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Housing regulations: do the changes affect me?

A couple seem stressed as they read the latest housing regulations

Housing regulations: What’s changed and how does it affect me?

Dealing with changing housing regulations can be extremely stressful. Our Navigators have provided some information and advice to support you during this difficult time.

During the first lockdown in Spring/Summer 2020, the Government put measures in place to protect tenants from eviction. These were lifted on 20 September 2020, meaning the courts could hear applications for repossession orders.

The same protection has been put in place for the latest national lockdown, meaning renters will continue to be protected from eviction.

The extension to the legislation ensures that bailiffs do not serve eviction notices, except in the most serious circumstances. The only exceptions to this are illegal occupation, false statement, anti-social behaviour, perpetrators of domestic abuse in the social sector, where a property is unoccupied following death of a tenant and serious rent arrears greater than 6 months’ rent.

This legislation will be in place until the end of 21 February 2021 and will be kept under review.

Read the latest guidance for landlords and tenants at

If you Receive Notice

Receiving a notice to quit can be very scary but there are things you can do and help is available. It is important not to ignore the notice but to seek help as soon as you receive it. Your local council has a duty to prevent homelessness so you can approach them for support. They will check the validity of the notice document and can offer to negotiate with your landlord, perhaps to agree a payment plan if there are rent arrears, so you can stay in the property, or help you find somewhere else to live.

If your social housing landlord is serving notice due to rent arrears or ASB you can negotiate a repayment plan with them to reduce the arrears or enter into an ASB agreement. This will allow you to stay in the property as long as you abide by the agreement.

If you are experiencing some of the issues mentioned…

The Navigation team are currently working remotely and are not taking face-to-face appointments but they may be able to support you remotely via telephone and online services.

To refer to our Navigator service, please complete this online referral form or call 020 3317 4200.

This article was originally published in the Autumn/Winter 2020 edition of Community Living Well magazine. To subscribe to receive the magazine, complete this form

Author: Stewart Gillespie
Category: Community Living Well, Navigator
Posted on: 22nd January 2021

Be kind to yourself during winter lockdown

be kind to yourself

As we find ourselves in another complete lockdown and are told to ‘stay at home’ to help stop the spread of coronavirus, many of us may find our mental health is deteriorating. It is important to be kind to yourself, so we have rounded up some information, tips and advice on how to cope with certain situations during this time.

Take care of your mental health

You may be getting bored of hearing the same messages like ‘go for a walk’ or ‘learn a new skill’, but activities like this really can help if you’re feeling a certain way.

Get as much sunlight, fresh air and nature

It is scientifically proven that fresh air and natural light can help improve your mood, reduce feelings of stress or anger, and make you feel more relaxed. If you can, go outside for a walk and take in the sights, smells and fresh air.

If you can’t or don’t want to go outside, try opening your windows for a while to let the air in. Listen to natural sounds, like bird song or rainfall – there are apps you can download or videos to watch on YouTube. Spend time in your garden if you have one, or take a break and sit on your front doorstep.

Find ways to fill your time

It’s easy to get bored when you’re stuck indoors so try to find ways to spend your time. You could do some of the things around the house you’ve been meaning to do for ages but never had the time, like having a clear-out or a spring clean.

Relax, read a book or watch TV. It’s ok to relax as well, so don’t be hard on yourself if you decide to do nothing!

Try to keep active

If you can, try to build physical activity into your daily routine. It could be something as simple as walking up and down the stairs or dancing to music. When we feel good physically, we tend to feel more positive and better about life. When we exercise, chemicals such as serotonin and endorphins are released which help to naturally stabilise and lift our mood and improve sleep.

Get a good night’s sleep

If you are struggling to get to sleep because of anxiety or worry about the current situation, try to maintain a regular sleeping pattern and keep up good sleep hygiene practices such as avoiding screens before bed, cutting back on caffeine and creating a restful environment.

Be kind to yourself

It is important to remember that we have made it this far. Since COVID-19 became part of our lives, we have all had to learn and adapt to new ways of living.

Although it might not feel like it, you have achieved more in this past year than you think:

  • you’ve adapted
  • you’ve shown strength and determination
  • you’ve been resilient and patient

They are achievements that you can be proud of.

Other useful information

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) – The advice above can also help if you’re suffering with SAD. Fewer daylight hours plus cold and wet weather means that we can’t spend as much time outside as we did in the first national lockdown. You may feel low in mood and lack motivation.

Read more about SAD, its effects and how to treat it.

Parenting during the pandemic – Having the kids at home can cause more worry for parents if you’re having to juggle working with home-schooling and childcare.

Read our article about parenting during the pandemic, with tips and advice.


Author: Stewart Gillespie
Category: Community Living Well
Posted on: 12th January 2021

Christmas opening times and support

Some Community Living Well services are running during the festive season, so you may be able to join your groups and sessions as normal. However, if you need additional support or someone to talk to, other help is available.

Community Living Well services

Festive season opening times – this document lists the Community Living Well service opening times, plus contact information if you or someone you know needs urgent support with their mental health.

Events – check the events we have coming up over the festive season and in the new year.

Additional mental health support

If you or someone you know needs urgent help, you can seek support from one of these organisations.

Samaritans are free to take your call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Call for free on 116 123, or visit their website to find out other ways you can get in touch.

Take care

Whether or not you are celebrating Christmas, take a moment to reflect and appreciate your strength this year. It has been tough for all of us; we’ve overcome so much and adapted to new ways of living. It might not feel like it, but you have achieved a lot.

Please stay safe and take care. Merry Christmas from everyone here at Community Living Well.

Author: Stewart Gillespie
Category: Community Living Well
Posted on: 22nd December 2020

Coping with Christmas

coping with Christmas: lonely woman wearing a face mask

Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, this year’s festive season is looking quite different to usual. The unexpected changes to lockdown restrictions made on Saturday 19 December may have caused you more worry and stress during an already uncertain time.

Coping with Christmas

If you cannot celebrate this festive season how you usually would, or if you’re unable to see friends or family, Mind have put together some tips on coping with Christmas:

Focus on what you enjoy

– make where you live feel like a nice environment by putting up decorations or photos, or simply tidying up

– plan to enjoy your favourite food or drink on Christmas day

– spend the day doing things you enjoy

Connect with others

– arrange to talk to people over the phone or via video call. You could organise an activity like a quiz

– go online and connect with other people who might be spending Christmas alone. You could try Mind’s online community, Side by Side

– engage with your local community. Some local events might not be happening, but you may be able to find virtual events to join

Choose to not celebrate, if that feels easier

– tell others about your plans so they know whether or not to mention Christmas

– exchange any gifts in advance

– stay off social media and try to avoid festive adverts on TV or online

– eat the same foods and do the same activities as you would any other day

For more information and tips, visit

Useful Resources

If you’re worried or anxious about the pandemic, here are some of our past news articles that may help you:

Looking after your mental health during COVID-19

Living well during COVID-19 with a long-term health condition

Coping with loneliness during lockdown

Parenting during the pandemic

The Autumn/Winter edition of Community Living Well magazine also contains articles that you may find useful, including information on housing regulations and redundancy.

If you need additional support, you can refer to the Community Living Well service here.

Author: Stewart Gillespie
Category: Community Living Well
Posted on: 21st December 2020

Resilience During Uncertain Times

A lady helps the community by delivering food to older people who are self isolating

The challenges we’ve faced this year have been extremely tough. The coronavirus pandemic was completely unexpected, and we’ve all had to adapt to a new way of living, whilst trying to remain strong, determined and patient. If you are struggling with your mental health, this uncertainty can bring even more stress and fear.

Our Community

Throughout this hard time, it has been wonderful to see friends and family pulling together to support one another and help the community. In Kensington and Chelsea, many voluntary and community organisations, as well as individual volunteers, have been working non-stop to provide people in the community with invaluable support.

We want to highlight the work of some of these incredible people, and say a huge ‘thank you’ to our voluntary heroes…

SMART (St Mary Abbotts Rehabilitation & Training)

SMART begun its food distribution service the day before lockdown started and during their busiest week, they distributed over 270 bags of food. SMART’s neighbours were incredible, popping in to donate food, money or deliver bags. SMART say they were particularly grateful to two young people and their mum who came every week to help out after they had finished their home-schooling.

Director of SMART, Amelia, said, “It has never been just about the food. After every long day of deliveries we would get a flurry of calls, emails and texts from people – ill, frightened, alone – whose world had been brightened by the brief human contact that they had from our volunteers.”

NHS Responders

NHS Responders are a national group of volunteers who provide support to anyone who is shielding, vulnerable, self-isolating or who has caring responsibilities. The volunteers provide various services, including telephone calls to check-in or give support, collection of shopping, medication or other essential supplies, and transport.
Throughout May and June, West London CCG had a total of 2,193 volunteers, who provided 7,698 tasks to 1,345 individuals.

Mutual Aid

Nathan Cooper, Mutual Aid Kensington and Chelsea Volunteer Coordinator, told us about the work they have been doing to help the community:

“In early March, Mutual Aid Kensington and Chelsea was created as a platform to enable neighbourliness in the RBKC. We realised that in this period of unprecedented and uncertain crisis, all residents – regardless of their background – would be affected. Our primary aim was to ensure we could support neighbours to: be kept well fed, have the medicine they need, not have to endanger their vulnerable loved ones by leaving the house, not have to feel alone, and to be able to feel like there’s someone out there listening and looking out for them.

To ensure we were as close to the ground as possible, we formed eight decentralised areas across RBKC, each with its own online communication channels and telephone number so neighbours seeking support could be connected with those offering their time to help out. During the peak of the pandemic, Mutual Aid welcomed around 15,000 volunteers making dozens of food deliveries, running essential errands, and providing health and wellbeing support, working in every RBKC ward, every day. In one ward alone, over 300 calls have led to over 150 support requests being dealt with, all whilst striving for the highest standards of safeguarding and confidentiality.”

To find out how to support Mutual Aid or receive support, please visit or drop us a line on [email protected]

Volunteer Centre Kensington & Chelsea

During the first few months of the pandemic, VCKC received over 2,000 registrations from potential volunteers wanting to help the community. Ahmed was one of those people, and here is his story…

When Ahmed first came to Wellbeing at VCKC (the Volunteering on Prescription team) he was struggling with depression and isolation after having to give up his job due to a health condition. He started to come to community volunteering taster days and to volunteer regularly at his local library and started to feel much happier.

During lockdown, starting in March 2020, he started to feel very isolated and depressed again. Wellbeing phoned Ahmed to assess his needs and started regular Welfare Check phone calls with him. They also liaised with his GP, who was monitoring him carefully. As his mood improved, he has been able to become a wellbeing volunteer and has been helped to access interactive online workshops, such as relaxation, art, and ‘Cook & Chat’. They have also been able to give him some tech support so that he can access his phone therapy sessions.

Recently Ahmed has been helped to facilitate an online wellbeing art workshop. This utilises his artistic skills, which were noted at his initial assessment, and has given him a focus, purpose and sense of pride and satisfaction.

Ahmed said: “I feel more hopeful about the future, I feel very happy. Since I met these people at the Volunteer Centre Kensington and Chelsea, I feel much better.”

Volunteering on Prescription

Volunteering on Prescription is a self-care programme that helps you meet people, share skills and interests and improve your wellbeing through volunteering tailored to your needs. The Volunteer Centre Kensington and Chelsea builds your programme around you and what you like. There is a range of different Self-Care services that can be accessed through Community Living Well.

You can refer to the Self-Care service by completing this online form or call 020 3317 4200.

This article was originally published in the Autumn/Winter 2020 edition of Community Living Well magazine. To subscribe to receive the magazine, complete this form

Author: Stewart Gillespie
Category: Community Living Well, Self-Care
Posted on: 9th December 2020

Alone in a Digital World

Lonely woman looking out of her window

We are living in a fast-paced digital world, where almost everything is now online, including banking, shopping and advice. For many, this is a good thing, as it means faster access to services and instant responses to some requests. But what if you cannot get online? We’ve taken a look at some of the reasons why people can’t get online and provide some tips on how to stay connected if you are feeling excluded.

Digital Exclusion

The recent lockdown has highlighted a major divide in our society, with millions of people unable to access critical online services, and millions more restricted by pay-as-you-go services. This digital exclusion can have an impact on your mental state if you are worried about missing out on vital services such as healthcare, education and benefits.

Did you know…?

13% of UK adults do not use the internet

10% of UK households do not have internet access

65% of smartphone users agree that it is more difficult to complete forms on their smartphone than on a computer

53% of internet users aged 65+ are less likely to bank online

(Source: Ofcom Adults’ Media Use and Attitudes’ report 2020)

Restrictions to access

There are many reasons as to why people do not access the internet:

Accessibility: they might not have access via broadband, WiFi or mobile. Even if they do have an internet connection, they may not have a computer, smartphone or tablet.
Confidence: some are afraid of doing something wrong, lack trust or fear being caught out in an online scam.
Motivation: some people simply do not want to go online.

During lockdown, those with no internet connection or who could not afford to keep topping up pay-as-you-go accounts, were left shut in their homes, socially isolated with no means of contacting anyone in the outside world.

I can’t get online and it’s making me anxious. What can I do?

If you cannot access the internet easily and you’re feeling excluded, support is available.

Make a call

Many services still operate a telephone service – lines may be busier than usual during the pandemic, but you can still get through to speak to someone. Just be patient or try to call at different times during the day.

Seek help or training

Many organisations such as Housing Associations, Local Authorities, Job Centre Plus, and regional health associations can often provide advice, guidance or training.

Ask someone

Find a trusted source – seek help from a friend, family member, carer or health worker. Ask them if you can use their internet access sometimes, or get them to teach you how to use the technology properly.

Other useful information…

This story ‘Alone in a Digital World’ was originally published in the Autumn/Winter 2020 Community Living Well magazine. It has been edited for website purposes. Subscribe today to receive mental health and wellbeing tips straight to your inbox, twice a year!

If you need additional support, you can refer to the Community Living Well service here.

Author: Stewart Gillespie
Category: Community Living Well
Posted on: 2nd December 2020

Alcohol Awareness Week

smiling woman looking happy

This week (16 – 20 November) is Alcohol Awareness Week, and this year’s campaign focuses on the link between alcohol and mental health.

There is no doubt that this year has been more challenging than usual, causing more stress and anxiety, which in turn can lead us to drink more alcohol. This strain on our mental health can be tough, without the added difficulties that drinking too much alcohol can bring.

Look after yourself

Due to the current situation, we are all spending more time at home and we can’t do many of the things we would usually do to make us feel good. However, there are several simple things you can do to take care of your mental health and wellbeing.

Take care of your physical health

Maintain a healthy lifestyle as far as you can. Take regular exercise, whether it’s going for a walk or run, following an online workout, or stretching. Eat healthily to ensure you’re getting all of the right nutrients and try to get enough sleep.

Relax and reduce stress

Reduce worry by limiting your time spent watching or reading the news. Listen to music, read a book, or take a relaxing bath. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by a stressful situation, take a break, go for a walk or try some breathing exercises or meditation.

Stay connected

Reach out to friends and family through phone and video calls, or even email and social media. It’s important to talk to others about how you are feeling. You may find they are facing similar challenges, so you can share your experiences to support each other.

Drink responsibly

Just do your best. If you do have a drink, pace yourself, try to limit the number of units you have and have a few days off each week.

Useful resources


Find out more about alcohol awareness week and information on support available for you or someone you care about, including tips on how to cut down.

One You Kensington and Chelsea

Eat well, move more, lose weight, be smoke free and drink less with the borough’s free integrated healthy lifestyle service. The website holds lots of information and advice to help you live a healthier lifestyle, or you can sign up to receive tailored help to reach your goals.

Community Living Well

You may find these past news articles helpful:

Keeping your mind and body fit

Sleep and anxiety

Food and mood

Need extra support?

If you are aged 16 or over and registered with a GP in Kensington & Chelsea or Queen’s Park Paddington, and you are battling stress, anxiety or low mood, you can refer yourself to Community Living Well. Speak to your GP or complete this online form.


Author: Stewart Gillespie
Category: Community Living Well
Posted on: 17th November 2020

Autumn/Winter 2020 magazine is now available!

Community Living Well magazine Autumn/Winter 2020

Welcome to the Autumn/Winter 2020 edition of the Community Living Well magazine. We hope you have been keeping safe and well during this difficult time.

The situation regarding Covid-19 and lockdown is changing all the time, which is bringing a lot of uncertainty to our lives. We wanted to include articles that provide practical help and advice on issues that many of us may be dealing with at the moment.

We’ve written an article about suicide prevention to highlight how important it is to talk openly about this – a subject that many of us find challenging. It is vital that we are aware of our own wellbeing, as well as the wellbeing of those around us.

Throughout the pandemic, people have shown courage and resilience – there have been many positive stories to tell, so we focus on some of the incredible voluntary organisations that have helped our community. We also tell you about the ways in which we are continuing to support people using Community Living Well services.


The Community Living Well magazine includes information on what to do if you are facing eviction from your home, or if you have been made redundant from your job since lockdown.

If you have any suggestions, features, stories or feedback about the magazine, please contact me, Stewart, at [email protected].

Community Living Well is a mental health service for those registered with a GP in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, or the Queen’s Park and Paddington areas of Westminster. The services on offer include talking therapies, support groups, help with employment and support with debt, housing and benefits issues. Self-referrals can be made here. For more information please call 020 3317 4200.

Author: Stewart Gillespie
Category: Community Living Well
Posted on: 6th November 2020

Employment During Second Lockdown

worried lady looking for support during lockdown

Now that we have entered the second national lockdown of the year, many of us are feeling worried or anxious about the uncertainty of COVID-19 and the affects it is having on our lives. One of the biggest worries comes if you cannot work due to the lockdown restrictions, so we’ve compiled the latest information about furlough, tips on how you can find temporary work and where you can find additional support during lockdown.


On Thursday 5 November 2020, the government announced that it would be extending its furlough scheme into Spring 2021, giving businesses and people support during lockdown in the winter months.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) will now run until the end of March with employees receiving 80% of their current salary for hours not worked.

Similarly, if you are self-employed, support through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will be increased, with the third grant covering November to January calculated at 80% of average trading profits, up to a maximum of £7,500.


The government also announced that cash grants of up to £3,000 per month are available for businesses which have to close during lockdown, and the mortgage payment holiday for homeowners has also been extended.

For all of the information about the latest announcement, visit


Although some businesses have been forced to close until further notice, there are still some who continue to operate by working from home or are considered essential roles.

For non-essential roles, your interview would likely be over the phone or video call. For essential roles such as supermarket assistants, the interview would be face-to-face.

Get in touch with our employment team for some interview tips.


There may be job opportunities in essential services that must continue to operate during lockdown. Supermarkets might be looking for store assistants, delivery drivers and warehouse workers; you can find opportunities on individual company websites. The NHS have been keen for retired nurses, doctors and healthcare assistants to return, as well as those interested in roles such as porters, cleaners, bed buddies, ward helpers and support workers. These roles are advertised on the NHS Jobs website. Other essential roles include food delivery drivers for companies like Uber Eats and Deliveroo to service those who are self-isolating.

For support with your mental health and wellbeing…

If you are struggling with anxiety, stress or low mood and you feel you need extra support, you can refer yourself to the Community Living Well service here.


Author: Stewart Gillespie
Category: Community Living Well, Employment
Posted on: 6th November 2020

Latest Workshops and Groups

woman attending online group using her laptop

Although we can’t offer our usual face-to-face meetings at the moment, our Talking Therapies and Peer Support teams are offering online alternatives. There is a range of groups, workshops and webinars for you to get involved in if you are feeling anxious, stressed or isolated.

Living Well Workshops

These weekly workshops provide a safe and supportive space to develop skills and knowledge to manage the stresses and difficulties in your life. Each session is different, covering a variety of subjects related to your wellbeing, including Getting a better night’s sleep, Self-care for anxiety, Relaxation and wellbeing, Food and mood, and Stress and wellbeing.

Mental Health Peer Support Groups

These weekly online groups bring people together to give and receive mutual support in a peer support setting, to help manage daily stresses. It’s your chance to talk about your mental health, an opportunity to learn about how others in similar situations manage their symptoms and connect with people who know what it’s like to feel the way you do.

Talking Therapies (IAPT) Webinars

These 4-week courses include Understanding Trauma: supporting clients in having a better understanding of PTSD and to manage symptoms of PTSD that they may be experiencing; Stress Less: supporting clients in understanding generalised anxiety and how it can impact us on a daily basis; and Step Forward: using CBT techniques to increase levels of physical activity in order to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.

You can find full details of these and many more upcoming groups on our Events page.

To attend these groups and workshops, you must be registered with Community Living Well. You can refer yourself by completing this online form, or call us on 020 3317 4200.


Author: Stewart Gillespie
Category: Community Living Well, Peer Support, Talking Therapies
Posted on: 29th October 2020

SMART St Mary Abbots Rehabilitation and Training