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TENANTS have praised the ‘brilliant support’ they have received from Wheatley Group’s housing officers in Dumfries and Galloway during the pandemic.

The Group’s 500 housing staff across Scotland have been working from home since March and are staying in close contact with their tenants, particularly the elderly and more vulnerable customers, by phone, text and online.

In Dumfries, DGHP officers have made just under 50,000 calls to customers in the past six months, including more than 30,000 to check how they are and offer any support.

That support includes help with benefit claims, fuel advice or emergency food parcels, as well as help to buy essential items from nappies to mobile phone top-ups and even activity packs for children.

Advisor sitting at desk with an ipad, mobile, calculator and notepads helping a client

DGHP Universal Credit & Welfare Benefits Advisor Fiona Thomson

Melissa McCormick, from Dumfries, said she doesn’t know where she would be without the help from DGHP.

Melissa, who has four children under 12, has been getting regular calls from DGHP Welfare Benefits Advisor, Fiona Thomson.

As well as supporting Melissa with her Universal Credit claim, Fiona also helped provide winter clothing and footwear for her kids through Wheatley’s Emergency Response Fund.

Melissa said: “Fiona is my absolute angel. I don’t know where I’d be without her. She contacts me regularly just to see how I am. That means the world to me.

“She called me recently and I was in floods of tears as I was having such a stressful day, but speaking to Fiona really helps.

“With four kids, and two under the age of two, it’s a struggle at the moment and Fiona went out of her way to get us some help to see us through the winter.

“My priority is always my rent, I’ll never jeopardise the roof over our heads, but what she did for us was incredible. It’s one less thing for me to worry about.”

Across Wheatley Group’s social landlords, housing officers have made more than 260,000 calls to tenants since the start of lockdown.

Matt Foreman, DGHP Managing Director, said: “We’re doing all we can to support customers during these difficult times.

“Our housing officers know their customers well and often have very close relationships with them.

“While we’ve seen an increase in the number of customers needing our support, the reassurance we can provide can often be as important as practical help.

“People know they have our support online and over the phone and really appreciate that someone is there for them.”

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