Donna Hart, Author at believe housing

coronavirus statement from Bill Fullen

Author Archives: Donna Hart

coronavirus statement from Bill Fullen

coronavirus – a message to you from Bill Fullen, Chief Executive. 

As the coronavirus (also known as Covid-19) pandemic develops we want to assure you that the health, safety and well-being of our tenants, residents, customers and staff is an absolute priority for us.

First and foremost, please follow the government’s advice, which and can be found on www.nhs.uk. Advice is also provided through a government media campaign, so listen out for any new developments.

As a service provider we need to make some temporary changes to the way we do things in order to adhere to the advice on limiting social contact as much as possible. These changes will, understandably, bring some limitations to normal service delivery but are designed to ensure that we keep you, your home and our staff safe, so that we can be there when you need us. They are designed in accordance with government advice, particularly in relation to limiting social contact.

We know you will have concerns, so hopefully the following questions and answers on what has been put in place and what you can expect from us during this difficult time will help. However, this is our approach at this current time. And, as things are changing constantly in response to government advice, I would ask you to also check our website regularly for the most up-to-date information.

Will our offices still be open?

All our offices are now closed to the public.

Our customer contact centre will operate as normal, so please either ring 0300 1311 999 or contact us online if you need to report something or require any information or help.

We are experiencing a significant increase in phone calls at the current time so please bear with us if it takes longer than usual to answer your call.

What will happen with the repairs service?

We are focused on maintaining this critical service. Our repairs service will be limited to essential repairs only, which are emergency repairs or repairs that might turn into emergencies if we don’t fix them.

Emergency repairs are any defects that put the health, safety or security of properties, customers or anyone else at immediate risk.

We will not be carrying out any non-essential repairs and I would ask that at the current time you do not register any of these repairs – this will enable our contact centre employees to focus on dealing with the most important calls.

We will resume the full repairs service to our tenants as soon as possible, but at this time I’m sure you will understand that I am unable to say when this will be.

What if my gas boiler is due to be serviced?

Making sure gas boilers are safe is a legal requirement and extremely important to safeguard tenants. Therefore, we aim to carry on where possible with our servicing programme while attempting to operate within the current advice from government.

We will need access to your home to do this so please continue to let us in and be assured that we have taken every precaution to ensure our staff can work safely in your home.

If this applies to you, we will be contacting you separately to discuss options with you.

I’m due to have improvements done to my home, will these still go ahead?

All planned improvement works will be delayed until further notice. We’ll let you know in due course when these can go ahead.

Any improvement works currently on site will be suspended by Friday, 27 March 2020.

We will ensure that by the end of this week any internal works are completed up to the point where they are serviceable. We aim to leave homes safe, clean and tidy, but we are unable however to carry out any decoration works at this time.

What happens if my income is reduced and I am unable to pay my rent?

We recognise the impacts of coronavirus are far reaching and people may be affected financially.

If you face such circumstances, please get in touch with us as soon as possible. You may be entitled to help towards your rent or may need some advice on what can be done to help manage your payments. The important thing is that you keep us informed. We are here to help on 0300 1311 999.

If you are unable to get out to pay your rent, we offer a range of payment options. Please get in touch and we can talk to you about these.

We will work with you to ensure that you are able to stay in your home. We will not evict anyone who is unable to pay their rent as a direct result of the coronavirus. But, please get in touch with us if this applies to you.

What if I am self-isolating or have any symptoms related to coronavirus? 

If you are please let us know and we can talk to you about how we can continue to deliver services to you whilst reducing the need for any physical contact.

What happens next?

It is extremely difficult to predict how coronavirus will develop and what the effects will be on the services that we provide to you.

We are monitoring the government’s daily announcements and our aim is to make sure that we stick to their advice particularly over the next few weeks.

Should there be any further impact on our service delivery we will let you know – and please check our social media platforms and coronavirus information page for updates.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you need any extra support. We are here to help you. We thank you for your patience and cooperation while we work through these difficult times and hope you take care and stay well.

Our aim is to continue to deliver essential services while keeping you, your family and our employees safe.

Please continue to follow the government’s advice and stay safe.

Yours faithfully,

Bill Fullen

Coronavirus update: Peterlee customer service centre closure

Due to the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, our Peterlee Customer Service Centre is closed until further notice.

We recognise that meeting face to face personalises the services we offer to our customers. However, taking government guidelines into consideration, we are looking to minimise non-essential face to face contact. The safety of our customers and colleagues is our top priority throughout this difficult period.

If you have any housing-related queries or would like assistance, our Customer Service Team will continue to operate as normal.  You can contact us on 0300 1311 999, by emailing hello@believehousing.co.uk , using the customer app, or through our online form.

Please take some time to visit our Coronavirus page for more information about the measures we are taking minimise the spread of the virus.

We’ve also updated our frequently asked questions about Coronavirus.

 

Important Coronavirus information for our customers

In light of the continuing spread of Coronavirus, believe housing is putting plans into place to ensure that we can continue to deliver our key services whilst maintaining the health of colleagues, customers and other stakeholders.

Please visit our Coronavirus (Covid-19) page for more information about the measures we are taking minimise the spread of the virus.

We recognise that these are unprecedented and worrying times for everyone and we want to take the time to answer some of the questions you may have, please read our frequently asked questions about Coronavirus page.

As new information about Coronavirus becomes available we’ll continue to update our Coronavirus (Covid-19) page, so please and keep checking back.

 

 

important rent information

We are writing to every tenant with important information about your rent payments.

From Monday, 6 April 2020 all believe housing tenants will see a small increase in their rent payments. This is the first rent increase in five years, following four years of rent reduction, and the increase is in line with government policy.

The increase is restricted to 1% plus inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index, a standard formula used for calculations of inflation. The total increase in rent payments will be 2.7%.

Since 2015 rents for believe housing tenants have actually been cut. Even after the increase in April rent payments will actually be lower than they were in 2015.

As an example, a customer paying £83.91 per week in 2015 will have seen their rent fall to £80.61 by 2019. From Monday, April 6 2020 that payment would be £82.79. Over 12 months the total paid in rent under this example would still be £58.24 less than it was in 2015.

Executive Director of Investment, Growth and Performance at believe housing, Alan Smith, said: “Rent levels for affordable homes are fixed by central government policy. Most providers of affordable homes throughout the country will be making the same changes in April.

“Even though we continue to make savings as a result of bringing three landlords together to form believe housing, some essential costs like property maintenance have inevitably risen since 2015 as a result of inflation. This small rent increase will help us to ensure that we can continue to provide great services to our customers and invest in the communities we serve.”

Letters with full details of rent payments after Monday, April 6 2020 were sent customers during February.

universal credit information 

If you currently receive Universal Credit you’ll need to log into your online journal to update your housing costs. The earliest you can do this on Monday, 6 April, once your rent change has taken place, so please don’t try to make any updates before then.

housing benefit information (not Universal Credit claimants)

If you receive Housing Benefit your current application will automatically be reassessed and you will be notified of your new entitlement. However, you must still inform Durham County Council of any changes in your circumstances.

direct debit information

If you pay by Direct Debit your payments will automatically be re-calculated and notification will be sent to you

Help and advice on the changes, and all other rent and money related matters, is available by calling 0300 1311 999 our by using our online form.

homes to rent open day in Wheatley Hill

We have homes to rent in Wheatley Hill right now.

If you’re looking to move home, why not come and talk to us about what is available at our next homes to rent open day on Tuesday, 10 March between 11am and 1.30pm.

Our open day will take place at 119 Wordsworth Avenue, Wheatley Hill, DH6 3RD.

This a three-bed semi-detached property features a modern kitchen, living room, downstairs bathroom with w/c and substantial private gardens on a corner plot.

And with rents from as little as £72.68*, what’s the harm in having a quick chat and a look around?

 

Find out more

For more information complete our online form here, email lettingseast@believehousing.co.uk or call 0300 1311 999.

Are you already a believe housing tenant? Refer a friend, they find a home, and you could get £50 off your rent. ***

 

*Details correct at time of publish.

**All tenancies are granted subject to references and affordability checks.

***Terms and conditions apply.

We are changing the way we work

From Monday, 24 February we will be making some changes that will help the services we deliver to be more flexible than ever.

We’ve invested in new technology that will help believe housing’s staff work from wherever they need to be in our communities. This will help us to be more responsive to the needs of customers.

That means, rather than coming to us, we’ll come to you. Simply get in touch by phone, email or on our customer app, and we’ll make an appointment to come to you.

With our new more flexible ways of working, we won’t need as much office space. We looked carefully at where our homes are and which locations offered the best fit for the new ways we’ll be working. That’s why we’ve upgraded our offices in Bishop Auckland and Seaham. We’ve also taken the decision to close our old offices at Meridian Court in Peterlee together with Thomas House and Lumley House in Meadowfield.

The smaller number of offices, and removing unnecessary travelling back to and between offices, will save money and reduce our carbon emissions. That allows us to help the environment and ensure that more of our resources are directly targeted at helping our customers.

Chief Executive of believe housing, Bill Fullen, said: “The number of customers choosing to come into our offices has been falling for a long time as more and more people choose other methods to get in touch, like our customer app. So we’ve taken the decision to shape our services to better suit the world we live in.

“Our people will be in your community more than ever under these new ways of working. We’re making full use of technology that means we have less need for offices full of desks and can focus on what’s important; the services we deliver.

“So if you want to talk to us about anything from paying your rent to finding a new job, get in touch and we’ll come to you”

Smartphone users can download the believe housing app by visiting the App Store or Google Play and searching for believe housing.

Magazine meets employment experts

An in-depth chat with believe housing’s employability team is included in the latest customer magazine, which packed full of news and information.

Some of the most common worries that customers have when trying to find work, or even just a more sustainable job, are discussed by the three-strong team, as well as some of their successes. The fully tailored support is available to all believe housing customers.

“We don’t just send everyone on the same courses or give them the same advice.” Joanne Brown from the team said. “And for some people the biggest barriers are confidence, mental health or perhaps even just life skills. We sit down with them and go through everything.”

“They might not even be unemployed. Some people on zero-hour contracts get a call at 3pm telling them they’re at work from 8pm … that’s not good for anyone’s mental health. So we look at how we can improve their career and find them more stable work.”

This edition also includes details of how our m!ne Rent to Buy homes have now helped 100 families onto the property ladder. Homes have already been completed by m!ne at locations including Stockton, Browney and Bowburn. But with more to come including properties in Chilton, Murton and Peterlee the innovative government backed programme is set to help hundreds of families.

We’ve also got exciting news of awards that could be coming to County Durham after believe housing was shortlisted in three more prestigious categories; including two at the leading UK Housing Awards.

And finally there’s a story about how believe housing will be taking to the pitch after signing a deal with Willington AFC that looks set to benefit the club and the community.

The latest issue of the completely free digital magazine ‘believe housing news’ is available now.

Customer magazine focuses on new talent

Apprentices are the hot topic in the latest issue of believe housing news, which is packed full of news and information for customers.

As we’re nearing the end of National Apprenticeship Week, readers can learn more about how believe housing is training 24 apprentices in everything from joinery to IT. And they can hear from apprentices themselves on why they’re enjoying earning while they learn.

Eleanor Hailes became believe housing’s first female joinery apprentice in summer 2018. She started when she was just 16 after deciding that woodwork was for her following a very successful work experience period earlier in the year. Now, Eleanor is working towards a Level 2 qualification in joinery.

Eleanor said: “None of my friends wanted to go into joinery. But I enjoyed woodwork at school and every day is different here. Seeing the finished results is really satisfying.

“The most challenging thing I do at the moment is garage doors, but I’m getting to grips with them. Once I’ve got some more experience I’d like to get my Level 3. Eventually I’d like to get into management.”

Debt Awareness Week takes place this month too; so expert advice from believe housing’s Money Matters Team is on hand for anyone worried about their finances.

This issue also includes the story of how one family from Ushaw Moor have made the switch from solid fuel to a gas central heating system after staying loyal to coal for 20 years.

On the subject of investment in communities, there’s also news on improvements to parking in neighbourhoods right across County Durham.

And finally; there’s the chance to hear from Development Project Manager, Rebecca Marshall, on progress with the development of new bungalows and family homes in Murton in a £6.9m project.

The February issue of the completely free digital magazine ‘believe housing news’ is available now

read it here

backing apprenticeships

We are working with two local colleges during National Apprenticeship Week to encourage more young people to think about apprenticeships.

Apprentices from believe housing will be speaking to hundreds of Year 10 and 11 pupils from schools in Sunderland and east Durham.

The believe housing team will be visiting East Durham College’s Hartlepool Campus and Sunderland College’s Bede Campus on Thursday, 6 February. They’re aiming to persuade more school leavers to think about the opportunities available in the County Durham-based housing association.

Current apprentices at believe housing range from joiners and plumbers to IT and business administration roles.

Eleanor Hailes became believe housing’s first female joinery apprentice in summer 2018. She started when she was just 16 after deciding that woodwork was for her following a very successful work experience period earlier in the year. Now, Eleanor is working towards a Level 2 qualification in joinery.

Eleanor said: “None of my friends wanted to go into joinery. But I enjoyed woodwork at school and every day is different here. Seeing the finished results is really satisfying.

“The most challenging thing I do at the moment is garage doors, but I’m getting to grips with them. Once I’ve got some more experience I’d like to get my Level 3. Eventually I’d like to get into management.”

There are currently 24 apprentices at believe housing, with a large proportion of former apprentices going on to permanent roles in the organisation, including Lewis King

.After completing his Level 3 qualification in Business Admin at New College Durham Lewis beat stiff competition to land the full-time position of Development Assistant.“I really enjoy my job, I get to go out quite a bit to sites where we’re building new houses and see all sorts of things. I definitely made the right choice.”

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