BITMO Updates – September 2020

1 September 2020

I hope you are well,

I wanted to tell you about how we’ve been doing our best at BITMO to support our customers and our community during COVID-19, and about how we are preparing to resume some of our services to you. In the midst of this seemingly never ending public health challenge that we are all dealing with there are no easy solutions, and no quick way to get back to normal. 

We are dealing with a significant backlog of repair requests (400 in fact), and our contractor Mears are working through these as quickly as they can, but they don’t yet have a full staff team so things will take some time. Please bear with us while we do our best to serve you.

Properties are starting to be advertised on CBL and we have been able to hold some socially distanced coffee mornings for our sheltered residents.  The risks to customers and staff associated with face to face service delivery and attending the office are still considerable, while the virus is still active, so our service offer remains telephone based at this time. Some visits such as dealing with arrears, untidy gardens, property condition and mutual exchanges are starting to take place. Where they do happen, our staff will wear PPE to protect you and themselves.

We have welcomed four new members of staff, having carried out interviews via Skype or at a carefully controlled distance, and we are now inducting our new colleagues while working remotely.

We welcome:

  • Andrew Walker as new Head of Repairs, Maintenance and Investment
  • John Clark, Management Accountant
  • Michala Parker and Janice Thackray, Customer Assistants. The addition of these four new colleagues will make a huge difference to our quality of service and effectiveness.     

Some familiar faces have changed roles. 

  • Keith Wigglesworth is taking up a role supporting volunteers and people seeking work and training
  • Debbie Longley has been promoted to the role of Customer Services Team Leader see below to get to know Debbie and her vision for our front line service.
  • Tracey Hall has moved from finance to cyclical maintenance taking care of the gas safety programme among other things.     

We have strengthened our service offer by creating a Tenancy Support Team headed up by Lesley Fothergill. We will tell you more about this in the next edition.          

We are continually reviewing how we can provide the best service to you while following Government advice and we will keep you informed as we develop our plans.

Since lockdown started in March we have regularly kept in touch with over a hundred tenants who were self-isolating, we have allocated funding from Radio Aire’s Cash for Kids and Leeds City Council Community Committee to help families who were struggling because of the impact of COVID-19. We’ve worked with Windmill Children’s Centre to support nearly 50 families by adding money on to their electricity and gas pre-payment meters and providing food shopping vouchers.

We applied through a charity called DevicesDotNow! for a supply of tablets with SIM cards to distribute to 10 families who really need to be online to maintain in come and education. 

We are pleased to have received these funds and devices, and that we were able to help families in need, but we are aware that there is a lot more need out there (see page 3 for help available).

Our AGM took place on 24th September. It was an opportunity for all BITMO Shareholders to vote on Board membership and receive information on the activities of the last year. A full report will be provided next time. We cannot wait to be fully operational and providing you with the full range of BITMO services but in the meantime, stay in touch via the usual channels and let us know how you are coping and the difference you are making to Belle Isle!

by BITMO Chief Executive, Deborah Kelly