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Spring 2014

Green Doctor gets Local Improvement Funding! Turn to page 4 to read more

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Welcome to the spring 2014 edition of news&views. The New Year is well under way and this newsletter is jam packed with news and information for you! There are also several competitions to enter. So, why not give them a go? Please remember to send us your stories, articles and ideas, you might see them in the next edition.

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Rent payment reminder Your rent and service charges may change from April 2014. If you’re affected, our Finance Team will have written to you with all the details. Don’t forget to keep up with the new payments. If you pay by Direct Debit, we’ll change your payment. If you pay by standing order, you’ll need to tell your bank. If you need advice or support with any changes, please contact us.

Later this year you’ll be able to receive news&views via email. This will save money and the environment and be more convenient for you. Sign up using the reply slip on the back page of this newsletter. Or, email your name, address and tenancy reference number to: and we’ll update your records.

WIN – A big break from your bills! It’s not too late to sign up and pay your rent and service charges by Direct Debit! If you sign up by June this year we’ll enter you in a prize draw to win £12,000. That’s a whole year of bills taken care of! And it gets better, because if you're already paying your rent by Direct Debit you will still be entered into the draw. Call us today and find out more about Direct Debit, the easy way to pay!


Contains material sourced from responsibly managed forests, certified in accordance with the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council).

Did you know? You can pay on the go! You can pay your rent from your smart phone or tablet! Simply download the Allpay app for free from the iTunes Store or Google Play Store.

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Your AmicusHorizon

Keep your contents covered We’ve had some bad weather over the last few months, from flooding to high winds. We’ve been offering lots of support and advice to many residents who have been affected. And one thing we’ve been highly recommending is that you take out a contents insurance policy. Contents insurance is your responsibility and a policy will ensure your possessions are safe in the unlikely event of an incident. Contents insurance should cover your household items against loss or damage by theft, fire,

Thinking about older people Staff and residents got together for our first TOP (Think Older People) event in February. The day was an opportunity to discuss the kind of homes older people want to live in and the support they may need. Many of the residents on our Older People’s Forum spoke about their priorities. These included: „„ M  atching our homes to those who need them – letting adapted properties to disabled residents, and freeing up family homes by supporting people who want to downsize „„ Enabling older residents to live independently for

explosion, water and flood, lightning or earthquake. But you need to check with your insurance provider exactly what you are covered for. We're working together with the National Housing Federation to provide an affordable contents insurance scheme. For more information please contact us on 0800 121 60 60 or visit our website:

longer. Providing residents with accommodation where they can access support but remain independent „„ Being great communicators and ensuring older residents know how we can help. Not only do we need to be thinking about what our older residents want now - we need to plan for future generations. If you’d like to get involved in our Older People’s Forums please contact your local Resident Involvement Team.

It's in the bank! We’re helping residents find the right bank account to prepare for the introduction of Universal Credit. From April 2014 the Government will start merging some benefits and tax credits into one monthly payment. If you receive these benefits your payment will be made straight into a bank account. So it’s important you’ve got a bank account and are able to budget for the month. For more information and advice, speak to Wayne McQuaid, our Financial Inclusion Co-ordinator, on 0800 121 60 60.

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Kent Gateway Area Panel priorities Each year, your Area Panel selects three priorities for the Kent Gateway area. For this year, we’re focussing on… 1. Financial inclusion – supporting residents through changes to the benefits system, maximising income, promoting money saving advice 2. Anti social behaviour (ASB) – identifying ASB problem spots, working with other agencies, promoting safeguarding 3. Neighbourhoods – making them the community of choice, including estate inspections, gardens and resident satisfaction.

Date for your diary

Our next meeting is on 6 May, 6.30pm at Strode Crescent Baptist Church. If you’d like to come along, please contact Laura Bradley, Resident Governance Officer.


Check you’re covered Insuring the contents of your home may be something you’ve not thought about before, but it can save you hundreds of pounds. See page 3 for more information on contents insurance. Area Panel member, Helena Ingham,told us about damage caused by the winter storms: “I had a tree come down, this brought the fence panels down, as well as damaging the gate and shed. Without insurance cover I would have had to pay over £1,250 just to remove the tree!”

Call the Green Doctor! We've donated £2808 of Local Improvement Funding (LIF) to the Green Doctors working on the Sustainable Nadira receives LIF funding from Malcolm (AP member) Sheppey project. This will be used to buy 300 LED lightbulbs. These will be handed out to the next 300 residents they visit in Sheppey. Nadira, one of the Green Doctors said: “We're so grateful for the LIF funding for the lightbulbs. These LED bulbs save £10 a year per bulb on your electricity bills!" The Green Doctors, Nadira and Danny, are doing free home visits in Sheppey. Their advice can save you up to £240 a year on your gas, water and electricity bills. You'll also receive lots of energy saving goodies! To arrange a Green Doctor visit, please call 01795 434222, or email

Garages to rent We’ve garages available in Halfway and Rushenden. For more information or to arrange a viewing, please call us on: 0800 121 60 60 or email:

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Downsizing delight Last year, Mr Stickings moved from his large, semi-detached house in Eastchurch High Street to a spacious ground floor flat in Vincent Court, Sheerness. He doesn’t have any regrets. Despite his good health, at 88 the upkeep of the house and garden had become too much for him. So he decided to downsize his home. Lai Billing, Resettlement Officer provided a hand held service to assist Mr Stickings with his move to Vincent Court. He’s very happy and settled in his new home. He said: “It’s lovely and warm here and it’s so easy to get to the shops as I’m right in the town centre." Lai Billing with Mr Stickings in his new home

If you’d like to know more about downsizing, call the Lettings & Allocations Team on 0800 121 60 60.

Easter is coming! On Thursday 10 and 17 April, we’ll be out on the estates door knocking, to capture residents’ views while giving out Easter eggs. Look out for us and say hello to our Area Panel members and Housing and Resident Involvement Teams. Here’s where we'll be visiting: „„ Botany Close „„ Nore Close „„ Queensway „„ Edenbridge „„ Noreen Avenue

„„ Lapwing Close „„ Vincent Gardens „„ Sea View Gardens „„ Warden Bay.

Mrs Davies

She’s a winner! Well done to Mrs Davies of Sheerness. She’s won £250 in vouchers just for signing and returning her new tenancy conditions. If you’ve not yet signed your conditions, please visit: yourview

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East Kent Area Panel

Our panel is growing! We’ve recently welcomed resident members, Jane Hiles and Rona Hamill, to the East Kent Area Panel. And at our January meeting we chose Rebecca O’Neill from the Brogdale Community Interest Company as an independent member of the panel. Bob Goodyear has been voted as our new Vice Chair.

East Kent Area panel priorities Each year, your Area Panel selects three priorities for the East Kent area. For this year, we’re focussing on… 1. Financial inclusion and raising awareness and understanding of welfare reform 2. Neighbourhoods and improving our environment 3. Community engagement and increasing the amount of residents and stakeholders we engage with. We’ve a number of activities planned throughout the year, including projects to commemorate World War One.

Date for your diary

Our next meeting is on Thursday 1 May, 6pm at Alexander Centre, Faversham. If you’d like to come along please contact Laura Bradley, Resident Governance Officer.


Young families trip We took a small group of young families from the East Kent area to Wingham Wildlife Park. Residents with young children from Cordingham Close and Boughton-underBlean were invited to spend the day looking at the animals in the park and enjoying the outdoors! Everyone had a great time and it was a brilliant end to the half term holidays. Would you like to be involved in the Young Families' Group? Contact Louise Chilley, Resident Involvement Officer for more information.

Ask Linda Involved resident and Area Panel Chair, Linda Scamp, answers your queries: “I’ve been asked by residents how they can get funding support to improve their local community.” “The Area Panel has a Local Improvement Fund and we’ve got a new pot of money for 2014/15! You can submit an application online, by phone, post or with help from your Housing Officer.” Find out more:

 - 0800 121 60 60* or 01795 434 606**   -   -

Staff go back to school! 21 AmicusHorizon staff took time to interview over 150 pupils from Abbey School, Faversham. They helped the Year 11 students prepare for the world of work.

All students received a certificate from Matthew Robbins, Head of Area and Mel Reynolds, Neighbourhood Manager East Kent.

Both staff and pupils had a positive experience from the week long exercise. We matched our business areas with students’ interests or aspirations. The pupils also gained from real life hints and tips from staff. In a survey afterwards, 82% of pupils said it would help them when they had to go for a real interview.

Easter eggs for you The East Kent Area Panel, along with our staff, will be on your estate this Easter. Go and see them to claim your free Easter egg! It’s also an opportunity to talk to them about our local services and how you can get involved with us. Look out for our mobile office on the following estates: Tuesday 8 April:

Panto fun for residents Over 90 older residents from across all three areas joined us for the Older Persons' Forum trip. We went on to see Jack and The Beanstalk at The Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury. Despite the wet and windy weather, everyone was in high spirits and the trip was a great success. Residents completed a survey on their social needs which will be used when planning future events. Would you like to help organise the next Older Persons' Forum? Contact Louise Chilley, Resident Involvement Officer, for more information.

„„ Canterbury: The Hoystings at 10am „„ Whitstable: The Sidings at 11.30am „„ Seasalter: Cordingham Close at 12.30pm „„ Graveney: Culmers Terrace/Goosefields at 3pm „„ Boughton: Colonels Lane at 4pm Tuesday 15 April: „„ Ashford: Milne Road at 10am „„ Leaveland: Leaveland Cottages at 11.30am „„ Sheldwich: Amos Close/Rest Harrow at 1.30pm „„ Selling: Neames Forstal at 2.30pm

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Mid Kent Area Panel

 0300 123 6010 

Local Improvement Fund Chris Blondrage

Michael Knowles

Mid Kent Area panel priorities Each year, your Area Panel selects three priorities for the Mid Kent area. For this year, we’re focusing on… 1. Know your rights (financial inclusion) – helping with welfare reform and money matters 2. Know your area 3. Neighbourhoods. The panel and staff will work together to deliver the above priorities. We’ve a number of activities planned throughout the year, including events to commemorate World War One.

Date for your diary

Our next meeting is on Wednesday 7 May, starting at 6pm at our Bell Road office. If you’d like to come please contact Laura Bradley, Resident Governance Officer.


Do you have a brilliant idea to make a difference to the area you live in? The Area Panel has a Local Improvement Fund and we’ve got a new pot of money for 2014/15. You can submit an application online: or call us on 0800 121 6060.

Quinton Estate ASB success Quinton estate has had a number of problems with anti social behaviour (ASB) in the past. So, we've been working with Kent Police to tackle the issues on this estate. At a hearing at Medway County Court we were granted an injunction against three residents responsible for various offenses including burglary and drug possession. One of the residents was excluded from the estate until 2015. This is a great result for us and the residents of Quinton. It’s also an excellent example of partnership working and sends out a clear message - we won't tolerate anti social behaviour!

Do you need low cost furniture? If you need help furnishing your home, visit the Neighbourhood Furniture Store today. We’ve quality furniture and white goods at affordable prices waiting for you. We even deliver! You can also check all our bargains on Facebook: And please remember, you can also donate your good quality furniture to us if you no longer need it. And we'll even collect it! Call 01795 478550 or visit the Neighbourhood Furniture Store, Trinity Trading Estate, Sittingbourne.

 - 0800 121 60 60* or 01795 434 606**   -   -

Tenancy agreement winner! Bernice Lincon from Upchurch was the lucky winner of £250 worth of Love to Shop vouchers. Bernice’s name went into the prize draw after she signed and returned her new tenancy agreement last year. In December last year we sent all general needs residents a new tenancy agreement. If you’ve not yet signed and returned it please do so as soon as possible. If you’ve misplaced it, please call us and we can send you a new copy. Or you can sign online at:

Bernice Lincon receives her vouchers

Easter egg extravaganza! Members of the Mid Kent Area Panel and our Homes and Communities staff will be out and about this Easter. Look out for them on your estate giving out Easter eggs. It’s a great chance to have a chat with them about our services, your welfare benefit queries and any estate issues you might have.

New extra care apartments at Regis Gate Our fantastic extra care apartments at Regis Gate will be available later this year for residents over 50. The new development in Milton Regis will be accessible for wheelchair users. All apartments will benefit from double glazed windows and under floor

They’ll be in your area on 9 and 16 April. Keep an eye out for the mobile office in Murston, Quinton, Playstool Close Newington, Kemsley and Iwade. Details on Facebook soon.

heating. Regis Gate also includes: „„ 2 4 hour care and support packages „ „ Fully accessible accommodation with the latest assistive technology (fall detection and movement sensors, panic alarms, flood detectors) „ „ Internal mobility scooter storage and charging points on every floor

„ „ O n site restaurant providing daily hot meals to residents and visitors „ „ H airdressing salon, therapy treatment room, assisted bathroom and two guest rooms to accommodate visitors „ „ Landscaped gardens with raised planters, shed and green house. For more information please contact our Allocations Team on 0800 121 60 60.

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Our performance in Kent


Performance indicator

Our target

% Repair satisfaction


April 2013 - January 2014

Target met?


Nearly 100% of residents were satisfied with repairs to their home. The time we took to complete repairs was above our target. That's great news!


Performance indicator

Our target

April 2013 - January 2014

Average time to re-let homes – general needs

11.9 days

9.7 days

Target met?

On average we took just over 9 days to relet homes. This means less homes standing empty and an increase in income to improve our services.


Performance indicator

Target to end of January

January 2014

% rent arrears – general needs



Target met?

A big ‘thank you’ to everyone who pays their rent on time. We want to do even better so we can use the money to improve our services and homes. If you’re struggling to pay your rent please contact our Income Officers. They're here to help you.

Anti social behaviour (ASB)

Performance indicator

Our target?

April 2013 - January 2014

Satisfaction with handling of anti social behaviour



Target met?

This year over 97% of residents said they were satisfied with how we handled their ASB case. Our Anti Social Behaviour Teams are here to help so please get in touch if you need to. We're committed to providing safe and peaceful neighbourhoods.

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The happening

Here’s what’s happening for young people around Kent...

What's your talent? Are you 18-24? Are you struggling to find employment? Have you been out of work for 12 months or more? If this sounds like you, we can help! Talent Match is our employment support programme for young people, funded by the Big Lottery. Get in touch and and we can help you with:

We link into employers networks so we can find out about the latest employment opportunities open to you. To find out more and see how we can help, please contact Sarah Sales, Youth Coordinator on 0800 121 60 60 or email:

• Life skills coaching • Job ready workshops • 1 to 1 mentoring.

! m u r o F h t u o Y t Join our Ken If you’re aged 15-21, why not get involved? You’ll have the chance to talk about the issues in your neighbourhood and make the changes that matter to you. We work together to improve services for young people and we organise events and trips away.

If you’d like more information contact: Jo Pink, Kent Resident Involvement Officer. Email: or text: Youth Forum to 07540 202052 and we’ll call you back.

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Your Home

New heating contractor for London and Surrey Annual gas inspection is a must! Every year our contractors must carry out a gas inspection in your home, it’s a legal requirement. This is for your own safety and it’s really important you stick to your appointment. If your gas inspection is due please make the appointment today.

Since January this year BSW Heating has been servicing and maintaining heating and hot water for all our London and Surrey residents. BSW Heating is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Call 0208 763 3993 or free phone 0800 142 2760 or email:

In a recent case in Lambeth, a court ordered a resident to pay £750 for failing to allow us access to their home for a gas inspection.

Need help around the home and garden? Last year we launched three new added value services: • Gardening – a complete gardening service in the growing season • Decorating – we’ll decorate one room every three years • Handyperson – for a variety of minor jobs around the home. The services are there for our residents who need them most, so eligibility criteria apply. Contact us and ask about our new added value services. If you’re not eligible we may be able to help you find an alternative local agency. Call us on 0800 121 60 60 or visit:

Top tips for trees In the recent stormy and wet weather, we’ve had lots of calls from residents when trees have fallen down. We can deal with trees in communal areas but any trees in your garden are your responsibility. You need to: • Regularly remove any dead wood • Prune trees between November and March • Remove mushrooms at the base of the tree • If there are cracks or cavities in the trunk or large branches have fallen off you may need to employ a tree surgeon. We can advise you further.

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Repairs and Maintenance Panel (RAMP)

Beware of Japanese Knotweed Japanese Knotweed is a highly invasive plant, it can grow up to 10 feet tall and very quickly take over a garden. It can also cause damage to paths and brickwork. Penny Walker, Chair of London RAMP says: “We know lots of residents are worried about this plant." How do you know if you’ve got it? • It’s lush green in colour with shovel shaped leaves • It has a stem which is bamboo like in appearance and grows in a zig zag pattern • And it produces white flowers around September or October.

New web page Have you seen our new repairs advice pages on the web? There’s lots of great information, much of it suggested by the residents on your Repairs and Maintenance Panels (RAMP).

It’s vital you remove all of the plant above and below the ground. Because it’s considered “controlled waste”, you need to take it to a licensed landfill site. Don’t put it in with your general composting. If you suspect you have Japanese Knotweed, contact us and we can advise you further.

Visit: Here are just some of the great things you’ll find: • How to report your repairs online • The level of service you can expect • If you’ll be charged for a repair • 'Frequently Asked Questions' about fire safety and asbestos. You’ll even find our fantastic seasonal tips about looking after your home and garden!

Japanese Knotweed in flower

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Your services

Living her dream Emma has lived in a Casa Support Learning Disability scheme in Croydon for the past 10 years. During the Paralympics in 2012 Emma was inspired to develop her swimming skills. Emma spoke with her key worker, who encouraged her to ‘go for it’!

Green Ambassador Training Day

Energy event In February we held our Green Ambassador training day. Around 30 Green Ambassadors met in Tonbridge to gain new knowledge around reducing energy, waste and water use in their homes. The day covered: „„ Composting „„ Recycling „„ Reducing water use „„ Reducing energy use „„ Tariff switching. It was also an opportunity for residents to give their ideas for our Sustainability Strategy 2015.

Emma was supported to visit her local swimming pool. Her aim was to compete in the Halliwick, Association of Swimming Therapy Gala in September 2013. She enjoyed the training and worked on her speed and stamina. By September she felt ready to compete. On the competition day, Emma felt nervous yet confident. Family came to support her at Sevenoaks Swimming Pool. Emma watched her team members competing and felt proud to be a part of it all. When her turn came, her team cheered her on. She swam brilliantly and came third, receiving a medal for her achievements. She felt proud, excited and relieved. Emma is going to compete next September and is aiming for second place! Emma’s been an inspiration to her friends and family and now her nephew has started taking swimming lessons. Emma would like to thank all the staff at Dagmar Road for their support.

Green Ambassador Ludmila Cavendish said: “The event was helpful and teachers were knowledgeable, the workshops were very good.” For more information or if you would like to become a Green Ambassador please contact Bianca Difolco or Jade Wilson on 0800 121 60 60 or email:

Emma with her medal!

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If you’d like to read the Residents’ Council meeting minutes please visit:

The Dorn Moller Award Monica at the award ceremony

She’s a winner! Congratulations to our Resident Councils' Vice Chair, Monica Barnes, who was named TPAS (Tenant Empowerment Organisation) Tenant of the Year, Southern Region at a recent award ceremony. Monica has spent 30 years helping to improve people's lives. She works with various agencies to tackle gun and knife crime, drugs and anti social behaviour. And she works tirelessly for her fellow AmicusHorizon residents. Well done Monica!

Conference is a first

Residents’ Council

The Dorn Moller Award 2013

Thank you for all the nominations for this year’s Dorn Moller award. The award recognises an individual or group who make an outstanding contribution to their local community. The Residents' Council will carefully consider all nominations. The winner will be announced in the next edition of news&views.

Congratulations Beth!

Our first governance conference brought together staff and all members of our governance structure including Area Panel and Residents’ Council members. Our senior staff team held a ‘Question Time’ so delegates could challenge them on current issues. The day also included workshop sessions on Customer Service, Scrutiny and ‘Housing Hot Topics’.

Former East Kent Area Panel member, Beth Williams, has recently been appointed as a Resident Board member of AmicusHorizon.

Chair of Residents’ Council, Glen Cady, explained: “Every governance member has an important role in influencing the external environment. The conference reinforced individual roles and increased awareness of how members can make Governance Team an impact where they live.”

Beth made a big contribution to the Area Panel and Residents’ Council, and will be a great asset to the Board. We wish her well in her new role.

Beth Williams

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Your notice board

Need help with a financial dispute?

Spring word search Fancy winning £25 in high street vouchers? Then give our spring word search a go. This time the theme is the circus. The competition closes on Friday 2 May 2014. Congratulations to Mr Hayes of St Leonards on Sea, our winter word search winner! n Clown n Juggler n Trapeze n Acrobat n Show C

n Elephant n Fun n Ringmaster n Tickets n Popcorn

















Are you having a financial dispute? Perhaps you’ve had issues with a payday loan, insurance payment or credit card charges? The Financial Ombudsman Service resolves complaints between consumers and businesses when the two sides aren't able to sort it themselves. Their service is free for consumers and aims to resolve issues quickly and informally, without going to court. For more information about the Financial Ombudsman visit: or call 0800 023 4567.






















Please fill in your contact details: Name:...................................................... Address:................................................... ...............................Post code:................. Telephone:.............................................. Mobile:����������������������������������������������������� Email:������������������������������������������������������� I'm happy to receive news&views by email from November 2014. Freepost RSBU-ASLS-XTXZ AmicusHorizon PO Box 322 SITTINGBOURNE ME9 8PQ

Communications staff collect the award

Excellent report! Last year we wanted to produce an annual report which was as resident-led and accessible as possible. Over 500 residents were involved with it, acquiring training in copywriting, design, photography and social media skills in the process. We’re pleased to say it worked, we’ve just won the TPAS award in the Southern Region for Excellence in Annual Reports. We’re now looking for residents who’d like to get involved with the design of this year's annual report. To find out more please call our Communications Team or email:

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News&Views 2014 Kent spring edition 2014  

Welcome to the spring 2014 edition of news&views. The New Year is well under way and this newsletter is jam packed with news and information...

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