Hello and welcome to my July Chief Exec's Blog. I hope you are continuing to stay safe and well as the lockdown measures begin to ease. Staff at Southway are working hard to ensure we can continue to deliver our essential services and adapt to the changing environment we face.
In this blog, I’ll be focusing on the core service that has been most affected by lockdown, both for our tenants and for us here at Southway; our repairs service.
Since lockdown began, it has been necessary to run a reduced repairs service to keep our tenants and staff as safe as possible. During this time, we’ve exclusively carried out emergency repairs and gas servicing appointments.
As a result of this limited service, we now have a large backlog of non-emergency repairs to complete (approximately 1500).
We have been following government guidance and working closely with staff members to find the best approach to addressing this backlog and when we should start. We have also been discussing how we can resume a full repairs service.
Non-emergency repairs: backlog
We have already started some external works, and plans are now in place to recommence our full repairs service. We have started to contact customers who reported non-urgent repairs prior to lockdown and arrange appointments to complete these works.
Appointments will be made from 3rd August 2020, based on the urgency of the repair and length of time since it was reported. We aim to complete this backlog by the end of October 2020. It is important to note that, for backlog repairs, the timescale for completion will start from the 3rd August instead of the date it was reported.
Taking new repair requests
As of Wednesday 29th July 2020, we will start to take new repair requests, with works starting from the 3rd August. Appointment slots will be based on the priority of the repair.
Due to the backlog, we’ve had to review our timescales for the completion of repairs:
- Emergency repairs will remain unchanged and still be completed within 24 hours.
- The timescale for urgent repairs will be extended from 5 working days to 10 working days
- The timescale for routine repairs from 10 working days to 40 working days.
For any major repair works, we will contact customers to arrange surveyor visits, with the aim of completing this over the remainder of this financial year (before 31st March 2021). These will also be based on priority.
We will strive to work as quickly, efficiently, and effectively as possible. These timescales will be continuously reviewed and improved on, if at all possible. It is important to note that these timescales may be affected by any Covid19 outbreaks, either locally or within our workforce, as well as any re-instated lockdown measures. We will continue to monitor the situation locally and adjust our service as necessary.
Contacting us for non-urgent repairs
As our Customer Hub will be working hard to prioritise repair slots, customers will currently be unable to use the automated online appointment booking system. You will, however, be able to use the system to report a repair and one of our Hub advisers will then contact you to arrange the appointment. This process will be reviewed at the end of September 2020 and we will reintroduce the full online service as soon as we can.
Health & Safety
As our operatives may be entering your home, we must be aware of social distancing measures and ensure we are all following the government's guidelines. If you are experiencing symptoms of Covid19, self-isolating, or have visited a country of high risk, it is critical that you inform us of this before we undertake any home visit or repair. Please also do not be offended if you are asked additional questions before a visit, as it is for everyone’s safety.
All staff who carry out repairs or home visits have been trained on the additional precautionary measures required at this time, to ensure your safety and their own. For more information on this, further reading can be found on the NHS website.
We are proud to have been able to maintain the majority of our other services during the lockdown period and will continue working hard to provide you with all the support we can. We have shared some really heart-warming stories from our tenants and the communities we work in during this difficult time. This ranges from helping with rent to additional tasks we’ve taken on, such as volunteering and our community support task force, which was set up specifically to support tenants facing difficulty as a result of the pandemic.
The positive feedback from tenants at this time has been so pleasing to hear and we are glad to be doing our part within the community.
I've no idea where you find these great people but all of them I've spoken to over the years have been fantastic and are an asset to Southway. You all are amazing.Claire, Southway Tenant
There is still some uncertainty around the coronavirus pandemic, and we want you to know that we are always here to help. We have a number of services available to provide you with the support you need, including our Advice Team, our COVID-19 Community Task Force and our Quids in Food Clubs. Contact us to tell us how we can help.
What could we do next?
As we look to the future and how we can get on track post-lockdown, I’d be interested to know your thoughts on our services, what we currently offer, or how we could offer things differently as we adapt to the impacts of the pandemic:
- Should any of our service’s change or look different post-lockdown?
- How would you want us to deliver support and services safely in the current climate?
- What more could we do that would have the greatest positive impact in our neighbourhoods?
Please get in touch to let me know your thoughts and ideas. You can comment below, email me at email@example.com, or respond on social media.
I look forward to hearing from you,