Connecting with you
Welcome to the second edition of our new customer online magazine. We are excited to share with you the latest news and updates from LiveWest. We have created our new magazine because our customers told us they would like more updates about the work we are doing across our communities.
Click on a heading below or scroll through the page to read the updates.
Please note that some images on this page were taken before Covid-19 social distancing was introduced.
Delcie, 91, turns to tech to ease loneliness during lockdown
Delcie is the life and soul of social activities we have arranged at Devonport Views, our extra care housing scheme in the heart of Plymouth.
Click read more to find out how Delcie has been harnessing the power of technology to ease loneliness during lockdown and how you could too, by accessing a digital skills course.
With communal areas forced to close over the past eight months, it has led to some older people struggling to speak to their loved ones.
Yet Delcie was determined to keep in touch with friends and family using her iPad.
And thanks to some guidance from our colleagues, Delcie has now become a whizz at using Skype to hold daily catch-ups with those closest to her.
She said: “It's really sad that we can’t be together at the moment, it's difficult for everyone.
“I am 91 now and I never thought I would experience anything like this.
“Before lockdown, LiveWest did some training here to help us with using technology.
“It helped me to get to grips with my iPad and I use it all the time now.
“It means I can keep in touch with my daughter-in-law in Spain, my sister and I also speak to my niece in Gloucester. I use Skype to contact people every day as it gives me some company.
“It really is my lifeline as without it I wouldn’t be able to keep in touch with anyone.
Delcie, who is a talented pianist living at Devonport Views, added: “I love it here. Mark Badham (our Activities Coordinator) is just amazing.
Mark Badham said: “I have known Delcie for five years. She is such a character and an absolute star.
“For the last three years, we have been supporting the residents to use technology and Delcie was always at the front of the line to give things a go. She is a true inspiration.”
We are excited to be partnering with Good Things Foundation and Openreach to launch free online courses for customers to help get more people online and develop their digital skills.
The courses will cover things like health and wellbeing online, understanding Universal Credit, online shopping, employability and online safety and online banking.
The new digital skills programme is available for up to 75 customers. Please contact Yvonne Harding, our Community Training and Employment Development Worker, on 0787 0372819 or email Yvonne.email@example.com for an initial conversation.
A day in the life of our Tenancy Sustainment Officer, Greg
My name is Greg and I am a Tenancy Sustainment Officer for LiveWest. We have a strong team of 21 colleagues working hard to achieve great outcomes for our customers who may be struggling to sustain their tenancy for a variety of reasons. Find out about my day below!
My name is Greg and I am a Tenancy Sustainment Officer for LiveWest. We have a strong team of 21 colleagues working hard to achieve great outcomes for our customers who may be struggling to sustain their tenancy for a variety of reasons. We provide short-term interventions, signpost and refer to other services so customers can access the support they need to stabilise their situation.
I usually visit a couple of customers a day but since lockdown I have been working from home supporting people over the phone and only visiting when absolutely necessary.
Here is a flavour of my day as a Tenancy Sustainment Officer.
8am – I start a referral for debt management support for a customer who has sadly had two sons pass away from Huntingdon’s and he lost his wife in August. His wife used to deal with all the finances and he now has £1,000 in arrears. I have referred him to Homemaker South West to look at multiple debts and income maximisation. I have helped him set up his own bank account and supporting him to apply for Discretional Housing Payment to clear the arrears. I also link up with his GP as he is not sleeping well.
9.30am – I get in contact with a customer who had his flat destroyed by fire yesterday due to a faulty tumble drier. We had found a hotel for the customer, but we worked out that he would need £300 for clothes and other essentials as everything was destroyed in the flat. So I processed a LiveWest crisis and hardship grant for £300. The customer only had £58 Universal Credit left so I advised him to request an advance of his UC urgently. I also checked that the customer was familiar with the food bank and would be able to access their service over the coming weeks. I opened a Tenancy Sustainment support case as he is likely to need ongoing support though the crisis. The customer had no contents insurance.
11am – I contacted a customer who was identified as needing support to use LiveWest compensation money to buy replacement furniture. There had been a leak in the upstairs flat which brought down all her ceilings and she had been moved to a hotel while the works were carried out. The customer is registered blind and we agreed that a referral to adult social care for a Care Act assessment would be the best way forward to help her get the support she needed. We discussed the process, criteria and financial assessment in order to make the referral.
12.30pm - I phoned a customer to let him know the delivery time for the bed I had ordered for him. The customer is 73 and was living in temporary housing under the Homeless Team at South Hams Council due to a relationship ending. He had been offered a flat in a nice sheltered scheme which was unfurnished, so I had previously contacted a charity who offered him some second-hand furniture. I also applied for a crisis and hardship grant so that he could get access to a bed, a fridge-freezer and an oven.
I signposted him to Pay Weekly Carpets for him to arrange for them to measure up before he got the keys. I also organised for him to have two extra nights in temporary accommodation so that the carpets could be fitted, and bed and oven and fridge delivered.
When it came to the day that his bed was being delivered, the customer said he wasn’t feeling very well and was not going to move that day. South Hams Council contacted him and made it clear that this temporary accommodation was ending that day and he had to leave.
In the meantime, I rushed over to the new address to take delivery of the bed and called the customer who made his way by taxi. When he arrived, all he had on him was a toothbrush, a bar of soap and a toilet roll, so I did an emergency shop for him to buy essentials such as a kettle, crockery, cutlery, bedding, towel and a bathmat. The shop took up the remainder of the afternoon. Best laid plans.
LiveWest homes used to train new police dog recruits!
Police sniffer dogs and their handlers are getting experiences of house searches thanks to LiveWest. Our empty homes are being used for training in-between residents. Click read more to find out more.
The specialist dogs get used to the environment they will be working in once they have passed their final assessments. It is crucial for new canine recruits to train in homes that are full of human scent as in a real-life scenario, so LiveWest have volunteered its void properties which have just been handed over to become training stations before they are cleaned and new residents move in.
As a responsible landlord, LiveWest work closely with the police to support work on ASB. This new initiative helps tackle a wider issue of drugs and substance misuse. Through partnerships likes this, we want our residents to feel more secure in their communities knowing that we continue to work closely with the police to keep our communities safe.
Our aim is to create more cohesive communities and promote positive neighbourly behaviours. During the Covid-19 pandemic we have been increasingly working in partnership with the police and local authorities who lead on community safety and have continued to attend multi-agency ASB meetings. Our teams have been working with partners to help keep our communities safe and ensure they are great places to live. We come up with solutions to tackle the increase in ASB cases and are taking part in a welfare call initiative with customers to provide invaluable support to our vulnerable customers. Here’s some advice on reporting ASB in your community.
Did you know that LiveWest has a new procedure on pets?
We appreciate that pets bring so much love and joy to families in our homes, and our Neighbourhood team has introduced a new ‘pets champion’ role linking to our new pets procedure which promotes responsible pet ownership. Chat to your housing officer about your pet queries, or register a pet here.
Win an Christmas hamper by joining our environmental competition
Since March we've provided £200,000 in grants
Since the first lockdown we have issued more than 1,000 crisis and hardship grants and around £200,000 to those most in need. Read about how we helped resident Carly Green with financial assistance to help her through university.
Our grants programme is designed to help people get back on their feet, pursue their dreams and realise their potential.
When we heard about Carly's need for some financial assistance to help her through university, we were only too pleased to help.
Carly Green, of Bishopsteignton, South Devon, secured a place at university to embark on a law degree in September 2018.
Her family were not in a position to help her financially and she faced some challenges over how she was going to be able to fund her studies.
As well as being thrown into a world of rent, bill and groceries, Carly needed to find vast amounts of money for textbooks and equipment to support her learning.
The mounting pressure meant Carly almost quit university in her first year as she found it increasingly difficult to keep pace with the financial demands.
That was until we stepped in with some support which helped to get her back on track.
Our first offer of support saw some funding to allow Carly to purchase a new laptop which she described as a ‘lifeline’.
Carly, 20, said: “In the first year, after a very rocky start where I almost gave up, I managed to find my feet and finished the year with some positive results.
“I can honestly say that without LiveWest’s assistance in buying a personal laptop, I would not have achieved these marks.
“That funding was an absolute lifeline for me.”
Tim Wotton, Grants Manager for LiveWest, said: “Carly is a real inspiration and great example of how our grants can give a little bit of help during this difficult time.
“We’re so happy to be able to help Carly and hundreds of other families through our crisis and hardship grants.”
Do you want to help shape our services?
If you are keen to help shape our services and review our performance, we would love to hear from you.
We are an early adopter of ‘Together with Tenants’ which is a national initiative designed to strengthen the relationship between customers and housing association landlords.
The idea is that you can help identify where improvement is required and play a key role in making changes that will benefit whole communities as well as individuals.
Following the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy in 2017, the National Housing Federation launched Together with Tenants which developed a four-point plan and a new charter that set out in clear terms what customers should expect from their landlord.
By signing the charter, it means we have made six commitments to you – be respectful, communicate clearly, listen to customers’ views, be more accountable to our customers, provide safe homes and resolve issues and complaints.
As an early supporter, we have been working with customers to test out the charter and are sharing what we’ve learnt.
Now we are hoping to work with more customers to help continue this momentum.
LiveWest’s Executive Director of Neighbourhoods and Customer Services, Suzanne Brown, said: “It’s important that customers have the opportunity to contribute their views on our services and help to review our performance.
“With your help, we can constantly seek ways to improve and provide the best possible service to our customers.
“If you would like to help us, we would love to hear from you.”
To find out how you can get involved, please click here.
Nominate your community star
Individuals and groups in the heart of our communities have been going above and beyond to help others during lockdown.
The support and help provided is making a huge difference to people’s lives and we want to give recognition to those striving to make a difference in their local communities. Read more to find out how to nominate your community star for a prize!
We are keen to celebrate the unsung heroes of our neighbourhoods and communities, those that have risen to the challenge of supporting people.
The Coronavirus pandemic has brought into sharp focus the lengths people and groups have gone to in order to help their neighbourhoods.
We are proud of the positive things happening in our communities and we want to celebrate the steps being taken to improve our customers’ lives.
To run alongside our #LiveWestMakingADifference campaign, we are launching the LiveWest Community Stars awards which will recognise these extraordinary acts of kindness.
It could be someone volunteering at foodbanks, providing shopping and medical deliveries for the most vulnerable, people fundraising for community causes or other gestures of kindness.
It might be someone leading on a community project or initiative or someone who gives up their time to enhance the lives of people in our neighbourhoods.
Our Community Stars appeal is open to individuals or groups whose efforts have benefited our customers and communities.
It could be one of our own customers or someone who has supported our communities.
We will award our Community Star quarterly winners with a £50 Love2 Shop gift voucher, while recognising all nominations on our website.
We are asking our customers and colleagues to nominate their Community Stars and tell us in no more than 200 words why you think yourself or another person or group deserve a Community Star award.
Our Community Investment Manager, Leanda Flower, said: “The coronavirus pandemic is having a huge impact on everyday lives, with people having to change the way they live and work.
“We have been wowed by stories showing how our customers are going above and beyond to support each other during these exceptionally challenging times.
“Our #LiveWestMakingADifference campaign has already helped to celebrate some of the work of our special people and is showing that community spirit continues to thrive in the South West.
“It's truly inspiring to hear stories about how people across the region are helping their neighbours, friends, families and businesses, making such a big difference and bringing a smile to someone's face.
“We want to hear more of these stories, and we are encouraging people to nominate their community hero.”
We've completed a self-assessment on how we handle complaints
In July, the Housing Ombudsman published a new Complaint Handling Code. The code sets out good practice in complaint handling to ensure landlords respond fairly and quickly, take action to put things right and use feedback to make improvements to the way services are delivered.
To prepare for the introduction of the Complaint Handling Code, landlords are required to complete a self-assessment which involves assessing their current processes and identifying any areas that require development.
We have completed the self-assessment and wanted to share the outcome with you and let you know what we’re planning to do.
We are pleased to let you know that the way we manage and resolve complaints is in line with the Complaint Handling Code and best practice guidance issued by the Housing Ombudsman and no changes are required to our Complaints and Feedback policy.
While we do not need to make any major changes to the way we resolve complaints, we have identified two areas of focus for the next 12 months.
We will provide regular updates on the website about complaints including quarterly information on how we’re performing and how we’re using your feedback to improve services.
We are making a couple of changes to the way complaints are reported within LiveWest to meet new reporting requirements as defined by the Housing Ombudsman.
We are planning to regularly share complaint learning on the website, let you know the actions we are taking to reduce complaints and how we are using your feedback to improve the way we deliver services to you. We will also share the outcomes of any complaint investigations that are carried out by the Housing Ombudsman.
We want to deliver great customer service and receiving your feedback lets us know what we are doing well and what we are not doing so well. If you have any feedback on our services or would like to give us a compliment, please complete a feedback form.
Learn how to be more environmentally friendly
We've created an area to share best practice on how to be environmentally friendly in and around your home.
Working together to respect each other
Recent research by Channel 4 showed that customer facing staff working in the UK experience over 400 abuse incidents every day and rising.
We appreciate that these are tricky times for us all and we would like to remind you we are here to help you, please bear with us. We have completed over 20,000 welfare calls since the first Covid-19 lockdown in March and have answered over 110,000 calls and completed over 52, 500 responsive repairs.
Mutual respect is a core value for us at LiveWest. Our promise to you is that we will always treat you with respect. We need to make sure now more than ever we are supporting each other.
When we don’t get things right first time, we want to improve so please let us know. It is always nice to hear your experiences, please share your compliments or complaints with us here.
Want to be an estate services champion?
We are looking for Estate Services Champions and you can nominate yourself on our website here. Our Estate Services Champions work with us and give feedback on how our grounds maintenance, communal cleaning and communal fire alarm contractors are performing.
Our estate supervisors, cleaners and safety officers are out on the front line in our communal areas every day working hard to contribute to the safety of our residents. Since March an even more robust cleaning specification has been rolled out for all communal hallways to ensure all surfaces are cleaned and sanitised.
It doesn’t stop there; the team are busy working with housing officers and local councils. With people being at home more than usual, as you can expect they are having a good sort out which has a knock-on effect with our bin stores. The team has been met with the challenge of ensuring the bin stores are kept easily accessible with the increasing number of large items now found there, which is no easy feat.
Solve an issue
Use our property help tool to get quick answers to your problems.
Here to help this winter
We have put together some useful resources that may support you as we move into winter. Click read more to access the information.
Government Warm Home discount scheme
You could get £140 off your electricity bill for winter 2020 to 2021 under the Warm Home Discount Scheme.
The money is not paid to you - it’s a one-off discount on your electricity bill, between September and March. You may be able to get the discount on your gas bill instead if your supplier provides you with both gas and electricity. Contact your supplier to find out or for more information click here.
West Country Savings and Loans
LiveWest has been a longstanding partner of Westcountry Savings and Loans, a member owned, not-for-profit co-operative offering a truly local alternative to traditional banking and credit institutions.
Launched in 2004 we now have over 3,200 members and continue to grow strongly. Members' savings total £2.5m, of which £2.2m is out on loan in our local community.
They offer financial services to help members through responsible lending and financial education.
For more information click here.
The My Home Contents Insurance Scheme with Thistle Insurance
Have you considered insuring the contents of your home? The My Home Contents Insurance Scheme is a specialist insurance scheme provided by Thistle Tenant Risks.
The policy covers the contents and personal belongings for people in social housing against loss or damage from specific events (for example, fire, theft or escape of water).
If you are a resident who rents, then LiveWest may not cover your contents as part of the tenancy agreement. It’s a good idea to check the cover in place and consider what a home contents insurance policy would cover you for, in order to help you make an informed decision on whether you need one.
Christmas opening hours
Please find our Christmas opening hours in full on our website.
If you need an emergency repair on a date when we are closed, please consider whether it is a genuine emergency repair which affects your safety, security or health and if so please call us.
For Somerset and West of England: 01934 526 000
Devon and Cornwall: 0300 123 8080
We will aim to respond within 24 hours to make an emergency safe.
October 2020 performance report
Here at LiveWest we are always looking to improve the service we provide to our customers. We review our performance regularly.