Helping to keep our multi-storey flats a safer place

Wednesday 1st of April 2020

Impressed by the quick response that Hull City Council has taken to try and keep residents as safe as possible, we asked Sherilee Jepmond, Tenant Participation Officer at Hull CC to tell us more about what they have been doing over the last few days. 


Working in tenant engagement can be one of the most rewarding jobs (in my opinion). Building a good working partnership between tenants and the social housing landlord’s service can have it’s up and downs but at times like this, the cream comes to the top. These are unprecedented and worrying times that none of us thought we would ever have to face.

Currently, our tenants living in multi-storey flats need additional support because of their close proximity of their neighbours. Basically a high rise block of flats is a street in the sky with everyone using the same main entrance, the same lift and the same bin chute areas. So when Covid-19 started to get serious, we knew that something needed to be done quickly to limit the spread of the virus in the flats.

With input from the relevant teams, we put together an advice leaflet. My colleague Carl and I delivered more than 2300 leaflets to tenants living in high rise flats across the city. This leaflet included

 •If a door opens outwards, where possible use your forearm or elbow to open it.

•You can still take your rubbish to the bin chutes or bins, however, please wash your hands before and after doing this. Do not leave rubbish in the communal or chute areas. If you have larger item such as pizza boxes, please tear these up into smaller pieces so they do not block the chutes. Blocking the chutes creates additional fire risks.

 • If using the building lift, try to do this on your own, or with the people, you share your flat with.

•Try not to pass people on the stairs, wait at the top or bottom and try to keep your distance while they pass you.

As a local authority officer at a time like this, you become a first responder to make sure that the vulnerable people among our tenants still receive the support they need and more.

Tenant involvement as such in Hull is on hold, and my job has temporarily changed. I am supporting the Housing Facilities Team (caretakers).  We are: carrying out health and safety, and fire checks; monitoring the calls from concerned tenants and directing them to the relevant service areas, and making sure that the tenants have up to date information on the Government guidelines for Covid-19 and the service level they can expect to receive from the council across all service areas.

Recently we trained our Housing Facilities Operatives to spray weed killer on communal areas outside the flats. Little did we think they would be spraying disinfectant to help prevent the spread of a deadly virus! The guys came up trumps. When asked if they would go around Hull’s 26 high rise blocks spraying disinfectant, their answer was a resounding “Yes”.

Fire safety in multi-storey blocks is paramount, and people leaving bulky waste items around the blocks are a fire hazard. With our local waste sites closed, we were granted special permits enabling us to take bulky items to one of the open sites. We collected two full van loads!

At a time like this, we are all in it together and we all have to pull together to make our communities as safe as possible, helping the most vulnerable people get the support they need. Our Housing Facilities Team is doing just that for the people living in the city’s flats, and I for one would like to say a huge “thank you” to them.