Coronavirus

We're here to help.

We are following Public Health England guidelines in relation to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. Our priority is the safety and wellbeing of our staff and residents and we are committed to maintaining and protecting our services as far as possible.

We understand the worry and concern that coronavirus is causing. On these pages you will find practical information about the help available, the support you can access and our current services. 

We ask that you check these pages on our website before contacting us: this will help you find your answer more quickly and let us better support those most in need.

We are updating these pages regularly to reflect the developing situation and support available.

For the most up-to-date information on our response to the coronavirus, please click here.

More information on how to contact us can be found here.

The Housing Minister has written to all social housing residents in England. See a copy of the letter.

The Green Man

The Green Man is our base and an important community space for many of our residents. The Green Man is currently closed to the public and all of our resident events - including our drop-in sessions have been postponed. 

We want to reopen The Green Man to residents and our staff but want to ensure this is done in safe way. We are currently developing a staged plan for the reopening. We anticipate that some essential staff will return to The Green Man later this summer to work in the building on a rota basis.

This should enable us to offer meetings by appointment with Phoenix staff for residents by appointment only, and we will provide updates on our website.

Support for older and vulnerable residents

This is a worrying time for many of us. We’re here to help.

We’ve made efforts to call all residents aged over 65 or over and those people that we know are vulnerable. We’ll be asking you some questions that will help us update our records and understand the support that you have around you.

We are referring residents who require additional support, for example assistance with food shopping, food parcels or a befriending phone service to Lewisham Local. Lewisham Local is coordinating a community response to the coronavirus outbreak, working with local charities, partners and Lewisham Council. We are supporting Lewisham Local with their work. 

Please contact us if you consider yourself to be vulnerable but haven't heard from us, or if you know a resident who is in need of additional support so we can get in touch. 

Foodbank vouchers, claiming welfare benefits, and other support available

Foodbank vouchers

If you currently use Phoenix to issue foodbank vouchers, you can still do this. There is no need to visit us in person to collect the vouchers. Simply call or email us to tell us you need a voucher and give: 

  • your name 
  • address
  • number of adults and children in the household.

We will then tell the foodbank you are coming.  

If you think you might need to use a foodbank during this time, please contact us or one of our local foodbanks.

Support to access welfare and benefits

If your income has changed because of the current situation and/or you need help to claim welfare benefits, please contact us.

Our team is working remotely to continue supporting residents as normal with questions about welfare benefits. While our drop-in sessions at The Green Man and Bromley Jobcentre Plus have been postponed, we can continue to offer you support on the phone and by email. 

We can offer you advice and support in changing your existing benefits and in making a new claim. It's important you speak to us as soon as your circumstances change so we can advise you on the best thing to do and to make sure you claim as quickly as possible.

The government has announced a range of emergency measures and support. We're here to help and our team are very experienced in helping you claim the additional income you are entitled to. For further information about the new measures, we recommend you visit Policy in Practice and the Money Advice Service who have published comprehensive guides on what support is available.

The Government has updated its website with specific support. Follow the links below that are appropriate to you to find out what you need to do and what support is available:

Help to find a new job

If you have lost your job or been furloughed, our employment and training programme, Roots into Work, can help. Our advisors can provide support over the phone and by email with:

  • Writing and updating CVs
  • Registering with employment agencies
  • Writing cover letters
  • Searching for and applying for jobs online
  • Filling in online application forms
  • Interview techniques
  • Tailored telephone one to ones

While our Job Club, Digital Drop-in and training courses have been postponed until it is safe to reopen The Green Man, we can also share some online courses that you may benefit from.

Sign up to updates from our Roots into Work programme to receive emails from the team with available jobs, training and advice.

Lewisham Emergency Hardship Fund

Lewisham Council has introduced a one-off payment to help residents buy essential food and fuel. This is an emergency payment for those eligible for Universal Credit who are facing further immediate, financial hardship due to COVID-19 and have no other assistance available. If you have no income as a result of losing your job or ability to work, you may qualify for a one-off payment.

The payment is a grant so it does not need to be paid back. It does not replace any other form of support from the Government.

For details of eligibility and to apply, visit Lewisham Council's website.

The government has announced that during the lockdown, some children and young people can get a laptop, tablet or support to access the internet through their local authority. If you are eligible, you will be contacted by your child's school. 

Paying your bills

Please continue to pay your bills as normal during this period.

Paying your rent and service charges

If you're experiencing financial difficulty as a result of the coronavirus and you're worried about how you'll pay your rent or service charges, please let us know as soon as possible. We can help you and support you to apply for additional support from the government or agree a payment plan.

We have suspended all eviction proceedings. No one will lose their home as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. We want to help our residents at this difficult time. We ask that if your circumstances change, you let us know as soon as possible so we can work with you to find a solution.

Claiming Universal Credit may help you with your housing costs. Find out more about claiming Universal Credit on gov.uk.

Support with other costs 

You may be able to apply for support with your housing costs or with a reduction in your council tax. Visit Lewisham Council’s website for more information.

Paying for your water 

From 1 April 2020 all Phoenix tenants will pay Thames Water directly for their water, instead of through your rent.

If you are struggling to pay your water bills, please contact Thames Water in the first instance. They will be able to advise you on what discounts may be available and what support is on offer during the coronavirus crisis. You can also contact us for advice.

Paying for your energy (electricity and gas bills)

If you’re struggling to pay your energy bills, you should contact your energy provider as soon as possible. If you pay your energy bills by pre-payment and are self-isolating or unable to leave your home to top-up, contact your energy provider as soon as possible. 

Money Saving Expert has advice and the most up-to-date information from a number of energy providers to help you understand what help is available to you.

Legal proceedings 

As the courts reopen, some legal proceedings (those already in progress and underway before the coronavirus pandemic began) will be resumed. Hearings will take place by telephone or video and you will be contacted by the court if your case is due to be heard.

We can offer a secure and covid-safe hearing room space at The Green Man for residents who are unable to take part in these telephone or video hearings from home. Please speak to us if you have any concerns about participating in telephone or video hearings. We are here to help.

No one will lose their home as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. We want to help our residents at this difficult time. We ask that if your circumstances change, you let us know as soon as possible so we can work with you to find a solution.

Antisocial behaviour and domestic violence

Our staff are ready and here to help to help if you are experiencing antisocial behaviour or domestic abuse.

We want you, your family and neighbours to enjoy living in your home and community. We take reports of antisocial behaviour very seriously and will take the necessary steps to protect residents. Please contact us to report antisocial behaviour.

Domestic violence

Domestic violence is where someone close to you, such as a partner or family member, is threatening or violent towards you.

Our first aim is to minimise any risk of harm to residents (and their children) reporting domestic violence and abuse.

If you're in danger, please know that you're not alone. If you or someone you know is at risk of, or suffering domestic abuse or violence, help is still available.

Though our staff are working from home, we are still here to support you and work in partnership with local agencies and organisations to protect residents and to reduce the instances and impact of domestic violence and abuse.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence and are in immediate danger, call the police on 999.

For help and support contact:

  • Athena Confidential, non-judgmental support to those living in the London Borough of Lewisham who are experiencing gender-based violence. 
    Call 0800 112 4052 or email lewishamvawg@reguge.org.uk
  • National Domestic Abuse Helpline Free, confidential 24hour helpline.
    Call 0808 2000 247 or chat to staff online Monday to Friday from 3-6pm.
     
  • Bright Sky  A free to download mobile app, launched in partnership with the Vodafone Foundation, providing support and information to anyone who may be in an abusive relationship or those concerned about someone they know.
    Download on the app store or google play.

Repairs

Our Phoenix Repairs Service is working hard to maintain services for our residents and we are taking all possible steps to help protect the health of our residents and staff.

We have continued to deliver emergency repairs, gas servicing and other essential compliance and safety checks throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

We are now able to extend this service as the lockdown eases and plan to offer more services. This will be regularly reviewed as we monitor the availability of materials and PPE equipment and the availability of our teams.

We will continue to prioritise emergency and urgent repairs, and some of our usual response times have been extended to allow this. We are now beginning to complete jobs that were previously reported to us and cancelled when we went into lockdown.

We will also begin to complete some new repairs that are urgent because of health and safety or antisocial behaviour implications or pose the risk of future disrepair cases. We will aim to complete these repairs within 60 days.

Any other non-urgent jobs or external works will be booked with an aim to complete these works within 90 days.

Some jobs will remain on hold for the time being, for example those that are non-urgent but require our staff to be in a property for an extended period of time.

We are grateful to everyone for their understanding as we seek to clear the backlog from the previous three months.

Calls to our repairs contact centre are being answered by an external call centre. They will take your details and pass on your requests to our teams, who will schedule the appointment if it is an emergency or priority repair.

Emergency repairs

We will complete an emergency repair when:

  • there are health and safety implications

  • there is loss of a service which affects your comfort or convenience

  • there is a risk to the security of your home

  • not carrying out a repair will cause further damage to your home.

Examples include where there is:

  • total loss of electricity, gas or water

  • a reported gas leak

  • broken boiler with no heating or hot water

  • serious water leaks 

  • a blocked or non-flushing toilet and it’s the only one in your home.

Our priority for any emergency repair is to make the situation safe. Please understand that we may not be able to complete the full repair on our first visit.

We will prioritise repairs for older and vulnerable residents wherever possible.

 

Help us to keep you and our operatives safe

When you call the contact centre, they will check if you or a member of your household is self-isolating or showing any symptoms of coronavirus. If you are unwell or if our staff have any concerns we will rearrange the appointment for a later date. Thank you for your understanding.

If you have an emergency repair and are self-isolating or showing any symptom of the coronavirus, we will work to find a way that allows us to complete an emergency repair while best protecting the health and safety of our operatives. 

Our operatives are equipped with personal protective equipment (PPE), and this includes face masks, gloves and suits. It is not necessary for operatives to wear this PPE for all jobs. When they arrive at your home and dependent on the nature of the works, they will assess the situation and use their judgement to decide if PPE is necessary.

We have given our operatives clear advice to follow social distancing guidelines while working. This includes keeping two meters from their colleagues and our residents. Please help to support our operatives by keeping two meters between you while they are in your home - stay in a different part of your property wherever possible.

We speak with our repairs staff every day to make sure they are feeling well and to check that no one in their household is showing symptoms of coronavirus. We will not send anyone to your home if they are showing symptoms or if someone they live with is unwell. They will self-isolate in line with government guidance.

Compliancy checks

Our top priority is to keep you safe. We are following Public Health England guidelines on the coronavirus and making sure that we keep our residents and our staff safe when we carry out works. We’re also required as your landlord to carry out compliancy checks in your home to ensure the safety of your property.

An example of these checks include gas safety checks which must be completed every 12 months and electrical testing. We also complete fire safety checks and essential property safety inspections on a regular basis.

We are continuing to complete these to protect resident safety. It is really important that you allow our operatives access to your home to complete these checks, so that we can make sure it’s safe for you and the people living with you.

When our operatives arrive at your home and dependent on the nature of the works, they will assess the situation and use their judgement to decide if PPE is necessary.

They will also be wearing their Phoenix ID card.

Electrical safety checks will be completed by our subcontractor Crystal Electronics. They are following all government and Public Health England guidelines and their operatives will follow the same steps as our PRS staff to protect you and your family. Crystal's staff will also wear an ID card. If you wish to verify the identity of anyone who arrives at your home on behalf of Phoenix, please call 0800 0285 700.

Caretaking and estate services

Our caretaking and estate services teams remain at work and are working hard to keep communal areas clean and tidy to help reduce the spread of coronavirus.

Please support our caretaking teams by avoiding unnecesary contact with hard services in communal areas. We are paying particular attention to door handles, hand rails, door entry systems and lifts. Avoid using the lifts in your block unless you need them, this will help us to keep these spaces clean.

Play areas are currently closed. This is because viruses can live for up to three days on metal surfaces.

Lettings

We have offered a lettings service throughout the coronavirus crisis and have adapted this process to observe social distancing and other public health advice.

Lewisham Council will be resuming their choice-based lettings scheme HomeSearch from Monday 29 June and households on the list will be able to bid online for properties between 2 and 5 July.

More information is available on the HomeSearch website.  

Help for home owners

We understand that many residents will have financial concerns or challenges as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. We are here to help. It’s really important you keep paying your service charges. If you can’t, there is support available to help. We can help you claim additional income and put payment plans in place - please contact us for help.

Any home owner affected by coronavirus can apply for a three-month “mortgage holiday.” This means you can delay making payments for three months and missed payments can be added onto future payments or the mortgage term lengthened. Please remember that you will have to pay this money eventually. You need to contact your mortgage provider as soon as possible to set this up.

More support available

  • Universal Credit: If your income is low - for whatever reason - and you have less than £16,000 in savings, you may be eligible to claim Universal Credit or support with paying your council tax. Get in touch to discuss your options.
  • If you're worried about paying your day-to-day or major works service charges, there is support available. You can download a document explaining how we can support you with different elements of your bills. Please take a look through it and contact us to discuss how we can help.

For our suppliers

We are continuing to pay our suppliers as normal. Please send invoices by email wherever possible. We have a good level of liquidity to be able to manage the current crisis.

How you can help

Thank you - as a community, we will come through this together.

Lewisham Local, along with Lewisham Council, Age UK and Voluntary Services Lewisham is coordinating volunteering efforts in the borough. You can find out more about how you might be able to help on Lewisham Local's website.

If you would like to make a donation to the Whitefoot and Downham Community Foodbank Plus, a very important cause for our area, you can do so online here.