How Islington Council managed housing repairs during Covid lockdown
Julia Gregory, LDRS
- Credit: Emma Bartholomew
Frontline council staff in Islington visited residents in homes where there was Covid to carry out repairs, councillors have been told.
Despite their anxiety about the virus, the repairs team got training and donned personal protection equipment to tackle urgent issues.
They called ahead and asked “Covid questions” before visiting residents.
Matt West, the council’s director of housing property services, said: “Even if someone had Covid or or was shielding, we still had to go in because it’s important. We can’t have them without electricity.
“These are builders and we asked them to go into people’s homes when they had Covid at a time when we were all very scared. We were all very worried about the impact.
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“A lot of them are from ethnic minorities and were particularly concerned and we asked them to trust us that the PPE and guidance, and the way of working we set out for them was the right way.
“They took us at our word. They went out and did those jobs without any complaints."
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The policy and performance scrutiny committee on Thursday (September 9) reflected on the lessons of coronavirus and how the housing team responded to the emergency.
When lockdown was called in March 2020, calls for repairs from the council’s homes dropped dramatically.
The demand for repairs spiked in August 2020 when Covid rules relaxed and residents felt more comfortable to have visitors.
Mr West said there were no Covid transmissions linked to visits to residents or in the workplace.
Mayor Troy Gallagher asked if housing repairs can help play a role in acting as the “eyes and ears” looking out for residents.
Maxine Holdsworth, director of homes and neighbourhoods, said a worker recently foiled a suspected attempt to scam a resident.
She said: “Last week an engineer went in to do a gas check and heard someone on the phone clearly being conned.”
She explained the engineer took the phone and asked if he could speak to the caller – and they hung up on him.
“I’m so pleased he felt he could do that,” Ms Holdsworth added.