COVID-19 (Coronavirus) information and support
Our priority is to keep residents and staff safe during the ongoing COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak.
In response to the latest advice from the Government, we have made a number of changes to the services we deliver. The aims of these changes are to:
Ensure the safety of our residents and staff
Act on the Government’s guidance and do our part to delay the spread of COVID-19
Keep key services going during these challenging times.
Changes to 'lockdown' measures
Visit the Government's website for up to date information and guidance about the easing of 'lockdown' measures.
On 18 May Christopher Pincher MP, Minister of State for Housing, wrote to all social housing residents setting out the steps the Government is taking to support you during the next phase of the COVID-19 response, and their latest guidance for landlords.
As the Government relaxes ‘lockdown’ measures, it is also expecting landlords like Sutton Housing Partnership to begin to reintroduce services that have been paused.
To keep you and our staff safe, we will be making gradual changes and will keep you updated as we start to implement them.
Sutton Council's services and Sutton Coronavirus Support and Action Group
For information about services delivered by Sutton Council, including waste and recycling, schools and leisure facilities, please visit the Council's website.
You can also join the Sutton Coronavirus Support and Action Facebook Group to stay up to date with the response in the borough, find out how to help others and get support if you need it.
Latest medical advice and information
Please check the NHS website for the latest advice and information.
Rent, service charges and financial support
We understand you may be worried about the impact of the current situation on your income, and we’re here to help. No tenant will be evicted from an SHP home if there’s evidence you have been unable to pay rent as a result of COVID-19.
If you’re worried about paying your rent, or your finances in general, please contact your Housing Manager as soon as possible so they can help. You’re expected to pay your rent in the normal way unless you’ve spoken to us, so please get in touch if you need to.
If you’re a leaseholder worried about paying your service charge or major works invoices, please contact our Home Ownership Team on 020 8915 2020 or at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be able to offer you support.
Where else can I get help if I’m worried about my finances?
Your Housing Manager will work with you to provide support and guidance throughout this time. There are also advice services and charities you can contact to get help:
Links to Debt Advice and Support Agencies (Employment and Advice section)
What about council tax?
On Sutton Council's website, there is advice about what to do if you're worried about paying your council tax and information about support available to residents who are employed, self-employed or struggling financially due to COVID-19.
Contacting us during COVID-19
At the moment, it’s important we minimise face-to-face contact and do as much as possible by phone, email or online.
To keep you, our staff and your community safe our Community Hubs are closed, drop-in sessions have been suspended and our Sutton Gate reception is shut.
Where we need to see you face-to-face, we will check in advance that you are not unwell or self-isolating. If you are unwell or self-isolating we will not visit but will take steps to check that you are being supported.
Supporting vulnerable residents
We know that this is an anxious time for everyone, and especially for people who might not have support from family and friends, or who need a little extra help.
Our Housing Management Team is contacting everyone we think may be vulnerable to make sure they are safe, clear on current guidance and to ask what extra help they may need. This could be food deliveries or putting you in touch with someone for a chat. We’re working with local charities who offer this support.
We’ll be contacting people over the phone, email and through a text message survey. If we haven’t contacted you but you would like to speak to us about this, or if you have a neighbour you are worried about, please contact your Housing Manager.
You can also visit Sutton Council's website to find out what support is available and how you can ask for help.
How can I get help if I can’t leave home to buy my basic essentials?
Please visit Sutton Council's website to find out what support is available and how you can ask for help.
AgeUK Sutton are supporting older people (those aged 55+) who need support while they’re self-isolating. You can call them on 020 8915 2233, email them at email@example.com or fill in their online form.
Repairs and gas servicing
From Monday 1 June, we are now delivering routine, as well as emergency and urgent, repairs for most households. Thank you for your understanding while these have mostly been paused to help keep you and our team safe.
When our team visits your home they will notify you in advance of arrival, maintain a safe distance, use appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and follow hygiene procedures.
We still won’t carry out repairs in any household that is isolating or where someone is being shielded, unless it is to remedy a direct risk. If that’s the case, we’ll make arrangements to avoid any face to face contact, for example when answering the door or by asking you to move to a different room. Our operatives are being briefed regularly on current guidance.
Please continue to report repairs as normal.
Because most routine repairs have been paused since March, there is a backlog of work to be completed. This means it may take longer than normal to carry out non-essential work. If you have reported a routine repair since they were paused, there’s no need to contact us again. We will contact you when we are able to start planning your repair.
Thank you for your patience while we restart routine repairs and work to ensure that all repairs are done safely.
Is gas servicing going ahead as planned?
We have a duty to make sure that gas services to properties are safe. The Health and Safety Executive has confirmed that routine gas servicing (annual boiler service) must continue. We will continue to contact you to arrange a visit when it’s due.
When our staff arrive, we will ask you to unlock the front door and move into a different room, with the door closed, while the work is done. When we’re finished we will remove and carefully dispose of or clean the protective equipment we have used.
How long will communal repairs take?
If you have reported a communal repair we will aim to complete the work within the normal timescales outlined in our Repairs Guide. If the repair is complex, for example, if scaffolding is required, we will call you to discuss next steps.
What about repairs for residents receiving the Independent Living service?
If you receive our Independent Living service, please call us to discuss any repair issues you have during this difficult time; we may be able to provide you with some additional help and support.
Independent Living: Communal lounges and garden areas
In line with social distancing guidelines, communal lounges in our Independent Living schemes are temporarily closed. For your safety and the safety of our staff, coffee mornings and other activities are postponed for now.
Strict social distancing should also be followed in communal garden spaces, and the use of these should be kept to a minimum to minimise risk. Please remember we all need to follow these measures to help stop the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus).
Your Independent Living Officer can help you get support through social services or with things like food or prescription deliveries. To speak to them, please contact them directly or call us on 020 8915 2000.
Caretaking and groundskeeping
Caretaking and cleaning schedules are continuing as planned, with an emphasis on disinfecting all communal areas. Our caretakers are using disinfectant cleaners for floors; spray and wipes for door handles, bannisters, taps, countertops and all surfaces people tend to touch with their hands. They’re using protective gloves and following guidelines on social distancing.
Please keep at least two metres between you and your caretaking team when you see them. This will help protect you, them and everyone in your community from COVID-19.
We are also delivering groundskeeping services while observing social distancing guidelines. Groundskeeping staff have been thoroughly briefed on COVID-19, how it spreads and how to protect themselves and others against the virus.
We are currently prioritising grass cutting over other duties so the grass doesn’t grow too long during the spring, which will help deter vermin later in the year.
Choice based lettings and mutual exchange
So that we can protect the most vulnerable, we have temporarily suspended our choice based lettings service to concentrate on emergency housing and homelessness.
This means transfers for existing tenants will be paused. This will help stop the spread of COVID-19 as people minimise their movements to avoid infection.
Mutual exchanges are also paused until social distancing guidelines are relaxed and you are able to move more freely. We will keep this under review and will keep you updated as the situation changes.
Health and wellbeing
Spending more time at home means finding new ways to keep active.There are lots of free keep fit videos online, starting from as little as two minutes and offering options for children. You could try:
You can also enjoy your daily exercise outside by walking, running or cycling in your local area. Please remember to follow social distancing guidelines at all times.
The COVID-19 outbreak also affects us all in terms of how we feel. Being in a situation where we feel less in control might feel difficult or stressful, but there are lots of things you can do:
- Be mindful of, and let go of, unhelpful ways of thinking, they will not help change the situation.
- Practice mindfulness as a tool to manage a busy mind, e.g. the Headspace app.
- Keep in mind the importance of relationships. Share how you feel, help others with their feelings.
- Concentrate on the future. Shorter-term plans may be uncertain, but it is helpful to remember that the current situation is temporary.
HomeStart have put together a list of charities offering resources and support with mental health and wellbeing.
How will you make sure homes remain safe from the risks of fire?
We will continue to undertake planned fire risk assessments and put right any issues that may be raised. We’re also continuing with weekly fire alarm tests.
We are starting weekly estate inspections with an enhanced fire risk inspection to identify and rectify any hazards.
As always, we’re staying in close contact with the London Fire Brigade.
How can I volunteer to help?
Lots of people will want to help others at this difficult time. Sutton Council, Volunteer Centre Sutton, Community Action Sutton and AgeUK Sutton are building a list of volunteers and matching them with vital tasks including:
- food parcel packing and/or delivery
telephoning vulnerable people
practical support e.g. shopping
helping food banks
To sign up visit Volunteer Centre Sutton's website and click on ‘COVID 19 registration for volunteers’ or call Volunteer Centre Sutton on 020 8661 5900.