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CEO update December 2020

Lynn Wassell CEO

Lynn Wassell 

Chief Executive Officer 

Dear Customers,

I am sending this letter to every one of our customers as we find ourselves nearly 9 months into the pandemic. All of our customers and their loved ones have experienced the challenges and difficulties of spending long periods at the highest level of lockdown restrictions. I am writing this on the day that roll out for the first vaccines in the UK has started and some 2 million households will move back into Tier 3. This starts to give us all hope for what is possible in 2021. 

In the meantime, we want to continue to listen and help and act upon your feedback and we’re doing our very best to do just that. 

The most important priority for me is to keep you safe and also to keep our team safe. I am aiming to do this whilst we are still delivering all our usual services up to and including during Tier 3 restrictions. If we return to Tier 4 at any point we are still delivering nearly all services with one or two small exceptions. There are also some things we cannot do at the moment by law. As well as complying with all Scottish Government Covid legislation and guidance, we are talking regularly to the Councils in our areas and to other Housing Associations to make sure we are sharing practices and learning.

I have posted service updates and CVHA has used our website to update customers about changes in services during the pandemic. We issued our usual Summer Newsletter and your Winter Newsletter will be arriving before Christmas.  We’ve also sent emails and texts including surveys over recent months. Our team has made thousands of telephone calls, particularly to our more vulnerable and elderly customers. 

However, we know some customers do not have easy or even any access to this type of communication. Others will not feel so confident about the technology. This is why wanted to send this personal letter to you all to make sure we reach every single customer to let you know what we have been doing, how services are operating and what we will be doing to continue to deliver the best service to you that we possibly can.  

If you are someone that would welcome more support with on line access to information and services, you may be eligible for a free iPad and WIFI access for 12 months and there is more information on this towards the end of this letter.

Communication and Feedback 

Outbound calls

As we went into lockdown we embarked on an outbound calling campaign to check in with our most vulnerable customers and offer advice and support

Over 1400 calls were made to customers, resulting in around 900 conversations

We spoke with over 530 older and vulnerable customers to make sure that they had all of the support they needed in terms of access to supplies and medication

We also made outbound contact with around 350 customers whose income might have been affected by the lockdown to make sure they had all of the required support around claiming benefits and paying their rent

CX Surveys

We partnered with a company called CX Feedback in order to issue a quick survey to our customers to check on their wellbeing

We issued almost 3000 surveys via email and text to our customers

We received around 2000 responses to this

We were able to provide direct support and advice to customers based on their responses

Video Contact

We are using a simple solution for video calls – your housing officer can send you a link that will allow you to speak directly and securely with them if you have any issues that you would like to discuss face to face.

Covid Surveys

We issued a questionnaire to customers during the summer to understand the impact of Covid19 on income and wellbeing. We were able to provide targeted support to customers based on the responses to that survey.

As we entered autumn, we issued another survey to our customers to find out more about how Covid-19 was impacting you after 6 months of the pandemic and how could can help.  We sent out a text to all of our customers, where we had up to date mobile numbers, informing everyone we were keen to hear from you.

We also want to give you all another opportunity to complete our Covid-19 survey. Please take part even if you completed this in October, we are seeking to track the impact of Covid as time goes on.  You can complete this survey via our website or by following the link: 

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/N9MJD3W

This will really help us to track what is happening, how customers continue to be impacted by the pandemic and offer you the right support if your circumstances change. 

If you would like a paper copy sent out to you please request one by emailing us at cvha@cvha.org.uk 

As a thank you, all completed survey's will be entered into a prize draw for your chance to win a £50 voucher to a shop of your choice.  You can complete the survey anonymously but, please note, we can only enter your survey into the draw if you have provided your contact details. 

Rent Consultation for 2021/22

Many of you have already given us feedback in response to our rent consultation. Thank you for taking the time to provide us with your views.  

The proposal is for a one year rent increase of 1% for 2021/22.  We have taken into account the current conditions in terms of the impact of the COVID pandemic on our customers, the economy as a whole and the requirements of our financial business plan.  The proposal will enable us to continue to invest in our existing stock, deliver a substantial new build programme, improve customer experience through delivery of our new Customer Experience Strategy, deliver best value and meet tenant expectations. This will include the introduction of a new Contact Centre and a new digital portal for customers. 

If you would like to have your say then please complete the short survey at: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/8GW8H8D send us an email to cvha@cvha.org.uk or call  one of our team on 01698 268855. This consultation will close on 24 December 2020.

Current Service Operation 

We have now moved to Tier 3 again across our areas from 11 December 2020.  Even if we revert to Tier 4 at any point, we will operate a full range of services and works although our office at Scott Street is closed to the public and the team are mainly working from their own homes.   

To comply with legal and regulatory requirements, including social distancing we have had to reduce face to face contact. This means there are some things we are not doing face to face as we normally prefer and we are making the most of technology such as the video contact. There are some things that are inevitably moving at a slower pace because of working restrictions such as the rate at which we can build new homes.  

So our services are:

All Repairs

- Including routine repairs 

Property Allocations and sign ups

All tenancy matters and support

Advice on Universal credit and other benefit claims

Rent and payments collection*

•we have helped our customers secure £600k in extra benefits since lockdown started

Building new homes

Investment programmes

- £700k in new boilers and heating systems (Motherwell, Hamilton, Lesmahagow and Airdire)

- £1m on new kitchens and rewires (Motherwell, Hamilton and Larkhall) 

Fencing across our areas

- (please be aware this may depend on owner occupiers also agreeing to pay for this work)  

 Please remember we’re here to support you if you need help with paying your rent and seeking benefits. Please have a look at our recent film that explains more about what we offer, you can find all our videos on our website via our Youtube channel  www.cvha.org.uk 

We know there are some particular challenges in dealing with cases of anti-social behaviour which are higher than normal level during Covid restrictions. We have been dealing with 70 new cases each month compared to a normal average of around 20. This increase in volume, coupled with Covid restrictions, makes it more challenging to deal with all of the cases as effectively as we would like. I want to assure you that nevertheless we are dealing with them all and seeking to assist customers and communities to find positive outcomes.

Connecting Scotland - Are you Eligible for a free ipad and 12 months WIFI access?

We are delighted to have been successful in our application to Connecting Scotland and to receive 120 iPads with mobile WiFi access for our customers who are digitally excluded.  This is a Scottish Government programme set up in response to the pandemic. It provides iPads, Chromebooks and support to develop digital skills for people who are digitally excluded and on low incomes.

Please get in touch with us if you are:

- Digitally Excluded

- Do not have access to an appropriate device to access the internet

- Not connected to the internet at home

- Have a low income and can’t afford to buy a device or pay for internet access and

- Are a household with children or a care leaver up to age 26

You can contact us by telephone on 01698 268855 and select Option 1 or telephone 01698 688030 and select either Option 1, 3, 4 or 5 or email cvha@cvha.org.uk. 

If you are eligible for a device you will be given access to a member of our team who is a Digital Champion to help you set up your iPad, learn the basics of how to use it and to show you how to get better connected.  This includes helping you engage with us as well as accessing a range of services online within your community and wider.

If you receive a device and connectivity you will be required to complete a Survey and User Agreement with ourselves on behalf of Connecting Scotland.

Thank you 

Finally, I would like to thank all of our customers for supporting us and bearing with us as we have worked through all of the unprecedented changes since March. 

You will receive our annual Value for Money Statement on how we performed during the financial year 2019/20 before the end of the year.

You will also receive our Winter Newsletter later this month which will give you a lot more information about how we have been using your feedback to carry on improving services to you.

Please stay safe and I hope you and your families have a wonderful Christmas and New Year. 

We’re looking forward to seeing many more of our customers in 2021. 

CVHA are members of Happy to Translate, as a Housing Association we have taken practical steps to ensure all our information and services are accessible to all customers regardless of ethnic, cultural or linguistic differences. 

Please call 01698 268 855 or email cvha@cvha.org.uk if you would like to receive any of our information by email or in another format such as a different language, large print, Braille or audio.

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