Even though we are in a national lockdown, we are working hard to provide a normal service for you.
Unfortunately, we are still facing barriers which might make our repairs services slightly slower than usual.
Going inside our homes
We understand that you may be worried about letting us into your home during this period. Please be assured that your safety and that of our colleagues is our top priority. To make sure our colleagues can carry out their services in your home safely, we are following the latest government advice. All our frontline colleagues are:
Receiving health checks before visiting the homes of our customers
Maintaining a safe distance and following hygiene procedures throughout the visit, including the use of high-quality Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Asking you a list of questions before their visit, to ensure it is safe to enter your home.
Please help our colleagues visit your home safely:
Make sure you’re at home during your appointment slot, so that we can access your home.
Make sure your contact details and phone number are up-to-date so that we can contact you before your appointment.
Let us know if you are unwell, self-isolating, or cannot make your appointment so we can rearrange for a better time.
While our colleagues are in your home, please try to go into another room or (if this is not possible) open a window, so that they can carry out their work with minimal risk.
We are taking every precaution to prevent the spread of coronavirus. If anyone in our frontline teams feels ill or has been in contact with the virus, they are self-isolating for the allotted time set out by the government.
This means that:
Our resources and capacity to carry out repairs and environmental services works are currently limited.
Our contractors are giving us more support than usual. Your repair appointments might be delayed.
Please help us to use our limited resources efficiently:
Make sure you are at home during your appointment slot, so that we can access your home.
If you only need a simple repair, such as unblocking a toilet or dealing with condensation and mould, you might be able to fix it without our help.
Kind-hearted Silva Homes housing association customers are uniting to spread festive cheer by forming support bubbles to beat the coronavirus pandemic.
Small groups of people in Silva’s independent living homes are teaming up in bubbles, in line with government guidelines, to make sure that no one is lonely this Christmas, amid ongoing restrictions designed to halt the spread of Covid-19.
The initiative has been hailed a success by Silva Homes customers, who have formed bubbles to make sure their neighbours are able to enjoy company at a time when opportunities to socialise are restricted by the Government‘s Tier 3 guidelines.
“The support bubbles really do help and it’s amazing what a difference the bubbles can make because they make sure people don’t get down in the dumps,” said Paul, who lives with his wife in Sandhurst.
“Just being there to check in on someone to make sure they’re all right, have a bit of a chinwag and maybe have a cuppa or do a bit of shopping can make a really positive difference.
“When people can’t see family or friends it just puts them at ease when they know they’ve got people looking out for them in a bubble and so I think it’s a marvellous idea because it will stop people getting lonely and stagnating.”
The bubbles began taking shape when letters were sent out to customers encouraging them to set up bubbles to help them get through the second lockdown. Now they have company over the Christmas period – and beyond.
“It can be really tough being on your own at the best of times but with everything that’s going on with lockdown people can get really down, so these bubbles make sure there’s a bit of a pick-me-up,” said Janet, who lives in Bracknell.
“A little bit of kindness can go a long way at times like this and people pull together to support one another by popping round to say ‘hello’ and nipping out to get something from the shops or the pharmacy.
“There’s a really special atmosphere in the independent living schemes and it’s lovely to see neighbours who are there for each other. It’s really important for people’s well-being, just to know someone’s there for them.”
Silva Homes colleagues have been delighted that people forming bubbles all seem to have been positively impacted and have reported an improvement in their mental health.
Dasos Christou, Silva Homes Executive Director (Customer Relations) said: “It’s been great to see the way that our customers have responded so enthusiastically to our idea of setting up bubbles.
“The way our customers responded to the challenges created by Covid-19 has been brilliant, and we thought if we could encourage interaction in a safe way, it would help people find their way through the pandemic.
"Now that we have just been placed in Tier 4 and the arrangements for Christmas have changed, these support bubbles, still permitted with the new restrictions will be even more important for our customers.”
Silva Homes’ independent living customers have been praised for their role in making sure the housing association experienced extremely low cases of Covid-19, with no known cases transmitted within any of the independent living schemes. Dasos Christou attributed this to “our customers’ attention and diligence since this pandemic began” which means ”now we look forward to 2021 in the hope of some return to normality’.
In the ‘Silva 2020 Challenge’, kind-hearted Silva Homes colleagues went the extra mile to undertake a series of fundraising activities. So far, they have raised over £1,000 for the mental health charity, Mind.
Those who took part did a variety of challenges based on the number 20 including:
Kevin, Silva’s grounds maintenance manager, spent 20 minutes creating a spray-painted work of art, using 20 different colours.
Xolani, one of Silva’s independent living scheme managers, said “hello” in 20 different languages.
Kirsty, Silva’s graduate health and safety coordinator, walked from Windsor to Westminster in a single night.
The colleague-led fundraising initiative follows a year of Silva Homes rising to a series of unprecedented challenges that both colleagues and customers have faced due to Covid-19.
Silva has worked round the clock to support its 14,000 customers across the South East of England and 230 colleagues in the face of the global pandemic.
With more than 2,000 customers aged 65 and over, a ‘Phone Pals’ scheme was launched and each week more than 20 Silva colleagues make a total of 200 calls to customers who have requested this service because they are living in isolation.
And services were quickly adapted to support the most vulnerable in our communities, replacing a social activities scheme with a food delivery support service providing a lifeline to elderly people in independent living homes to stay stocked with essential items.
Silva also introduced a range of measures to help maintain colleague morale and support wellbeing. This includes a buddy system which provides peer to peer support, signposting colleagues to wellbeing resources and introducing coffee and chat sessions for colleagues across the business.
Rob Smyth, executive director (people, digital & change) added:
“It’s been a difficult time for everyone, but I take immense pride in the way that our colleagues have responded to the challenges created by Covid-19.
“A real togetherness has come to the fore to boost colleague morale as they adapted to new working practices.
“The 2020 challenge demonstrates the creativity and commitment of our colleagues to helping those who need support, and I am proud that we have raised over £1000 for such a great cause.”
In this black history month feature piece, members of our new equality, diversity and inclusion action group share their views on the importance of celebrating black history, culture and perspectives, and of the need to keep fighting racism in today’s society. Read until the end of this article to see a statement from our executive board regarding this very real issue.
2020 has been a rollercoaster for all involved, but especially for black people. We have witnessed the UK’s Windrush generation scandal, the death of George Floyd which resonated so deeply with people across the world because it not only revealed systemic racism in the US, but also closer to home. Black people continue to suffer from profound health inequalities, as unveiled by Covid-19 here in the UK. All this and more has increasingly turned conversations towards black rights and the lack of racial equality in many walks of life.
Originally from Gambia, I did a degree at the University of Buckingham before starting a job as the colleague experience designer on Silva Homes’ graduate programme. In my role, I assess our internal processes and try to find more efficient ways for my colleagues to work. I organise training, internal events, embed our culture and generally do everything I can to help my colleagues excel in their roles.
This year, black history month has been especially significant for me. The recent rise of the Black Lives Matter movement across the world has brought an overdue thirst for black history. It has brought about campaigns asking for widespread reformation, including the introduction of Britain's colonial and imperialist history to the national curriculum, as well as demands for a wider change in narrative.
After a summer of racial dialogue, I have valued the opportunity to look to the past, at some of the truly inspiring people who struggled in their lifetimes to build the foundations for the way I live today. There is so much to learn from history, and there are many examples of people who managed to excel, despite the barriers put upon them by society. However, these people were in the minority, and even they had to fight to succeed. Sadly, this is a very common theme I’ve noticed when reading about black history.
Now, with black history month coming to an end, it’s crucial that we continue translating the lessons we’ve learned from the past into actions that will bring about long-term racial equality. I firmly believe that change should be implemented not only by individuals but by businesses, which have a lot of influence within communities. And these same communities enable businesses to succeed.
Inequalities and injustice have no place in businesses, which have a responsibility to be proactively anti-racist. Modern businesses should be bold and show concern for black customers and colleagues. They should demonstrate that they care about the massive inequalities people face in society every day. This is a time when every business should be looking internally and interrogating the way they work, to make improvements that bring about real, positive change.
As a housing association, Silva Homes is responsible for ensuring that all its customers and colleagues have equal experiences, regardless of race, gender, age, etc. I think we can better uphold our social purpose if we consistently put equality, diversity and inclusion at the forefront of every decision we make.
Everyone can play a part in addressing social injustice and inequality and I am proud to work for a business that is interrogating the way it operates to bring about more equality.
I am excited to be able to use my position to inform the steps that bring about change. In my role as Silva’s colleague experience designer and as a member of the equality, diversity and inclusion action group, I can help to improve our policies and processes, so that we can change mindsets and bring more support to black people in our community. I think it’s really important that my colleagues are encouraged to lead with curiosity, move outside their comfort zone and listen to the experiences of others. After everything that’s happened this year, peoples’ mental health is suffering, and I believe that being included and supported is an essential prerequisite to positive wellbeing. This issue is certainly going to be a key focus for me during the next few months.
So, black history month may be at an end, but its relevance continues. We all have a collective responsibility to continue the discourse and develop a strategy where everyone is valued equally, and racial inequality eradicated. Because black lives don’t only matter in the short term.
A supporting statement from our executive board:
At Silva Homes, our colleagues are encouraged to be accountable, creative and engaged in all that they do. This means we do our best for our customers, adapt and strive to improve, and work together to overcome the challenges we face. One very real challenge, which has deep roots in society and affects many of our colleagues and customers, is racism and racial inequality.
We have a zero-tolerance approach towards all forms of discrimination in our business and in the communities where we work and we want this to be reflected in every conversation we have, every policy we introduce and every decision we make. We do have measures in place that help us to be an equal, diverse and inclusive employer and service provider, but we recognise that there is still more that we can do.
As a business, we are taking steps that help us provide a better experience for all 14,000 of our customers and for every one of our 230 colleagues. Our equality, diversity and inclusion action group, which we set up in July this year, is looking at ways we can have open and honest conversations about diversity and inclusion, so that we can introduce measures that improve the experience of everyone in our business and in the communities where we work. Some of the initial steps include setting up a diversity pay gap report, increasing equality, diversity and inclusion training for new colleagues, and raising awareness of different cultures.
This action group’s work is fully supported by Silva’s executive board, and we are committed to helping them achieve their objectives. We look forward to receiving their report and action plan in due course. The powerful, authentic videos and messages in this feature piece underline the need for us to highlight issues of racial inequality and discrimination and to keep working hard to eradicate them.
We strongly believe that by being accountable for our actions, by being creative in the way we seek to improve, and by engaging with everyone in our community, we can continue on our journey towards creating a fully inclusive organisation where our customers and colleagues can thrive.
Every month until March 2021, three lucky Silva customers will win a Love2Shop voucher in our prize draw.
Three prizes will be given out each month:
First prize: £150
Second prize: £100
Third prize: £50
Love2Shop vouchers are extremely versatile. They are accepted by most high street stores and chains, including Boots, PizzaExpress, TK Maxx, Mamas & Papas, Foot Locker, HMV and more…
How can I enter the prize draw?
If you let our contractors into your home to carry out an electrical inspection or audit, before 31 March 2021, you will automatically enter the prize draw.
At the end of every month until then, three randomly-chosen customers, who had a test or audit that month, will win one of our prizes.
If you had an electrical test or audit before October, you still will be entered into the prize draw.
About the electrical inspections
We are carrying out routine electrical tests and electrical test audits in some of our homes, to make sure they remain safe to live in. In order to carry out these tests and audits, our contractors need to enter our homes.
Our electrical tests are being carried out by Crystal Electronics and Pilon. If your home requires an electrical test, either Crystal Electronics or Pilon will contact you to book an appointment.
We have also appointed an auditor called Phoenix Compliancy Management (PCM) to check that the electrical tests which are being done in our homes are to our high standards. PCM is sending letters to some Silva customers who had their electrics tested this year. Recipients of this letter will be asked to call PCM to book an appointment for their electrical test audit.