14 September is We Care day! This Placeshapers campaign is about celebrating the great work that housing associations do. It highlights the difference we make to our customers and to the places in which they live!
As well as providing homes that are safe and well looked after, we look after the people living in our homes and communities. We work with them and our partners to make sure we provide the services and support that’s needed.
From help finding a new job or training opportunity, to money and benefit advice, and support to get online, our teams offer a range of services that support our customers wellbeing and help them on their way to a bright future.
So, to mark #WeCare day, here’s a look at some of the ways our fantastic staff have supported customers recently.
When Ray asked Lynn, one of our older persons' support workers to provide a bit of support with his benefits and bills, he didn’t realise the difference she’d make…
Lynn said: “I visited Ray to provide some support with his bills and noticed that he was paying over £80 a month for his water bill – which is extremely high. I phoned the water company to sign Ray up to the single person discount but learned that this was already applied to his bill.
“I was told that Ray's bill was high because he was in arrears. But when I asked the water company to check the arrears total, they realised he was over £2,000 in credit! Ray had continued to pay too much after he’d paid off his arrears months ago!
“I arranged for a cheque to be sent to Ray and helped him to arrange new bill payments for the correct amount.”
Ray said: “I was shocked and so happy, and I can’t thank Lynn enough! I couldn’t believe how much money I had overpaid – I would never have realised if I hadn’t had Lynn’s support. I’d certainly encourage others to make the most of the money advice provided through VIVID, even if it’s just to give you peace of mind that you’re paying the right amount on your bills.”
A couple’s wellbeing has been turned around through help with tackling their rent arrears and hoarding. One of our Tenancy Support Advisors, Michelle, tells the story of how the couple from Eastleigh in Hampshire have transformed their lives.
“It was evident on my first visit, that the couple had a serious hoarding problem. They weren’t claiming any benefits and were struggling to live off their daughter’s wage. With help they made a backdated claim for Housing Benefit and Employment Support Allowance, which totalled £4,500 – enough to pay off their £4,000 rent arrears.
“Together we then started clearing items from their home to tackle the hoarding – a bit at a time. Each week they completed certain tasks to clear small areas before my next visit. During one visit, I found some pension paperwork that showed that the couple hadn’t claimed their private pension. I chased this up and secured a payment of £22,000 for them.
“Over the space of a couple of months, the positive difference in the home and wellbeing of the whole family was incredible. When I started providing support, the fire service had flagged the property due to hoarding, but after a couple of months they’d lifted it.
“For me, the best outcome, was the difference that you could see in the couple. They said it’s given them a new lease of life. They’re even planning to decorate the property - something that wouldn’t have been possible before. The whole family is so much happier and they’ve continued to clear their home and make improvements without any further support, which is great to see.”
Donald’s on his way to becoming an online whiz thanks to support from our Digital Inclusion Officer and Digital volunteers.
After taking out a contract with a broadband and telephone provider from a cold call, Donald was having ongoing issues. His internet was patchy, he frequently lost his landline and he was unable to connect his tablet to the wi-fi.
Luckily he was signposted to Dave, his local VIVID digital mentor volunteer, who supported Donald to connect to the library wi-fi and browse the internet to look for things of interest. However, when it came to practice at home he had difficulties with his service provider, which continued until Cleon, our Digital Inclusion Officer, stepped in.
Cleon visited Donald and helped him to connect his tablet to the wi-fi. She also helped him to switch to new provider that offered better services at a lower cost and showed him how he can check his rent and repairs on the VIVID website.
Donald said: “Dave’s great at helping me to develop my digital skills – he always starts at my level, explaining things clearly and at my pace and it’s really helping to build my confidence. Now Cleon’s helped me to get a better internet connection, I can practice my skills at home.
“In the future, I want to be able to use email and Skype, as most of my family and friends live far away - I have a nephew in China who I’d love to catch up with! I also want to use the internet to find out information about things I hear on the radio – they’re always saying ‘visit our website’ or ‘go to www dot’.
“If you’re in the same situation as me – I’d really encourage you to take advantage of the support available from VIVID. I’ve really struck up a rapport with Dave, and he is really helping me and I’m sure he’d help you too!”
We have volunteers who can help with digital skills in Andover, Aldershot and Farnborough libraries and in the Discovery Centres at Basingstoke and Winchester. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch.