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John’s Briefing John’s Briefing Rent Review Discussions are taking place between the Welsh Government and Housing Associations about the levels of rents charged and the potential for these to go up. MHA understands the difficulties that tenants are facing at the moment, therefore doesn’t want rents to increase. The Welsh Government is looking at submissions from Housing Associations to aid their decision making. Staff will be kept updated of any changes. External Wall Insulation Programme We have successfully procured grant to continue the programme next year, which will bring down energy bills for tenants. Photovoltaic Panels Programme The programme is now grinding to a halt, the last panel was installed last week. MHA’s energy efficiency rating is now one of the highest in Wales and have fitted panels to all properties that were eligible for fitting. Bidding for Development Contracts We have recently bid to carry out work to properties and although we haven’t won any yet, we are putting in competitive bids. If successful, we would use our own DLO to carry out the works and subcontract for anything that we can’t do ourselves. -


Newport Housing Trust Contract The contract is coming to an end at the end of March. Yet, a discussion is being held to look at the potential of extending the contract. We will only agree if the price is right for us.

John’s Briefing Regulatory Outcomes Quite a few regulatory outcome reports have been submitted to Board over the past few months. There may be a new regulator next year, who will look at different aspects of the business and challenge us in different ways. Capsel Capsel is now up and running and will generate income for MHA. Profits will be gift aided back to MHA to avoid corporation tax. One advantage of working on such contracts is that we can see how the private sector operates and the need to be more competitive. Rules of the Association We have recognised the need to review our rules and have identified areas that need changing. This was brought to light in September when a Board member was re-elected and then subsequently resigned and our rules didn’t have a mechanism in place to deal with the situation. A review will take place over the next year and changes to the rules will be taken to the AGM in September 2014.

to downsize. The scheme has been opened up to include tenants who are in arrears. The problem is having the properties for them to move into. We need to look more closely at redesignation. Development Update One bedroom properties are in high demand due to the Welfare Reform pressures being placed upon tenants. Although these properties are needed, we don’t want too many in the stock that can’t be let in the future due to changing needs. Trevor Bowen Court The contractors are starting on site on the 6th January. We will be using estate agents in Monmouth to sell the properties. Planning Applications Lots of planning applications have been submitted. One was submitted for nineteen houses in Chepstow, yet this was declined at the planning committee. There will be a few more going in before March.



Welfare Reform There has been a lot of discussion in the press about Welfare Reform, posing questions about whether it’s working. The future is uncertain for Welfare Reform. We have identified 340+ tenants who are affected by the bedroom tax and 66.5% of these tenants are in arrears. The impact of the changes is being felt slowly but surely. We have put in place lots of support mechanisms for tenants during this. We have decided to extend the ‘Smart Move’ incentive scheme for next year, which encourages tenants

Christmas Party Thank you to everyone who came, it was a really fun night. Thanks also to the Corporate Services Team for planning it and arranging transport. As you can appreciate, organising the transport and party takes a considerable amount of time. Therefore, next year there will be a different process wherein staff will be required to book themselves onto transport instead and will not be able to make any change within five days of the party. 3

News Monmouthshire Housi ng

News read below for the latest MHA news

policies Agile Working Policy which now emphasises that all office-based staff must have some regular days in the office to maintain customer expectations and build on working relationships. Protection of Employment Policy which needed minor alterations to mileage rates for excess travel, and referencing to the appropriate legislation. All HR policies can be found on In House. Please remember to read and tick your mandatory reads on the homepage.

Health & Wellbeing Members of the Boxercise class held in Mamhilad on Thursday’s at 5pm are seeking new members. The group has recently benefitted by the purchase of kettlebells by MHA to enhance the class. Further information is available from Tim Redwood.

New Board Member New Tenant Board member Lynette Bonar.



Crafty Women Community Investment would like to say a massive thank you to all the staff that came to the Staff Forum to support ‘Crafty Women’. The group came into the office on the 11th December to sell some of the crafts and gifts they have been making and to sell raffle tickets for their ‘seasonal’ quilt. This is the first time the group have sold their items and they were overwhelmed with how lovely staff were and are very pleased to have raised £93 in selling goods and a further £40 through their raffle.

Pocketful of Presents Once again staff have shown their generosity by buying presents to support the work of Action For Children. The project supports children and young people with disabilities (and their families) across Monmouthshire and we are making sure that each child has at least one present this Christmas. Many families who have children with disabilities find it difficult to make ends meet with all the additional expenses so Christmas can be a particularly difficult time. A total of 53 presents have been donated (each one tailored to the wish of a particular child) and will be handed out by Santa at the Action for Children Christmas Party on Monday 23rd December at Caerwent Community Hall. The care and time people have spent finding the right present for each of the children is humbling and it just goes to show that the Spirit of Christmas is truly at the heart of MHA staff. A big THANK YOU to everyone who has been involved.

Forever sweetly Shane and his wife Carly have recently developed another exciting business venture... ‘Forever Sweetly’. It offers a beautifully decorated candy cart which can be used at weddings, parties etc to ‘wow’ guests; providing them with a wide range of sweets tailored to customer choice and decorated to match colour schemes and party themes. For more information, please contact Shane on 07786277354 or visit their website


Charity Work Lupus Walk On 28th September 2013 a very brave friend of mine, Rhys Parker lost his fight against Lupus after 13 years of proving this life shattering illness and his Doctors wrong time and time again; he won every time it threw something at him. However, aged just 36 years old Rhys had fought heart and kidney problems. Rhys was an ambassador for the Lupus and The Hipps Trust for many years, he never complained about his illness and he always found time to help and support others. So many friends and family wanting to do more and to make more people aware of this illness and help in any small way...It was when Craig, Rhys’ younger brother, informed me that October was ‘‘Lupus Awareness Month’’, I really wanted to help in whatever way I could, so as you may remember I sent out a request looking for volunteers to join or sponsor me in a ‘Go That Extra Mile’. (Go That Extra Mile is a three mile walk then add a fourth). Within no time at all I had a great response from the Staff of MHA and before I knew it I had a team of 11 MHA staff I was thrilled, the aim was to raise a minimum of £20 each.

group raised £421.50 for the Lupus Charity. After Rhys’ death, his wife Emma, recreated his Facebook page and renamed it ‘’Tribute to Rhys Parker’’ if you visit the site you will see that there are endless messages which have been posted, photos of loved memories, not to mention lots of individuals and groups raising awareness and fund raising in his honour these are just a few events in his honour. Afternoon tea’s, 12k runs, half marathons, Full Marathons, Football Matches, walks and a 161 mile cycle from Snowdonia to New Inn, Pontypool. Literally thousands of pounds have been raised. Emma was so touched to hear that total strangers were doing something in memory of her beloved husband. So I wanted to say a BIG THANK YOU to you all not only for your support and your donations, but also for to those who participated Lisa Way, Trish Jones, Philippa Worgan, Lisa Jones, Hayni John, Karen Davies, Louise Grady, Sue Kid, Kerris Winter, Owain Israel, Rachael Hopkins, Carol Jones and Liz Jones.

On the day of the ‘Go That Extra Mile’, Wednesday 16th October, I was so pleased to see that the team had grown from 11 to 14!! Not only was doing this walk a way of remembering an amazing guy Rhys Parker, but it has also raised funds and awareness of this condition, so many people of all ages within Monmouthshire Housing have approached me as they have a friend or family member who’s been diagnosed with this condition. Our expectation was to raise £220.00, however, when it was time to collect the money I was pleased, as we as a

The Team


Charity Work Stoptober Well done to Louise Davies and Katie Needham who successfully completed the 28 day challenge ‘Stoptober’. Louise is still gloating that she is still a non smoker and has seen a big difference in her bank balance and feeling rather PROUD. Louise would like to encourage her other colleagues to sign up to Stoptober next year.

Go Sober for October Well done to Lucy Rogers who challenged herself to stop drinking alcohol for the month of October and to raise money for MacMillan Cancer Support. Well Done to Lucy for raising £40.

Movember During November each year, Movember is responsible for the sprouting of millions of moustaches around the world. With their “Mo’s” men raise vital funds and awareness for prostate and testicular cancer and mental health. As an independent global charity, Movember’s vision is to have an everlasting impact on the face of men’s health. This year, eight members of staff took part: Rob Carey, Paul Collins, James Bannister, Neil Binnell, John Davies, Jim Jones, Dominic Pembridge and Geraint House. They have raise £210 for Movember which is a fantastic effort, so well done to all involved!


Spotlight Spotlight Hello I’m Lisa Way, MHA’s Development Surveyor. Describe yourself in three words: Optimistic, confident and outgoing. 6.30AM The alarm goes off and I normally put it on snooze for 15 minutes. Never been good at getting up in the morning. Eventually I get up and shower. I normally have porridge with honey for breakfast. My dog Scampie, has her breakfast at the same time. 7.30AM I take the dog for a little walk around the block. 8.15AM Leave for work. I try and get in for about 9ish but it depends on the traffic on the M4 as I live in Cardiff. 9:00AM Things are a bit hectic as there’s loads going on at the moment in Development so after checking emails I’m usually monitoring how our planning applications are getting on and getting prices for our projects. 18:00PM I usually leave work at about 6ish and get home at about 6.45pm then its longer walk for Scampie and dinner for the both of us. Then I usually watch a bit of TV and bed about 11 o’ clock.


MAD Awards Pauline wins MAD Award Pauline Massochi, cleaner at Cwrt Severn, won a Community Champion award at this year’s Making a Difference awards! She has been a cleaner at Cwrt Severn for some years and has always encouraged the tenants living there to take part in activities. She has taken time to speak with the residents to find out their interests and try to find ways for them to be active and involved. In addition to this, she has pushed for MHA to train cleaners of Sheltered Schemes in basic First Aid as they are often the first people that residents see if they have had an accident or incident. She encouraged her two daughters to take part in the ‘First Aid Taster’ in Caldicot and then the Paediatric First Aid course. Pauline is well known by everyone in the local area and is a person who can be turned to for motherly advice. She is due to retire shortly, but it still looking after her mum and helping one of her daughters by providing childcare while she studies.


CIPR Awards

Double Award at CIPR Cymru PRide Awards Your very own staff newsletter EBUZZ won the Gold Award for the Best Internal Publication category. The judges’ commented that the staff newsletter was an excellent publication with its staff involved in the content and design and represented incredible value for money.

We then went on to achieve Silver in the Best External Communication category for our tenant newsletter Money Matters. The CIPR Cymru PRide awards are now in their 10th Year, and recognise outstanding public relations in the region.


Team Spotlight Information Services Team Information Services Team Mark Gauntlett is responsible for the overall management of Information Services which comprises two teams. The IT Team contains two IS Support Officers, Dewi Parry and Cariad Griffiths, although Cariad’s maternity leave is currently being covered by Wayne King. The Systems Team is managed by Database Manager Mark Winstanley, supported by Database Support Officer Michael Harper and Resources Assistant Alison Smith. The IT Team The IT Team provides IT services to MHA as a whole. This includes technical support and helpdesk services to all members of staff for systems as diverse as e-mail, office software, remote access, electronic document management etc, and for hardware such as PCs, laptops, scanners and printers plus the ‘hidden’ devices such as the switches, routers and firewalls that run our networks. The team provides help and advice on IT-related matters and is often called upon to assist with anything that has a plug on it! We are responsible for maintaining the infrastructure which supports MHA’s many computer systems, from the servers that host them to the cables that run to user’s desks and everything in between. With over 30 systems running on almost as many servers, ‘behind the scenes’ maintenance and development of the hardware and software associated with MHA’s IT operation is


a ma jor part of the team’s work. The security of those systems is crucial, so the team also looks after anti-virus, anti-spam and other security measures to keep the ‘baddies’ at bay. Our security systems typically scan almost 36,000 incoming and outgoing e-mails each month! Backup and disaster recovery measures are also managed by the IT Team, these being crucial elements of MHA’s business continuity plans. Telecommunications also falls under the remit of Information Services and the IT Team in particular. This includes the management and support of our mobile phone contracts, internal telephone system and internet and public telephone system connections.

Team Spotlight

The Systems Team The Systems Team’s main responsibilities include looking after MHA’s Housing Management System, Capita Housing, including the testing and implementation of new software releases. We ensure that all rent income for the Association, including the telephone payment line (this also includes dealing with rent queries), Direct Debits, bank income etc. is downloaded and posted to the relevant rent accounts on a daily basis. The team produces rent payment cards, provides a front line service for Direct Debit queries and issues rent refunds. In addition, the team generates the information for and organises the production of our six-monthly rent statements.

The System Team also acts as system administrator for BI Query and Qlikview reporting tools that sit over Capita Housing and Total Repairs. This includes the provision of Housing Management and Ad Hoc reports. The team provides helpdesk and consultancy services for our ma jor systems and also ensures that all members of staff, new and existing, are provided with the training required to use the systems effectively. We also ensure that relevant training documentation is provided where required.


Philippa & Joe’s Wedding Philippa & Joe’s Wedding After 10 years of being together Joe and I finally tied the knot on 5th December. We got married at Peterstone Court in Brecon with close family and friends and our Labrador, Lily, also made an appearance which was a surprise to us both! It was an amazing day and the venue looked stunning with all of the Christmas decorations. The day after we had our evening party at Redwick Village Hall near Magor where all our family and friends joined us for a hog roast and disco. It was a lovely two day celebration and thank you all for the wedding card and gifts.


Starters & Leavers Starters

Chanelle Baker Modern Apprentice Business Administration

Eric Karvik Labouring Assistant Planned Maintenance

Aimie Jenkins Repairs Software Developer & Office Admin

Gemma Durrant Cleaner at Cwrt Severn

Julian Edwards Maintenance Officer

Dafydd Evans Lettings Officer


Chris Lamb Graphic Designer

Matthew Fielding Electrician


Drink Awareness Drinking Awareness This time of year is always a great opportunity to partake in celebrations, with drinking usually being an enjoyable part of it. Here are some tips on how to do it moderately, whilst still enjoying yourself. Downside to Drinking There are many downsides to drinking irresponsibly. Drinking irresponsibly could lead to many health problems Some can be short term health problems which can be reversed, some are long term which are more difficult to reverse. Examples of health problems relating to alcohol are: • Alcohol poisoning • Anxiety and Depression • Obesity • Higher risk of cancer • Liver and Heart disease • Dementia • Stomach Ulcers Alcohol is also responsible for an estimated 33,000 deaths in the UK each year. The UK also has one of the highest “binge drinking” rates in Europe. -

• Accidents – Alcohol can affect your coordination and balance which results in an increased risk of an accident. 53% of referrals made to the Welsh National Database for Substance Misuse were alcohol related in 2010/2011. • Anti social behaviour – Alcohol is a factor in 33% of burglaries and 50% of street crimes in the UK. • Arguments and relationship problems. How to deal with a hangover! • Drink plenty of fluids (non-alcoholic) as alcohol dehydrates your body! • Get plenty of rest. Don’t over exert yourself! Take it easy and recover! • Take aspirin or paracetamol to relieve headache. • Eat small amounts! Try and eat food high in Vitamin B as it helps! Do you know what you’re drinking? • 1 pint of Carling – 187 calories: 4 1/2 ½ roast potatoes • 1 pint of Strongbow – 199 calories: 5 Jaffa Cakes • 1 large glass of red / white wine 250ml – 228 calories: 1.7 bags of Walkers crisps

Attention all frontline staff: Keep a watchful eye on our tenants as drinking alcohol can also have other effects on people. Some examples of other issues caused by alcohol are:

• 1 Smirnoff Red 25ml – 108 calories: half a Mars bar

• Domestic Violence – Drinking alcohol can make people violent and this can lead to domestic violence.

• 1 WKD 25ml – 184ml: 3/4 of a mince pie

• 1 Baileys 50ml – 175 calories: 3 1/2 ½ Roses chocolates

For more information visit

Twitter Activity 974 Followers

Following 149

549 Tweets

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Well done to our Crafty Women who have been selling their items at MHA today. They raised a massive ÂŁ90 and a further ÂŁ40 in raffle tickets!

Tweet (@mon_housing)


Our new Dads Can project is up and running. Follow them here and find out what they are up to @DadsCan

Tweet (@mon_housing)


If you have a spare 2 minutes and live in the Gwent area please complete this Gwent Domestic Abuse Pathfinder Survey:

Mentioned (@tanya_CHC)


Busy on the #yourbenefits helpline with lots of calls from @Mon_Housing tenants getting prepared.

Mentioned (@ASHWalesCymru)


Take a look at our map of #Welsh businesses who help staff to quit #smoking. Well done to @ABFWXM, @BCUHB and @mon_housing who have gold!


Staff Christmas Party


Staff Christmas Party



A tenant would like to thank Naomi Pearson and Stacey Edwards for “...the response to her call after having locked herself out. Thank you for managing to access the property without damaging the door.”

Miss Morgan would like to thank Andrew Young for “... attending to a problem at her home. She said he was excellent.”

Mr & Mrs Gammon would like to thank Alison Smith for “... meeting them in the office to help resolve a problem with their direct debit. They just wanted to pass on their thanks to Alison and said she was absolutely lovely.

Miss Jackson would like to thank Cheryl Tracy and MHA for “...the support offered to the group Crafty Women from Abergavenny. A big thank you also for giving them the opportunity of showing and selling their craft at MHA on 11th December.”

Miss Iddi would like to say “... How wonderful James Bannister is, he has resolved many issues for her. He is respectful, polite and happy. He is wonderful!”

The tenants at Old Hereford Road would like to thank Marilyn Moss for “...the high standard of cleanliness she maintains at the scheme.”



Here are a selection of Pickles that you have awarded to your colleagues recently:

Louise Davies has ‘pickled’ Sarah Kerlsey for “....all of her hard work organising everything for a fantastic Christmas party and arranging the transport.”

Alun Window has ‘pickled’ James Bannister for “....I would like to thank James for all his hard work while covering the Maintenance Officer role. James was very thorough in all he did and furnished us with suitable notes on the course of action agreed with the tenant. Well done James!

Sarah Kersley has ‘pickled’ Cheryl Tracy for “... the time, effort and organisation that Cheryl put into the MAD Awards yesterday, it meant so much to the tenants who were nominated for and won awards it was really nice to see. She organised a really successful event and deserves recognition for it!”

Julie McKim has ‘pickled’ Nigel Casson for “....being extremely helpful when I needed assistance in a difficult circumstance. He also went the extra mile to ensure a new resident has all work completed. Thank you Nigel.


Press Releases


Press Releases


but will always We currently have 64 likes, tell our tenants welcome more. Don’t forget to keep up-to-date that the y can use this pa ge to ivities we have with all the latest events and act ies. going on within their communit


Ebuzz December 2013  
Ebuzz December 2013