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Following the government’s announcement on 23 March introducing strict social distancing measures, we have taken additional steps to help and support our 22,000 tenants and the wider community.

We have contacted all 3500 of our tenants aged 70 or over and who live alone, with the offer of support to ensure they have access to essential food and services. A total of 259 referrals for support were made following these conversations, including to the City of Wolverhampton Council’s Food Distribution Hub at Aldersley Leisure Centre.

Working in conjunction with the council and Wolverhampton Voluntary Sector Council, we're also coordinating the provision of food parcels to vulnerable members of the wider community. Our staff volunteers, supported by volunteers from our partners and community volunteers, are shopping for and delivering essential goods to local residents who are ‘shielding’ and unable to safely leave their home.  

We have also seen a significant increase in referrals to our telephone Befriending Service. The service, which has been running for four years, provides weekly phone calls to elderly and isolated residents from trained volunteers.

Darren Baggs, Assistant Director for Housing said:

We recognise that isolation and loneliness is a national issue amongst some of our communities, including older people who live alone and those with medical conditions that prevent them from getting out on their own.

Due to the Covid-19 outbreak and the consequent restrictions imposed by government, our communities across the city need our support more than ever. Our focus now is ensuring vulnerable tenants have access to essentials and access to support during this period of lockdown.

We have also seen a dramatic increase in people needing financial assistance. Money Smart, our in-house money advice team, received more than three times the average number of referrals during the month of March, with numbers continuing to increase throughout April.

Darren Baggs added:

We understand that many of our tenants and leaseholders have been affected financially by this crisis. Our focus right now is helping them to make their applications for Universal Credit and any other benefits or government grants they may be entitled to, and to provide reassurances regarding their housing situation.

We are working closely with partner organisations to boost funding to local support services to keep up with the increased demand.

Though we have closed our public offices, we have maintained our 24/7 telephone and Telecare service and other key front-line services, including emergency repairs, high-rise fire safety inspections and provision to support those who are homeless.

We have moved those who were in temporary accommodation at the time of the Prime Minister’s announcement on 23 March, onto more suitable, longer-term housing. Working in conjunction with the council and key partners in the city, we continue to provide emergency accommodation to people who find themselves homeless at this difficult time.

Councillor Jacqueline Sweetman, Cabinet Member for City Assets & Housing said:

This is an unprecedented situation for Wolverhampton and indeed the nation. As a City, we are having to make adjustments in our personal lives and many of us have seen changes to our financial circumstances.

Quality housing services are key to us living healthy and happy lives, and with people spending more time than ever at home, this has never been more true.

I would like to thank Wolverhampton Homes for the way in which it has risen to the challenge of supporting local people at this time of crisis, demonstrating that social housing is about far more than just bricks and mortar. It’s about also developing communities and ensuring personal and financial wellbeing.

I encourage everyone to abide by government guidance and stay safe during this period of lockdown.

All changes to our services can be found on our website here: www.whomes.org.uk/coronavirus.  

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