Coronavirus

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  • #5484
    Peter Wright
    Participant

    About 70% of Camden Leaseholders are on the Camden Account, and may receive e-mails from the Council about the current Coronavirus pandemic through that route. I shall post them here as well, beginning with the announcement of the Leader, Councillor Georgia Gould.
    Peter Wright
    Chair Camden Leaseholders Forum

    In a wide-ranging response to the coronavirus pandemic, Camden Council will aim to act as a community leader, mobilising all organisations and, together with key partners, will do the following:

    We will keep vital services running – even if they have to be delivered in a different way
    We will ensure no Council tenant loses their home because they are affected by COVID19
    We will ensure that those who work for care providers don’t have to choose between their wage, their health and the health of those they support
    We will help to ensure everyone has access to food whether they are unwell, isolating or caring
    We will support, encourage and mobilise the huge community spirit which exists in Camden – sign up to volunteer

    Councillor Georgia Gould, Leader of Camden Council, said:

    “The Prime Minister’s announcement this evening stresses again that we all need to listen to public health advice to keep ourselves, our families, our neighbours and our communities safe. New guidance means everyone should be minimising their social contact, reducing unnecessary travel and staying at home if they or anyone in their household has any symptoms. Please follow the daily guidance coming from the government and take extra care if you are over 70, if you are pregnant or have underlying health conditions.

    “It is now clear that the coronavirus pandemic is set to challenge us all in ways the like of which many of us have never experienced before. Amid the uncertainty one thing is for sure: we will need to work together and help each other out over the coming months. Our day to day aim in Camden is that no-one should get left behind – and this will focus our efforts as we face up to the crisis.

    “I want to speak to everyone who has worries and concerns. I feel these too – and we do not know exactly what the coming months will bring. But we can control what we do, what actions we take on a personal and collective level. And today, I set out five initial commitments we are making to respond to this crisis.

    “Firstly – we have robust plans in place to keep vital services running during this period, in particular care for older people and those with disabilities. We will be managing our workforce in a sensible way, and according to national guidance, to ensure we remain resilient. We will be flexible and are prepared to work differently if necessary to support our residents. We will also be introducing services in direct response to the virus including rigorous cleaning of our estates, leisure centres, libraries and public facilities.

    “We will not allow any evictions from our council housing if there is clear evidence that the resident has been unable to pay rent as a direct result of the coronavirus. We urge Government to give clear guidance on evictions and ensure that no-one is deprived of a home and shelter at this time because of their health. We urge other landlords to do the same. Nobody should have to choose between their home and their health.

    “Equally, no-one should choose between a wage and their health. We understand for employers and small businesses this is a really difficult time. We are speaking with our Business Board and the Federation of Small Businesses about the support they need. We will support those working for our care providers by ensuring they are no worse off. We urge businesses and Government to follow this lead.

    “Today we met with community groups and businesses to talk about the issue of food accessibility and how we can ensure everyone has access to food whether they are unwell, isolating or caring. This week we will share the outcome of this work we are doing to get food to people’s homes, particularly those who are vulnerable or those with families.

    “Finally, we will support, encourage and mobilise the huge community spirit which exists in Camden. I have received many emails over the last few days asking how you can help your neighbours to keep them safe and supported at this time. Camden already has so many voluntary and community organisations, faith groups and tenant and resident associations with long-standing community relationships and experience of getting things done. We are working closely with them to support mutual aid networks in communities. Anyone who feels they can help can sign up to volunteer – join the effort.

    “This is going to be a tough period and things will change every day – but we can get through it by thinking of each other with every action, and taking care of our neighbours along with ourselves. Our communities make Camden – and will help us through this.”

    For information:

    Camden Council have set up a dedicated webpage on the coronavirus linking to a range of information for schools and care homes, right down to information for what to do if you are pregnant or a new parent.

    #5485
    Peter Wright
    Participant

    Here is the second notice being circulated and comes from ‘The Housing Team’

    Peter Wright
    Chair Leaseholders Forum

    COVID-19 – a message from Camden Council’s housing team

    Dear resident

    As the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic develops, I’m writing to let you know that your safety and wellbeing is always the council’s first priority. National guidance has been issued this week and I know that residents are very worried, but I reassure you that we are well prepared and have plans in place to support you and keep your housing services running. We have strong communities and tenant leaders, and we will work alongside you to get through this difficult time.

    We know we will have to move our teams around as our staff are forced to self-isolate, but we are ready to work differently to support everyone who lives in our council homes as much as we can. You will see some changes to your services but please bear with us as we work hard to make sure that all essential work continues, and that the most vulnerable people in our communities get the help they need.

    Your housing teams

    Your neighbourhood housing teams will continue to work, but to protect residents and staff, the team will only be carrying out essential visits. They will be prioritising supporting vulnerable residents and people living alone with other support needs. Please look out for your neighbours, particularly if they are older, and if you are worried about them please call us on 020 7974 4444 (option 9). If you live alone and need help to go shopping and can’t ask family, friends or neighbours for help, contact us on the same number.

    If you are worried about paying your rent we can help

    We know that many of our residents who are working will be very worried about the impact of the situation on their income. If your financial situation has changed and you are concerned about how you will pay your rent or council tax, we are here to help. No tenant will be evicted from our council homes if there is clear evidence that they have been unable to pay rent as a direct result of COVID-19. Please get in touch with your neighbourhood housing officer as soon as possible so we can offer you support and advice. The council is committed to supporting tenants through this very difficult time.

    If you’re concerned about not being able to pay your rent because you pay in cash or use an Allpay card, speak to your neighbourhood housing officer. You can also pay for your rent online at camden.gov.uk/your-council-rent or over the phone on 020 7974 4444.

    Temporary changes to the repairs service

    We will continue to carry out all communal and external works to your homes as normal, but for the time being we will only carry out priority repairs inside tenants’ homes. This is to keep you and our staff safe, and to avoid the spread of COVID-19. If a council officer or contractor needs to access your home, it will only be if it’s really necessary for you and the other people in your building, so please let them in.

    Essential repairs include: heating and hot water, lifts, leaks, windows and door issues including locks and essential carpentry, sanitary plumbing, electrical work, health and safety works and fire safety works.

    Non-urgent repairs like decorating, plastering, or non-emergency surveys will be temporarily put on hold. Our normal service will start again once the risk from coronavirus has reduced and we will keep you updated of any developments.

    Our repairs call centre staff will ask everyone requesting a repair if anyone in their household is self-isolating. Repairs staff or our contractors will only attend a home where a tenant is self-isolating in an emergency, on a case by case basis, following advice from our public health team. If staff or contractors need to carry out an emergency repair in your home and someone is self-isolating or has COVID-19, they will wear full protective clothing – this is to keep everyone safe.

    If you have any queries about repairs please call Contact Camden on 020 7974 4444.

    Your caretaking service

    As planned, we will be taking over the external cleaning of estates from 6 April, and you will see your caretakers in their new blue uniforms. Having said that, the most important thing for us is to keep you safe and well, so we may need to use the service in a different way and move caretakers to where they are needed most.

    Although you might not see your usual caretaker on your estate as we move staff around to cover as necessary, we reassure you that essential services – cleaning, health and safety, reporting emergency repairs in communal areas and supporting our most vulnerable residents – will continue to be our priority across the borough.

    We need to be realistic about the caretaking resources we have as we need to maintain essential services, but we do expect our staff to need to self-isolate. Our focus will be on protecting our most vulnerable residents, and we will be providing extra cleaning in our sheltered schemes where people need it most. Your caretakers will keep estates safe and clean, but we are asking every resident and visitor to follow the Public Health England advice that everyone should wash their hands thoroughly when they get home to protect themselves and their families. Public Health England advise that you:

    wash your hands more often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitiser when you get home, when you blow your nose, sneeze or cough, eat or handle food
    avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
    avoid close contact with people who have symptoms
    cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in a bin and wash your hands
    clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces in your home.

    Please help your caretakers to keep everyone safe and well by disposing of your rubbish properly, in tied up bags and in the right place.

    Helping your community

    In the coming months we will need to work together and help each other out. If you are healthy and are not showing symptoms, please think about your neighbours and other people who may need help. If someone needs help with shopping or is likely to be feeling lonely, please look out for them in a safe way. We are creating a register of volunteers to help local people with anything from delivering food to making phone calls to cheering up people in isolation. To sign up as a volunteer visit help.timetospare.com/camden

    Maintaining your mental health

    There are a range of simple things you can do to help keep mentally healthy and physically active when you can’t get out and about as normal at oneyoucamden.org

    Camden Age UK have also set up a number of activities and services for people aged over 55 who are unwell, self-isolating or struggling to get out that you can take part in from home. They are offering an assisted online shopping service, livestreaming music recitals every day, an online book club and a telephone befriending service. Visit ageukcamden.org.uk or call 020 7239 0400 to find out more about what they have on offer for Camden residents.

    For more information

    We will continue to update our webpage at camden.gov.uk/coronavirus including information from Public Health England. We would like to keep you updated as everything is changing very quickly, so to sign up for email updates register at camden.gov.uk/coronavirus-updates

    We really appreciate that this is a difficult time for everyone but your housing staff are here to support you, your family and your community in every way we can.

    Yours faithfully

    Cllr Meric Apak, Cabinet Member for Better Homes

    #5489
    mahanprem
    Participant

    Hello,
    Like most of you I have just received a service charge bill and an estimated major works bill for the coming year.
    I am a freelancer and have lost all my work for the foreseeable future. I have also lost a tenant due to the corona situation.
    Does anyone know if Camden Council intend to offer us some help with these bills?
    It seems unreasonable to say the least to make a demand in advance for work is very unlikely to be carried out for at least six months.
    Also, will there be any leeway with the regular service charge?
    Stressful times. Thanks for any information.
    I hope you are all well and safe.
    Mahan Prem.

    #5491
    Peter Wright
    Participant

    Mahan,
    Thanks; I will take this up.

    Peter Wright
    Chair, Camden Leaseholders Forum

    #5492
    Peter Wright
    Participant

    My third update follows; if you want a version with the links

    As we enter lockdown new volunteers and new services are appearing to help Camden’s residents.
    Camden Council appealed for volunteers who have been directed to voluntary sector groups. It seems to have partnered with Voluntary Action Camden (VAC) which is coordinating voluntary sector activity, and with age UK Camden which is developing more personal services.
    VAC is trying to list and support local groups; you can see their work here, and the list of groups here. Age UK Camden sets out its activities here. The main one delivers basic food to those in need; I append the latest information about this from Camden Council.
    COVID-19 Mutual Aid UK has published a list of local groups here. Camden COVID-19 Mutual Aid has a Facebook page here. Nextdoor (nextdoor.com) is a website for local groups and volunteers. It has listed its volunteers to help with the pandemic on a map so you can see who lives near you; it is here.
    The ‘Camden New Journal’ has ongoing reporting of the pandemic here.
    Clinicians are reporting that loss or impairment of the sense of smell is a common and early symptom of COVID-19 infection. It also means that taste is lost or impaired as well. They advised that anyone who developed such symptoms without having had a head injury should consider that they may have the infection.
    The good news is that all this activity begins to assemble the way to get us all through the pandemic.

    Emergency Food Packages – provision available for those in crisis
    In recognition of the increased risk of food poverty in Camden due to Covid-19, we are partnering with Age UK to deliver emergency food packages to those that are:
    • Housebound and
    • Can’t get food and
    • Are in food crisis (loosely defined as 2 days or less of food and without perishables)
    For clarity: although we are partnering with Age UK, this offer is not restricted to those over 55. It is for anyone that is housebound, can’t get food and is in food crisis.

    From Tuesday 24th March Camden residents experiencing the challenges listed above will be able to get one of these emergency food packages through:
    • Calling Age UK
    • Calling Camden’s customer support line/ Covid-19 helpline
    • Referral by Age UK
    • Referral by Camden staff
    We are exploring how to refer from other VCS orgs, but in the immediate term VCS partners can call Age UK.

    The emergency package contains: milk, bread, butter, eggs, biscuits, tea, coffee, tinned food, cereal, toilet roll & soap.

    If you know of a resident that needs this support, you can refer them using this online form. There are two versions for the form. One for the north and south of the borough, depending on where the resident being referred lives. Anything north of Mornington Crescent tube will be NORTH & anything south, so including Somers Town and King’s Cross, will be SOUTH.
    The referrals will then be sent to the relevant team for distribution
    You will need to provide the following information:
    • Name
    • Telephone number
    • Address
    • Delivery instructions
    • Whether they have any allergies
    • Whether they have any symptoms of Covid-19
    • The name of the person making the referral
    • Whether the individual consents to their data being shared with Age UK in order that they can send a delivery package

    This a new service that we have implemented rapidly to try and respond to the challenges posed by Covid-19. We know we need to do more to prevent people going into food crisis. Work to this effect in underway and more details will follow.

    #5495
    bourneestate
    Participant

    Camden Council’s major works programme with Wates at the helm is a disaster on the Bourne Estate London EC1N. For over a year they have blocked light, increased burglaries and caused misery to hundreds of residents, many elderly and vulnerable, with over-running works and ignored contact. WHEN WILL IT TAKE DOWN THE SCAFFOLDING as work stopped months ago, well before Covid-19 (which they are now happily writing to leaseholders to tell them that’s the reason they will continue to do not much at all).

    #5496
    Peter Wright
    Participant

    In response to Mahan and to others in a similar situation, I am advised of a decision today by Camden. ” Leaseholders who have problems will be able to agree a delay to their service charge payments of up to three months. They will need to contact Leaseholders Services directly…….We are also doing some calling today re some of our elderly leaseholders to see if they are ok and need help”.

    The Services team is said to working from home and all are well, so a normal service is operating.

    Peter Wright
    Chair Camden Leaseholders Forum

    #5497
    mahanprem
    Participant

    Thanks Peter.
    In response to my enquiry, I received the following, which will hopefully remove the immediate stress of Major Works charges for leaseholders:

    “Thank you for your email

    I will ask one of our leasehold officers to review your account

    You don’t have to start paying for major works until works start on site and we will write to you when this happens and advise on help

    In respect of your day to day service charges they will advise if the first payment can be delayed for two months and will liaise with you going forward.

    Kind regards

    Mike Edmunds

    Head of Leaseholders Services”

    #5499
    Peter Wright
    Participant

    Here is a formal update on the state of the capital programme and other repair works:-

    Update on construction work across Repairs, Better Homes and the Community Investment Programme

    Current government guidance is that construction work on site can continue in line with guidelines around social distancing. Camden is working closely with all our contractors to ensure the health and safety of our residents and their workforce. Working with contractors we have stopped work on a number of large sites or are in the process of safely shutting down sites this week so that they can be safely vacated. Where work is continuing we are working with contractors to ensure measures are in place to protect workers and residents.

    Community Investment Programme
    We have paused all new work, postponing work that was due to commence shortly across four sites. There are currently three live construction sites across the Programme. Two of these sites are shutting down with contractors completing essential work this week to make them safe to vacate. One site remains open and is practicing safe working and following current Government guidelines.

    Better Homes Programme and Fire Safety Works
    The Council has 50 sites open at different stages. We have taken the following steps to prioritise safety:
    • Closing projects delivering work in the communal areas and inside properties across our sheltered housing schemes
    • Not opening any more properties on internal works projects such as kitchen and bathroom works, making safe or completing properties that were already opened
    • Not commencing any further window replacements across the programme as these require internal access

    The Council is continuing to deliver external work such as roof replacements, works to the wall finish, lift installation and fire safety works such as communal alarms and installation of fire rated front doors. Where internal access is required for essential work we are asking residents to confirm whether they or members of their household are self-isolating, should this be the case appointments are re-scheduled.

    Contractors have been asked to wear personal protective equipment where required and we have set out our expectations for safe working having consulted Public Health. We are working closely with contractors to make sure that they are working safely.

    Housing Maintenance
    The Council’s in house team have postponed all non-urgent internal works. Contractors that maintain mechanical and electrical systems such as communal heating, boilers and lift, have all implemented similar protocols.

    We have put in place safe working arrangements so that we can attend emergency repairs in properties where residents are self-isolating. These arrangements have been developed by working with colleagues in Public Health.

    Kind Regards

    Jeremy Shapiro
    Head of CIP Programme Office

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