Your home at your fingertips
Westminster Housing Magazine | Issue No.6 | Autumn 2020
All types of home repair now available
Handbooks transformed and interactive
Successful virtual leaseholders conference
Your home at your fingertips We are all about improving homes. Recently, we’ve been busy revolutionising our systems as well. After taking on board feedback from residents, the MyWestminsterHousing online account has been upgraded. The home of everything to do with managing your tenancy or lease online is now built around you. Always available, you will notice your online account is easier to use, 24 hours a day, seven days a week – giving you the freedom to organise your home affairs whenever it suits you. Accessing your housing services has never been quicker, safer or more convenient. Plus, you can use any digital device of your choice. Even more services were launched in August. Now you can easily make the most of the great features in your MyWestminsterHousing account such as: Æ request, cancel and reschedule repairs (tenants only) Æ view communal repairs Æ report anti-social behaviour You can also make payments, update your details and more in your online account. We will keep improving MyWestminsterHousing over the coming months, making it even easier to contact us about your home.
Welcome from Councillor Harvey Cabinet Member responsible for Housing Services
As we head into autumn, please help to slow the spread of coronavirus by continuing to maintain social distancing. This will keep yourself and your neighbours safe. We’ve done a wonderful job so far and I am very proud of our residents who look out for those around them. I’ll still be making socially-distanced visits as often as possible over the next few months and if I am coming to your block or estate, do come and say hello. One of my continuing priorities is to hear from as many of you as possible about your experiences, about what we’re getting right and where we can improve. That’s why we are working on a new resident engagement structure right now – grassroots and from the bottom up, with as many of you as possible involved in the decision-making about your buildings or your estates. It’s important that you are empowered and able to have your say on what affects you, and I encourage you to keep an eye out for opportunities to be part of our engagement.
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Do we have your correct details? It is important to keep your contact details up to date for when we need to send out essential information. Please take a moment to think about whether your phone number, email address or other contact information is correct. You can update your details through your MyWestminsterHousing online account or by contacting us at housing.enquiries@ westminster.gov.uk
How to register Simply register today in three quick steps and enjoy taking control of your home at a time that suits you:
Go to westminster. gov.uk/yourhousing/ mywestminsterhousing
Enter your details, including tenancy number or leaseholder account number
Receive an email confirmation and login to use your MyWestminsterHousing account
“We will keep improving MyWestminsterHousing over the coming months, making it even easier to contact us about your home”
We may need to contact you to complete your registration within three working days if the details don’t match up with our system exactly. MyWestminsterHousing complies with all governmental security protocols which are in place to keep your information safe. We are here to help, so please contact us if you have any questions about registering or using your online account.
Mask up in communal areas
Contactless QR code check-in
Gas safety checks in your home
We urge residents to use face coverings in communal corridors, in line with the current government advice.
Our locations have a ‘COVID-19 Secure’ plan to help keep everyone safe and now have QR signage on display, making it easy for you to check-in when you visit any community hall or housing services centre by appointment.
By law, we still need to carry out gas safety checks in the homes of our tenants each year, when they are due.
Distance is the new normal. We have put up signage in your buildings as a reminder to use face masks and limit the use of lifts to either one person at a time, or to members of your household only.
By taking part in the NHS Track and Trace service, you will directly help contain the virus by reducing its spread.
If you cannot keep your appointment or can’t arrange for someone else to be there, you must contact us. Find out more, including what to expect when an engineer visits and the extra precautions we are taking, at westminster.gov.uk/yourhousing/ covid-19-repairs
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All repairs now available – make sure you know your responsibilities You are now able to request an appointment for any type of repair in your home, as we begin to bring our repairs service back to normal. In recent months, we have been operating a reduced service, prioritising emergency and urgent repairs in residents’ homes. This was to protect both residents and staff and we took these measures to ensure that we were able to help those most in need. At the time of writing, and during ‘High’ COVID alert levels, we are able to carry out repairs and enter homes with work complying to government guidance on managing the risk of COVID-19. To ensure your safety, contractors wear a face mask and gloves, keep their distance, observe good hand hygiene, and clean all work areas. We encourage you to contact us with any concerns and to report safety issues. Due to the increased safety measures and the backlog caused by the recently reduced service, you may need to wait longer than usual for an appointment. We are constantly monitoring the COVID-19 situation and will update residents if anything changes. You can contact us about repairs or send your requests online via your MyWestminsterHousing online account at westminster.gov.uk/ yourhousing/mywestminsterhousing
Handbooks transformed: online and interactive As a tenant or leaseholder, it’s important to know your rights and responsibilities. To make this easier, we’ve refreshed our handbooks making them interactive and digital so that you can quickly find the information you need. The handbooks cover information specific to being a tenant or a leaseholder, such as rent or service charges. For leaseholders, we also have short videos available to explain your lease, the services we’re responsible for and what we provide to you. You can view your handbook online at westminster.gov.uk/yourhousing Page 4 | YourHome Newsletter | Autumn
“This is definitely a win-win collaboration”
Do you have an idea to improve your estate or building? Since October 2019, when we first launched our Local Offer, we have been working in partnership with residents to transform how we deliver housing services locally. It’s an initiative that puts you at the heart of changes where you live, and we’re calling out for ideas to improve local housing areas. Estate Action Plans are resident-led and help to deliver the changes you want to see on your estates – whether it is enhancing what is already in place or looking at creating new facilities. These plans can include play equipment, seating, planting, landscaping and growing areas or security improvements. The Oak Tree House Residents Association was one of the first to co-design a plan to improve areas such as its communal staircase, entrance door and boiler room. We agreed on how we would do this and complete all the actions by July as planned. To build on these achievements, we are now working with residents to coordinate a new set of priorities for the year ahead.
“This is definitely a win-win collaboration between residents and housing officers,” said Odile Facih, a member of the Oak Tree Residents Association and one of the many residents that have told us what matters most to them. “I think this is a great initiative, as it enables residents to be actively involved in managing where they live. I’m looking forward to having an Estate Action Plan in place, one that is focused on real issues, is better prioritised and ultimately improves the shared environment of residents.” We now have more than 55 Estate Action Plans up and running and hope to create many more by the end of the year – all with resident input. You, too, can tell us your local housing priorities for your estate by completing our quick, five-minute survey online at: westminster.gov.uk/yourhousing/EAP There you will be able to select your estate and either help us set up an Estate Action Plan, or track our progress. We look forward to hearing about what matters to you.
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Virtual leaseholder conference hailed a success
“It is so important that leaseholders get the chance to have their say”
Saturday 17 October saw our first leaseholder conference hosted entirely online. Attendance at the all-day conference was high, with all 200 available places booked. Attendees heard presentations on how Westminster is tackling short lets and how leaseholders can kick off the process of extending their lease. Jayne Stretton, Billing Team Leader, spoke to leaseholders about how their service charges are calculated; Zakia Qureshi, Contact Team Leader, spoke about how we are tackling short lets; and Sarah Williams, Divisional Head of Customer Experience and Digital, spoke about the digital offer to leaseholders. Attendees also had the opportunity to ask questions as part of a closing Q&A panel, before Councillor Richard Elcho closed the conference. Councillor David Harvey, Cabinet Member for Housing Services, said: “This year’s conference was a great success, and we have received really positive feedback from those who attended. We are working hard to keep leaseholders informed on issues that affect them, and we always want to hear their views. On issues such as digital transformation, it is so important that leaseholders get the chance to have their say.” Leaseholders learned more about the services we provide. Experts answered submitted questions covering a range of topics including lease extensions, repairs and major works. Leaseholders could also hear from organisations such as the Leasehold Advisory Service and Westminster Citizens Advice. It was a fantastic opportunity for leaseholders to speak to council staff about the many services available to them and determine what support we can provide. We hope to make this an annual event and adapt the format to feedback received. Any leaseholders unable to attend can find out more and watch recorded sessions now available online at westminster.gov.uk/ yourhousing/leaseholderconference Page 6 | YourHome Newsletter | Autumn
Post-war plaudits Historic England has awarded Grade II listed status for landscaping on two estates in north and south Westminster. The slide on the Brunel Estate in Westbourne Park and the architecture at Churchill Gardens in Pimlico have been recognised and included on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens. “So many of our estates have a rich history to them, so I’m pleased that Historic England has awarded Grade II listing status to celebrate the landscaping on both these estates,” commented Cllr Harvey on the awards. “The slide at the Brunel estate has stood the test of time for thousands of children, while Churchill Gardens estate continues to be listed, due to it being such an impressive example of postwar architecture.” Residents are equally pleased that the slide on their estate has been listed. “It’s so unique,” said one member of the Brunel Estate Sounding Board, “We’re happy that it will be preserved for future generations. As one child who lives on the estate has said to us, the slide ‘is brilliant’.” Another commented: “The Sounding Board group has always taken an active role in preserving and improving our environment and homes, and this listing reflects this.” Residents have long enjoyed the many trees and green spaces at the Brunel Estate and are thrilled the landscape designer has been recognised for his work. “The landscaping of the grounds is special because it’s like a large green oasis,” said one pleased resident. “We have well over 100 trees and they provide a nice contrast against the surrounding roads and railway tracks.” Read more about these estates online at westminster.gov.uk/news
Away from arrears and into employment Do you need additional support such as financial assistance or help looking for a job? We’re getting in touch by phone to provide support to residents: • who are affected by the impact of coronavirus • who were already looking for employment before the pandemic As part of these phone calls, we check in on your wellbeing to find out if you’re facing any specific issues. We can then offer you support and refer you, if needed, to external agencies.
Brunel estate (2017) Colin Moore
Brunel Estate (1974) Colin Moore
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Ebury Edge has landed Following the launch ceremony in early October, Ebury Edge has made a showstopping arrival. Ebury Edge is a multi-use meanwhile space, providing a community hub during the delivery of the 750-home Ebury Bridge Estate Renewal scheme. Ebury Edge has created office/studio and retail spaces, kickstarting local companies and fulfilling dreams. There is a spacious community hall, a garden space and Fat Macy’s café, a social enterprise serving food and drink. We look forward to you checking out the new community space. To learn more about Ebury Edge or to get in touch with the team, please visit eburyedge.com
Become a public health champion
Local testing centres by appointment
Westminster Connects is looking for 1,000 volunteers from all corners of the city who will act as COVID-19 Health Champions.
Three community halls across our housing estates are now operating as coronavirus testing centres, to increase the number of tests available to residents in Westminster. They operate safely and securely by appointment only. Appointments can be made online at nhs.uk/conditions/ coronavirus-covid-19 or by calling 119.
As a Health Champion, you will receive the latest information and advice about COVID-19 and the preventative measures to stop its spread. Your role will be to share this with family, friends, neighbours, work colleagues and the wider community. By doing so you will help to keep your community well informed, thereby minimising the risk of the virus spreading. Health Champions will be asked to provide feedback, via weekly Zoom meetings and/or other channels, on what measures are working and what can be done better. Find out more and sign up at: westminster.gov.uk/community-champions
Contact us 0800 358 3783 email@example.com
Write to us Westminster Housing, Westminster City Hall 12th floor, 64 Victoria Street, London, SW1E 6QP
Tweet us Report housing or repair issues via Twitter
@wcchousing Page 8 | YourHome Newsletter | Autumn
We expect the following centres to be testing up to 200 residents daily from 8am to 8pm for at least the next six months: Æ Greenside Community Centre – 24 Lilestone Street, Marylebone, NW8 8SR Æ Grosvenor Hall – Vincent Street, SW1P 4HB Æ Lydford Tenants and Residents Hall – 74 Fernhead Road, W9 3EW Find details of the sites and how to use them at: westminster.gov.uk/ coronavirus-testing-units-westminster
Keeping you updated Services may continue to change in response to COVID-19. We will keep you informed by email, text message, newsletters, and online at westminster.gov.uk/yourhousing/coronavirus. Please keep your details up to date with us, for when we send out essential information or need to contact you quickly.
YourHome magazine is published by Westminster City Council and delivered to our tenants and leaseholders throughout Westminster.
News for Westminster housing residents. In this issue: • How our new online housing portal is bringing your home to your fingertips • Reside...
Published on Nov 5, 2020
News for Westminster housing residents. In this issue: • How our new online housing portal is bringing your home to your fingertips • Reside...