Ongo has provided over 1,200 tenants with benefits advice, helped around 360 tenants maintain their tenancies and supported those entitled to extra benefits to claim more than £95,000 in total since the first lockdown was imposed in March 2020.
Over the course of the pandemic, Ongo’s Support Services team have come up with new and innovative ways to continue supporting tenants, with video calls becoming the new normal.
A high percentage of tenants in Ongo’s retirement living schemes fall under the vulnerable category so were made a priority too.
They’ve received essential food parcels and gifts, along with virtual activities to take part in, to uplift their spirits, stay in touch and ensure they were not socially isolated.
In February alone there have been some wins for the team, including a Council Tax refund of over £1,600 for one tenant, a Personal Independent Payment (PIP) of just under £3,400, a backdated Carers Allowance claim of £605 and a number of Discretionary Housing Payments totalling thousands for those struggling.
This along with budgeting advice, grant applications and being on the end of a telephone reflects another hugely successful month for the team.
One Ongo tenant who has recently worked with a member of the team said: “I’ve been given so much help and support which has given me the confidence to be independent and set up my bills and Universal Credit myself.
“This may sound small to some people, but after being in a controlling relationship it was really important for me to do things myself, and the help I’ve received has meant I can do that and move on with my life.”
In addition, the team has been working on securing various grants for tenants in need, to purchase white goods, carpets, and beds.
So far they have successfully applied for funding through agencies such as the ‘BBC Emergency Essentials Fund’ and Glasspool Charity Trust, which has benefited 108 people.
Support for tenants with a learning disability also continues, with teams keeping in regular contact with tenants, their families and carers ensuring that they had everything that they need.
Helen Wright, Support Services manager at Ongo, said: “I’m extremely proud of my team for the incredible achievements they have managed in such unprecedented times.
“Every single team member has done something amazing and has had a positive impact on so many of our tenants.
“Lots of people may be struggling with their mental health or finances at the moment so we’re just really glad we can help those struggling and in need of a little help.
“This work is vital to our tenants and seeing the difference it makes is what keeps our team motivated to go above and beyond with the work we deliver.”
Image: OngoPhotography by Richard Walker/ImageNorth
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