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Posted 17 April 2020

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Helping those most in need through the coronavirus crisis

We’ve introduced new measures in response to the Covid-19 outbreak, to keep our tenants and staff safe while still delivering vital services.

Meetings are held regularly to make key decisions, monitor risks and communicate the latest government guidance to staff and tenants. All tenants have been contacted, and access to our app MyHome and online chat is also available.

Along with following strict government advice, we’re developing new safe ways to deliver services. Our plans include:

  • Safe and well calls

Keeping in touch with our tenants and checking in on them has been one our priorities from the beginning of our response. That’s why we’ve set up calls to ask questions, respond to needs, signpost and arrange regular contact with our vulnerable and older tenants.

We have identified more than 3,000 tenants that fit this category so will be calling them first, with the aim to roll this out further. More than 100 staff members have volunteered to take on these calls, on top of their day job.

So far more than 3,000 calls have been made, averaging at around 800 each week. From this we’ve supported 626 tenants to get access to more support.

  • Helping hand food parcels

After realising that hundreds of our most vulnerable tenants won’t be able to get food, we put a delivery service in place to drop off food parcels with basics, to last seven days, for the next ten weeks. This is something we are funding and there will be no cost for tenants.

We’ve worked really hard to put in a safe system of work to make sure the parcels are prepared correctly and delivered with no contact required. Donations from Asda and Barnes Cash and Carry in Scunthorpe has helped to get this off the ground with parcels being made up and delivered by our staff.

We expect more than 500 tenants to benefit from this. So far we’ve delivered 430.

  • Rent and enforcement support
    The newly introduced Coronavirus Act advises tenants to continue paying rent as normal. Financial assistance to help those financially affected will be provided through government benefits, such as Universal Credit.

If you have been financially affected please contact our Income team who are taking a proactive, understanding approach. They are on hand to chat to you if you’re worried about paying rent, and to provide any assistance in terms of accessing benefits to help cover your housing costs as well as any other loss in income at this difficult time.

Our Housing and Tenancy Enforcement teams are experiencing an increase in calls with reports of people flouting the current government guidelines. We would ask that you please report this on the Humberside Police website and we will work with our local policing teams if needed. If you’d like to report other antisocial behaviour incidents involving our tenants, please continue to report this to us.

  • Essential appointments only
    Following the advice from the government, we will only carry out essential repairs and have prioritised these. A large percentage of our staff are working from home, but customer facing teams will continue to carry out essential roles and appointments.

An example of this is safety and compliance checks, like gas servicing, which we’re urging you to allow access for. However, most contact will be over the phone, and where this is not possible, staff have the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) in order to work safely.

  • Change to opening times

All offices including our headquarters are closed. Ashbridge Roofing/Hales and Coultas in Scunthorpe and The Post Office within The Arc building in Scunthorpe remain open, but with new, safe ways of working and social distancing measures in place.

Steve Hepworth, Chief Exec here at Ongo said: “This is a worrying time for everyone, but I could not be prouder of how our tenants and staff have responded to the huge challenge we all face in fighting coronavirus.

“We want to reassure our tenants that we are here for them and we’ll continue to offer much needed support. From just being there at the other end of the phone to delivering vital food parcels and carrying out essential repairs to keep them safe.

“It’s by maintaining strong relationships and encouraging staff and tenants to come together through this challenging time, we will stand strong to provide our services and rebuild once it is over.”

For oue latest coronavirus updates go to: www.ongo.co.uk/coronavirus

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