Ocean Housing has been helping families in Cornwall throughout the COVID-19 pandemic by offering financial support and donating digital equipment.
Last April we launched a £50,000 hardship fund, which is available to Ocean Housing residents, Cornish charities, and voluntary sector and community organisations which have been financially impacted by the coronavirus.
Frances Turner, managing director of Ocean Housing, said: “At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, we saw a significant rise in cases of tenants struggling financially due to job losses and reduced working hours. Many have been finding it difficult to cover basic living costs like food, rent and bills.
“We launched the hardship fund as a safety net to help individuals who are unable to benefit from other forms of support for these essentials, and for voluntary organisations which have seen an unprecedented demand for their services.”
Since April 2020, Ocean has awarded around £30,000 of the hardship fund which has been able to help dozens of tenants, as well as support many vital community organisations including St Austell and Newquay Foodbank, Cornwall Community Foundation, and St Austell Revival Together (START). 24 Cornwall councillors, who represent local communities which include Ocean residents, were also granted £250 each to support coronavirus initiatives in their area.
Sharon Sission from START explained how the funds made such a difference to the charity. She said: “Ocean’s support meant we could stay open to help vulnerable families in need, as some of the money went towards buying PPE for our staff which we hadn’t budgeted for before the pandemic.
“A lot of the money also went towards helping struggling families buy school uniform for their children starting the new school term, which meant they could turn up looking like everyone else – something that’s really important for their self-esteem. Everyone was so grateful.”
We also have a number of desktop computers available for donation to local schools to assist with children’s return to the classroom.
Frances continued: “We were exploring other ways in which we might be able to use our resources to help those in need, and saw an opportunity to put some of our spare office equipment to good use. With schools now reopening, we hope that donating this equipment will have a positive impact on the learning experience of those who may need a little extra support.
“We still have financial help and computers available to those who need it the most. If there are any local charities or people who require support, please get in touch with the Ocean team.”
Individuals and voluntary organisations can contact Ocean Housing about gaining support via phone, email, or LiveChat through the website.
We are currently writing to our residents to let them know that our annual review of their rent and service charge has taken place.
Your payments should equal the new charge from the date indicated in your letter.
What happens now?
If you pay by Direct Debit, then there is nothing more you need to do. We will write to you separately with a new payment schedule.
If you receive Housing Benefit, we will let Cornwall Council know about your new charges. Unless your circumstances have changed, there is nothing more you need to do.
If you receive Universal Credit, you will need to notify the Department of Work and Pensions of your new rent and service charge.
It is important that you do this to ensure that you continue to receive the correct level of housing costs with your Universal Credit.
You will need to report ‘eligible’ and ‘ineligible’ service charges separately. If relevant, we will set this out on your letter to make this easier for you.
You can report changes to your rent and/or service charge through your online account, using the ‘change to: housing costs’ function, or by calling 0800 328 5644. Lines are open 8am-6pm, Monday to Friday.
You must report the changes on the date they take effect, or at the earliest opportunity thereafter.
Changes reported before they take effect will not be applied and you may lose out on money which you could be entitled to.
Changes reported too late will not be backdated and you could lose out on money which you may be entitled to.
For our rented tenants we are required by law to advise you that you have the right to terminate your tenancy if you do not wish to pay the new charge.
Therefore, if you are a rented tenant and do not wish to pay the new charge, and want to end your tenancy, you must give us four weeks’ notice in writing by 8 March 2021.
We’re here if you want to discuss your rent and service charge
Should you have any questions, our Customer Accounts team are here to help. Further details on how to contact them can be found here.
Earlier this month Ocean Housing completed on its 500th shared ownership home – a great start to 2021!
Our team handed Amy and Debbie (pictured) the keys to their new home in Cubert, with social distancing measures in mind, on Friday 15 January 2021. Their house is one of six affordable properties built by Kingsley Homes in the village which are owned and managed by Ocean Housing, comprising four homes for affordable rent and two for shared ownership.
This is the couple’s second home purchased through the shared ownership scheme, which has helped them to move up the property ladder from a flat which they have outgrown, into a house.
Amy told us: “I grew up in Cubert. It’s a lovely village with a great mix of coast and countryside, but due to high property prices I didn’t think I’d be able to return to living in such a sought-after area.
“I was so excited to see that some of the houses at the scheme were shared ownership, and due to being local with my family still living in the area, we were lucky enough to be accepted for one of the properties. We have purchased a 75% share, and will pay rent on the other 25%.”
With the UK placed into another lockdown at the beginning of the month, our sales coordinator, Nicola Mitchell, explained that the sale was still able to go ahead despite the coronavirus pandemic.
She said: “Ocean is committed to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of its clients and employees. We have a secure handover procedure, in accordance with the latest Government guidelines, which means we can safely continue to deliver much needed homes to our buyers, such as Amy and Debbie, whilst keeping everyone in our communities safe.”
Ocean Housing now has designated appointments for viewings and key handovers. We have redesigned our viewing processes to ensure social distancing is allowed for, and introduced additional safety measures, such as; hand sanitising, and wearing masks and gloves.
Ocean Housing Group’s chief executive, Mark Gardner, added: “I am really proud to have reached such a significant milestone which has helped so many families get their foot on the property ladder. Our team has adapted to new ways of working to make this possible, whilst offering the same level of customer service we strive for.
“Shared ownership is an important part of our programme to provide high quality, affordable homes for people in Cornwall, and we look forward to welcoming others like Amy and Debbie into their new homes in the future.”
For more information about shared ownership opportunities with Ocean Housing take a look around this website.
The Ocean Housing Group came together virtually on Friday December 11, to reflect and celebrate achievements of the past year.
Like many events in 2020, our annual staff conference had to be held online. This however did not prevent around 200 colleagues, engaged tenants and board members getting involved and marking the occasion in style.
Determined to make sure that the event – originally due to be held in the spring – went ahead before the year ended, we decided that hosting it via video-conferencing was the only solution.
“At Ocean, our staff conference is very important to us,” said Mark Gardner, chief executive.
“It gives us the opportunity to come together with colleagues from all across the Ocean Group, Ocean Housing and Gilbert and Goode.”
He added: “We were delighted to be able to host it, albeit in a different form, this year. It was fantastic to see everyone engaging and championing their colleague’s achievements.”
“Working remotely may mean teams are apart, but it has done nothing to affect the team spirit and togetherness of the Ocean Group, or our motivation to serve our tenants.”
Participation packs, which included details of how to get involved as well as refreshments, arrived at the homes of Ocean staff all across Cornwall beforehand, to ensure everyone could join in comfort.
“Working remotely may mean teams are apart, but it has done nothing to affect the team spirit and togetherness of the Ocean Group, or our motivation to serve our tenants.” – Mark Gardner, Ocean Group chief executive.
Those who tuned in slightly earlier were greeted by welcome music. Colleagues shared their dance moves from their homes, creating a celebratory atmosphere from the start.
As part of the conference, awards of achievement were given to staff who have demonstrated core characteristics of the Ocean Group’s values.
The Ocean Group ‘Going the Extra Mile’ (GEM) Awards recognise themes including exceptional teamwork, enthusiasm, innovation, and passion for customer service.
Special golden tickets were placed in the participation packs of all those shortlisted, just to add to the excitement and congratulate them on their hard work.
Jill Hughes, who works on the reception desk, won the ‘Tenant’s Choice’ award and was also voted overall ‘Winner of Winners’ by her colleagues.
She said: “It was a really nice feeling to be voted for by my colleagues, and also tenants, I’m really grateful. Coming together and seeing everyone virtually during the conference was a brilliant way to end a testing year, especially when we’ve all been apart, working from home.”
The ‘Tenant GEM’ award celebrated Ocean tenants. Brenda Edwards won the award for her dedicated community work.
She said: “I was very pleased to receive this award. I think it’s really good that Ocean recognise the efforts of tenants, there was a really strong shortlist of people who have worked hard for their communities.”
Mark Gardner concluded the conference by wishing both staff and tenants alike the very best for the Christmas break and 2021.
As the date coincided with Save the Children’s National Christmas Jumper Day, conference attendees wore festive attire and donated to the charity.
Ocean Housing has recently secured £3 million of funding to help provide high quality, affordable homes for people in St Blazey.
The grants have been awarded by Cornwall Council and Homes England, and will help to fund future phases of Ocean’s multi-million-pound project at Polgrean Place, including nine properties for rent, five for shared ownership, and a bespoke block of 16 flats for older people.
Managing director of Ocean Housing, Frances Turner, said: “We are so grateful for the support of our grant funding partners, which along with our own significant investment, has enabled us to undertake this large and complex redevelopment project.
“We have worked closely with our partners in ensuring we deliver a new lease of life for this community in St Blazey.”
Overall, the scheme will provide a total of 60 new homes for rent and shared ownership, as well as two commercial units and a community space which are already in progress. The first phase of ten two and three-bedroomed homes for rent is also underway, and will be ready for families to move into by summer 2021.
“We have worked closely with our partners in ensuring we deliver a new lease of life for this community in St Blazey.” – Frances Turner, Managing Director of Ocean Housing.
Our sister company, Gilbert & Goode, is the main building contractor for the development. It is the Ocean Group’s biggest project to date, and has been widely welcomed by the community.
Frances added: “We have a shortage of high quality accommodation suitable for older people in Cornwall, particularly in the St Austell area, so we are really pleased to be able to provide a bespoke block of flats for them at Polgrean.
“It will be built to national design standards for older people, and will include facilities such as internal mobility scooter storage, a communal social space with kitchenette, and a landscaped communal garden exclusively for the older residents.
“Our project is also providing our very first homes to be available for shared ownership in St Blazey. These homes will be exclusively available to people who have a connection to the local area, and we are looking forward to speaking with those who are interested in getting their foot on the housing ladder.”
We all feel the cold in the winter. But for some people, cold weather can cause serious health problems.
Many people are tempted to turn their heating off to save money, but in some circumstances this can end up being even more costly, as it takes extra energy to reheat your home.
Top tips this winter for staying warm and healthy:
Keep warm and set your heating between 18°C and 21°C in living areas and 16°c in bedrooms.
Eat well and have regular hot meals and drinks.
Wrap up warm and keep active.
Look out for older friends and neighbours.
Avoid common winter illness and get your flu jab (speak to your GP or visit a pharmacist for more information).
Consider weather conditions before you leave your home.
Switching energy providers could save you money.
If you would like advice about getting the best out of your heating system and saving energy, you can call and speak with one of our Asset Management Team. Also, they can visit your home to carry out an energy audit (social distancing rules applied).
More information about keeping your home warm this winter can be found here.
Did you know?
Community Energy Plus is a local charity, that delivers local solutions to fuel poverty, energy efficiency and sustainable energy. They can help by:
Offering practical advice on understanding and reducing your energy bills and combating condensation and mould.
Giving details of heating and insulation grants.
Providing access to cheap energy tariffs through their collective energy switching initiative.
Giving information on free membership to their community oil buying club.
Providing support for families with children if they have additional needs.
Giving referrals to other trusted service providers where appropriate.
Information on emergency energy key “top ups”.
If you want to find out more, you can give them a call on 0800 954 1956. Also, you can email email@example.com.
Other agencies that could help are:
Let’s Talk offers a range of schemes to help those with utility debt. Some of their schemes also offer energy efficient white goods. Visit www.lets-talk.online/
Turn to Us helps people in financial need gain access to welfare benefits, charitable grants and other financial help. Visit www.turn2us.org.uk/
If you are unable to contact any of these organisations or would rather speak to one of our welfare advisors please call 01726 874450 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Remembrance is important to us all at the Ocean Group.
Each year we gather, together with Housing and Gilbert and Goode colleagues, to pay our respects in the office on Armistice Day (November 11).
Due to social distancing restrictions, things have had to be a little different in 2020. But this did not stop us coming together to take part in a collective two-minute silence at 11am.
Staff from across the Group, board members and engaged tenants gathered virtually, and watched a video together before falling silent and reflecting on those who gave their today for our tomorrow.
“It is very important that, even in lockdown, we come together to share our respects for the fallen.” – Mark Gardner, chief executive.
“The Ocean Housing Group remembrance event is very important to us all,” said Mark Gardner, chief executive of the Ocean Group.
“This year we couldn’t be together. So, staff from across the Group made the effort to put together a virtual event, so that we could all continue to mark the occasion.
“We watched a video of team members reciting Laurence Binyon’s ‘For the Fallen’, our very own Scott Allen played the last post and then we fell silent, before the reveille sounded and drew the event to a close.”
Mark added: “It’s very important that, even in lockdown, we come together to share our respects for the fallen. Thank you to everyone involved in contributing to the event and all who accepted our invitation to join us. Lest we forget.”
You can watch the video, played during the virtual event, below.
Starting this month, Ocean Housing tenants may receive a call from a company called IFF Research.
This is to get your feedback about Ocean Housing, how you feel about your home, neighbourhood and the services we provide. It is also an opportunity to update the details we hold about you so that they are accurate and correct.
Your views are vital when it comes to what we do and how we do it. Hearing your experiences and feedback will help us to improve the services we provide and how we communicate to Ocean tenants.
IFF Research: What you can expect
Starting later than we first hoped, due to COVID-19, IFF Research will contact a number of tenants by telephone to update the details we hold for you & ask you a number of questions.
This company has been selected to complete this research on our behalf, as they are independent housing research specialists.
We know that cold calling can be a worrying issue for our tenants. So, to be confident that you know the call you receive is genuine, please note the following:
Interviewers will introduce themselves as calling from IFF Research.
The number which will appear on customer’s phones will be 0800 077 3572 or 0808 169 9378.
Calls will be made between 10am and 8pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 4pm on a Saturday.
IFF Research are registered with the Market Research Society and bound by their code of conduct, So, they will never pass a customer’s details to any third party.
If you have any concerns or queries please get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to discuss. Thank you!
Ocean Housing fully supports the recent statement from the National Housing Federation (NHF) detailing housing associations’ response in supporting residents struggling due to the impact of COVID-19.
“Housing associations are not-for-profit landlords to more than six million people in England,” said the statement.
“They are working closely with residents, local government, the NHS and others to respond to the coronavirus crisis.
“They are keeping residents safe, keeping vital services running, and helping communities to cope and recover. They know many residents are worried about jobs and getting into debt. Any resident worried about paying their rent should contact their housing association, who will help.”
The statement goes on to highlight three important areas that housing associations, including Ocean Housing, are committed to. They are:
Keeping people secure at home
‘No one will be evicted from a housing association home as a result of financial hardship caused by coronavirus, where they are working (or engaging) with their housing association to get their payments back on track.’
Helping people to get the support they need
‘Housing associations are helping residents to access benefits and other support to alleviate financial hardship, including supporting people to get work where possible.’
Acting compassionately and quickly where people are struggling
‘Housing associations will work with any resident who is struggling to find arrangements to pay rent that is manageable for them in the long term. Legal action will only be taken in serious circumstances – for example, as a last resort where a resident will not agree a plan with their landlord to help them pay their rent, or where it is needed urgently in cases of domestic abuse or of anti-social behaviour that is putting other residents or communities at risk.’
Mark Gardner, chief executive of the Ocean Housing Group, has confirmed Ocean’s support for the NHF statement.
“At Ocean we are proud of our response following the coronavirus outbreak, especially the support our teams have shown to those impacted by it,” he said.
“We have been focussed on making sure we act with all three of the areas covered in the statement in mind. Keeping people secure at home, helping people to get the support they need, and acting compassionately and quickly where people are struggling are themes that have been at the heart of our response.
He added: “Our teams have made just under 1,000 calls to vulnerable tenants, simply to check whether they’re ok. We have also set up the £50K Ocean Housing Hardship Fund, designed to support local charities, families and individuals who are affected by the pandemic.”
“Although our offices currently remain closed to the public for the moment, it does not mean that we are not here for you. Please reach out to us if you are struggling and we can support.”
If you’re financially impacted due to coronavirus please reach out to our team – we’re here to help.
If a tenant finds themselves struggling financially and is having difficulty with rent payments it is important that they contact us with their concerns as soon as possible, and discuss the situation with our Welfare Advisors.
Our team are here to help tenants through this, they will be able to offer specialist advice and agree a reasonable rent plan that reflects the tenant’s circumstances.
To discuss rent accounts or payments tenants can contact their Customer Accounts Advisor on 01726 874450 or email email@example.com
Further information about Ocean Housing’s COVID-19 response, and details of how we can support you in times of hardship, can be found at www.oceanhousing.com/coronavirus
Demolition of Polgrean Place is complete, making way for the construction of a multi-million pound social housing redevelopment in St Blazey, Cornwall.
The ambitious scheme from Ocean Housingwill provide 60 new homes for rent and shared ownership, two commercial units, and a community space.
Gilbert & Goode, our sister company and the principal building contractor for the development, began work on the demolition in January, before the impact of COVID-19 meant the building site was temporarily closed.
Alice Maffey, development manager at Ocean Housing, said: “Coronavirus has understandably caused slight delays to our programme. For the safety of staff and the local community, we made the informed decision to shut down the site at the end of March.
“However, revised guidance meant demolition works restarted in April with a reduced workforce adhering to strict social distancing guidelines. The team has worked really hard throughout the last few months to get everything cleared ready for new construction.”
Building will begin in September with a collection of 10 two and three-bedroomed homes, which will be available for affordable rent through Homechoice, and will be ready for families to move in by the end of summer 2021.
We were delighted that so many joined us last Friday to celebrate a new beginning at Polgrean Place.
It was great to hear so many special memories, and a huge 'thank you' must go to local legend Amos Putt who gave a tour.👏🏽
Mark Gardner, chief executive of Ocean Housing Group, said: “Completing this demolition is a big milestone for us. I am so proud of our team for pulling together over the last few months to safely move forward with the redevelopment of Polgrean Place.
“It is our biggest project to date, and will provide much needed high quality, affordable homes for families and older people in the St Blazey community.
“We have kept in touch with local residents throughout lockdown, making sure they are up to date with everything going on at the site. I would like to thank them for their ongoing support and vigilance, and I look forward to being able to welcome the first families into their brand-new homes around this time next year.”
The first homes are expected to be finished by summer 2021, with the whole redevelopment anticipated to take around two and a half years to complete.
Following recent events in the US and the UK, we have been watching, listening and reflecting.
The overarching message we have heard from the black and wider BAME community is that it is not ok to remain silent.
Simply saying we are not racist or we uphold equality and won’t tolerate discrimination is no longer enough. We must do more to understand racism and tackle it in all its forms.
At Ocean, we have always been proud of our approach to equality, diversity and inclusion and ensuring we create a fair place to work and do business with.
However, we know we can do more and we are committed to continue to support and enable diversity for our Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic colleagues, tenants and customers and in the wider Housing sector.
We need to show our actions are as important as our words, we have strategies in place to improve diversity across our business, but we can do better and we will take action to do so.
This video, shared by the Australian State of Victoria, is useful to remind us that we can all take action and ‘stand up’ to racism, in any form.
At the beginning of this year, before lockdown restrictions were imposed, we had the pleasure of meeting one of our most senior residents – and we were captivated by his life stories!
“It’s hard to believe that it ever happened,” says George, as he reflects on his former working life.
The 102-year-old – thought to be our oldest resident – served in intelligence at Bletchley Park, the historic centre of Allied code-breaking during the Second World War.
It was there that Alan Turing and his team famously cracked the German Enigma code, greatly helping the Allies secure victory. This remarkable feat was brought to life in an Oscar nominated film, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley.
Speaking to us 80 years on from his time there (while stressing that he has signed many an Official Secrets Act!), George described it as ‘surreal’.
His dedication has been commemorated in the form of medals and inclusion on the Codebreaker’s Wall at Bletchley.
“I still remember when the brown envelope arrived and told me that I was being conscripted,” he added.
“More is being understood about Bletchley now, all these years on. It’s incredible to think that 9,000 operatives passed through in that time.”
Another brown envelope arrived for Mr Aston recently, but its contents provoked an entirely different reaction.
“An eight year old girl named Jessica – who is my great, great niece – recently wrote to me. She has based her school project on Bletchley and my service.”
“That’s the best letter I’ve received in a long time. She is taking my medals in to show her classmates!”
George, originally from Dorset, moved to St Austell after meeting his second wife, Betty, while on
holiday to the Isles of Scilly. They had both lost their first partners to illness and found love again with each other.
His first marriage lasted for 40 years, as did his second. Betty passed away last August, aged 99.
George’s advice for people growing up in 2020 is simply to ‘slow down’. “There’s a terrible pace to everything,” he adds.
“The world today has a lot going for it, but it’s lost a lot on the way. We’ve gone from having horse and carts to putting a man on the moon, but basic principles and manners have gone.”
‘Good, old-fashioned and honest food’ is what George puts his good health and longevity down to. Tripe, onions and dumplings are regular favourites and he makes sure to fast every Saturday.
With a cheeky smile George gestures to his pile of completed puzzle pull-outs and adds: “See, I’m a crazy man for crosswords”, as he continues to carry on codebreaking.
We hope you enjoyed our short interview with George. To find out more, and read the special stories of other residents, follow our StreetTalk residents and tenants magazine.
Ocean Housing is helping residents and staff celebrate the 75th anniversary of VE Day – even in lockdown.
To make sure that people can still mark the milestone in style, we’re pleased to offer a number of downloadable packs and worksheets here on our website.
VE (or Victory in Europe) Day is seen as the end of fighting in Europe, in the final days of the Second World War.
Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, made a radio announcement on May 8 1945 to confirm conflict had ceased. It was the emotional day that millions had waited for. Big celebrations and street parties were held to mark the moment.
The 75th anniversary ofVictory in Europe Day on Friday May 8, 2020 was set to be a significant occasion. The May bank holiday was moved and large-scale events were planned to commemorate it.
Nevertheless, we’re hoping people can still observe the anniversary from their homes. Especially thanks to a brilliant partnership with the Royal British Legion, National Memorial Arboretum and Citizen.
Join us from home on Fri 8 May as we come together to commemorate #VEDay75. Note down these special events & help us pay tribute to the entire #WW2 generation from British, Commonwealth and Allied Forces, to evacuees and those who served on the home front. https://t.co/gnKjbgSb3Kpic.twitter.com/SASw4abSPd
Due to technical difficulties experienced during the COVID-19 outbreak, we are currently unable to allocate payments received from your Universal Credit to your rent account.
Your rent account may therefore show a larger arrears balance than it should. All payments received by Ocean Housing will be allocated accordingly as soon as possible.
If you are concerned about this , you can email screenshots of your Universal Credit statement showing your two most recent payments to firstname.lastname@example.org – please include your name and address on the email.
It is your responsibility to check your Universal Credit statement every month to ensure that your rent is covered in full by the direct payments. If your Universal Credit does not cover the rent in full or payments stop, you must contact your Customer Accounts advisor to discuss payments.
Also, because of technical difficulties due to the coronavirus outbreak, we are currently unable to allocate payments received from DWP third party payments for rent arrears.
The picture below shows how the rent statement is broken down and explains if you are in credit, arrears, have an agreement set up, pay a service charge or have any other monies owed other than rent.
To view your rent statements online go to My Ocean, or download the Ocean Housing App via the Play Store or the Apple App Store (You must be registered and signed in to My Ocean while using the app).
Should you have any further questions regarding your rent statement, please contact us by emailing email@example.com or by calling 01726 874450.
Every time that rent statements are sent out we do notice some recurring questions.
So, we have put together a list of Frequently Asked Questions and Answers to help you better understand your rent statement.
The National Housing Federation, which Ocean Housing Group is a proud and committed member of, has released the attached statement today, regarding housing associations’ response to COVID-19 coronavirus.
Ocean Housing Group supports this completely and would like to reassure tenants that we will continue to put them at the heart of our COVID-19 response.
Our team is delivering services, albeit on a slightly reduced scale, in-line with the latest Government guidelines.
As the National Housing Federation states, we are committed to keeping people secure at home, helping people get the support they need, and acting compassionately and quickly where people are struggling.
We were delighted to win gold and another special accolade at the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Healthy Workplace Awards 2020 last month!
The awards, held on March 10 at the region’s Healthy Workplace Annual Conference, recognise good practice in the workplace. The county-wide scheme acts as a toolkit to encourage employers to think about ways to improve the health and wellbeing of their employees.
Following a final assessment, Ocean scored well across all nine areas of award criteria – including health and safety, recruitment and retention, and creating a healthy workplace – achieving 92 points out of 100.
Heather Taylor is part of Ocean Housing Group’s HR team. She said: “We are very proud to have maintained our gold standard for the second consecutive year. Having put a lot of effort into coming up with creative initiatives to make Ocean a great place to work, it’s fantastic to be acknowledged for the high level of support we provide to our staff.”
We are so proud that Ocean was awarded Gold at today's @behealthyatwork Healthy Workplace Conference! 🎉
As Ocean’s health champions, Heather and head of HR Nikki Forward, are responsible for promoting health and wellbeing in the organisation. They were praised by assessors for their pioneering approach to improving staff welfare, with a big focus on mental health and creating a culture for open communication.
Ocean was one of only five businesses to be presented with an award for mentoring
During the awards ceremony, Ocean Housing Group was also presented with an award for mentoring, providing recognition that it is maintaining a healthy workplace, and is now able to mentor other businesses on the programme with its ideas and experience. Ocean was one of only five businesses at the event to achieve this accolade.
Heather added: “The additional mentoring award was very unexpected. It was something we were aiming for in the next few years, so it’s great to think we are ahead of the game, and can start to support other businesses in creating a better working environment.”
Ocean Housing Group’s chief executive, Mark Gardner, added: “I’d like to thank Heather and Nikki for everything they do to make Ocean such a supportive place to work. They’ve established an excellent health and wellbeing strategy which has been adopted throughout the whole organisation.
“We have big ambitions for the next year. We are aiming to collaborate with other inspirational businesses to develop new initiatives, and provide training to raise awareness in important areas, such as the menopause, suicide support, and wellbeing in the construction industry.”
As the situation around COVID-19 continues to develop, our chief executive is reassuring tenants and staff alike that Ocean continues to put them at the heart of everything.
Health and safety and tenant services continue to be the priority of all at Ocean Housing, despite the coronavirus outbreak. Our team is committed to delivering services, albeit on a slightly reduced scale, in-line with the latest Government guidelines to limit potential exposure to the virus.
“We have been following the government’s advice, and are monitoring the situation very closely to ensure that we keep both our residents and staff safe”, said Mark Gardner, Ocean Housing Group’s chief executive.
“We have a number of staff working remotely, and on a rotational working policy, but our robust systems are working well, which means we can continue to deliver services to our tenants.”
Visits to tenants are continuing as usual, with prior screening questions for the benefit of staff and tenants, and with all the appropriate health, safety, and hygiene practices in place.
In addition to standard advice and support services, we are offering intensive support to tenants who find themselves in rent arrears or who are worried about paying their rent.
𝗜𝗻𝗳𝗼𝗿𝗺𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 & 𝗮𝗱𝘃𝗶𝗰𝗲 𝗮𝗯𝗼𝘂𝘁 𝗖𝗼𝗿𝗼𝗻𝗮𝘃𝗶𝗿𝘂𝘀 (𝗖𝗢𝗩𝗜𝗗-𝟭𝟵)
Ocean is closely monitoring the status of the #COVID19 outbreak, and any impact this could have on our services.
Mark continued: “We will not seek to evict any tenant for rent arrears due to coronavirus, but tenants still have to pay their rent. However, tenants have two rent free weeks at this time of year.
“We would urge tenants to use the Ocean app, their AllPay card or direct debit to pay their rent. If any of our tenants have concerns then I would ask them to get in contact with us as soon as possible.”
Our repair services are running at a reduced level, with priority being given to health and safety work and inspections, and emergencies such as water leaks and loss of utilities supply. These repairs can be reported on the app, along with functions such as paying rent, and accessing social media updates.
Loraine Hoar, Customer Accounts manager, added: “We know that this is a difficult time for many of our tenants, however we can support you to claim any benefits that you may be entitled to claim, if you have been effected by illness, self-isolation, school or work closures.
“We want to reassure our tenants that we will still be available to help and support them through these challenging times.” – Mark Gardner, Ocean Housing Group chief executive.
“If you have had a change of circumstances and you are already claiming universal credit or housing benefit, it’s important that you update them and continue to pay your rent as normal. We are here to help you through this and have specialist team members who can offer debt advice and complete benefit calculators to establish what you may be entitled to.”
With the community pulling together in this challenging time, Mark concluded: “We want to thank all our tenants and staff for their patience and understanding during this difficult period. We will continue to keep our website updated with the latest information, and will be sharing useful links via our social media.”
“Finally, I want to reassure our tenants that if government advice is escalated we will still be available to help and support our tenants through these challenging times.”