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See pages 12-15

Find us on Facebook and Twitter! To find out how, visit: www.adactushousing.co.uk/Facebook-and-Twitter

Also In this issue • Blooming Marvellous, page 2 • Adactus500, pages 4-5 • Annual reports, pages 10-11 • Safety in the home, pages 13-15 • Welfare Reform, page 16

This document is available in other languages, larger text, braille and on audio cd

inhouse | 1


welcome Interested in writing for our Newsletter?

Welcome to the latest issue of In-house. Hopefully the bold images emblazoned on this issue’s front cover mean the fire safety theme is hard to miss. The change in the weather means more people are putting on their heating which causes an increase in domestic fires. Please see the centre pages for helpful hints and tips on how to stay safe in your home.

New applicants can get rehoused quicker than ever with Adactus Housing, especially those in need of two-bedroom flats and three and four bedroom houses. Recent TV programmes and media reports suggest that getting a home with a social housing provider is near on impossible, suggesting that the average waiting time is upwards of five years. Publicising this sort of information is putting people off applying for properties with companies like Adactus with many saying “there’s no point in applying if I have to wait five years to be offered something”. This opinion is especially common with people who are in employment who think the fact that they are working will go against them and believe they have “no chance of ever being offered anything” and will be told to apply with private landlords.

We also have an important supplement for you to keep - it is full of information about wise budgeting and tips if you find yourself in financial difficulty. We also have the usual mix of staff stories and pages featuring information from the Group’s subsidiaries. We hope you enjoy reading your newsletter as much as we have enjoyed writing it for you. Kevin J Dempsey, Tenant Editor

Are you interested in writing articles for our newsletter? Or would you like to be a member of our editorial panel where you can help choose the articles we publish? If so please contact Sam Ryan on 01942 267 747 or e-mail sam.ryan@adactushousing.co.uk.

‘Blooming Marvellous 5’ AHA and BHA garden competition winners! The standard of the 2013 garden competition entries was incredibly high and our three tenant judges had the un-enviable task of trying to choose just two finalists in each category - in fact, it proved so difficult that the judges chose three finalists for the Best Community Garden category. The judges’ criteria included, design, upkeep, environmental awareness, colour and overall effect. The worthy winners scored very highly in these categories but, each garden excelled for different reasons. Aside from creating a wonderful garden, the Best Individual Garden winner had an array of colourful hanging baskets, well cultivated flower beds and ornaments that personalise an already beautiful space. Congratulations to Mrs Shaw in Miles Platting.

The winner of the Most Creative Small Space used a variety of different techniques to enhance her small garden; her clever use of a wall to create different levels and her creative eye for colour made the most of the small space. Congratulations to Doris Moorcroft in Bootle.

The winners of the Best Community Garden worked as a team to create an environment filled with flowers, vegetables and even grapes. Their recycled furniture helps create a space that everyone can enjoy together; their community garden is not only beautiful but, it’s also accessible to all tenants, including those with mobility problems. Congratulations to Brian Quale and John Farley at Boyer Court in Magull. Our congratulations also go to the other four finalists: Mrs Simpson in Urmston who won a highly deserved second prize in the Best Individual Garden category. The Keeley Close Garden club whose outstanding work earned them second prize in the Best Community Garden category and Theresa Ryan who won third prize for her work at Hazel Court community garden and finally, Doreen Curzon who won second prize for her Creative Small Space. This competition would not have been as successful without the amazing entries, so thank you to everybody who shared your garden with us.

Can’t find a job? Have you considered working for yourself but don’t know how? Would you need a grant to get you started? Adactus has launched a new programme: B.E.S.T. (Business Enterprise Start-up Training). We have linked up with experts in the field to offer a comprehensive training package along with attractive grants to assist you in making your dream job a reality! We will help you to: • Generate business ideas • Understand business jargon • Create a business plan • Help you to make money from your business. For more information please contact the Jayne Allison, Employment & Skills Manager on 01942 267756 or 07803256197 or email jayne. allison@adactushousing.co.uk

2 | inhouse

Open for business on lettings

Families Programme Are you looking to get into employment but you need support, advice and guidance in securing your next position? The Families Programme is designed to offer you and your family support to move closer towards sustained employment. Participation in the programme is entirely voluntary. If you are interested in finding out how the Families Programme can help you and your family members then please get in touch with us. There are organisations in your area that can help you. For information on how to be referred to this programme please contact Jayne Allison, Employment & Skills Manager on 01942 267756 or 07803256197.

We would like to put the record straight that this is not the case! Waiting lists are much lower than many people believe so much so that in many cases people are rehoused within weeks of applying. Adactus are here to provide homes to people who have a housing need and encourage applications from all members of our local communities. We especially want to get the word out to working households who may be struggling to find large deposits or struggling with high rent charges. We are asking all existing tenants to put the word out to family, friends, work colleagues etc. If you know of anyone who: • Wants to move out of home for the first time • Has had notice to leave their current property by their landlord • Is struggling to pay their rent • Is looking to move to be closer to family/friends/work • Would like a more secure tenancy agreement than a rolling six month contract • Needs to downsize because they are under-occupying • Needs a larger property because they are over-crowded • Has any other housing need that means they need to move to please encourage them to contact us to apply. Our Housing Management team are on the other end of the phone and are here to advise and help with housing applications. Voids and Lettings Manager, Dean Wall explains “I have worked in housing for 13 years and I can honestly say the waiting lists for two bedroom flats and three and four bedroom houses are the lowest I’ve ever seen. Changes to the benefit system have seen demand for larger family homes drop dramatically and we can now help rehouse families in this group faster than ever. We can also rehouse applicants in to two bedroom flats just as quickly. We will of course have to make sure that the rent is affordable especially with applicants who are in receipt of housing benefit but we are keen to speak to anyone with a housing need. However, we do need to point out that this does not mean that it will be easier for existing tenants to get a transfer. As always transfers will only be agreed if there is a genuine housing need and tenants can provide proof of this.”

Adactus Carbon Footprint 2013 The figures are in! Our carbon footprint for 2012/13 was 5563 tonnes of carbon dioxide. This is a 3.8% decrease from last year’s figures and a whopping 22.8% reduction on 2009/10 figures (where our footprint was 7203 tonnes of carbon dioxide). This saving is due to several changes we have made in the way we operate: •

Using more efficient vehicles

Encouraging more environmentally friendly office behaviour such as printing double-sided and switching off lights and electrical equipment, as well as car sharing where possible.

Upgrading old inefficient lighting in communal areas of our schemes

Relocating to more energy efficient offices.

We will continue to make efficiency improvements to reach our goal of reducing our carbon emissions by 25% by 2015 (from 2009’s baseline figures).

Energy Advice Service Are you worried about your winter energy bills? Adactus offers an energy advice service that may benefit you. We can visit you in your property to provide advice on heating the home more affordably and can offer lots of tips that will help you save money on your energy bills. If you would like an energy advice visit, please contact Natalie Myers on 0161 203 3650 or e-mail at: natalie.myers@adactushousing.co.uk Alternatively you can request an Adactus energy saving guide for general information about keeping your energy bills low.

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Adactus500 Take Part · Collect Points · Be Rewarded · Play Now! You said: We did

Here is a selection of the feedback we received for some of the consultations we completed over the last few months.

The Adactus500 continues to go from strength to strength and now has over 600 members! It continues to be an invaluable way of getting feedback from our tenants.

The Adactus500 in numbers worth £2899.00

points earned 28990

Repairs Satisfaction Date: July 2013 Number taking part: 91 Cost: £182.00 Key consultation? Yes Key feedback from residents Over 90% of people agreed we should use an automated phone call to find out if residents were satisfied with their repair. What we will do now We now plan to roll out the automated satisfaction calls across the whole repairs service.

208 new residents registered

994 responses from 253 different residents

665 members

You give your views on subjects that interest you and in ways that suit you: • Online questionnaires • Scrutiny Panel meetings • Texts • Mystery Shopping • Complaint Panels • Postal questionnaires

Transfers and Mutual Exchanges

The reward?

Moving Home Date: June 2013 Number taking part: 65 Cost: £130.00 Key consultation? No Key feedback from residents 6 out of 10 residents told us they would prefer a “speedy move” rather than wait until all minor repairs were completed and two thirds would prefer a decorating voucher rather than waiting longer for Adactus to paint the rooms a standard colour. What we will do now We plan to review our relet standard to make it possible for residents to move into our properties quicker. 4 | inhouse

By taking part in activities, you will accrue points which can be redeemed for vouchers…the choice is yours • Shopping • Cinema trips • Eating out • Charity Donations • Credit on your Rent account.

Adactus500 Take part in Adactus500 activities and get rewarded!

Transparency, Webconnect & Tenant Board Membership Date: June 2013 Number taking part: 56 Cost: £224.00 Key consultation? No Key feedback from residents Residents wanted us to make performance information easier to find on our website though a dedicated webconnect page and emailed links. Just over half of residents thought that we should have tenant board members only if they have the right skills that the board needs. What we will do now We plan to make some improvements to our website over the coming year to make it easier to find things. The feedback on tenant board membership will be presented to the board of management as part of their governance review.

It’s easy, just visit: www.adactushousing.co.uk/adactus500 and simply log-in with your surname and tenancy number. You can find this on your rent statement. Choose which activities you want to take part in, and receive rewards ranging from shopping vouchers to money off your rent or cinema vouchers.

The activities?

17 different activities

Date: May 2013 Number taking part: 98 Cost: £196.00 Key consultation? Yes Key feedback from residents Nearly half said they would consider registering for a Mutual Exchange. Residents want us to give greater priority to people needing to move for medical reasons and overcrowded families when considering transfers between properties. What we will do now We will do more to promote opportunities to mutually exchange and produce a new transfer policy reflecting the priorities set by residents.

Want to join the Adactus500?

www.adactushousing.co.uk/adactus500

Not online? Adact

We publish full results and infographics from all Adactus500 surveys on our blog:

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Simply visit www.adactushousing.co.uk/blog/adactus500

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You can leave us a comment or question which is guaranteed to get a response from us.

Adactus500 Scrutiny Panel

This summer saw the very first Scrutiny Panel look at fire safety issues. Nine residents from across the group came together over three meetings and worked with staff to scrutinise specific fire safety concerns.

Tenant Safety Scrutiny Panel Date: May-July 2013 Number taking part: 9 Cost: £337.00 What the Scrutiny Panel looked at Residents looked in detail at how we minimise the risk to tenants from gas leak or fire. They focussed on two key areas: • Fire prevention measures / detection equipment that are not in place or do not work. • Residents are unable to escape in the event of a fire.

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Just call us on 0845 505 3311 (landline) or 0300 111 1133 (mobile) and we’ll register you to take part in key postal consultations. From time to time we also conduct short telephone surveys with callers to our connect service.

what 42% a of exchan mutual Homes responde ge was nt Swap . per w s were awar ebsite & wha e of the t it do es. 42%

Recommendations from Residents The Scrutiny Panel made 12 recommendations, including the provision of a Fire Safety Pack for new residents and extra training for caretakers and Connect staff to enable them to correctly identify and prioritise fire safety work. What we will do now We have an action plan in place to implement the recommendations of the Scrutiny Panel. Want to find out more? We publish everything the Scrutiny Panel has done on our website. You can view reports, surveys, notes from meetings, recommendations and action plans. You can also leave comments for the Scrutiny Panels to consider.

Want to take part? The second Scrutiny Panel on Planned Maintenance are currently finalising their recommendations and a new Scrutiny Panel on Anti Social Behaviour will be meeting from January to March 2014. Join the Adactus500 if you would like to take part! Attend all three meetings and receive 500 points (worth £50!). Transport and light refreshments are also provided. • 100% of tenants said taking part was “Very Worthwhile” • “I enjoyed being one of the people to participate in changing services which were not being done properly.” Sidumiso Nyathi – Scrutiny Panel member • “Very worthwhile, I would love to take part in another meeting” Christine Dempsey – Scrutiny Panel member inhouse | 5


N E IG H BOU RHOOD FU N D

Do you pay a service charge?

Crosby’s little bit of paradise Everyone deserves a little piece of paradise and paradise for the residents at Fairfield retirement apartments in Crosby included a patio, a picnic bench, a vegetable planter and an area with a beautiful array of flowers. In pursuit of their little utopia, the residents applied to the Beech Housing Association Neighbourhood Fund for £900 to improve their communal garden. Their successful bid enabled them to transform their garden and create their very own slice of paradise.

Every little helps Warren Done is a night worker at the Lord St project in Leigh; he is also the project manager of Atherton and Leigh foodbank, this is his story. “Prior to working for Adactus, for the first time in my life I found myself out of work. Times were hard and although my wife was working, we had to learn to budget better. But, there were times when a big bill would come in or, an unexpected crisis would leave us struggling. It wasn’t all bad, being out of work enabled me to do more voluntary work – myself and my wife both volunteered in a food kitchen helping the homeless and people like us - people who were struggling to find their next meal because of a situation they had found themselves in. The very real poverty of ‘ordinary people’ made me research foodbanks, where I came across a Christian organisation called Trussell Trust. Trussell Trust have helped set up food banks in local communities. They inspired me to organise a committee and, over the next six months we planned to open a foodbank that would help our local community in need. We stood outside Tesco and Asda supermarkets and asked shoppers if they could help by donating just one food item; we collected over a tonne. When we were finally ready to open the doors, we had four tonnes of food in the warehouse and, on March 6th 2013 Atherton and Leigh food bank was born. The foodbank has already helped feed 1,000 people locally and its success is testament to the people that volunteer. In addition, we were very grateful to be awarded £2,500 from the Adactus Neighbourhood Fund, this money enabled us to increase storage/ shelving and get a new computer system so that we could merge with Kingsleigh church foodbank.

A ‘peace’ of community spirit Since 2010 a dedicated group of Moss Side residents have been tending and transforming a neglected area in the heart of Moss Side. The Moss Side Community Peace Garden is situated at junction of Upper Lloyd Street and Moss Lane East - where Fredrick Engels’ house once stood. In recognition of the group’s passion and drive they have received support from Adactus Housing Association and Manchester City Council, amongst various other local agencies. Adactus have provided £4,600 worth of funding towards the garden since 2010 and most recently joint funded improvements to the perimeter wall with Community Development Funding. Residents have also planted raised beds, installed a new path, installed benches and Karl Macauley a local environmental artist and Adactus tenant is producing three unique tree sculptures. Residents are enjoying the changes and watching the site develop, the garden is used for the benefit of the whole community as an on-going statement of commitment to the area and it’s residents’. It is a true example of a community project and involves Hulme Community Garden centre, local schools, university student volunteers and many more. The group are currently looking for funding so that Karl Macauley can produce a mosaic name-sign for “Moss Side Peace Garden”. This will be displayed in a prominent position so it can easily be seen from the Moss Lane East end of the Garden.

The success of the foodbank is a double edge sword – on the one hand we are able to help people in need and make their lives just a little easier, on the other, I wish no-one had to experience a poverty that denies them the most basic needs of life.”

One community one goal Chorley Community Housing (CCH) is funding a programme of street soccer through the One Community One Goal programme.

soccer website www.freestyle-urban-soccer.co.uk or email direct to paul@freestyle-urban-soccer.co.uk

The scheme is run by Freestyle Urban Soccer and allows children of any age to turn up and play football more or less on their own doorstep for free and under adult supervision.

There is no need to book to attend the scheme, which is open to boys and girls. Youngsters just need to wear appropriate footwear, and Freestyle provides a boot exchange scheme so, if children bring along a pair of boots they have grown out of, they can be swapped for a larger pair.

Freestyle’s street soccer sessions are a great way for kids to have fun and stay fit and active at the same time. We have been supporting this project through the Neighbourhood Fund for the past few years and have seen over 3,500 participants take part. The current sessions run from 6pm – 8pm each Friday at various locations throughout Chorley. For more information on locations please visit the freestyle urban 6 | inhouse

Important information about new energy contracts If you pay for gas or electricity through your service charge you will be receiving a letter in the next couple of months about our proposal to enter a new longer supply contract. You should read this letter carefully and contact us as soon as possible if you have any questions. We will be writing to our tenants and leaseholders because we are legally required to consult with affected residents when we enter in to a “Qualifying Long Term Agreement” (QLTA). A QLTA is any contract that lasts longer than 12 months and that residents may have to pay for through their service charge. Previously our energy contracts have been for 364 days so we have not been required to consult but the new contract will be longer than this. The consultation process will give all affected residents the opportunity to comment on our proposals. The letter will explain how you can do this. We use an energy broker to ensure we get the best deal as prices can be very short lived (often only a few minutes). Normally the

consultation process for a QLTA gives residents 30 days to inspect and comment on prices before we sign a contract. With energy prices we would not be able to get the best deal for residents if we followed this process as contracts must be agreed almost instantly to get the best deal. For this reason we will be applying to the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) for permission to dispense with this part of the consultation requirements. If we do not follow this legal process we will only be able to charge residents £100 per year for energy. Applying for dispensation is common practice with energy contracts as it ensures landlords can get the best prices for their residents; however, everyone affected will be contacted by the tribunal and will have the opportunity to comment on, or oppose our application. If you have any questions about the process or about any of the letters you receive from us you can contact the Service Charge & Leasehold Team who will be overseeing the consultation process and tribunal application.

Is someone trying to advise you to buy your home? Many Adactus Group tenants are able to buy their home through either the Right to Acquire or Preserved Right to Buy schemes. However some tenants do not receive impartial advice when they ask private companies and individuals for help in buying their homes. In the past, we have become particularly concerned about the methods of some private companies offering assistance to tenants. Since the maximum discounts increased in April 2012 we have seen an increase in activity from these companies. Tenants are normally contacted in person by door-to-door representatives offering to help them buy their home. They may offer a mortgage, legal services or an “all-in” package that may include improvements to your home after you buy. Sometimes, tenants are asked to pay a lot of money for things that landlords will do for free. For example application forms are available free from Adactus. If you are approached by a person or company offering to help you buy your home, ask for identification, check out what’s in it for them and feel free to talk to us before signing up to any deal. By signing documents you have not read properly, you may be entering into a legal agreement in which you may have to pay the company thousands of pounds. If you need advice on any aspect of the Preserved Right to Buy or Right to Acquire schemes, contact us. Advice on how the scheme works generally is also available on the gov.uk website. You can of course deal with any company you wish but, we have received complaints from tenants about some of them and feel it is important you are aware of this.

Do you have a pet? Britain is a nation of pet lovers, whether it be cats, dogs or budgies. If you do have a pet, then you need to ensure it is well behaved (there’s nothing worse than a noisy goldfish!) and, that it is not causing a nuisance to your neighbours. Whilst many people love their pets, taking a pet on is a big commitment in terms of time and expense. Pets need feeding, exercise, grooming and often companionship. They need to be cleaned up after and they need to be properly managed. From time to time we get complaints about animals that appear to be neglected, either because they are left on their own during the day or because they are allowed to roam loose on a scheme or an estate. Whilst your tenancy agreement may permit you to have a pet, it is essential that you take good care of it. Not caring for a pet properly is an offence and you could be prosecuted. We will also take action against a tenant where an animal they have in their property is causing a nuisance. Advice on looking after a pet can be obtained free from the RSPCA via their website at http://www.rspca.org.uk/allaboutanimals/pets. If you suspect that a neighbour is not caring for a pet properly then you can ring the RSPCA’s cruelty line on 0300 1234 999. inhouse | 7


ANTI-SOCIAL BE HAVIOU R

ANTI-SOCIAL BE HAVIOU R

ASB Team The Adactus Group has two teams who deal with anti-social behaviour, property and garden condition and tenancy fraud. The team based in Manchester cover the Manchester, Cheshire, Trafford, Wigan and Leigh areas, with the Chorley based team covering the Lancashire (Chorley, Lancaster, Morecambe, Preston, Ribble Valley) and Sefton areas. The teams have been extremely busy over the summer period, with officers dealing with lots of cases throughout June and through to mid September. This has led to an increase in the legal action that we have had to take.

Injunctions An injunction is an order made by the County Court, which gives people conditions that they need to abide by. If they don’t, then they could be fined, or sent to prison for contempt of court. We generally use injunction orders to try and restrain people’s behaviour, for example in cases where people disturb others by playing their music too loud, we may seek an injunction telling them stop. A large number of injunction orders have been granted across the whole of the Adactus stock, including 17 where there had been a threat of or actual violence. By going straight to court and securing a “without notice” injunction order within a few days of a serious incident happening and without the alleged perpetrator being made aware of the action being taken, our witnesses were quickly protected against further harm or intimidation. Two more injunctions were recently granted against tenants who have been disturbing their neighbours with their or their visitor’s unacceptable behaviour outside their properties. A further four residents have attended court and given an undertaking to the court to not cause any further anti-social behaviour after an injunction application had been submitted. An undertaking carries the same weight as an injunction and is treated seriously by the court.

Evictions In some cases, where there is serious or persistent anti-social behaviour, we consider applying for possession of a person’s property. This can ultimately end in a tenant’s eviction. During this busy time the two teams have seen a number of evictions for anti-social behaviour taking place. The Manchester team have overseen three evictions for anti-social behaviour, one each in Openshaw, Chorlton and Leigh. All three evicted tenants had complex support needs due to alcohol, drug and mental health issues and their evictions bring to an end intensive work by the Tenancy Enforcement and Support Officers and a lengthy court process in each case. The Chorley team has also seen three tenants leave their properties, with one tenant from Chorley evicted after she assaulted a number of her neighbours and was given an 18 month prison sentence. Another tenant in the Bootle area has been ordered to leave his house after he threatened a neighbour and slashed his car tyres and, a tenant in Southport handed in her keys after the courts gave us possession of her property due to repeated problems of noise nuisance at her property. There have been a further four evictions of starter tenants, three for anti-social behaviour in the first few months of their tenancy and one of a tenant who had given Adactus false information prior to taking up his tenancy. Whilst we did our best to try and get all of these evicted tenants to change their behaviour including attempting to put in appropriate support, consideration needed to be given to those living around them who had to put up with months and months of intolerable behaviour. For more information on starter tenancies, please see pages 18-19.

Disability HatE Crime Don’t Suffer in Silence! Question - What is disability hate crime? Answer - Any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice based on a person’s disability or perceived disability. (There is no official definition in law.) The impact of disability related harassment and hate crime is that those affected can suffer from some or all of the following issues: •

Stress/depression

Isolation

Fear/feelings of fear

Changing their daily routines to avoid perpetrators.

What can you do if you believe that you are a victim of disability hate crime? •

Contact Adactus’s Tenancy Enforcement Team. Our Chorley Office situated at Ann James House, 32 – 34 St Thomas Road, Chorley PR7 1HR is registered as a Hate Crime Reporting Centre. You can also report incidents at our Manchester office, situated at 542 Oldham Road, M40 8BS. Any incident that you report will be treated seriously and you will receive appropriate advice and support during the process. All reports will be treated in confidence, and Officers will respect the wishes of the complainant should they wish to remain anonymous. Our Tenancy Enforcement Officers can arrange to visit you at home, or arrange an office appointment to discuss your initial concerns and agree a suitable action plan with you. Some of the legal options/tools that are available to tackle such crimes include:

Injunctive action

Immediate removal of offensive graffiti/slurs

Possession proceedings/demotion of tenancy

Use of covert surveillance

Anti Social Behaviour Orders.

Some facts & figures: •

Harassment of disabled people is commonplace.

There were 1,942 recorded incidents of disability hate crime in England and Wales in 2011, an increase of more than 25% on the total for 2010.

In the same period there were 523 convictions.

Section 146 of the Criminal Justice Act created a “sentencing provision” imposing a duty upon courts to increase the sentence for any offence where the perpetrator was hostile towards the victim because of the victim’s disability (or assumed disability – whether or not this assumption is correct).

This means that when the court is deciding on the sentence to be imposed, it must treat evidence of hostility based on disability as something which makes the offence more serious. Despite the above, a lot of harassment targeted at disabled people goes unreported.

(list not exhaustive)

Should you believe that you are being affected by HATE CRIME please contact our Tenancy Enforcement Team on the following number: 0845 505 3355 or alternatively you can email Adactus at info@adactushousing.co.uk

Early intervention Whilst there is much talk of the legal successes that both teams have enjoyed (and which are a very small minority of cases we deal with) what is sometimes overlooked is the early intervention which resolves the majority of cases. Between May and September we opened a total of 685 new cases and closed a total of 643 cases. A large number of these cases are resolved by the Tenancy Enforcement and Support Officers just talking to the person causing the problem – sometimes this is all it takes to make somebody realise that their behaviour is affecting

8 | inhouse

someone else. If this doesn’t have the desired effect and, after investigation the officer is satisfied that the behaviour complained of is anti-social, a written warning is issued - this also resolves a large percentage of cases. There are times however, when it is clear to us that problem between neighbours is a lack of communication and it is then that we will suggest mediation as a way of resolving the problems.

Mediation is an informal and confidential way for people to work through a disagreement and is successful in 85% of cases. Adactus has an in-house mediation service called Reconnect and recent successes have included neighbours who have been at odds for up to three years, resolving their differences in a face to face meeting and walking home or sharing a taxi together at the end of the meeting. If you feel that you and your neighbours would benefit from mediation please speak to the officer dealing with your case.

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N UAL RERHOOD PORTS FU ND NAN E IG H BOU

AN N UAL RE PORTS

Tenants’ Annual Report Summary 2012/13

Value for money

We have just published our tenants’ annual reports for 2012/13. This year’s full reports are available online at www.adactushousing.co.uk or you can request a printed copy by calling Connect on 0845 505 3355 (landline) 0300 111 1133 (mobile) or e-mail info@adactushousing.co.uk

Repairs

To support the launch of each annual report and help you get an idea of our work and performance last year, we have summarised the report here – with a focus on quality of service and value for money.

Quality of service making a housing application

One in ten repair appointments could not go ahead because the tenant was not at home. With over 40,000 repairs visits each year, that meant over 4,000 occasions tenants were not there to let us in. Our wasted time literally wasted your money that could be put to better use elsewhere. On average each failed visit took up around 45 minutes of each operative’s time (around 3,469 hours) and increasing fuel prices escalated costs even further. After receiving positive feedback from an Adactus500 consultation in March 2013 we introduced the ‘Call Ahead Service,’ a service which involves calling tenants prior to attending repairs. The introduction of the call ahead service has already reduced failed repair visits by half. In 2013/14 it should save £250,000 across the Group.

Last year we simplified how people apply for housing with us. There had been a lengthy paper application form that most people contacting us failed to complete or missed out key details meaning an exchange of letters before they could be considered for a property. In its place, we introduced a telephone-based registration that collects key information. We complete the process, enabling the caller to register for a property that is available to let, in a single call. We can also send text messages to applicants to let them know when potentially suitable properties become empty. We now offer a quicker, more efficient and convenient service to people looking for housing.

Mobile website

Compared to similar organisations, we were taking longer to relet properties and it was costing us more to fill those properties. In November 2012 we changed how we managed empty properties. There was a dramatic improvement with the time taken to let properties nearly halved by March 2013. There is more to do, for example working with the providers of choice based lettings schemes to improve the economy of their systems. However, tenants already have less of a delay before moving in and the Group has reduced the money lost from empty properties.

Window cleaning service

In July 2012 we introduced a mobile version of our website . We responded to the UK trend that internet usage is growing fastest amongst people with smart –phones.

We were spending £120,000 each year on cleaning windows, using 25 different contractors and getting a lot of complaints.

Our customers can now access our services ‘on the go’: checking their rent balance, reporting repairs, searching for homes available to rent, as well as catching up with the latest news and browsing useful information. The mobile version of our website proved to be a real hit. Within the first three months of its launch 15% of the total visits to our website were using a mobile device. This figure increased to 21% during the year with 38,290 visits made using a mobile phone.

Fast forward just eight months and with an investment in equipment and employment of a conscientious window cleaner we have been able to turn the service into a resource we are proud of. The result has been savings of 22% and an increase in customer satisfaction.

Retirement scheme Caretaker service Caretakers became familiar faces in all our retirement apartments in 2012. The service has gone from strength to strength and the role of the caretaker has already evolved -in addition to the cleaning of communal areas, doing grounds maintenance and completing minor repairs, by April 2013 caretakers were also: • Getting empty apartments ready for new tenants • Getting involved in the Neighbourhood Fund bids (particularly for gardens). But it’s the seemingly simple tasks – like helping an older tenant change a light bulb – that make the caretaker service so important to tenants of our retirement schemes.

10 | inhouse

Lettings

What are we doing with the money we are saving? • We are using it to build much-needed affordable housing through our development programme. 2012/13 was a busy and challenging year; we spent 15.6 million developing 170 new homes. • For the third year running we have supported projects that improve our neighbourhoods through the Neighbourhood Fund. The Neighbourhood Fund has supported an incredible 332 projects across the Group since its introduction in 2010 and, this last year, funded 158 projects costing a total of £159,786. • By carefully controlling our costs we are also making sure that we remain financially sound, which is more important than ever in this era of welfare reforms that affect so many of our residents.

inhouse | 11


Smoke alarms The piercing sound of a smoke alarm is meant to be startling even irritating but ironically it is this quality that leads some people to take out batteries, or fail to replace them once they are flat. A smoke alarm indicates the presence of smoke at the earliest stages of a fire and could possibly save your life or the lives of your loved ones. Embrace the noise of your home smoke alarm: • Once a week test the battery press the test button on the downward facing section of the detector until the alarm sounds. • Once a year change the battery unless the smoke detector is a sealed 10-year lithium battery model. • Twice a year open the case and gently vacuum the inside to remove dust from the sensors. If it doesn’t open, vacuum through the holes. • Never disconnect or take the batteries out of your alarm if it goes off by mistake. • Mains-powered smoke alarms are powered by your home power supply. Generally they are fitted with 10 year lithium batteries, these still require testing on a weekly basis. • If any of your smoke alarms fail to work or you need further advice regarding testing of smoke alarms, battery replacement or fire safety please contact Adactus Connect.

DID YOU KNOW?

• You’re four times mo don’t have a smoke are likely to die in a fire if you larm that works. • 21 people die each y their smoke alarm weaar because the battery in s flat or missing at th of the fire. e time

• Around half of home fires are caused by co accidents. oking • Three fires a day are started by candles. • Every five days some one dies from a fire ca a cigarette. used by • Faulty electrics (app sockets) cause arounlidances, wiring and overloaded across the country ev 6,000 fires in the home ery year.

12 | inhouse

HOW TO PREVENT COMMON FIRES ec t Take c are with el

In the kitchen How to cook safe

ly

• Avoid leaving chil alone when cookindren in the kitchen Keep matches and g on the hob. out of their reach tosauce pan handles keep them safe. • Take extra care if the kitchen whilstyou need to leave off the heat or turncooking, take pans them down to avoid risk. • Make sure saucep stick out - so they adn handles don’t on’t get knocked off the stove. • Take care if you’re clothing - they can wearing loose easily catch fire. • Keep tea towels a the cooker and honbd cloths away from . • Spark devices are matches or lighterssafer than cookers, because th to light gas ey don’t have a naked flame. • Double check the when you’ve finishcooker is off ed cooking.

rics

om water. fr y a w a s) ce n a li p p ds and a • Keep electrics (lea ean and placed s. cl re a rs e st a to ck e • Ch and kitchen roll s in a rt cu m o fr y a aw working order. d o o g in d n a n a e cl b and grill • Keep the ovenfa, thoand grease can ignite a fire. A build up of e microwave. th in l ta e m g in th y • Don’t put an

Deep fat frying

cooking • Take care wh-eitnsets alight with hot oil easily. is dry • Make sure fonogd it in hot oil before putti plash. so it doesn’t s smoke • If the oil startTsuto off the - it ’s too hot. e rn to cool. heat and leav it t • Use a thermolesctatric deep controlled e y can’t fat fryer. The overheat.

What to do if a pan catches fire • Don’t take any risks. Turn off the heat if it’s safe to do so. • Never throw water over it. • Don’t tackle the fire yourself.

p ose is d d n a y l r e p o r ut p o s e t o u t! t e t r h a g g i Ri c . t b u u o St m e h Pu t t . y l l u f e r a c m e h of t d. • Never smoke in be stepaper basket. a w a r e v e n y a tr f a material o • Use a proper ash e d a m is d n a r e v tray can’t tip o sh a r u o y re su e k a M • . They can d that won’t burn. n u ro a g in ly e ip p arette, cigar or g ci t li a e v a le ’t n o • D start a fire. d n a r e v o ll fa ly si a e d, taking re ti e ’r u o y n e h w e ight fall ou smok y m u if o re . Y g ca a in k tr n x e ri d e k n • Ta or if you’ve beefire. s, g ru d n o ti p ri sc re p bed or sofa on r u o y t se d n a p e e sl a ildren’s reach. ch f o t u o rs te h g li • Keep matches and tch boxes. a m d n a rs te h g li t n ild resista • Consider buying ch

inhouse || 13 inhouse


Elec trics

Make a plan of escape

How to avoid elec tric al fires

• Always check that fuse to prevent oveyou use the right rheating. • Make sure an elect a British or Europearical appliance has when you buy it. n safety mark • Certain appliance such as washing machines, should s, have a single plug to themselves, as th ey are high powered. • Try and keep to on e plug per socket.

s clean e c n ia l p p a l a ic r t c Keep ele der to r o g in k r o w d o o g and in g a fire in r e g ig r t them t n e pr e v angerous or loose

Furniture

as the h e r u it n r u f that your t label. e r u s n e s y a • Alw permanen t n a t is s e r e fir

l ank Using an elec tric b

Portable heaters

et

at, rolled up or fl ts e k n la b c ri ct le e • Store t damaging the n ve re p to d e ld fo ly loose internal wiring. u get into bed, yo re fo e b ts e k n la b g • Unplu at control for safe st o rm e th a s a h it ss unle all-night use. blankets and d n a h d n co se y u b to t • Try no ear and tear. check regularly for w

C andles

r signs of d fo d le e e p s ye e r ckets, fuses u so yo d n a s g • Keep lu p t o h s, rk rch ma wiring such as scuoit trip for no obvious t a th rs e k a re -b rc that blow or ci ring lights. reasons, or flicke specially if e s, d a le d n a s le b ca any old or under re u it rn fu • Check and replace d in h e b w vie they are hidden fr.om carpets and mats the risk of fire. ce u d re s lp e h s ce n a li • Unplugging app or when m e th g n si u t o n e ’r u hen yo • Unplug appliances w you go to bed. ta • Try to secure heaters up agaierns. wall to stop them falling ov ins and • Keep them clear from curtaem r furniture and never use th fo drying clothes.

r and de l o h r e p o r p a in re secured ch fire -like curtains. a s e l d n a c e r u s e k Ma y c at that ma s l ia r m mate o away fr the room, and you leave n e h w t u o s le d n ca t u • P pletely at night. m co t u o t u p e ’r y e th make sure ut candles. o t u p to n o o sp a r o r • Use a snuffe lowing them out when sparks can fly. It ’s safer than b with lit candles. e n lo a ft le e b ’t n ld u • Children sho lit candles. • Keep pets away from

14 | inhouse

• Plan an escape route and make sure everyone knows how to escape. • Make sure exits are kept clear. • The best route is the normal way in and out of your home. • Think of a second route in case the first one is blocked. • Take a few minutes to practice your escape plan. • Review your plan if the layout of your home changes. • Keep door and window keys where everyone can find them.

Close inside doors at night to stop a fire from spreading. Turn off and unplug electrical appliances unles s they are designed to be left on - like your freezer. Check your cooker is turned off. Don’t leave the washing machine on. Turn heaters off and put up fireguards. Put candles and cigarettes out properly. Make sure exits are kept clear. Keep door and window keys where everyone can find them.

every 5th of November ask yourself

Do you really need a bonfire or your ow n fireworks display? It is much safer to go to an organised event. If the answer is yes then please be safe and obs erve the firework code and bonfire safety:

Firework code 1. Plan your firework display to make it safe and enjoyable. 2. Keep fireworks in a closed box and use th em one at a time. 3. Read and follow th e in structions on each firew torch if necessary. ork using a 4. Light the firework at arm’s length with a well back. taper and stand 5. Keep naked flames , including cigarettes, fireworks. away from 6. Never return to a firework once it has be en lit. 7. Don’t put fireworks in pockets and never th row them. 8. Direct any rocket fireworks well away fr om spectators. 9. Never use paraffin or petrol on a bonfire. 10. Make sure that th e fire is out and surrou are made safe before ndings leaving.

:

BONFIRE SAFET Y 1. Organise it properly 18 metres (60 feet) away from 2. Fires should be at least, fen ces or sheds houses, trees, hedges animals and children 3. Before lighting, check for 4. Use domestic firelighters or other flammable liquids n ffi ra pa l, tro pe e us r ve Ne 5. re, , aerosols, foam-filled furnitu 6. Never put used fireworks s on a bonfire. batteries, tins of paint or tyre

inhouse | 15


STARTE R TE NANCI ES

WE LFARE RE FORM

The clock is ticking.... The Government is staggering the introduction of the new welfare reforms; some were introduced in April this year, the rest will be rolled between now and 2017. Although the changes to the benefits system are out of our hands, we are here to help guide you through the transition.

What’s already changed? Under Occupation (‘bedroom tax’) – came into force in April 2013 • Affects working age tenants in receipt of housing benefit • 14% reduction of housing benefit for one extra room • 25% reduction of housing benefit for two+ extra rooms • The tenant must pay the shortfall direct to the Landlord • Children under 10 years can share a room – even if they are of opposite sex • Children 10 – 16 years of same sex can share a room • Overnight Carers are at the discretion of each housing benefit office – you need to provide proof of need to them • ‘Bedroom tax’ is considered as a debt and your Landlord will take action to recover the monies. Personal Independence Payments (PIP) – came into force in April 2013 • Replaces Disability Living Allowance (DLA) • All new claims will come under the PIP process • Based on a points system and much more restricted in the criteria • All claims for Pip will have to attend a medical assessment • Existing DLA claims will be reassessed over the next couple of years • Existing claimants will be contacted by the DWP to carryout a reassessment. Council Tax Benefit abolished • Each Local Authority now has a local benefit scheme for Council Tax • All working age people now have to pay some Council Tax • Many Local Authorities have a fund for people suffering hardship. Social fund/crisis loans abolished

• These tend to work on a non-cash basis and offer assistance with recycled furniture, food banks, heating costs. Each one differs so you need to contact your Local Authority to find out what’s on offer in your area.

What’s coming soon? Benefit Caps • Weekly allowances are restricted to £500 for couples/families and £350 for single people • Housing benefit will be reduced to accommodate any entitlement over those sums • The dates that benefit caps become active will differ by area, you will be contacted by your housing benefit office who will advise you ‘if’ and ‘when’ this will affect you • Tenants can still receive the minimum 50 pence housing benefit if they are engaging in training (that will assist them in attaining a job or working with an employment agency) - this will allow them to apply for Discretionary Housing Payments from housing benefit to help them through the transition stage. Universal Credit - Due to come into force from October 2013 (we are still waiting on the Government timetable for this) • A single payment of all the benefits you receive including your housing benefit • First payment will be 5 weeks in arrears and then 1 month in arrears • Payments are direct to you – paid into your bank account • One claim per household – payment will be made in the claimant’s name • Payments can be split if there are issues of domestic violence, alcohol/drug misuse or vulnerability issues in the family. You will have to discuss this with the DWP • Payment for rent will no longer be paid direct to your landlord from the Housing Benefit office – you will have to make arrangements to pay this direct to your Landlord • Adactus/ CCH/Beech expect all rent in advance, not in arrears, so if you are going to be subject to Universal Credit, contact us to prepare your account so that the first direct payment is paid in advance.

For more details on any of the benefit changes or • The DWP no longer provide any financial assistance for those help and advice on claiming benefits, budgeting claimants in receipt of benefits and debts call Connect 0845 505 3355 or Mobile Connect 0300 111 1133 and ask for an appointment • Local Authorities have been tasked to set up a Local with one of our money advisors. Assistance Scheme

16 | inhouse

Tenant evictions - fact or myth Belief

Myth

Fact

Evictions don’t actually happen

Yes

Last year we evicted 112 tenants for non payment of rent

They won’t evict me because I have children

Yes

Although we work closely with all families, if you are a persistent non payer we will proceed to eviction

They can’t evict me because I am on benefits

Yes

Irrespective of what your income is we have the right to apply for an eviction order

It’s not a problem as the Judge always lets you off

Yes

Judges have a responsibility to both the tenant and the Landlord and consider all circumstances separately before making a Judgment

I only owe £500 so they can’t evict me

Yes

We assess each case separately. If you regularly miss your rent or break agreements to pay, we will consider legal action. We have evicted someone with arrears of just over £400 recently

I don’t pay rent as I am on Housing Benefit so they won’t evict me

Yes

Housing Benefit is your form of rent payment. It is your responsibility to claim this benefit, provide all the evidence to the Housing Benefit Office and make sure that we receive the monies you are entitled to

The ‘bedroom tax’ and your relationship There’s been a lot of talk over the last few months about the ‘bedroom tax’ and the effect it will have on your finances. But little has been said about how the changes surrounding housing benefits will affect couple relationships. Money problems are among the top causes for arguments between couples. A poll conducted by relationship support web service, theCoupleConnection.net, found that money was the main cause of arguments for 19% of respondents. Money matters may already cause tension in your relationship. However, if you start receiving less housing benefit, you may find the purse-strings pulling ever tighter and more arguments may occur. Moving to a smaller place could also put strain on your couple relationship. If you have children from previous relationships, you may no longer have a spare room for them to sleep in. Normal sleeping may be disrupted and you may find that there simply isn’t enough room for you all. For many couples, a spare room has been the saviour of a relationship. When arguments occur, the spare room is an ideal place for one partner to get their thoughts straight before resolving the conflict. To deal with the arguments that arise from lack of space and money worries, theCouple Connection.net has launched a free online course called How To Argue Better. Sign-up and find out how to handle situations better and strengthen your relationship.

Article supplied by OnePlusOne - a national charity that creates resources that strengthen relationships.

inhouse | 17


TE NANCY

TE NANCY

Terminating a Starter Tenancy

Starter Tenancies – new rules for rent arrears

The Board has now approved the use of Section 21 for rent arrears.

What is a Starter Tenancy?

What does this mean?

Rents Monitored

Trial period for 12 months

Reduced Rights

Monitored closely by several teams – see diagram

Must have a clear account

• Tenant needs to prove they will be a good tenant in the future • If all is okay at 12 months the tenancy automatically transfers to an Assured Tenancy – there is no need to sign a new tenancy agreement.

• A Section 21 (S21) is a legal process for us to take possession of the property in the 12 month trial period • We must give the tenant two months written notice to terminate their tenancy • After the two months we need to gain a court order for possession but this is non discretionary and the judge must award the possession to us • For rent arrears a S21 Notice will not be considered until ten/twelve months of the trial period.

How to avoid an early termination of your tenancy

Repairs Gardens etc.

Property / garden in good condition

No ASB issues

• • • •

Anti-social Behaviour

Pay your rent on time and regularly so you do not fall into debt Do not cause any anti-social behaviour Keep your property and gardens clean and tidy Contact us as soon as you feel you have any problems – we can always help you through difficult times and assist you in keeping your tenancy.

RE NT

RE NT

Compare the ways to pay Set up over the phone

Direct debit

Y

Standing order

Y

Free access on line

You need your Pay over AllPay card Service and your rent the phone available reference by ringing 24/7 365 to pay AND 0845 505 days a year Debit / Credit 3355 card

Y

Y

Automated services

Y

Through our website By post

18 | inhouse

Y

Y

Y

AllPay/Post Office By telephone at the office

Adactus claim the payment

Y

Y Y

Y

Y

Weekly 2 weekly Any 4 weekly day of monthly the payments week accepted

U Switch Helps No Incentive of Form Ensures Immediate you You transaction £50 for Direct Hundreds your rent payment manage fees at your provided instruct Debit or £30 of outlets paid on by transfer to your your bank bank for Standing Adactus time Adactus finances Order

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Direct debit

No -3 days

Y

Standing order

Y

N

Automated services

No -3 days

N

AllPay/Post Office

Y

N

Y

N

By telephone at the office Through our website

N

By post

inhouse | 19


M I LES PLATTI NG

Neston summer fun

Adactus were invited by Plus Dane Housing to support a free end of summer event on the 30th August in Neston to provide an afternoon of activities and raise awareness on local issues and welfare reform. The event was held on Sytchcroft Park on Liverpool Road which is ideally placed to reach residents where Adactus and Plus Dane both manage houses. Activities included sports activities, street dancing, face painting and bike marking provided by the Police. In addition a smoothie bike (a bike that you pedal to work a blender to actually make smoothies), a soft play area for young children and craft activities were provided. Adactus tenant Mrs Lunt aged 91 and a resident of Mayfield Gardens

Can you dig it? for over 70 years said “This event is excellent for the area. It’s really good for the children and it isn’t often that you get something for free.” Callum aged six said “It has been dead good fun. I enjoyed the smoothie bike and hope this happens every year.” It was great to team up with Plus Dane for this event, working with them enabled us to deliver a larger fun day and attract more residents. Fun and blending were the apparent themes of the day.

Ex offenders creating positive communities Ex offenders, employed by Your Environment Team (YET) spent three weeks at Keeley Close in Newton Heath lifting and levelling a large flagged area at the bottom of the communal garden. AHA, Northwards Housing and other housing providers in North Manchester fund and support the team which is run by Blue Sky and operated by Groundwork Manchester. A skilled supervisor is employed full time and three ex offenders are employed on six monthly contracts at minimum wage. The team work hard but they gain invaluable experience, skills and training. Chris Howl, from the YET team said “It’s been great to do something positive for the community and put something back.” YET team members The work by YET has added to the considerable improvements made to the Keeley Close garden by the Chris Howl and Tom Hill with their supervisor Paul scheme’s gardening club over the last few years. It has also saved contractor costs as the team were rectifying Leese. various trip hazards. Following a recent visit by North West in Bloom, Judges commented that “the gardening club couldn’t have done anything else to improve the garden.” The garden also won second prize in the AHA and BHA garden competition, please see page two for more information. Over the last four years YET have completed grounds maintenance and other external work on neglected areas and, supported several local community projects.

Growing in your neighbourhood

Art down the Allotment The Adactus neighbourhood Fund is supporting Dyslexic by Nature for the second year. The group have received £736 to extend and develop the user led project which operates across Manchester.

Adactus Housing has supported a Big Dig event at the Moss Side Community Allotment. On 21st September all the gardens taking part were open to the public for the UK’s largest Edible Gardens Open Day. The emphasis was on encouraging people to find out about community growing in their neighbourhood. The Moss Side Community Allotment is a shining example of what can be achieved through real community spirit and hard work. The allotment is testament to the community and their enthusiasm for sustainable and organic community growing. Around 100 local people were able to sample home grown produce such as potatoes, courgettes, spinach, tomatoes, chillies and much more as part of the family fun BBQ. The fresh eggs came courtesy of the Spice Girls, the allotments resident chickens. Phil Dodd, community grower said, “It was great to see so many people coming to visit the allotment. We were able to give advice to some groups wishing to start up similar projects and we also met new people who want to join in with us. The lovely weather really helped the day and being able to offer produce grown in Moss Side has inspired a lot of people.” 20 20 | | inhouse inhouse

The project offers a range of activities which meet the needs of adults with dyslexia who may be facing multiple disadvantages within society. Group members are able to build support networks and have access to sign posting to relevant services and other activities in the area. Allotments are creative in their very nature - they are also very aesthetic places and a good source of artistic inspiration, as proven by a recent session called ‘Art down the Allotment’ led by a dyslexic art tutor. The session held at Brighton Grove allotment encouraged members of the group to enjoy the setting whilst brushing up their art skills. Dyslexic by Nature has a number of events and activities coming up, including walks in/around Greater Manchester. Please call Connect and contact Laura Reynolds for more information.

If you haven’t already been to the Miles Platting community gardens, trust us when we say, you are missing a treat. Both of the gardens have a variety of fragrant herbs, plump vegetables and delicious fruits growing in them. We have already started to harvest some of the produce and, on Saturday 21st September we held our ‘Big Dig Healthy Holland Street’ event where local residents were treated to home grown onions, potatoes and garlic from the gardens. Simple recipes using fresh ingredients can taste even better with a few fresh herbs, a shallot, or a clove of garlic or two but, if you’d like some culinary inspiration pop into our Baker House office and pick up some free recipe cards. It is difficult not to be inspired by what has been achieved at Holland Street and Chippenham Road, so if like us you’d like to get stuck into your own projects, there is gardening training for everyone! The next Growing Skills workshops with Katherine from Hulme Community Garden Centre are scheduled for: Holland Street Community Garden All 1pm - 3pm: Friday 15th November Friday 13th December (possibly indoors) Friday 21st February Friday 14th March Composting workshop: Thursday 14th November 2pm - 4pm

Chippenham Road Community Garden All 1pm - 3pm: Friday 29th November (possibly indoors) Friday 7th February 2014 Friday 7th March 2014 Composting workshop: Saturday 16th November 11am - 1pm

Miles Platting ‘You Decide’ 2013 saw a different format trialed for You Decide using feedback from you last year, we asked projects to put together displays of their proposals which were available to view in the library foyer at ….for two weeks. Residents were then invited to vote on their favourites. 11 projects were funded this year, they were: • YPAC received £3,000 to deliver a 16 week drama and theatre project about explorative and risky sexual behaviour in young people. • Ensemble received £2,600 to deliver African drumming and dance workshops. • East Area Health & Wellbeing Group - Miles Platting Swimming Pool received £2,700 for a swimming pool and gym buddy programme where local residents are matched with a volunteer. • East Area Health& Wellbeing Group - Miles Platting Swimming Pool received £2,600 to deliver a 40 week programme of martial arts, yoga, zumba and boxercise sessions for the over 60s in the local area. • St George’s Community Centre and Grumpy received £3,000 to deliver creative workshops at St George’s and first aid training for St George’s volunteers.

• Chippenham Road Community Gardens received £430 for a wildlife/wetland pond within the Chippenham Road Community Gardens off Old Mill Street. • St George’s Day Parade Committee received £3,000 to fund new costumes and more entertainment for the St George’s Day Parade 2014. • Haut-Nkam received £3,000 to run a number of community events: hand ball tournament, community day and classes about the traditional Cameroonian language ‘nufi’. • Dougie Pringle’s Soccer School received £500 to set up a football project for kids aged 16 and under. • East City Saints RFC received £1,706 to set up a rugby union team for East Manchester training in Miles Platting. • Africa Community Organisation received £1,900.59 to purchase football equipment to continue to run Sunday morning sessions for local people. We had over 130 local people show up to vote on Thursday 1st August - this is fantastic! We also asked for feedback about the different formats we have used - more people preferred the display format to the more formal presentations. “I think today’s event reached a wider group of people compared with the previous process of presenting ideas on stage.” “I was impressed with the varied projects, they were very well displayed.” “Good amount of information (not over bearing). Good mix of projects.”

Our work club is working for you… Since we set up our weekly work club in February of this year, we have had over 90 people through the door. The sessions are open to anybody in the area and provide people with a place to access computers, look for employment/training opportunities and get help with CV writing and interview techniques. Incredibly, in the relatively short period of time that the work club has been running, nearly 10% of people who have taken advantage of this resource have since found a job. The sessions are held every Tuesday morning from 10:30 am until 12 pm at the Adactus Housing offices on Oldham Road - we also have a notice board in the office reception area were we regularly post/update local jobs vacancies for residents to look at when they visit the office.

If you are looking for work and would like some practical help or advice please feel free to drop in. inhouse | 21


Spotlight on Alan Hughes

Northgate Drive improvements completed A £200,000 makeover of 24 flats in Northgate Drive in Chorley has been completed. The six blocks of flats have been externally clad to improve the thermal efficiency of the homes. New doors have been fitted to the communal entrances of each block and the hallways redecorated and given new flooring. Additional lighting has also been provided in the communal areas. The flats suffered from poor insulation which meant they were difficult for tenants to keep

warm, which was a real issue at a time of increasing energy costs. The external cladding we have used on these blocks will make them much easier to keep warm in the winter and has also greatly improved their appearance and, the appearance of the surrounding area. Local ward councillor Dennis Edgerley visited the flats with Adactus Housing Group Chief Executive Paul Lees and CCH Chair Paul Joyce to mark the transformation.

“I was recently fortunate enough to be elected as a tenant board member to the CCH Board of Management; I live with my wife Gina, in Coppull.

Adactus Chief Executive Paul Lees, Cllr Dennis Edgerley and CCH Chair Paul Joyce.

Summer fun on Buttermere Green Buttermere Green attracted over 450 people when Chorley Community Housing (CCH) in partnership with Hope City Lancashire hosted the Chorley Moor Fun Day – their free, family friendly summer festival of fun.

Until four years ago I was the senior partner in my own healthcare clinic in Adlington, where I treated patients from as far away as Canada and the UAE with muscle related sports injuries, I was able to treat over 4,000 patients over a four year period. I have also advised and worked with the Guernsey Government on achieving compliance with the United Nations Charter on Freedom of Access within the community, for Guernaise, Aldernese and Sarkese residents and visitors, I have also spent a large proportion of my working life involved with the teaching of disadvantaged and disabled adults. At the start of my working life I spent time in the army, where after many years I became a senior NCO involved with the logistics of moving both personnel and equipment on both UK and overseas deployment. I was a late entrant into further education but in 1996, I was able to qualify as a teacher of adults with special needs in English, Maths and I.T. I am 62 years old, registered deaf/blind, although I do not consider this to be detrimental in actively participating in voluntary activities, I am always ready to learn new skills and have recently been on a course to learn more about art & craft. I am also enjoying ‘giving something back’ to the community by engaging in voluntary work with CCH, Blind Veterans UK,

The judging panel was made up of housing and design experts drawn from the Homes and Communities Agency, the Tenant Participation Advisory Service and five other organisations. The panel of seven top judges said of Dalton Fold: ‘It fits really well with the existing streetscape.’ Inside Housing published the list on 10 May 2013 in the form of a supplement endorsed by the Homes and Communities Agency. Dalton Fold off Moor Road, in Croston consists of 24 homes for rent, a mixture of two and three bedroom homes, which are let to local people in consultation with Chorley Council. The homes developed by Adactus Housing Group in 2012 are managed by Chorley Community Housing. Adactus’s development team worked closely with Architects Halsall

22 | inhouse

I bring a broad experience of ‘inclusion for all’ and awareness of health and safety issues relating to disabled members of the public, to the board. I have been on both local radio and television in connection with Government initiatives to prevent discrimination and lack of access to public buildings and facilities. I was also contracted to work as a ‘mystery shopper’ within various NHS Trusts in the Greater Manchester area ‘following up on’ and ‘investigating’ complaints made by the public to the Department of Health. Both my wife and I are committed Christians who enjoy spending our spare time with our children and grandchildren; we are both embarking on new activities where we can spend quality leisure time together doing the things in life that we haven’t had the time to attempt - such as travelling to places of historical interest like Beamish Open Air Museum and visiting beautiful towns such as Haworth.”

A £400,000 makeover of 52 homes on Harestone Avenue in Chorley has been unveiled by Chorley Community Housing (CCH). Twelve months ago Harestone Avenue was a street that looked ‘a bit’ tired. The works have transformed the area and given the homes a new lease of life. The improvements included off street parking, door canopies, window surrounds, brick walls and railings. As part of the spruce up, CCH also provided new front railings for three home owners on the street. Lindsay Hoyle MP said: “I’m very pleased to see CCH spending money in this area in order to improve these homes and help provide local residents with a more pleasant environment.” Works were carried out by social housing regeneration specialist Forrest of Preston, with design services provided by John McCall Architects of Liverpool. The investment in the environmental improvements in Harestone Avenue is part of a £1.5m programme of works planned for the Chorley Moor estate over the next two to three years.

(Left to right): CCH Vice Chair Derrick Leach, Adactus Chief Executive Paul Lees, Councillor Roy Lees, Lindsay Hoyle MP, CCH Chair Paul Joyce and County Councillor Bev Murray.

BLOOMING MARVELS

Top 50 Dalton Fold, our rural housing development in Croston, has just been named amongst the top 50 affordable housing developments in the UK. The development received the accolade after a panel of judges scrutinised a stack of entries to find affordable and social housing projects that really stand out.

I have been both a guide dog owner and a schools speaker for Guide Dogs and am currently waiting for the arrival of my third guide dog. I have been an ‘after dinner speaker’ relating many thought provoking and humorous anecdotes about my guide dogs Flint (my first dog) and Bratton (my second) and about ‘living life to the full’ as a disabled person.

£400,000 revamp of Harestone Avenue unveiled

The event featured live music, bouncy castles & slide, bungee run, trampolines, face paints, nail art, freestyle soccer, exotic animals, crafts, table sale, information & advice stalls and much more. The main aim of the day was to provide fun and entertainment for all and fortunately the rain held off for most of the event and children were able to make the most of the fun activities while parents visited the information stalls or relaxed on the green. Caer Butler of Hope City Lancashire said: “Everybody that we spoke to on the day said they were having a great time and they were so pleased and grateful to have an amazing free event like this so close to home. We’re very happy that everyone had such a good time.”

Help for Heroes and Guide Dogs local Chorley branch.

Lloyd Partnership, The Homes and Communities Agency and Chorley Borough Council to ensure that the design of the new homes reflected the village context of traditional terrace housing. More than 36,000 new homes for social housing were built last year, so, to make the top 50 schemes nationally is an achievement. This award reflects not only the sensitive design by architects Halsall Lloyd but also the development team’s work in managing the development process, to ensure that the new homes delivered made best use of the site and blended in with the surrounding properties.

Green fingered residents from across Chorley gathered as the winners of the Chorley Community Housing (CCH) annual gardening competition were announced. The venue was Birkacre Garden Centre, Chorley, who sponsored the event on Thursday 29th August 2013. The winners were: Best individual garden – joint entry from Joy Reeves and Carrol Eden; Most creative use of a small space/container – George Clarke; Best community garden project – Betty Woodcock;

Joint overall best garden winners – Sheila Southern and Edward Jackson. The competition, judged by Gordon McCully, senior reporter at the Chorley Guardian, is open to all residents living on a CCH estate. He said: “Choosing the winner this year was such a difficult job. The standards were high and it is clear folk take great pride in their homes and neighbourhoods.”

A Coppull grot spot transformed A Coppull grot spot has been transformed into a fabulous new £47,000 play area for children. Chorley Community Housing (CCH), part of the Adactus Housing Group, joined forces with Chorley Council and Groundwork Lancashire West and Wigan to develop the old play area on Longfield Avenue into an exciting new one catering for children aged

four to 12 years. The new play equipment includes a basket swing, a set of cradle swings, a mini carousel and a multi-play unit for children to climb up and slide down. There are new bark safety surfaces and coloured markings to reflect the nearby railway track. A new footpath has also been installed to allow easy access linking in with the existing footpath and preventing the need to walk along the grass verge. Chorley Council and CCH each put up £11,000 towards the cost of the scheme with Groundwork carrying out the work and securing additional funding from Britvic, one of the UK’s leading soft drinks companies, as part of a nationwide scheme called Transform Your Patch. The rest of the money came from a pot of cash contributed by housing developers towards the costs of providing community facilities. inhouse | 23


RETI RE M E NT LIVI NG

Do mock the Tudors Residents at Manor Lodge are very impressed with their new look black and white colour scheme after all 12 flats benefited from decorating works, roof repairs and new facias and soffits. Residents chose the new paint colours for their leasehold retirement scheme, which had previously been looking a little bit dated. The new colours together with the other maintenance work means the blocks now have a new lease of life. Residents have described the new “mock tudor” look as “beautiful” and “very smart”.

Sheltered refurbishments underway The refurbishment of our retirement and Extra Care accommodation is now well underway and we started work on our ninth scheme at the end of October. So far we have completed works on: • Clement Court • Elliot Gardens • Wickham Hall • Cannell Court

Just the Job With this in mind, floating support staff organised a workshop to advise their young female clients. The session, which was run by Leigh & District Soroptomist group, offered an insight into:

A satisfaction survey of Lune Valley tenants by an independent researcher has proved a huge success, with more than half of the Association’s tenants agreeing to take part. Richard Houghton, Director of Operations at CCH, said: “44 out of 77 tenants took part in the survey, which gives a response rate of 57%, a very good response for a survey of this kind. The results of the survey are now being written up with a view to them being presented to the Board at its meeting in October.”

The interview image - what clothes and make up to wear

Completing CV’s

Interview skills

Increasing confidence.

Participants said they felt more confident about the prospect of an interview having completed the workshop; they were particularly impressed with their new look make up. One of our clients has an incredible singing voice but, she really struggles with her nerves - at the end of the training day she felt more confident and actually sang for the group. The Soroptomists were so impressed with her that they have asked her to sing at a charity function in aid of breast cancer in January.

Supported tenants at the High St and New Rd Projects in Lancaster have participated with the Prince’s Trust Team Programme based at Morecambe Lancashire Fire and Rescue. The twelve week development programme offers young adults qualifications and practical skills via: • A work placement

Lune Valley Rural Housing Association has a new board member.

• Work on a community project • A residential week away. Within three months of completing the programme, more than 70%

Nick Wilkinson joined the Board after vacancies arose earlier this year and has been appointed because of the business acumen he brings to the Board.

At Bamber Court we believe in giving mums the best start with their children. We understand the difficulties faced by many mothers dealing with their children’s tantrums and other undesirable behaviours which can be stressful. We strive to provide our young mothers with ways of coping with these behaviours and adopt positive ways of parenting leading to a more fulfilled relationship with their children.

Nick Wilkinson

To do this we invite an outside agency, Action for Children, to come to Bamber Court and deliver the ‘Triple P’ course to residents, the children’s’ fathers and other young mums in the local area to help strengthen community ties and combat social isolation. The Triple P course is a Positive Parenting Programme. It is one of

24 | inhouse

The workshop was the starting point, the real hard work starts as clients complete job searches, applications and attend interviews but, we are on hand to support them throughout. In fact, if they are offered an interview they will be given a free makeover, interview clothing and further help to practice interview techniques. We are hopeful that these new skills and confidence will help our clients gain employment soon.

of participants go on to employment, training or education. The residents visited Long Churns (a cave in the Ingleborough area of the Yorkshire Dales) where they cave-walked in the streams. Mike Speight, a participant said “it was like an endurance test but really interesting as well. We saw the Cheese Press, a popular feature of the cave.” In the final week, participants prepared and delivered a presentation to an audience gathered at the Globe Arena. We are hopeful that this project will help the residents move on to further training or even employment.

Positive Parenting at Bamber Court Mother and Baby Unit

Nick, who lives in the Lune Valley area said: “Having been brought up in the Lune Valley I have spent the last 10 plus years working within the NHS in different parts of the country. I now work freelance as a project manager traveling where ever the work takes me. In addition to this I manage a portfolio of local commercial/residential properties and have had both hands on experience of property management as well as the more strategic outlook.” Richard Houghton, Director of Operations with Lune Valley’s managing agents CCH, said: “The appointment of Nick, who lives in Lune Valley and will therefore bring local knowledge to add to his business skills and experience, has strengthened the Board of Lune Valley.”

Prince’s Trust

A summary of the findings of the survey will be published in a future edition of the newsletter.

New board member

been created at Bridge Court. New furnishings and flooring are chosen by residents to ensure the schemes are an inviting place to be. Wooden effect flooring is a popular choice and two of the schemes are going to use this area for both dining and dancing! The feedback from residents, family members, local professionals and visitors has been fantastic and the new spaces are now being enjoyed by all.

supported

In this competitive job market, it is becoming increasingly important to ensure you have the right skills to just ‘get through the door’.

Survey gets great response

• Hibiscus Court, Manchester • Bridge Court, Neston • Ivy Court, Manchester • Victoria Court, Manchester. The work on the internal communal areas includes new lighting, ceilings, signage, renewing or refurbishing of flat doors including new ironmongery, refurbishment of bathrooms and guest room, internal decoration, extending or relocating kitchens and staff office. And, a new scooter room has

the most effective evidence based parenting programmes in the world, supported by more than thirty years of ongoing research. It gives parents simple and practical strategies to help increase their confidence in managing their children’s behaviour. This will also help prevent future problems and encourage a strong healthy relationship between parent and child. Since completing the course, residents have reported an increase in confidence in dealing with their children’s behaviour. Following on from this, a speech therapist came to Bamber Court in September providing residents with the opportunity to attend a six week course to develop their children’s speaking skills. With our wish to get the residents’ children off to a good start we encouraged as many as possible to attend. inhouse | 25


STAFF STORI ES

planned maintenance

Helen and Isobel graduate thanks to Adactus Housing! After three years of hard work and dedication, both Isobel Richards, Resident Involvement Officer at Miles Platting and Helen Coulson, Caretaking Performance Manager for the Group, graduated with a Masters of Science in Housing Practise from the University of Salford. Both members of staff worked full time whilst carrying out their studies; it can’t have been easy trying to balance both without letting one slip. On graduation, Isobel said “it involved a lot of sitting at my desk at home at the weekends but it was definitely worth it in the end!” Both would like to say a huge thanks to Adactus Housing for sponsoring them through their studies.

Desert island DJ CCH Director of Operations Richard Houghton appeared on Chorley FM’s version of Desert Island Discs in May and got to subject the population of South Central Lancashire to two hours of his favourite music. Richard said: “We have a regular monthly slot on local radio station Chorley FM as part of their commitment to community broadcasting and over the past five years it’s been a great opportunity for us to publicise the work that CCH and the Adactus Housing Group do. More recently Chorley FM introduced a feature called ‘Right up Your Street’ where they invite different people in to play their favourite records and talk about what they mean to them. I was lucky enough to be invited on and got to play more than a dozen different songs whilst talking about CCH.”

Famous last words On the 24 July 2013 at 2.16 am Sophie Caitlin Edwards came into the world weighing 8lb 3oz. Andy Edwards a Housing Officer in Miles Platting and Sophie’s proud father said “she is the most beautiful baby and she sleeps very well; having a kid is easy!” There is no denying that Sophie is very beautiful but let’s hope Andy still thinks ‘it’s easy’ after the inevitable all-nighter and the particularly odorous nappies!

A close shave for charity Miles Platting Apprentice Tom McCarthy set his colleagues a challenge for Comic Relief – ‘Sponsor me over £100 and I’ll shave my head!’ Keen to see Tom’s luscious locks shaved, generous but sadistic staff from the Miles Platting Office went a cut above and sponsored him over £300. Tom’s hair-raising brush with the clippers took place one Friday afternoon with Siobhan Farrelly and Jon Booth at the helm. Tom said “I only set the challenge on Thursday and I didn’t really expect to raise £100 – so I was totally blown away that I raised £300! I am slowly getting used to my new hair do, but I am finding it a bit cold!”

Turner House Extension The work on our head office extension started on the 27th August 2013. Set for completion in June 2014, the project will cost just over £1.5 million and will create 1,220 square meters of additional office space. The main contractors are local based company ‘Seddon Construction Limited’ who won the job by providing a very competitive tender. Adactus Chief Executive Paul Lees said: “We have increased the size of our workforce by more than 100 in the past three years and staff have had to put up with increasingly cramped working conditions. This new accommodation will provide a much more pleasant environment.” He added “The extension will provide additional meeting facilities and open plan offices for staff who currently work out of two different locations. Completion of the works will enable us to close an older office in Leigh and reduce our overall office running costs.” Four properties adjacent to Turner house were acquired to make way for the extension. Once the work is complete, existing Turner House staff will have more space and staff working in our second local office in Leigh on Railway Road will be able to move over. The offices are within a conservation area and the design will be in-keeping with the area.

Gas safe As a business Adactus is growing year by year. We need to ensure that we maintain our high safety standards and quality service, so we have introduced a new department to ensure excellence in these areas. We currently employ around 30 heating engineers who, each year carry out approximately: • 10,500 safety checks • 400 new boiler installations • Thousands of heating repairs. The Gas Compliance department will keep you ‘gas safe’. This will be achieved in a

number of ways: • Day to day inspections of gas work - by our engineers and contractors • Produce monthly, quarterly and annual reports to analyse trends • Benchmarking our performance against others and continual review • Feedback recommendations to Managers, Heads of Departments, Directors and Board Members - these will range from engineer activity to management processes to changes in our business due to new regulations.

Richard’s song choices included (and younger readers may wish to look away now): She Wears Red Feathers by Guy Mitchell, Home Lovin’ Man by Andy Williams and Gimme Shelter by the Rolling Stones.

Winter checklist

The perfect day

Here is a quick check list to help you so that you’re not left in the cold during this busy time of year.

Following his engagement back in August 2012, Thanasis, our Group Marketing Manager finally married his fiancée Joanna this summer. The couple tied the knot in a lavish ceremony hosted in the picturesque village of ‘Erythres’ just outside Athens, Greece on the 6th July. Joanna’s family flew over from Poland to join the 400 other guests in the village’s main church of ‘The Annunciation of Virgin Mary’to celebrate their daughter’s marriage to Thanasis. The Greek sun shone down and after the hour long ceremony the couple greeted all their guests to receive congratulations in the grounds of the church. A dinner at a local restaurant followed, complete with the obligatory Greek dancing leading the guests astray till 4 am. The young couple did not embark on a long honeymoon but spent their days relaxing by the sea in neighbouring Porto Germeno, looking forward to their next ceremony scheduled for late October in Poland – why have one wedding when you can have two!

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There are a few simple checks that you can do to prevent your heating from breaking down. 1. Make sure that your boiler service is up to date this can help us to identify repairs that need doing and can prolong the life of the appliance. 2. Ensure that your gas is on at the meter, if you have a card meter, the right hand side of the display will indicate if the gas has been topped up correctly. 3. Check that the emergency control valve hasn’t been knocked into the off position.

4. If your boiler is fitted with a pressure gauge (this is just to show the water pressure inside the system) and if there is a noticeable a drop in pressure (although it does vary slightly from day to day naturally), give us a call and we will come and check it for you. 5. Most boilers will be fitted with a timer and room thermostat, it is important to familiarise yourself with how these work and if there is a power cut, or the clocks change, please remember that these will affect the timer. 6. If you smell gas or your carbon monoxide alarm is going off in your property you will need to contact National Grid on 0800111999. If after these checks your heating or hot water still isn’t working please contact us on 0845 505 3355.

Material Partnership Jewson has supplied Adactus Housing Group with materials for repairs since 2008 but this contract ends in December 2013. We invited four different merchants that are competent to deliver the service required, to tender for the supply of planned and responsive materials. The tenders were marked 60% on price and 40% on the service delivery proposals; the winner of this contract would be the company that could deliver the best service at the best price, not the cheapest price at the cost of the service. We set up an evaluation panel to assess the four proposals, members included Asset Management Directors and senior management, a board member and a tenant representative selected from the Adactus 500. The evaluation panel were responsible for ensuring quality and value for money (VFM), they had to: • Read written proposals • Meet and question prospective merchants • Conduct site visits to existing customers • Mark overall quality and price, to give a total score for each merchant. Following an extensive evaluation, Jewson were awarded the highest score. Therefore, Jewson have been approved by the Group’s Board to supply materials for planned and responsive repairs. Jewson are very keen to provide Adactus with a quality service that can be relied upon.

inhouse | 27


Adactus Head Office Turner House, 56 King Street, Leigh, Lancs, WN7 4LJ For the out of hours emergency service please use the connect numbers.

Miles Platting Neighbourhood Office Baker House - 542 Oldham Road, Miles Platting, Manchester, M40 8BS

0845 505 3355

T (0800) 234 6826

0300 111 1133

F (0161) 203 2600

For the out of hours emergency service please call 0800 234 6826.

Chorley Head Office Chorley Community Housing Ltd, Ann James House, 32-34 St Thomas Road, Chorley, PR7 1HR For the out of hours emergency service please use the connect numbers.

www.adactushousing.co.uk 28 | inhouse

0845 505 3355

0300 111 1133

Inhouse Newsletter: Autumn - Winter 2013/14  

Welcome to the latest issue of In-house. Hopefully the bold images emblazoned on this issue’s front cover mean the fire safety theme is har...

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