Covid- 19: Important information to residents
In our last post we said that the Covid-19 represents a severe threat to us as a community. It has definitely been very hard and has had serious and in some cases tragic consequences.
However, your response has also been extraordinary and we are extremely proud of how we all have responded to the crisis and been able to support ourselves. We have heard of numerous examples of people knocking on their neighbours’ doors and saying ‘let us know if you need any help’. Many people have talked to me about how good it has been to get to know their neighbours, and the new friendships that have arisen. Neighbours with different life experiences who were leading separate lives have started talking to each other. The crisis has definitely brought people together.
JMB community support network
At the start of the crisis the JMB set up a community support network to allow us to provide structured support to our residents. The work of the community support network has allowed us to provide many of the support services described below. We are still looking for more residents that want to help out.
We are very clear we are not providing charity, but this is a community supporting itself. For instance we helped one resident whilst he was suffering from Covid-19 and as soon as he was better joined the community support network to say thank you.
We realise that many of the serious challenges faced by some of our residents are longer term than Covid-19 and we are looking at how we can build upon the community support network that has developed in the past nine weeks.
If you would like to join us please contact our community support network coordinators Darrell Donaldson: Darrell.firstname.lastname@example.org or Charlotte Parsons: email@example.com. They can also be contacted during normal office hours on 020 7450 8000.
Here to help
The key message from the JMB is we here to help, please contact us by phoning 020 7450 8000 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
The JMB is striving to keep our service as normal as possible, with some exceptions. We have closed our reception desk and have had to reduce the number of staff physically in the office and have some staff working from home, to comply with government guidance. However, on days when a particular staff member is working at home they can still be contacted via email or the office phone (during normal office opening times). Your first point of contact is the Resident Services Officer for your estate. If you are not sure who your officer is you can phone the office on 020 7450 8000 or email email@example.com leaving your name and address.
The repairs team are back to full strength after lockdown rules were eased. They are able to work on the estates but are still only able to do essential internal repairs to reduce the risk of the virus spreading. Please keep reporting non-essential work to us and we will do the works when it is safer to work in people’s homes.
For essential repairs we will:
- Check nobody in your home has Covid-19 symptoms when booking the repair.
- Check on the day nobody has developed symptoms.
- The operative will use hand sanitiser and appropriate PPE.
You will need to stay in a different room whilst works are done.
The Government is saying that mandatory gas safety checks for secure tenants should continue to take place, because of the risk of a faulty gas appliance causing problems.
Estates cleaning & gardening
Like our repair team our cleaning team returned to full strength last Tuesday. As well as normal activities we are disinfecting places that residents touch regularly e.g. door entry panels and staircase rails. The gardener is also back to full time, but we are currently recruiting to a vacancy so there is a backlog of grounds maintenance.
Struggling with rent or service charges
For secure tenants and leaseholders whose income has remained constant and non-resident leaseholders the requirement to pay charges remains unchanged. However, if you are a secure tenant or a resident leaseholder and your income has dropped significantly please talk to us. We can help:
- By providing advice on government support schemes.
- By getting you specialist advice from Southwark Law Centre. This is important if you have a complex benefit query or you are a resident leaseholder who needs help paying your mortgage.
- By agreeing a repayment plan that takes account of your current circumstances.
Our general advice is that if you are struggling, claim Universal Credit now, even if you think that you are entitled to other government support later on. However, if you are already on housing benefit or tax credits please talk to us first. We are hearing about new Universal Credit claims stopping tenants’ housing benefit and tax credits in certain circumstance. If you do want to claim here is the link: https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit
Keep checking your Universal Credit journal and your phone, if you do not reply to contacts made by Job Centre staff they will cancel your claim.
Southwark Council has received extra funding to support people facing hardship. If you are experiencing financial hardship and/ or are having difficulty applying for benefits you can refer yourself to the Local Support Team on 020 7525 2434 https://www.southwark.gov.uk/benefits-and-support/hardship-fund.
Paying your rent
If you can’t get out to pay at your local shops you can phone Allpay directly (premium cost) 0844 557 8221 or pay online www.allpayments.net/ quoting your Allpay card number. If you need help online, contact us and a volunteer will help.
Gas and electricity key meters
Similarly, if you can’t get to the shops to top-up your card contact your supplier and explain and they should issue a temporary credit on your account, or contact us and a volunteer will help.
Support for JMB Residents
The support programme we are operating is about residents supporting residents, and is very much in line with the JMB’s philosophy of empowering people to make a positive difference to their community. Some residents are both giving and receiving support.
Thanks to the work of our community activists and staff we are able to offer the following support to all JMB residents; regardless of whether you are a secure tenant, resident leaseholder or private tenants of non-resident leaseholder.
If you are facing challenges you do not need to face them alone, contact either Darrell or Charlotte named earlier, or Rosemary Aware firstname.lastname@example.org
Need urgent practical help
The JMB has established a staff and community network to support residents, who are ill or need to self-isolate, without family and friends close-by to help out. We can help with the collection of basic shopping (from local shops) and offer telephone support and reassurance. Also, we are aware that some of you will need to use the internet for activities that you used to do in person, such as shopping and paying the rent, we can help with telephone coaching.
Our community support network is able to offer food to residents who may not be able to get to the shops or afford healthy meals. We can add more people to this programme, so contact us if you need help. Examples of how we have been able to help so far include:
- Every Monday we distribute vegetable curries provided by the Food for All charity.
- Every Thursday we distribute meals prepared by the Jose Pizarro restaurant.
- Every Saturday we distribute chicken dinners, working with the Fast58 charity.
- By working with the London Bridge Mutual Aid group we are able to provide hot meals every day to residents who would otherwise go without.
- We have distributed 75 Southwark Council food boxes, although we do not know if we will get more.
- Neil Coyle’s office has provided us with food parcels of essential items and will provide more.
We have received two small grants from Southwark Council and Southwark Community Response, which allows us to offer emergency financial support to the residents in most need. It is worth talking to your Resident Services Officer if you are in urgent need of support. However, as you can imagine the requirement for support is greater than the money we have.
A donation by the Red Box Project has allowed us to distribute sanitary towels to girls and women who need them. If you need these products please contact: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
Need someone to talk to?
Lockdown and being physically separated from loved ones is hard for all of us. If you need someone to talk to our staff and community support network can help. If you need more specialist support the following projects operate in our area:
This Listening Place 020 3906 7676. Anyone who, for whatever reason, feels life is no longer worth living can find a place with a warm and open listener who will give them time. Operates 9am – 9pm.
The Samaritans Freephone number 116 123 is available 24 hours a day. Alternatively email email@example.com for a response within 24 hours. If you need someone to talk to, Samaritans listen. They won’t judge or tell you what to do.
The Mix 0808 808 4994. Essential confidential support for under 25s www.themix.org.uk/get-support. Operates 4pm-11pm every day.
South London and Maudsley Crisis support 0800 731 2864. SLaM provides NHS care and treatment for people with mental health conditions.
Parents Helpline 0808 802 5544. Helpline for parents/carers worried about their child’s mental health. Operates Monday – Friday 9.30am – 4pm, free for mobiles and landlines.
Narcotics Anonymous 0300 1212 for addiction support. Operates 10am – midnight, everyday.
Domestic and sexual abuse
If you are worried for your own or a neighbour’s safety please contact the police, the JMB or Solace Women’s Aid on 020 7593 1290 (who support both women and men). No one should ever have to suffer from domestic or sexual abuse and help is available for those who need it.
The JMB has suspended parking controls in designated parking spaces only. The JMB will still take enforcement action against people parking in undesignated spaces like grass verges or on the pavement, particularly if the car is blocking access for the emergency services or refuse vehicles. We have suspended permit parking because our current permit application process requires residents to leave home and visit the office twice which is an unnecessary risk.
MP and Councillor support
Your democratic representatives are available for you to talk to about what is happening and changes that are needed.
Your local MP Neil Coyle would like to know your thoughts, so that he can raise the issues that affect us in Parliament. He can provide specific advice on issues such as benefits, social care and immigration status. He can be contacted on 020 7219 650 or neil.coyle.MP@parliament.uk
If you live within the Bermondsey Street; Kipling; or Crosby, Lockyer and Hamilton residents association areas your ward councillors have been working with both the JMB and local Mutual Aid Group, London Bridge Community, to distribute hot meals, buy shopping and medicines, and fast track support from Southwark Council where needed. They can be reached on Humaira.firstname.lastname@example.org or Damian.email@example.com or William.firstname.lastname@example.org.
The councillors would like to invite residents from the resident association areas above to a meeting on Zoom on Thursday 21st May, where they will be discussing non-Covid-19 items such as the public money available for community projects and discussing Covid-19 items such as advice and what next for our community. To take part please e-mail one of them ahead of the day and they will send you the Zoom link to sign up.
Alternatively if you live with the Decima Street and Lawson estate resident association areas you can raise the issues that affect you by contacting one of your three councillors email@example.com or sirajul.Islam@southwark.gov.uk or firstname.lastname@example.org
Looking to the future
Everyone has shown strength and been totally selfless in playing their part in containing the spread of the virus, especially those self-isolation, those shielding others and people supporting them.
We have shown excellent community spirit, have connected more neighbours and have built new friendships. We have shown endurance in protecting and supporting those around us.
We have definitely become stronger as a community. What we have done to support each other is incredible and we should be very proud of what we have achieved. We are really keen that we keep the formal and informal support networks going, because we will still face serious challenges even after Covid-19 is over. Finally, when we return to some form of normality we definitely owe ourselves a big community celebration to recognise the support that we have provided to each other!