COVID-19 and more: latest updates from Southwark Council

COVID-19 national restrictions still apply until 2 December
Remember to stick to the current national restrictions, to help reduce the spread of the virus, protect your family, friends and neighbours, and to save lives.

Self-isolate and get tested if you have symptoms
If you have coronavirus symptoms you must self-isolate and get a free test. There are two testing sites locally in Southwark, with spare capacity, and it’s easy to book a free test.If you’ve been told by the NHS to self-isolate, either because you’ve tested positive for COVID-19 or you’ve been in contact with someone who has tested positive, you may be able to get some financial help while self-isolating.

Volunteer to help share crucial information about COVID-19
We’re working with Community Southwark to find volunteers to help keep people up-to-date with COVID-19 advice. We’re calling them Community Health Ambassadors. Volunteers will receive specialist training and play an important role in keeping our borough safe.If you’re interested in volunteering please complete an expression of interest form.

Try our elibrary during the new national restrictions
During the national restrictions our libraries are closed. However, you can still borrow ebooks and stream films, free of charge via our elibrary service and our home library service is still operating.

Looking for things to do during the tighter restrictions?
Check out our listings of virtual events, performances and workshops to keep you entertained during the tighter restrictions. 

Get help if you’re struggling with low mood, stress or anxiety
Feeling low, stressed and anxious are common feelings. And with the COVID-19 pandemic, you might be finding things harder than usual. Get advice and support to improve your mental health.

Support for parents during the tighter restrictions
If you’re a parent or carer, get support and advice to help you cope with the new national restrictions, including managing conflict, emotions and behaviour at home, eating healthily and talking to children about COVID-19.

Tips on staying active if you’re feeling low on energy
Have you had COVID-19 and are feeling low on energy? Moving more is an important part of your recovery and can help put a spring in your step and lift your mood. Get tips on staying active and free support in the borough for you and your family.

Get your free flu jab
If you’re eligible, make sure you get your free flu vaccination to protect yourself and those around you from the flu virus. It’s more important than ever this year. Ask your pharmacist or GP today.

Get free career and employment support
Southwark Works is a free employment support service for anyone living in the borough. It’s for residents of all ages, experiences and backgrounds and offers one-to-one support to help find a new job or a better job.

Voting safely at next year’s elections
The Greater London Authority elections are due to take place on Thursday 6 May 2021 and we are already making plans to help you stay safe while casting your vote.

Give your views on our climate strategy
We want to know what you think of our suggested approach to reducing carbon and protecting biodiversity in Southwark.

Thinking of becoming a foster carer?
Find out what is needed to become a foster carer by registering for one of our online fostering information sessions on Tuesday 1 December at 6.30pm or Monday 7 December at 12 noon by emailing fostering@southwark.gov.uk

Register to attend your local housing forum meeting
If you live in a council home, including council-owned temporary accommodation, you can register to attend your next virtual local housing meeting. The next meetings are in December and you can take part in discussions with council officers and councillors including how the council can better spend funding on improving homes and estates or how the council allocates homes.

Job support for 16–25-year-olds
We will shortly be launching a new campaign which will help link young people with jobs, training and other opportunities. Sign up now to get jobs, training, volunteering and work experience opportunities and more by email

Update on housing services during the tighter restrictions

Housing news banner

Dear resident,

Following the recent tightening of COVID-19 restrictions in England here are some key updates about our housing and other services and a reminder of upcoming opportunities to get involved.

Remember, if you have coronavirus symptoms you must self-isolate and get a free test. There are two testing sites locally in Southwark and it’s easy to book a free test.Thank to everyone who is looking out for elderly and vulnerable neighbours during these difficult times. If you know a vulnerable resident who needs help, please tell us so we can support them.

We’re currently only doing essential repairs
To reduce the risk to residents and staff of home visits, we will only be carrying out essential repairs inside people’s homes, focusing on ensuring homes are warm, dry and safe, and prioritising our vulnerable residents.

Resident services
We will continue to contact and support vulnerable residents in all tenures of council accommodation including our supported hostels and residents in temporary accommodation, sheltered and Extra Care housing. We will carry out estate inspections and fire risk assessments, and we will continue to carry out work on voids to support choice based lettings.Meetings with residents and routine home visits will be carried out virtually where possible.

Homelessness services
Our Housing Solutions service continues to provide advice and support to people who need urgent help because they are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

Please continue to pay your rent
Please continue to pay your rent if you can because it helps to fund vital council services at this difficult time. If you are struggling with rent payments there is help available.

We’re still building new homes
Construction is permitted to continue under the new restrictions so we will be continuing work as planned on delivering new council homes, while our contractors and construction workers are working in Covid-secure ways. Read more about the council’s new homes programme. 

Register your interest in a growing plot
Early in the new year we will launch a new Allotment Expansion Guarantee to create hundreds of new growing plots on council land. The council’s community gardening coordinators will work with residents to design, build and run their own community allotments. Sign up to receive an alert.

Other changes to council services
Southwark’s parks will remain open
All sports and leisure facilities, including football, tennis and basketball courts, grass and astro-turf pitches, outdoor gyms, cricket nets and fishing areas will be closed.
Schools remain open and children should attend as normal.
Leisure centres will close.
Libraries will close (but digital services and the home library will continue)
Playgrounds will stay open but families should maintain social distance and wash hands/use hand sanitiser before and after use.
Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies can only proceed in exceptional circumstances.
Funerals can still be held, with up to 30 people.

Join in your next local housing forum
The next round of housing forum meetings is taking place in December. Anyone who lives in a council home, including council-owned temporary accommodation can now book their space.

When are the meetings and what will be discussed?The next meetings will take place between 3 and 17 December and topics will include:Feedback on previous meetingHousing service updates for your area.Election of a resident to chair the meetingsElection of representatives to the new Tenants and Homeowners ForumDue to the current pandemic these meetings will be held virtually on Zoom. You can reserve your place on Zoom.>> Register to attend now. 

Which forum meeting you should attend
There are five different housing forums, each covering a different part of the borough. You can check which housing forum you should attend on our website.If you would like more information on these meetings, nominations or the elections (see below) please contact resident.participation@southwark.gov.uk

Nominate yourself to become your local housing forum chair
By having a resident chair this meeting we will ensure that the meetings cover relevant topics and are shaped by residents for residents. You would need to commit to attend four meetings a year. Experience in chairing meetings is not necessary as training and support will be given.>> Complete a self-nomination by 18 November

Nominate yourself to represent your housing forum in the tenants’ or homeowners’ forum.
Nominate yourself to represent your housing forum in the tenants’ or homeowners’ forum. You can now also nominate yourself to represent your local forum at the new tenants’ or homeowners’ forum. This might be for you, if you are able to commit to attend about nine evening meetings a year. You don’t need to have previous experience as we will offer free training and support to help you fulfil this role.  >> Complete a self-nomination by 18 November


Urgent information about new national restrictions

Kieron Williams HeaderDear resident

From today, England is moving into a new period of national restrictions, until Wednesday 2 December. This means that once again, we should all stay at home as much as possible and work from home if we can.

While this is hard for everyone, it is really important that we all stick to the rules, so together we can reduce the number of people who are catching the virus, protect our families, friends and neighbours, and save lives.

The laws that the Government is introducing for this period mean you should only leave your home for specific purposes. These include to:
Attend school, education or childcare
Exercise outdoors or visit an outdoor public place
Attend medical appointments or for any medical concerns or emergencies, including a booked Covid-19 test, or avoid harm or injury (such as domestic abuse)
Go to work if you cannot work from home
Shop for basic necessities like food and medicine
Visit members of your support bubble, care for vulnerable people, or volunteer

Many businesses, such as pubs, non-essential shops, cinemas, leisure centres, museums and hair and beauty salons, will be closed. Read the full details about the restrictions.

I know how worried many of you will be about these restrictions. Some will be worried about the financial impact on your families, while others will fear loneliness and isolation. I can’t pretend it will be easy, but I can promise you that we will do everything we can to support you through this challenging time.

Thank you and stay safe.  

Kieron

Self-isolate and get tested if you have symptoms
If you have coronavirus symptoms you must self-isolate and get a free test. There are two testing sites locally in Southwark and it’s easy to book a free test.

Try our elibrary during the new national restrictions
During the national restrictions our libraries will close. However, you can still borrow ebooks and stream films, free of charge via our elibrary service and our home library service will keep operating.

Impact of tighter restrictions on council services
Government guidance on specific aspects of the new restrictions that relate to council services is still emerging. However, we can currently confirm the following:
Southwark’s parks will remain open
All sports and leisure facilities, including football, tennis and basketball courts, grass and astro-turf pitches, outdoor gyms, cricket nets and fishing areas will be closed.
Schools remain open and children should attend as normal.
Leisure centres will close.
Libraries will close (but digital services and the home library will continue)
Playgrounds will stay open but families should maintain social distance and wash hands/use hand sanitiser before and after use.
Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies can only proceed in exceptional circumstances.
Funerals can still be held, with up to 30 people.


Watch the Unicorn Theatre’s online theatrical reading of one of Roald Dahl’s best-loved stories, The Twits. This unabridged reading, filmed in the theatre, is gleeful, gunge-filled digital storytelling aimed at children aged 6 to 12.

Support for parents during the tighter restrictions
If a parent or carer get support and advice to help you cope with the new national restrictions, including managing conflict, emotions and behaviour at home, eating healthily and talking to children about COVID-19.

Remembrance Sunday service in Southwark Cathedral
The Mayor of Southwark and Southwark Council will be marking the day with a virtual service and wreath laying in Southwark Cathedral, which was pre-recorded before the new restrictions came into force. This will be available on the council’s YouTube channel on Sunday 8 November.

Get your free flu jab
If you’re eligible, make sure you get your free flu vaccination to protect yourself and those around you from the flu virus. It’s more important than ever this year. Ask your pharmacist or GP today.

Voting safely at next year’s elections
The Greater London Authority elections are due to take place on Thursday 6 May 2021 and we are already making plans to help you stay safe while casting your vote.

If you smoke you’re more at risk from COVID-19
If you’re a smoker and become infected with COVID-19 you’re more likely to become seriously ill than a non-smoker. Get help to quit smoking now

Job support for 16–25-year-olds
We will shortly be launching a new campaign which will help link young people with jobs, training and educational opportunities. Sign up now to get jobs, training and education opportunities by email.

Current COVID-19 restrictions, flu jab reminder, adult education and more

Check the current COVID-19 rules:

The whole of London is now in ‘Level 2’ restrictions, which means we must all follow extra rules to help stop the spread of COVID-19. The key new rule that affects us all is:

You must not socialise with anybody other than members of your household or support bubble in any indoor setting, whether at home or in a public place

The new rules also include:
Social mixing between households is not allowed indoors, including in homes, pubs or restaurants.
The ‘Rule of Six’ will continue to apply outdoors, including in private gardens.
Restaurants, cafes and pubs can remain open but must close by 10pm, and will need to follow the ban on households mixing indoors
Retail, schools, public transport and universities will remain open.

You can also read the government guidance for more detail about the new restrictions.

Continue to follow national guidance

The new measures are in addition to the national rules and guidance so please continue to:
1. Keep your distance
2. Wash your hands
3. Wear a face covering
4. Self-isolate if you have symptoms while you arrange a test, or if you are advised to because you have been near to someone else who has tested positive

If you are worried about the impact of the new restrictions, or about self-isolating, there is support available. Whether you have a practical concern like how you will get groceries, a mental health issue like being alone, or how it will affect your finances – the council can help. 

New adult learning courses
We are running a range of adult education courses, including Covid-secure in-person courses and online courses ideal for those that are self-isolating or prefer distance learning. A number of courses are starting on 2 November including knitting and sewing, and there are still spaces available on courses that have started such as online hatha yoga, painting, maths and English.

Is your child starting secondary school in September 2021?
You must apply for your child’s secondary school place online by 31 October 2020. We have lots of useful information about the different types of secondary schools in Southwark, as well as tips to help you decide which school is right for your child. 

Read our Elephant magazine
The Autumn issue of The Elephant Magazine is out now. It includes local artist, Sokari Douglas Camp talking steel, sculpture and Southwark; the Elephant’s Lockdown heroes and news on how the Community Fund is helping local charities. Pick up your copy in the neighbourhood or read online

Could you foster a child?
If you have a spare room and have a flexible job, and if you’re energetic and a good listener, you could consider becoming a foster carer

Have you seen the giant mural on Old Kent Road?
Proposition Studios at Surrey Wharf is transforming a corner of Old Kent Road with an amazing, temporary work of art, ahead of redevelopment.

Get your free flu jab
If you’re eligible, make sure you get your free flu vaccination to protect yourself and those around you from the flu virus. It’s more important than ever this year. Ask your pharmacist or GP today.

Enjoy Halloween safely
This Halloween, why not play Spot the Pumpkin and get school friends to put pictures in their windows: parents, give your kids a sweet for every one they spot.

Help design services to support people experiencing abuse
We want your help to design support services for residents experiencing any form of gender-based violence or abuse. This includes domestic abuse, stalking, rape, forced marriage and prostitution. If you’ve been directly or indirectly affected by such violence and abuse give your views before 23 November.

If you smoke you’re more at risk from COVID-19
If you’re a smoker and become infected with COVID-19 you’re more likely to become seriously ill than a non-smoker. Get help to quit smoking now

An update on the Bakerloo Line extension
Southwark and Lewisham councils remain fully committed to the Bakerloo Line extension, following TfL’s announcement regarding funding. Read the joint statement.

Job support for 16–25-year-olds
We will shortly be launching a new campaign which will help link young people with jobs, training and educational opportunities. Sign up now to get jobs, training and education opportunities by email

Southwark Creates newsletter

Southwark Presents /  Southwark Creates / September 2020 Southwark Creates artwork
Welcome to the October edition of theSouthwark Creates newsletter

Firstly, congratulations to South London Gallery for their success on being named joint winners of Art Fund Museum of the Year, and to the Guyana-born Southwark-based British artist Frank Bowling, choreographer Siobhan Davies and the chair of Mountview Vikki Heywood who have respectively been awarded a knighthood and damehood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2020. The last week has also brought the welcome news that 55 organisations in Southwark have been awarded grants from the Culture Recovery Fund.  

We wish Southwark Park Galleries and the Drawing Room the best of luck as they reopen this month. As more cultural organisations start to re-open in Southwark we will be shining a spotlight on the amazing work taking place behind the scenes. If you would like to share your experiences of this process in the next newsletter please do let us know.

In the meantime, Arts Council England have taken a look at the hugely positive contribution that the creative industries and the cultural sector make to the UK economy by commissioning three new research pieces by the Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR) and Metrodynamics. Read the full story here.

Black History Month 2020 provides us with an opportunity to celebrate the achievements, contributions and histories of Black people in the UK and around the world. This year we have supported 33 local organisations/artists to produce a wide range of events and activities from a digital patchwork quilt and poems by prize-winning poet Jenny Mitchell to interdisciplinary live-streamed concerts showcasing Black British musicians. Read more here.

If you have a specific query or are looking for further support please contact the Culture Team via email culture@southwark.gov.uk. We’re here to help!

#KeepSouthwarkSafe
#HereForCulture

Get involved

Join the Centre for Cultural Value’s online festival of ideas 2-13 November. Ten days of free online events, probing and questioning the value of culture through a series of discussions, debates and hands-on workshops. Read more and sign up here.

#HereForCulture campaign has launched to help support Britain’s globally renowned arts, culture and heritage industries. Please support and show you are #HereForCulture by sharing the assets in this toolkit across your social media channels.

The Audience Agency – Digital Audience Survey. A new free survey to give you a comparative snapshot of your digital audiences as you adapt your online offer. Request a digital audience survey here.

Networking

Creative Network Southwark – A network of individuals and organisations working in the creative sector in Southwark, run by Community Southwark. Check out the website for details on the next meeting.

Rye Here Rye Now – A Peckham-based meet up, for graphic designers, illustrators, design thinkers, photographers, filmmakers, artists and other creatives. Check out the website for details on the next meeting.

Outdoor Arts UK provides an informal sector network weekly drop-in, plus one to ones with a member of the Outdoor Arts UK team are available. Read more.

Visit Southwark Creates / Networking for more opportunities

Funding

Unlimited is an arts commissioning programme that enables new work by disabled artists to reach UK and international audiences. Deadline 27 October. Find out more here.

The Culture Recovery Fund for Independent Cinemas is intended for independent cinemas across England whose businesses have been unavoidably interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Deadline 30 October 2020. Find out more here.

Garfield Weston Foundation has announced a £25m one-off fund to support museums, performing and visual arts organisations across the UK. Deadline 9 November 2020. Find out more here.

The Architectural Heritage Fund announces a new £1 million grant programme to support charities and social enterprises occupying historic buildings to develop new business plans and strategies in light of the COVID-19 crisis. Deadline 9 November 2020. Find out more here

The Paul Hamlyn Foundation has reopened the Teacher Development Fund (TDF) for applications. Grants of up to £150K for primary schools working together with arts & cultural organisations. Deadline 20 November 2020. Find out more here.

Arts Council England Developing your Creative Practice is for individuals who are cultural and creative practitioners and want to take time to focus on their creative development. If you’re thinking of taking your practice to the next stage, DYCP can help by supporting research, time to create new work, travel, training, developing ideas, networking or mentoring. Find out more here

Arts Council England National Lottery Project Grants reopened for applications, with a budget of £59.8 million available until April 2021. The fund will focus on the needs of smaller independent organisations and individual practitioners. Find out more here.

Visit Southwark Creates / Funding for more opportunities

Business support

Southwark Council provides support and information for businesses and employers on the Council’s website. To contact the Council about support available or issues affecting your business, please email SouthwarkBusinessDesk@southwark.gov.uk

Guidance on working safely during the coronavirus (COVID-19) for employers, workers and the self-employed Read more. 

Information on local COVID alert levels, including what they mean, why they are being introduced and what the different levels are. Read more.

NHS app and test and trace Businesses and venues that are already required to collect visitor details for test and trace must also by law display NHS QR codes for visitors using the new NHS app. If your business collects test and trace data, please read the FAQs about what is required and use this tool to generate your QR code posters.

Visit Southwark Creates / Business Support for more opportunities

Training and short courses

Visit the Council’s Stay-at-Home Library of Things To Do to discover a range of online learning activities. There are also lots of one-off short courses being delivered online and virtual courses via the Adult Learning Centre.

Start-ups in London Libraries.  Free workshops developing your business idea to marketing masterclasses, check out the courses running in October. Sign up here.

UAL Creative Computing Institute. Learn new skills, pursue your interests or advance your career with short online courses. From constructing your own video games to designing a feminist chatbot. Check out the free courses and sign up here.

Stride makes space for creativity and innovation to thrive in South London. They create opportunity, develop talent and support creative and tech enterprises. Be the first to know about Stride programmes and initiatives. Sign up here.

Visit Southwark Creates / Talent Development for more opportunities
Resources

Southwark Stands Together. The report is now available to downlod here. The section on Culture begins on page 12 and the sectionon Reinventing and Renewing the Public Realm begins on page 18. You may also be interested in reading about the updated Council Plan, which is available online here.

New Covid-19 planning guidance published for UK festivals. Includes contributions from across the festival industry working in collaboration with DCMS and Public Health England. Read more.

Jobs and opportunities

Engagement Curator (Maternity Cover). The Drawing Room is seeking an Engagement Curator, a position funded by the Bridget Riley Art Foundation, to lead their ground-breaking programme which aims to make both the practice of drawing and the appreciation of drawings accessible to a diverse audience. Deadline 20 October 2020. Read more and apply here.

The Michael O’Pray Prize, is a Film and Video Umbrella initiative, in partnership with Art Monthly for new writing on innovation and experimentation in the moving image. The prize is open to all early-career writers based in the UK . Deadline 22 October 2020. Reed more and apply here.

Interim Youth & Adult Learning Officer. South London Theatre is looking for someone to kick-start their adult learning programme and re-invigorate their youth group. 6 month contract 21 hours/week £18/hour, includes Saturdays during term times. Deadline 21 October 2020. Read more and apply here.

Siobhan Davies Studios are offering artist support to dance artists, choreographers and others working in the dance sector. Sessions for October have now been released. Find out more.

Creative Bursaries for Southwark Students – Ten new Bursaries o£2,500 each for academic year 2020/21 for Southwark secondary students to study at Camberwell College of Arts, UAL and London College of Communication, UAL. In partnership with University of the Arts London (UAL), these Bursaries are provided by Southwark Council. To register your interest, please email scholarshipapplications@arts.ac.uk and UAL’s Student Funding Service will contact all students who have completed the enrolment process in October 2020.

Help keep Southwark safe

Southwark Council is monitoring the COVID-19 infection rates on a daily basis and our numbers are increasing. It is still a threat and we all need to do all we can to prevent the spread of this virus and protect
our family, friends and communities. A high proportion of new cases are for people aged 18–34. We also know that most transmission is still amongst family and friends.

If you’re visiting family or going out with friends you must:
keep your distance from other people at all
a face covering in shops and on public transport
wash your hands regularly.

Get a test as soon as possible if you have coronavirus symptoms (a high temperature, a new persistent cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste). You must also self-isolate, as should members of your household and anyone in your support bubble.

#KeepSouthwarkSafe

Southwark Presents…

Southwark Presents

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If you would like to share an offer with Southwark Presents card holders please email culture@southwark.gov.uk.Tell me more…
To get the latest special offers and cultural news, sign up to the Southwark Presents newsletter. Next time you’re passing one of our libraries, why not pop in to register for your own Southwark Presents card? Visit Southwark Presents for the latest events in the borough
Contact us
Southwark Council
Culture and Events Team
PO Box 64529
London SE1 5LX

message from Cllr Kieron Williams, the new Leader of Southwark Council

Kieron Williams HeaderDear resident

It is an honour to be elected as Leader of Southwark Council. As Leader, I want to work with everyone in Southwark to keep building a better future and unlocking the amazing potential I see in every part of our community.  

Never has that potential been clearer than during this pandemic. Seeing volunteers, frontline workers, public services, charities, faith groups and businesses all step up together has been truly inspiring. I want to thank you all for the part you have played. Your actions have shown incredible strength and resilience.

Sadly the pandemic is far from over and our continued response to COVID-19 remains our top priority. Cases and hospital admissions are rising across London and much of the UK. If action isn’t taken quickly, we risk seeing another dramatic rise in hospitalizations and, tragically, deaths.

I welcome the additional restrictions that have been introduced this week – further information about these is below – and I have joined the Mayor of London in calling for further targeted restrictions in London to help keep us all safe.Although COVID-19 is the most pressing and urgent issue we face, it is not our only challenge. The unequal impact of the pandemic on different communities has shone a light on wider inequalities and injustice in our society. My ambition as Leader is to unite communities in Southwark so we can break down that inequality, and not just rebuild from the crisis, but build something better. A Southwark where everyone has a home, where everyone can get a decent job, where we end our carbon emissions and where everyone is empowered to make the best of their life.

I look forward to working with you to continue to build a better future for the people of Southwark.

Thank you and stay safe.

Kieron

Update on new Covid-19 rules
This week the government announced a tightening of Covid restrictions in a number of areas and also launched its new Test and Trace app.

Self-isolating is a legal requirement from 28 September
From 28 September you are legally required to self-isolate, if you’ve tested positive or been told to by the test and trace service. People who don’t self-isolate when required could now be fined. If you need to self-isolate and you’re on a low income and can’t work from home, you may be eligible for £500 hardship payment. We are waiting for further details from the government about how this will work.

New rules for pubs, restaurants and shops
Some businesses need to follow updated rules where appropriate. This includes shop staff wearing face coverings, and pubs and restaurants closing by 10pm and implementing table service only.

Businesses must display a contact tracing poster
Businesses and some other organisations must download and display a QR code poster for customers and visitors to support contract tracing.

Download the Test and Trace app
You can now download the national test and trace app. The app has a number of features including alerting users if they have been near other app users who have tested positive for coronavirus. Find out more about the app.

Changes for indoor sports and weddings
Indoor team sports can now only be played by a maximum of six people. Weddings can now only have a maximum of 15 guests.

Keep washing your hands, social distancing and wear a face covering
In addition to the new rules we must keep washing our hands regularly, keep our distance from others (and not meet with more than six people), and wear a face covering in shops and on transport.

Self-isolate and get tested if you have symptoms
If you have coronavirus symptoms you must self-isolate and get a free test.

Make your own face covering, free film streaming and much more

Cllr Peter John OBE

Dear resident

London Tenants Federation Summer Newsletter: Protecting the social housing we have and building more

Welcome to our Summer Newsletter

Things haven’t got any easier for social housing tenants, or for anyone in housing need, since our spring newsletter. Despite all, we hope you and your neighbours are well and finding ways to stay connected. 

The government’s shambolic and inadequate statements around protection for renters and funding for new ‘affordable’ rented housing have provided no comfort whatsoever to those already disproportionately affected by Covid19.

Frustratingly, it’s not that the resources aren’t available. In June, we published a briefing: ‘Who gets the most from the taxpayer when it comes to housing?’ Clue: It’s not social rented housing and those in need of it.

With many more people facing homelessness and job losses, now more than ever it is essential that we protect the social housing we have and prioritise available funding and resources for building more. This newsletter covers a number of ways we can help.

35,000 homes on London estates are earmarked for demolition

Estate Watch is a new online resource which aims to ensure those communities have more information about demolition and its alternatives. We had fantastic feedback when we launched the website with Just Space in June, from tenants and residents, journalists, academics and campaigners. 

The website summarises research led by Professor Loretta Lees, highlighting that around 131,000 tenants and leaseholders have been displaced by council estate demolition in London since 1997.

To mark the launch we held a Twitter Q&A with Loretta Lees in June and a Zoom meeting for residents of affected estates on 5th August.

Whilst it was a positive to see the Mayor introduce ballots for grant-funded demolition schemes in 2018, we have heard concerning accounts of how the policy is being implemented. A leaseholder on a Camden estate which has voted in favour of demolition described seeing council officers visiting residents in their homes while the ballot was taking place to ‘help’ them fill in the form.

“They were upfront that they were pushing for it to be knocked down,” said Luise. “There was nothing impartial about the consultation. They’ve been deliberately and continuously neglecting the estate. We were basically told that if we voted against demolition the estate would be run down even further.”

We can’t rely on councils, housing associations and their development partners to share the full picture of what demolition involves with tenants and residents before they go to ballot so it’s important we share that ourselves. Please help us spread the word about Estate Watch:

GOVERNMENT AND MAYORAL CONSULTATIONS

Planning for the future (Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government)

Consultation closes at 11:45pm on 29 October 2020

The government are consulting on potentially radical changes to the planning system. Proposals include scrapping Section 106 and a zoning system which sets out areas for ‘growth’, ‘renewal’ and ‘protection’. Read more here.

We are very nervous about what this could mean; for social housing delivery, for liveability in poorer areas and for community involvement in the planning process. We will be in touch about opportunities to feed in to LTF’s discussions about this, and look forward to sharing with you our response to the consultation.

‘Priority housing for London’s covid heroes’ (Mayor of London)

Consultation closes on 11 October 2020

The Mayor is consulting on proposals to prioritise allocation of ‘intermediate housing’, eg. shared ownership and the ‘London Living Rent’, for ‘key workers’. Read more here.

As we know these tenures are unaffordable to many of the essential workers who have kept London running through the pandemic. We have shared our initial response to this announcement on Twitter and will keep you informed of our response to the consultation itself.

FIRE SAFETY

Phase 2 of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry has been especially hard to listen to. We’ve found Pete Apps’ Grenfell Tower Inquiry Diary in Inside Housing particularly insightful reading.

The government has now published its draft Fire Safety Bill. We aim to hold a Zoom meeting about this for tenant and leaseholder representatives. We will keep you informed on when that is and how to book.

Do you live in a high rise tower block or know someone who does? 

FixMyBlock: A Tower Block Action Guide is a new publication that could help tower block residents track and report safety and maintenance issues in their buildings. It’s being trialled by Tower Blocks UK and mySociety and they are currently looking for comments from tenants and residents. 

NEWS, BLOGS AND EVENTS

Tenants excluded from London’s Covid-19 Housing Delivery Taskforce 

In May, we raised our voice about the exclusion of tenant and community groups from the Deputy Mayor for Housing’s taskforce on housing provision post-Covid-19. The Task Force has since published it’s report and recommendations. Watch this space for our analysis.

In figures: Why the Mayor should scrap the London Affordable Rent
The London Affordable Rent is often referred to as social rent or very similar to social rent, but the 2018/19 benchmark London Affordable Rent for just a bedsit (£150) was £44/week higher than the average London council rent (£106 a week), covering all sizes of property. We took the matter up with the regulator of social housing, who confirmed that this is compliant with the expectations for an ‘affordable rent product’.

Can shared ownership be made better for Londoners, or is it fundamentally flawed?
In May, we responded to concerns around shared ownership, raised by Unmesh Desai, Chair of the London Assembly Housing Committee.

Book Review: Community-led Regeneration by Pablo Sendra and Daniel Fitzpatrick
LTF rep Pat Turnbull gave her thoughts on this new book; a free resource for communities and planners. You can find a copy of the book online here.
If you’re a social housing tenant or leaseholder and you’ve read anything on housing or planning that you’re interested in writing a book review for, we’d love to hear from you. Contact zoe-comms@londontenants.org

Want some help getting on social media?

We periodically hold social media training for our members and social housing tenant and resident representatives. If there is demand, we will hold another training session via Zoom (a free online conference call service) in the autumn. If this interests you, get in touch with zoe-comms@londontenants.org

PUBLICATIONS 

Tenants’ Guide: The Mayor of London’s Powers 

The Mayor of London has wide-ranging strategic powers over housing, regeneration and large-scale developments. Intended for tenant, resident and community groups in the capital, this Guide sets out what those powers are and how they impact on us locally, so that we are better able to influence decision-making. Council and housing association tenant participation officers who are seeking to connect tenants and residents groups to opportunities to engage in wider debates about housing and planning may also find this useful. If you have a tenant participation officer, why not send them the link?

The London Tenants Guide to ‘Genuinely Affordable Housing’ 2020 

This is an updated version of the 2019 guide and includes the latest figures on London Affordable Rent for 2020/21.

Case studies 

We can’t easily get out and explore different parts of London at the moment, but there’s still virtual guided tours. We visited the Holland Rise estate in Lambeth and the New Kingshold Estate in Hackney, both filmed before lockdown.

Holland Rise and Whitebeam Close Tenant Management Organisation
Cindy and Pauline, a volunteer and Board Member of the TMO, take us on a tour of the estate’s well equipped community centre and beautiful shared gardens; a fantastic example of the possibilities and benefits of tenant management.

Victoria Community Association (The TRA for the New Kingshold Estate)
When Hackney’s New Kingshold Estate was demolished and rebuilt in the 1990s, what was formerly a council estate was split between four different landlords. Pat Turnbull, LTF rep and Chair of the estate’s tenants and residents association (TRA) explains how and why the community fought to retain one joint TRA for the whole estate.

Do you have any photos or videos giving a picture of your estate and community? We’d love to see them. Email zoe-comms@londontenants.org 

NEWS FROM OUR PARTNERS

Could you be the next Chair of the London Housing Panel?

The London Housing Panel is looking for an independent Chair to provide leadership to the Panel as they work on housing policy issues facing London. Application deadline: Monday 17 August 2020, 5pm. More details here. 

Housing management and tenant involvement

Inside Housing held their ‘Digitial Housing Week’ in June and Andy Bates from Leathermarket JMB, an LTF rep for the National Federation of Tenant Management Organisations (NFTMO) gave a presentation at the workshop on financial hardship in relation to Covid19. You can find slides from his presentation here.

We’re looking forward to speaking on how we get landlords to better listen to tenants at the Inside Housing Consumer Experience conference in October. We’ll report back on that too it

Highlights from Twitter, Facebook and Youtube

  • The Setchell TRA in Southwark have kept us learning with a series on Facebook about the history behind the estate’s architecture

  • Leathermarket JMB have kept spirits up in their community and on Twitter, by sharing stories of their good work 

  • The Lancaster West Neighbourhood Team held a webinar in July about sustainability in social housing, including a presentation from Anne Power on ‘the case for retrofit’. The full presentation has been uploaded to Youtube.

  • The Estate Watch launch received huge engagement and high praise from Guardian journalist Aditya Chakrabortty who described it as a ‘Brilliant resource’.

London Tenants is a company ltd by guarantee, reg in England/Wales No 08155382

Our registered company address is:
82A Godwin Court, Crowndale Rd, London, NW1 1NW

Telephone
07931 214913

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Help us keep Southwark safe, gyms reopen, and family fun this summer

Cllr Peter John OBE

Dear resident