As the country entered Lockdown in March, R. Benson was approached by St Mungo’s Homeless Charity with an urgent request to carry out 25 void refurbishments situated across London and the Home Counties.
Homeless people were in desperate need of these homes to support self-isolation and social distancing measures during the COVID-19 crisis, however, essential repairs needed to be carried out before they could be released.
Our management team worked with the St Mungo’s team to put together a proposal to carry out these essential works as quickly as possible while ensuring the health and safety of both project teams. The first property survey took place on 31st March 2020 with the client issuing the first batch of orders on 1st April. Works commenced on 2nd April and the first property was handed back on 6th April. Following the successful completion of the initial properties five further voids became available in Oxfordshire on 14th April, these were surveyed and instructed by 16th April and all work was completed on 24th April.
To adhere to the governments social distancing guidance, we introduced the following measures to ensure the welfare of our teams:
- Property surveys and validations were carried out by R. Benson and St Mungo’s at different times, we complete two tick sheets detailing the works, one would be left for the client surveyor to review and then confirmed via a telephone call
- Operatives travel to properties in their own vehicles
- No more than 2 operatives worked in each property and were always at least 2m apart
- Careful programme management ensured that the specialist trades including plumbers and electrician attended the property on different days at specified times
- Appropriate PPE was worn at all times including masks and gloves etc to prevent any contamination
Due to COVID-19 there are currently delays in the supply of materials, however, to ensure works would not be delayed due to a shortage of materials we ordered all material on completion of the survey of each property.
Mark Thomson, Head of St Mungo’s Property Services, said: “we have supported around 1,700 people to safely self-isolate in empty hotel rooms who were either sleeping on the streets or in night shelters. We needed to work quickly to provide much-needed accommodation for vulnerable people at this critical time. R. Benson’s was responsive, supportive, and most importantly easy to work with. Working together we mobilised the project quickly and R. Benson’s delivered quality work in an excellent time frame. Our thanks to them for their support and responding to this need so promptly.”
Director, Marcus Neal said; “We were delighted to be able to offer our expertise to St Mungo’s during these unprecedented times and refurbish these much-needed homes that will be used to house some of the most vulnerable people in our community.”