As things are continuing to move quickly with the outbreak of the Coronavirus, The Pioneer Group is committed to making sure residents, staff and communities stay safe. We will continuously monitor updates issued by the government and respond accordingly by updating information on our website and social media channels:

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Here at The Pioneer Group, we have worked hard in the last few months to respond to the crisis and we are now transitioning cautiously and with great care to protect our employees, residents and communities into a recovery phase.

The following infographic shows what services we can currently offer.

The Pioneer Group - COVID Coronavirus Road Map

We are working hard to enable as many services as possible to meet demand, however we need to ensure all activities have the appropriate, long-term, measures in place and follow approved guidelines to keep our employees, residents and customers safe.

As of Friday 19th of June the Government Alert was reduced throughout the UK to Level 3: this determines that the virus is in general circulation and there is a gradual relaxing of restrictions. We have updated our operations to reflect this throughout The Pioneer Group and as an organisation this outlines our core operational processes for employees as the following:

  • Restricted access to sites
  • Home-working where possible
  • Attendance at site only where completely necessary
  • Reintroduction of routine & urgent work streams with controls in place
  • Limited community activities in centres/schemes.

For further updates on individual services and centre updates, please continue reading.

Our office is currently closed with limited, controlled access for employees only.

For our customers instead, our teams have been working around the clock to deliver essential services remotely to ensure that we can support our residents. All of our teams can still be contacted via the phone or email so if you have a question or query, please contact us on 0121 748 8100 or on contactus@pioneergroup.org.uk

Please note, while our remote systems are now in place, we ask that you bear with us as we test these new methods of working.

As well as the obvious health impact to families, the COVID-19 virus can seriously affect a person’s finances too. A sudden, unexpected change in income can leave you feeling overwhelmed and as a community-led housing association we want to do as much as we can to help minimise the impact. Running up rent debts can cause you serious stress and take a long time to get yourself back on track. It’s important that you talk to the income team as soon as you think you might be running into difficulties with your rent or other payments. We will work with you to ensure you can access money advice and check to see if you are entitled to any benefits to help you through this difficult period.

We can only help you if you let us know what is happening, so please talk to us straight away. Leaving it too late to seek help can mean debts can get out of control, making it harder to sort out. You can find some useful information at www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/coronavirus

Although our reception isn’t open at the moment you can still contact us via 0121 748 8100 and you can still pay your rent via Allpay.net, Allpay 0330 041 6497 (you will need your rent card to do this), Standing Order or BACS transfer – Please use your tenancy number as the ref to ensure payment reaches your account. (Acct name. The Pioneer Group. Acct No. 40714852/ Sort code. 20-07-71).

All case management is still in operation and you can contact our team through the phone, email or letter.

We are currently operating a full repairs and maintenance service. Our team are here to help you as much as possible so when raising repairs with us, or when contractors visit, you should expect to be asked about self-isolating, including:

  • Are you self-isolating?
  • Do you have a fever or symptoms of breathing illness?
  • Have you been in contact with someone who is self-isolating or with a confirmed case of COVID-19 (coronavirus)?
  • Are you in in any of the two high-risk groups who have been advised by Public Health England to remain home for 12 weeks and avoid face-to-face contact? (You will have been approached by the NHS if you are in these categories)

We hope you understand that these questions are not intended to be intrusive but are designed to protect you, contractors and prevent the risk of spreading the virus to other vulnerable tenants.

We understand that there is apprehension with home services during these uncertain times however our resident’s safety is our highest priority, which is why gas servicing has continued to be carried out in homes throughout the pandemic.

Gas servicing is not only a legal requirement, but an essential safety service for you and your family. If your gas isn’t inspected within these 12 months then this can lead to dangerous consequences including carbon monoxide poisoning.

We want to reassure residents that our teams are taking the utmost care to carry out these important services as quickly and efficiently as possible during COVID-19. This includes:

  • Wearing PPE
  • Only accessing rooms with appliances need to be checked
  • Ensuring all areas are thoroughly wiped down in accordance with HSE practice.

While it is extremely important that we perform as many Gas Services as viable, we understand that not all instances will be possible and this will be reviewed on a case by case basis.

To find out more about our gas servicing procedures check out our helpful article: https://www.pioneergroup.org.uk/news/gas-servicing-during-covid-19/

Although our reception areas are temporarily closed, our Neighbourhood Officers are still available to help, but please be mindful that social distancing means our processing may take longer than usual. This is to make sure each case is handled in the most appropriate manner, ensuring our tenants and staff’s safety. Please note, only essential home visits are being carried out at this time with strict social distancing being observed and PPE being worn.

We are also asking our residents to be mindful of neighbours as COVID-19 continues to impact on our lives, with many people spending more time at home. We ask that you continue to be mindful of noise levels with your neighbours to help us all carry on and recover as a community.

We are reintroduced our lettings services from Monday 22nd June. To ensure the safety of our staff and customers, we are putting a number of measures in place to adhere to the government guidelines.

Where possible, viewings will be carried out through virtual video tours. Where this isn’t possible, and we need to attend the property, we will call ahead to make arrangements. We ask anyone viewing to restrict attendance to over 18’s only and only people that live in the same household. All visitors will also be required to adhere to social distancing rules during viewings.

Keeping safety as a priority, our team will be asking at each stage of the process to confirm that you don’t have any symptoms of COVID-19 and that you’ve not been asked to self-isolate due to a risk of encounter. We won’t by-pass you for a property if you do have symptoms, this is simply so we can take the correct precautions for each of our customers’ individual circumstances.

We will try to accommodate all customers as best as possible however, we thank you for your patience while our team navigates this new way of working as best as possible. If you have any questions or concerns, please get in touch via telephone or email.

We know that as many people have been confined to home for an extended period of time and that this is stressful and can be an emotionally challenging time for all of us, but even more so for those who are experiencing domestic violence and abuse whether physical or mental.

We know already that isolation is a tactic used by perpetrators to control the person they are subjecting to domestic abuse. It is often used to block people’s routes to safety and support. Therefore, we understand some of the risks of a nationwide lock down for people experiencing domestic abuse. There is no excuse for domestic abuse, no matter the situation we find ourselves in.

If you and your children are experiencing domestic abuse, then know that you are not alone. Support is still available to you.

You can always contact our Neighbourhoods team at The Pioneer Group on 0121 748 8100 if you need to talk to someone about your home situation. We take concerns of domestic abuse very seriously and work closely with West Midlands Police to ensure all of our tenants are safe.

  • Please remember:
  • Try to keep a mobile phone with you at all times possible, fully charged.
  • If you are at immediate risk, call 999.

If you are scared that you might be overheard by the perpetrator, you can use the Silent System:

  • Dial 999, then instead of speaking to the operator, press 55. To find out more click here.

Remember, if you have symptoms of Covid-19, you should inform the police, when you speak to them.  This will not be a reason why they cannot offer to help.

You can also contact a number of national helplines via, email, text and live chat support services.  Listed below are some useful numbers and websites where you can find some extra support.

Understanding what domestic violence and abuse is

Safety Advice

Are you worried about a friend, family member or neighbour?

More information

For useful information about safety planning and domestic abuse support you can read The Women’s Aid Handbook

If you are in a refuge, the Government have issued guidance on isolation for domestic abuse safe accommodation settings which can be found HERE.

Refuges do not need to close unless directed to by Public Health England. If you or your children show symptoms whilst in a refuge, you should remain in your own room and follow the self-isolation guidance for households is HERE

Unfortunately, we are currently unable to restart our bulky rubbish waste collection service at the moment as the council-owned tips are still not allowing organisations to discard waste at their sites, however, residents can take their own waste to the tips as the sites are open for citizen use. We are aiming to get the collection service back up and running as soon as the Council allows us to dispose of the items.

Any items put out on the estate without an arranged service collection is considered fly-tipping. While we are required to remove fly-tipping for safety reasons, and recover the charges for this through the service charge, our staff work with CCTV operators and the Council to identify those who illegally dump rubbish, which is punishable by imprisonment and fines of up to £50,000. All of our cameras are in operation with many enhanced to show clear images and vehicle registration plates, making perpetrators easier to identify – so please don’t be tempted to fly-tip your items. Residents can arrange a bulky waste collection through the council here: www.birmingham.gov.uk/info/20009/waste_and_recycling/86/bulky_waste_collections

The Pioneer Group and CVCH is not responsible for items dumped on Council land, including adopted streets and pathways on Castle Vale. Please report all fly-tipped items to the Council through the free fix my street smartphone app, through their website www.fixmystreet.com or directly to the Council here www.birmingham.gov.uk/…/envir…/89/report_fly-tipping

If you have information on anyone fly-tipping, including evidence such as photographs, get in touch with our team and we will handle your report confidentially.

All other external estates works, including window cleaning, are now in operation with controls in place.

While you may see members of our estate teams still out working, we ask that you respect their safety and maintain social distancing while speaking with them.

Community safety is still a priority and CCTV is still in operation. We are working closely with West Midlands Police to detect and intervene in the prevention of crime and anti-social behaviour. We encourage any resident of Castle Vale to notify us of anything that may be cause for concern on 0121 784 8100.

If you see any criminal activity that you believe is an emergency or an immediate threat to life, please call 999 immediately.

Creating strong and vibrant communities is one of our core aims and right now this is more important than ever. We are incredibly proud of our colleagues who have come together with our partners and volunteers to provide our #CovidCommunityOffer to keep our communities safe, informed and positive.

We are working hard to co-ordinate support through volunteering and other means to the most vulnerable across the community. If you have any concerns of support needs about yourself or those close to you, please don’t hesitate to contact us to see if we can help. Additionally, if you are able to volunteer in the Castle Vale area please contact Rebecca.Winkless@cvch.org.uk

Our community centres including the Sanctuary in Castle Vale, the Community Hub at Falcon Lodge and Highcroft Community Centre in Stockland Green now have limited restricted access and are providing community services only with limited numbers and strict controls in place. The Sanctuary and Falcon Lodge Community Hub are open for small group activities subject to government and third party guidance.

Compass Support will continue to deliver services remotely using phone and email and will prioritise contact with those that require more intensive support. These services include:

  • Employment support(Contact Rob Harris on 07841 067662)
  • Life coaching (Contact Ceri Cooper on 07525 902 964)
  • Family support (Contact Shamsa Mughal on 07841 067 651)
  • Independent living support (Contact Shamsa Mughal on 07841 067 651)
  • Youth mentoring (Contact Lee Crofts on 07811 293 503)
  • Virtual youth club (Contact Lee Crofts on 07811 293 503)
  • Telephone befriending service (Contact Leonie Hammond on 0794 307 9496)
  • Virtual Wellbeing-Activities (Contact Sarah Powers on 0774 116 4704)
  • One-to-one telephone support (Contact Leonie Hammond on 0794 307 9496)
  • Emergency Asset Register (Contact Sarah Powers on 0774 116 4704)

For any other information, including future bookings, you can contact the centres on the details below:

The Sanctuary: 0121 748 8100 | contactus@compass-support.org.uk
Falcon Lodge Community Hub: 0121 329 2055 | contactus@compass-support.org.uk
Highcroft Community Centre: 0121 382 5101 | secretary@highcroftcc.co.uk

As of Monday 29th of June limited external activities on our pitches, such as training and coaching sessions, can proceed with controls in place. Please note, external areas only will be accessible with limited numbers and strict controls in place; this means areas such as the bar and changing rooms are currently closed until further notice.

Further enquiries can be made by contacting contactus@castlevalestadium.co.uk

TiggyWinkles Day Nursery is now reopen with measures in place to protect all children and staff. Our nursery team are working diligently in accordance with the updated government guidelines.

We are now taking booking for September for two and year-olds funded spaces. Please contact 0121 747 2186 or pegasustiggy@btconnect.com for further enquiries.

We want to support our suppliers and will aim to pay invoices more quickly than standard contractual terms.  Our offices are closed but our team are working remotely, so to help us process invoices quickly:

We have always worked with partners in Castle Vale, Stockland Green and Falcon Lodge and whilst we are unable to meet face-to-face, we are in touch and coordinating where possible with local Schools, West Midlands Police, the City Council, local charities and community groups. You can check the website and social media platforms for each of these partners directly.

Our teams across The Pioneer Group are working hard to look after and continue to provide core services within our communities. We are aware that these are not normal times and there will inevitably be some disruption to services, however we want to assure residents that you, alongside our staff, are our priority. We are continuously reviewing the position regarding COVID-19 and are awaiting further Government guidance, as well as looking at how other social housing providers are responding to this situation. We will provide updates about our services regularly through our website and social media.

If you have any concerns or questions about coronavirus, visit the following NHS website for advice and notify us if you are advised to self-isolate: www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19

The latest information and facts about Coronavirus (COVID-19) is available on the Government website:
www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public