Tenants praise 'brilliant' support from housing officer 'friends'

Tenants have praised the ‘brilliant support’ they have received from Wheatley Group’s housing officers in Edinburgh and the Lothians during the pandemic.

Tenants praise brilliant support from wheatley staff

Wheatley Group’s 500 housing staff across Scotland have been working from home from since March and are staying in close contact with their tenants, particularly the elderly and more vulnerable customers, by phone, text and online.

In Edinburgh, Dunedin Canmore housing officers have made more than 14,000 calls to customers in the past six months, including to check how they are and offer any support. In West Lothian, WLHP housing staff have made more than 5000 calls.

That support includes help with benefit claims, fuel advice or emergency food parcels, as well as help to buy essential items from nappies to mobile phone top-ups and even activity packs for children.

Tenants say they are delighted their housing officers are looking out for them.

WLHP tenant Shona Elliott, 48, and husband Thomas, 46, live in Blackburn with daughter Ruby, 10.

Shona, a retail assistant, said: “Our housing officer Marisa has been brilliant. She was always on the end of the phone, checking we were okay.

“Thomas had a cancer scare and couldn’t work, so we had to claim Universal Credit. We had no money for weeks but Marisa got us electricity top-ups and supermarket vouchers to buy food.

“She even helped our daughter Ruby with a cuddly toy called a ‘worry monster’ to help her with any worries she has.

“Marisa’s been more like a family friend rather than our housing officer.”

Judith MacGlashan, 44, from Broxburn, added: “Staff have been fantastic. My housing officer Karla called me regularly to make sure I was okay and if I needed anything. I requested a food parcel and it arrived the next day.

“There’s a closeness there. It feels personal, almost like friends and family.”

Across Wheatley Group’s social landlords, housing officers have made more than 260,000 calls to tenants since the start of lockdown.

Hazel Young, Dunedin Canmore Managing Director, said: “We’re doing all we can to support our most vulnerable customers during these difficult times.

“Our housing officers have patch sizes of just 200 homes – among the smallest in the UK – so they know their customers well and often have very close relationships with them.

“While we’ve seen an increase in the number of customers needing our support, the reassurance we can provide can often be as important as practical help.

“People know they have our support online and over the phone and really appreciate that someone is there for them.”

Pictured above are Shona and Thomas Elliott with daughter Ruby outside their home in Blackburn.

Friday, October 09, 2020