebratory events.
PCHA's 50th birthday residents' picnic – we had a blast!
The first event for our 50th birthday was our residents' summer picnic held in Crystal Palace Park on Saturday 14th September.
It was a beautiful sunny day and we had a great turnout. Our residents and staff enjoyed plenty of food and drink, chatted and socialised. Kids and adults alike were kept entertained by Paul, our talented magician and circus skills performer, and had their faces and arms painted with pretty patterns by the lovely Francesca, our face painter! Feedback was great, and a similar event is in the pipeline for next year – keep an eye on our website and newsletters!
Together with Tenants – Revised Charter
Earlier this year we told you about the National Housing Federation's draft 'Together with Tenants' plan and charter. (See the article below from February 2019 for more details and the original draft charter.) Together with Tenants aims to strengthen the relationship between tenants, residents and housing associations. More specifically, the charter commitments aim to ensure tenants and residents know what they can expect from their landlord.
The draft plan and charter were subject to a two-month open consultation with residents and housing associations, and there were two main outcomes from the feedback. First, a need to ensure the charter commitments were meaningful and would lead to real positive change for tenants and residents. Second, it was clear that the charter commitments and the language used to describe them needed to be simplified.
The revised charter commitments are below. At PCHA we are adopting these commitments as part of our customer service standards. If you have any comments or views on these commitments, please get in touch with us. You can email Karen at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the office on 020 8659 3055.
The new Together with Tenants Charter commitments
1. Relationships – housing associations will treat all tenants and residents with respect in all of their interactions. Relationships between tenants, residents and housing associations will be based on openness, honesty and transparency.
2. Communication – tenants and residents will receive clear, accessible and timely information from their housing association on the issues that matter to them, including important information about their homes and local community, how the organisation is working to address problems, how the organisation is run, and information about performance on key issues.
3. Voice and influence – views from tenants and residents will be sought and valued and this information will be used to inform decisions. Every individual tenant and resident will feel listened to by their housing association on the issues that matter to them and can speak without fear.
4. Accountability – collectively, tenants and residents will work in partnership with their housing association to independently scrutinise and hold their housing association to account for the decisions that affect their homes and services and the quality of homes and services they provide.
5. Quality – tenants and residents can expect their homes to be good quality, well maintained, safe and well managed.
6. When things go wrong – tenants and residents will have simple and accessible routes for raising issues, making complaints and seeking redress. Tenants and residents will receive timely advice and support when things go wrong.
Together with Tenants
The National Housing Federation (NHF), the membership body for housing associations in England, has drawn up a plan called ‘Together with Tenants’. It was created in recognition that while housing associations have a strong commitment to engaging with tenants and residents, they don’t always get it right! ‘Together with Tenants’ aims to build a stronger, more balanced relationship between tenants and residents and their housing associations.
This plan includes a charter that housing associations can sign up to. It consists of 8 commitments that tenants and residents have told the NHF they have the right to expect, regardless of their landlord or where they live. We would like your feedback on this charter.
The 8 commitments are as follows:
Every resident has the right to be treated with respect.
Every resident has the right to a decent, safe home and quality service.
Every resident has the right to be listened to and have their view heard on decisions that affect their community, home and the services they receive.
Every resident has the right to know how the organisation is run, how decisions are made, and how they can get involved.
Collectively, residents have the right to influence decisions that affect their community, home and the services they receive.
Every resident will have simple, clear and accessible routes for raising issues, making complaints and seeking redress.
Every resident will receive support and advice when things go wrong or their expectations aren’t met.
Every resident will have access to the information they need to make informed decisions and hold their landlord to account.
At PCHA we aim to meet these commitments in any case and therefore we are happy to sign up to this charter. However, we want to know if you, our residents, feel this reflects your expectations. Please get in touch with your views. You can email Karen at email@example.com or call the office on 020 8659 3055.
The NHF are consulting on this charter and their Together with Tenants plan until 19th April. You can participate in their online questionnaire here: https://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/4849220/Together-with-Tenants-Consultation.
We have been considering our future in this very uncertain world over the last year and as such the Board of PCHA has looked at our strengths, weakness, finances, risks and opportunities in great detail. After a great deal of work we are delighted to announce that we have now completed the strategic review and the Board of PCHA believes we have a bright future as an independent community based housing association. “We are really excited about our future and we
have an ambitious corporate plan for the next year or two.
We are committed to developing new homes to help
solve the housing crisis as well as improving our
services and creating homes and
communities we can be really proud of”
Karen Cooper, Chief Executive
Posted 2nd May 2017
These are challenging times for small associations like PCHA and therefore we are currently carrying out a strategic view to consider what the future looks like for us. Is our vision the right one? What could we do differently? How can we work smarter? How can we deliver the services our tenants want and need? All of these questions are ones that we would like feedback on from our tenants so please click here for our survey. It will only take a few minutes and your answers will help shape our future.
Posted 2nd May 2017
NEW DEVELOPMENT, SCOTTS ROAD, BROMLEY
At PCHA developing new homes is important to us as we recognise the chronic shortage of social rented homes in Bromley. We are delighted to have been working with Bromley Council, L&Q and Persimmon Homes to deliver six 2-bed flats for rent in the heart of Bromley Town Centre. The tenants, who have been nominated by Bromley Council, are due to be moving in during May and we hope they are very happy in their new homes.