It has been a year since the country first went into lockdown and I don’t think any of us realised the impact the virus would have on us all over the last twelve months.
The country is starting to slowly ease out of lockdown and I want to let you know what our plans are as this shift continues.
I also want to remind you of the range of support we have available for you to help you through what continues to be a difficult time.
When the government first locked down the country in March 2020 we followed their guidelines, closed our offices and moved much of our workforce to their homes, where most of them are still working hard today.
I appreciate that this has caused some inconvenience, for which I am sorry. Luckily our careful approach has meant that we have had very few cases of COVID-19 and done our bit to prevent the spread of the virus.
As we begin to come out of this unusual period, I want to give thanks to our staff for their resilience in meeting new challenges head on. I also want to thank you for keeping your communities safe, showing kindness and being patient when we haven’t been able to offer you the service we would want to.
Now is the time to look forward. We are thankful that over 30 million people have received their first COVID-19 vaccine and the government has provided a roadmap to recovery. This should allow us to return to a more normal way of life in the coming months.
However, whilst most people are tired of this situation and are understandably keen to get back to normal, the virus will be with us for some time and we must continue to be cautious.
That means that Connect will continue to follow government guidelines meaning it will take a few more months before our services are operating normally again.
Although our offices are closed, our call-answering team is working hard to take your calls and respond to your queries. Our community housing officers have been handling your reports of anti-social behavior and continue to work with your neighbours to support you remotely.
Our support services, including Money Matters which many of you find so helpful, have been working harder than ever to give practical support and benefits advice. For the time being, to avoid unnecessary face to face contact, these services will continue in the same way.
If the government roadmap goes to plan you will see more Connect faces in your area as restrictions are lifted, with hope they can be ended on 21 June.
The main change you will notice is to our repairs service. Even in the strictest of the lockdowns, our repairs technicians have been out and about attending your emergencies, fixing your urgent problems and cleaning your communal areas in a COVID-safe way. However, due to the restrictions since Christmas, we have a developed a backlog of non-emergency repairs. On 29 March, we were pleased to be able to resume all repairs and are working through them as quickly as we can. As a result, if you call us with a repair, it might take us longer than usual to get to you. We ask you to please bear with us as it will take a bit of time to catch up.
This year we’ve learned that we can offer great support over the phone and online. If you are currently experiencing financial difficulties, either due to COVID or other reasons, please get in touch with our Money Matters team here.
As we approach stage two of the government’s roadmap to recovery we are delighted we can now meet outside with friends and family. I hope you find the time to meet safely with others and start to look forward to positive times ahead.
Please stay safe.