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Update on service during lockdown and potential merger - 30/04/2020


A message from Solon's CEO, Paul Ville, about our service during lockdown and the potential merger with United Communities.

 
As you are all aware, due to the current coronavirus pandemic, Solon, like many other organisations, has had to change the way it delivers its services. I have genuinely been impressed by the way all of my colleagues have stepped up to provide as close to business as usual as possible in difficult circumstances. As residents, I hope you feel you are getting the help, support and advice you need and that this is given promptly, clearly and sympathetically. Please do let us know if you feel we could do better, or if you have any other ideas how we can improve what we're doing right now.

The following example stands out for me: Providing homes for people in the greatest housing need has always been a high priority for Solon. We recently advised your local council partners that we are trying to continue to turnaround empty properties and work with hem to let homes during the crisis period. We noted that we had already let some homes to residents directly nominated by Bristol City Council and that it was our intention to let a further 8 homes over the next 2 to 3 weeks. I am pleased to say that we are delivering on this. This week we have let a property in South Gloucestershire to an applicant moving from temporary emergency accommodation with her 2 children to a more suitable home, freeing up a room in a local homelessness project. She moved into her new home the previous week. A flat in South Bristol has also been let to a young person moving from supported accommodation, freeing up a room which will be used to help another homeless young person. It is important to continue to repair and let empty properties during this difficult and challenging time helping people move into more suitable housing as soon as possible. We expect to be able to let a further four homes next week and hopefully more will follow.

Thanks

I also want to say thank you to all of Solon's residents who work in the NHS and care sectors and the wide range of other jobs that are essential to keeping us going. We owe you a big debt of gratitude. Thank you.

Update on the potential merger with United Communities

On the 22nd April, Solon and fellow local housing association United Communities agreed that, subject to the outcome of consultation with our residents, there would be many benefits if the two associations were to agree to join forces in a merger.

One of the reasons for this is that the recent discussions and joint working between Solon and United Communities had been a positive experience which found that we share common values, vision, culture, and objectives. Most importantly, our Boards and staff share the big objectives of providing better customer service and developing our staff to ensure that this is delivered. We think that by working together, we would be more likely to achieve this, as well as making us stronger financially and increasing our capacity to provide more new homes.

There is still a lot of work needed to get this done and to ensure it is done well. The coronavirus pandemic will delay the process, mainly due to the impact this has on our ability to ensure genuine resident consultation. At the moment, the highest priority is also continuing to provide business as usual and doing so as well as possible. It is currently anticipated that preparations for the merger will continue over a longer period with a 'go live' date sometime in the autumn.

We will continue to keep you updated on our progress with the current service and on proposals for consulting you on the merger. In the meantime please do not hesitate to contact us on solon@solonswha.co.uk if you have any queries, comments or need any help.

Stay well.

Best wishes,


Paul Ville
Chief Executive at Solon South West Housing Association Ltd


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