We have published a Spring 2020 edition of our Cairn Focus newsletter which sets out many of the key changes to our services and support available to those affected by coronavirus.
Frequently asked questions
To keep our staff and tenants safe we have made a range of changes to our services:
- We are only carrying out emergency repairs and emergency gas repairs. Any non-emergency repairs reported will be logged and we hope to be able to schedule those as soon as possible when rules around the lockdown are relaxed
- Our Care & Repair and Handyperson services in the Highlands are only completing emergency works
- All new build contractors are off site and works postponed
- All planned maintenance works are now on hold
- All communal lounges and guest rooms at our sheltered and retirement courts are closed. Communal laundries are still open, but we have encouraged tenants there to be mindful of social distancing measures
- We have asked that only essential visitors enter our sheltered and retirement courts. Essential visitors include postal workers, carers and support staff, or families delivering food or medication. Social visits are not classed as essential
- Where possible we have increased the level of cleaning being carried out in our courts, particularly around touch points. In response to tenant feedback, Cairn will cover the costs of all additional cleaning provided at our sheltered and retirement courts. We will review these arrangements again on 1st June 2020.
- We have stopped letting empty homes. There may be some instances where we work with local authorities to provide homes where there is an urgent need – UPDATE 19 May 2020 – In line with Scottish Government guidance we are now starting to reintroduce lettings and void works.
- We have reinstated a slightly reduced grounds maintenance service to our communities, with a focus on maintaining safe access to tenants, residents, staff and our contractors. This service includes a full reinstatement of grass cutting services. Any reduction in grounds maintenance services will be reflected in future service charges applied from 1st April 2021
- Our contact centre now opens at 9.30am each weekday and closes at 3.30pm. We have staff available to answer webchats, emails and enquiries through My Cairn, until 5pm Monday to Thursday and until 4.30pm on Fridays
- We are carrying out welfare checks for our most vulnerable tenants
- Gas safety checks will continue in line with government social distancing guidance, and this will be updated if the guidance changes
- We have relaxed some of the criteria for our Community Fund to provide additional support to grassroots groups that are providing support to tenants and services in our communities
We have reduced the time our Cairn Connect contact centre team take calls to 9.30am to 3.30pm Monday to Friday. We have staff available to answer webchats, emails, and enquiries through My Cairn, until 5pm Monday to Thursday and until 4.30pm on Fridays. Our offices are now closed, with staff working from home. For more information visit our Contact Us page.
- Our offices in Inverness, Bellshill and Edinburgh (and the ANCHO office in Irvine) are closed and all office-based staff are working from home
- We have sought clarity on which of our staff should leave their homes to carry out essential work, and our definition at present is: staff providing essential services at our sheltered and retirement courts, all staff at our extra care housing in Edinburgh, staff who carry out emergency repairs, and Care & Repair staff.
- We have been trying to source personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff who need them, however this has proved challenging due to the global shortage. We have given staff training to make sure they are following the correct health and safety procedures while at work
- We have updated our policies and procedures regarding staff absences to support those who are unwell or looking after children or other dependents
- When you report repairs, we are asking if you are self-isolating or quarantined. We are passing this information to our teams or contractors for their safety
- We are looking at roles and responsibilities of all staff. Some staff are being redeployed to assist with other duties, including cleaning in our courts or welfare calls to tenants
- Our services may be further impacted by staff absences or government guidance
As a not-for-profit charity and housing association, rent is our primary source of income. It enables us to pay for the services we provide. It goes towards vital repairs and improvements, not only for your home, but for other homes across Scotland. It’s important that tenants continue to pay their rent.
We understand that this is a worrying time for many of our tenants and that some of you may have lost your jobs or are working reduced hours. Our Tenancy Sustainment team are here to support you and if you have any concerns about your ability to pay your rent, please contact them as soon as possible. The earlier we know, the sooner we can help. Our team can talk you through your situation and the options available to you, including access to benefits and other support available.
Those concerned about paying their rent can claim Universal Credit from the Department for Work and Pensions which includes support for housing costs, if eligible. The UK Government has introduced some temporary changes to make this easier.
The UK Government has announced a range of benefits and support for employees, the self-employed and business owners. Please visit the Citizens Advice website for a comprehensive guide to the support available and links to additional information. Please visit the www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk website for information about the changes the government has brought in to support people who are already claiming benefits, need to claim benefits, or are at risk of losing their job as a result of coronavirus. We are committed to ensuring that we provide advice and support to anyone who finds themselves in financial hardship as a result of the pandemic.
We will work with you to find an arrangement that you can manage. When the current crisis eases, we can review this arrangement and agree a way for the arrears to be cleared over a longer period of time than we’d usually agree to.
You can find out how you can pay your rent here.
Please contact us if you need to speak with our Tenancy Sustainment Team who can provide specialist advice and assistance.
Did you know that if you have children at school who qualify for free school meals, your local authority are now providing an alternative arrangement? Check with your local authority to find out the details as eligibility and schemes vary across the country.
Ready Scotland have a list of additional support you can access if you need extra help just now. This includes help for older people, pregnant women, parents, those with a disability, those in need of financial advice, those with dementia, anyone experiencing domestic violence, including loads more. You can find their list of organisations here.
The Scottish Government has opened a national helpline for people at high risk of coronavirus. The service offers help to those who do not have family or existing community support and cannot get online and who are over 70, disabled, require the support of mental health services, are pregnant or receive a flu jab for health reasons. The helpline – 0800 111 4000 – will initially operate from 09:00 to 17:00 while plans are developed to extend it to operate for a longer period each day.
Callers will be connected to their local authority who will support them to access the service they need, such as:
- essential food and medication
- links to local social work services for vulnerable children and adults
- emotional support
- contact with local volunteer groups
If you are affected by coronavirus or its effect on the economy, there is a wide range of support available.
The Government has published a guide on the www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk website that provides information about the changes the Government has brought in to support people who are already claiming benefits, need to claim benefits, or are at risk of losing their job as a result of coronavirus.
Please note that you should not attend the jobcentre unless directed to do so for an exceptional purpose.
Currently, the government are encouraging everyone to stay at home
- Only go outside for food, health reasons or work (but only if you cannot work from home)
- If you go out, stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people at all times
- Wash your hands as soon as you get home
- Do not meet others, even friends or family
- You can spread the virus even if you don’t have symptoms.
Please check www.gov.uk/coronavirus for up to date government guidance. Please check the Citizens Advice website for a comprehensive guide to coronavirus, social distancing measures and the support available to those in need.
We have been overwhelmed by the way in which people have rallied round to support the most vulnerable in our communities. In response to the coronavirus crisis, we have relaxed our funding criteria to support grassroots and community projects which aim to support those affected. Projects that we could support might include food banks, meals services for vulnerable people, shopping services or befriending services. If you have a project or service which is meeting the needs of vulnerable people at this time, please get in touch.
Please visit our Cairn Community Fund page for more information, or get in touch with Neil Golightly, Business Services Manager, for an informal chat about your project.
This may seem incredibly obvious, but there are many spots on our hands that are missed when we wash our hands, including our thumbs and our wrists.