COVID-19 UPDATES

 

On this page you will find all updates from PCHA regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on our service to residents.
 

Useful links:

Click here for our 'frequently asked questions' about the services we are providing and about paying your rent during the pandemic. 

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. 

Wednesday 6th January 2021

The last thing any of us wanted to face in the New Year was another lockdown. We know that you may be frustrated by and fed up with the changing restrictions, but we would urge you to try to stay positive and focus on the spring, when there will hopefully be light at the end of a very long tunnel! The dark evenings, bad weather and the fact that everyone is worn out and fed up may take their toll over the next couple of months, but we’d like to remind you all that no one has to be alone during this period. Support is available, so if you are struggling or need help please talk to us and we will try and help you, or point you in the right direction. Give us a call on 020 8658 3055.


Our service and repairs 


In terms of our service, we are hoping to continue to offer a service that is as normal as possible, but there may be times over the next few months when we are short staffed and/or exceptionally busy, so please bear with us. For the time being, we will be undertaking essential repairs and health and safety works only to minimise possible transmission. All contractors who carry out works for us are expected to work in a Covid-secure way, but if you have any questions or concerns please don’t hesitate to ask us. 


Making contact


Staying in contact with others is good for everyone’s mental wellbeing. For this reason, we will continue to make calls to all our residents every so often, just to keep in touch and check you’re okay. Please continue to contact us in the usual way if you need support in between these calls. 


Please protect yourself and your loved ones. Stay safe.  


Best wishes from all at PCHA.
 

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Tuesday 22nd December

Repairs update

Following the Government announcement on Saturday placing us in Tier 4, coupled with the rapid spread of Covid-19 in London and the South East, we have taken the difficult decision to revert to carrying out essential (emergency and urgent) repairs only for the time being. This is not a decision we have taken lightly, but we feel that the best way to protect both residents and contractors is to minimise non-essential contact. This will be reviewed every 2 weeks, with the first review by the 8th January. We will post updates both here on the website and on our Facebook page, so please keep an eye out for the latest updates.

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Monday 21st December

 

As you will all be aware, on Saturday the Prime Minister announced that London and most of the South East was going to be placed in Tier 4, which is almost a complete lockdown. The rules state that we should stay at home unless we have a “reasonable excuse” such as going to work (if we have to) and getting essential supplies etc. This also means that we cannot meet other people indoors, including over the Christmas period, unless we live with them, or they are part of our existing support bubble. Outdoors, we can only meet one person from another household. Sadly, these rules will not be relaxed for Christmas.

We know this is very disappointing and will mean that many of our plans for Christmas will have to be cancelled or deferred until the Spring (let's plan for a BIG Easter!). These are extremely difficult times but hopefully there is light on the horizon and things will get better as we go through 2021 – in the meantime we just need to support each other and be kind and patient. Please look out for your neighbours who may find themselves alone this Christmas.

From all of us at PCHA, we would like to wish you a safe and merry Christmas.

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Wednesday 4th November

Following the Government announcement of a second national lockdown until the 2nd December, we have been reviewing the service we are able to provide to our residents during this time. 

Repairs

Unlike the first lockdown, this time we are hoping to continue carrying out day-to-day repairs throughout the period. At present and throughout this lockdown period, our approach to deciding when and how to carry out a day-to-day repair will work on the following three principles:  

  • That we, and our contractors, have the capacity/resources to deliver a safe service 

  • That the repair is mutually agreeable to all parties, with a willingness from the resident, PCHA and contractor to proceed and  

  • That it is SAFE for all parties to do so.

We will risk assess every repair individually and discuss the way forward with you. All our contractors will work in a Covid-safe way. However, there will be a backlog of repairs and it will take longer than normal to carry out more non-essential work, so please bear with us.  

Our service hours and availability

Most of our staff are already working mainly from home. Therefore, our service, hours and availability will remain the same as they are currently, unless a significant number of staff are sick and unable to work. Please see the update below from the 6th October for more details of our current service and the measures we have in place.

We will continue to post any updates about our service here and on our Facebook page.

Please continue to contact us at housing@pcha.co.uk for tenancy-related issues or questions about our service, or at repairs@pcha.co.uk to report a repair.  

We hope you and your family stay safe and well during this time.  

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Tuesday 6th October

 

We hope you and your family are safe and well in these difficult times. 


Over the last few months, we have been focusing on keeping services going and making our office COVID-secure. We had hoped to be able to return to ‘normal’ and open our office to visitors on an appointment basis by October. 


However, on Monday 21st September the Prime Minister introduced further measures to contain the virus, and it is possible that even stricter measures will be announced over the coming weeks. The Government alert level was also raised from 3 to 4. Our recovery plan, which we originally published back in May, is linked to the Government levels. We have modified this in line with the revised guidance and the updated recovery plan can be downloaded here


In response to the latest announcement and increase in the alert level, here are some of the key steps we are currently taking:

  • PCHA office will remain closed to the public and essential meetings/visits will be by appointment only to ensure we can see you safely.

  • Our staff will be working mainly from home to continue to deliver a service to you. However, we will be extending our service times as outlined below. 

  • We will only be carrying out essential home visits so we will deal with most queries by email or phone. If we do visit, we will maintain a 2m distance where possible and we will wear a mask to protect you.

  • We are monitoring the threat levels and the situation daily and will provide regular updates to you through our website and Facebook page.

  • When any of our staff and/or contractors visit your home for an appointment, they will ask you at the door if anyone in your home is sick and/or self-isolating. If they are, they will not be able to enter your home.  

  • 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. 

  • We will be continuing to deliver essential repairs and compliance work and all contractors will work in a Covid-secure way.

Improving our service offer / agile working

 

At PCHA we have seen an increased level of positive engagement with many of our residents during the Covid-19 pandemic, in spite of not being in the office. We are keen to build on this increased engagement to improve our service offer. 


We want to offer more ways for residents to engage with us at a time that suits them; this may be by email, phone, chat, and home / office visits (at present, only where visits are considered ‘essential’).

 
As part of this, we have extended our service hours to start at 8am every weekday, with late nights until 6pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. This means we will be accessible to residents (primarily by phone or email at present) at the following times:

  • Monday: 8am–5pm

  • Tuesday: 8am–6pm

  • Wednesday: 8am–6pm

  • Thursday: 8am–5pm 

  • Friday: 8am–4pm  

For more details on our current response to the pandemic and our service changes, please download a copy of Karen’s letter to residents of 25th September.

Please continue to contact us at housing@pcha.co.uk if you have any questions about our service at this time.

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Friday 3rd July – Our Repairs Service

 

As Government restrictions continue to be relaxed, we have been able to look at how we bring back some normality to our services.  We know that repairs and improvements to your home are important to you and so we're starting to reintroduce our core repairs service from Monday 6th July, including repairs that you’ve already reported to us. We’ll also continue to deal with all emergency repairs, safety works and gas servicing. In addition, our caretaking and grounds maintenance services will continue as they have throughout these past few months.

Our return to a full repairs service will be on a phased approach and repairs will be carried out on a risk-assessed basis.  When reporting a repair, you will be asked a series of questions that will enable us to ensure that our operatives can safely carry out the repair and ensure the safety of you and your household.  

As we resume our services, you don’t need to contact us if you’re already reported a repair or had one cancelled during lockdown. We haven’t forgotten and a member of our team will be contacting you to confirm the details and carry out the short risk assessment.

Do please be aware that our contractors may experience difficulties getting some materials and parts, due to national shortages caused by the impact of coronavirus. This may delay some repairs but our contractors are doing our best to work with suppliers to source these materials as soon as possible. Please bear with us as it will be some time before our services are completely back to normal but be assured that we’re doing all we can to provide the best possible service in the current situation.

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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 karen@pcha.co.uk.

Letter to Residents 1st June 2020

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 housing@pcha.co.uk

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.


Please continue to contact us in the same way as you have been for the last few weeks – by email if possible at housing@pcha.co.uk or repairs@pcha.co.uk.

We hope you are all safe and well. 

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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 housing@pcha.co.uk or repairs@pcha.co.uk.

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.

 

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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 (housing@pcha.co.uk or repairs@pcha.co.uk) 

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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.

•  Please contact us by email at housing@pcha.co.uk or repairs@pcha.co.uk rather than phoning if at all possible.

•  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.

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Photography by

Penge Churches Housing Association Ltd.

PCHA is a Co-operative and Community Benefit Society 1908R with Charitable Status

Homes and Communities Agency Reg.No. L1243. A member of the National Housing Federation