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April 2014

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Ways to Put a Spr For this edition of Ebuzz, we’re thinking of the good weather and ways that you can enjoy your lunch break during the week…


Pick up the latest edition of Ebuzz and eat outside Clear your mind and revitalise your thoughts by getting out of the office to eat your lunch. Pick up Ebuzz, a newspaper or magazine to help relax your mind from the morning’s workload.


Try not to look at a screen! This one is tricky as most of us tend to look on our phones or computers during our lunch break, but it can do wonders for your state of mind (as well as giving your eyes a break!) if you just take some time away from screens. Avoid checking emails; this time should be spent as a complete break from your morning activity.


ring into Your Lunchtime...



Take a walk outside! We are so lucky to be situated in a location where we have a selection of walking routes to choose from.

It sounds incredibly obvious, but a lot of people will ‘forget’ or simply not bother to eat at lunchtime. If you do this, you’ll pay for it later when you can’t concentrate and throw your body off balance. Lunch time should, after all, be about eating lunch.




Don’t get stuck in a routine Many of us are creatures of habit. Maybe you go to the same supermarket everyday. You might always use your lunch break to run errands or make personal calls. Try to mix things up in order to clear your head and boost your energy.


REMEMBER Ebuzz is put together following John’s briefings every other month. This is your newsletter and it would be great to hear some of your stories! If you have anything you want to share, please get in touch with Louise Davies via InHouse, 01495 761104 or her email: louise.davies@ We look forward to hearing from you and hope you enjoy this edition.


John’s Briefing New Vision & Corporate Plan

A new Vision had been agreed following on from staff and board away days and can be seen below. The new vision challenges us as an organisation and differentiates us from our competitors. Our LEEP (Landlord, Economic, Environmental and People) will remain the same but with new objectives. MHA’s New Vision By 2019 MHA will be the top performing Social Enterprise in Wales providing quality homes and services, transforming peoples’ lives and giving them the confidence and support to realise their ambitions. We will create an environment where people can have a brilliant quality of life, in areas where they aspire to live and work. The five year Corporate Plan also reflects the activity MHA will undertake to achieve its new vision and will filter through to your directorate and team plans.

Development Update

There have been delays with Trevor Bowen Court due to Welsh Water, but works have now commenced at Trevor Bowen Court and also St Davids in Abergavenny. There is a lot of development in the programme over the next 5 years and we will be looking to appoint a new Development Surveyor in the next few weeks. MHA managed to draw down an incredible £900k more than anticipated this year due to having our work stream well organised. We hope to do the same next year. See page 7 for more on this.

Audit Update

Interviews were conducted last month for new internal auditors and ‘Service Matters’ have been appointed.

Annual Budget and Business Plan

Board approved the annual budget for 2014-15 and the financial and business plan update which is very robust. Although, once again next year we will spend significantly more than we bring in, this calls for very careful financial management and high levels of productivity going forward to ensure we stick to our business plan and pay down our debt.

3C’s Review - Comments, Compliments and Complaints A review of the 3C’s Service has recently been undertaken and we will now be changing from the current 3 stage process and adopting the Ombudsman 2 stage process, training will be provided to all staff and will be focused more on dealing with complaints informally.

Quarter 3 Performance – 1st October 2013 – 31st December 2013 There were no indicators ‘At Risk’ in this quarter and performance is doing really well. We will also be looking to use Qlikview more widely throughout the organisation. The results of the high levels of performance are reflected in the pay award this year.

Pay negotiations

By the time you read this you will know that a 2% award was accepted by staff and will be included in the April pay package – the award is one of the best in the whole sector and is one the few above inflation awards in Wales.


Capsel Update Development The new development at the old Trevor Bowen Court site is now underway. Lovell has taken possession of the site and the 12 new homes will be named Bowen Gardens. We decided to keep the Bowen name in it as Trevor Bowen was a great benefactor of Monmouth town. The new houses will be sold by local Estate Agent Parry’s under the Capsel brand. The two and three bedroom houses will be launched over the coming months.

Home Essentials You may remember we asked staff to vote for a name for the new Gas Servicing product that will be run under the Capsel name. The winning suggestion was Capsel Home Essentials. Home Essentials will provide servicing, maintenance, repairs and installation for Gas, electrical, solar, PV and plumbing equipment in people’s homes. The new service will be launched to MHA staff first so you will be the first to try out the service. We will then do a formal public launch in Monmouthshire in the Autumn.

Waste Management Capsel is also in the process of setting up a Waste Management arm of the business. A yard has already been sourced for this and this business is likely to be launched around June.

Maintenance Works Capsel has recently been awarded a managing agent contract with Tai Calon. This role will support Tai Calon with the completion of EWI works to 500 properties. 6

New Policies Unacceptable Behaviour Policy

Development Update Trevor Bowen Court, Monmouth

A review of our Unacceptable Behaviour Policy and Procedure has recently been completed. MHA defines unacceptable behaviour as aggressive or abusive behaviour and unreasonable demands and/or harassment, directed at staff from tenants, residents and other service users. The procedure explains how to raise and record incidents and how to deal with them consistently. The last page of the procedure outlines a straight-forward process to follow. An Adverse Event Reporting Form (available on Inhouse) needs to be completed to report an incident. A line manager then decides the action to take. Where the behaviour involves a tenant a Senior Neighbourhood Officer decides. If the incident is serious enough to involve the Community Safety Team, a Senior Community Safety Officer decides.

MHA’s Lone Worker Policy MHA’s Lone Worker Policy has recently been completely revised following the issuing of Guardian 24 and Skyguard Lone Workers systems to MHA employee who regularly work alone. The provision of these devices provide health & safety support and emergency backup should any of our Lone Workers experience any difficult situations. The policy is available on InHouse and is a mandatory read for all Lone Workers.

HR Protection of Employment Policy This updated policy can now be found on inhouse.

All policies can be found on

The new Trevor Bowen Court development is now underway. Lovell are building the new modern apartment block which has been renamed Trevor Bowen House following agreement with the Town Council. The new block will contain 20 purpose built apartments (14 one bed apartments and six two bed apartments) for the over 60s including communal areas and scooter storage. The project is scheduled to take a year and also includes 12 new houses which will be marketed and sold under the Capsel brand and named “Bowen Gardens”. The residents that were decanted from the scheme have continued to be liaised with and those that are looking to move back will be consulted with to choose their new colours of the kitchens.

Thornwell Road, Chepstow Pendragon Design and Build have won the tender to build 16 new flats and houses at Thornwell Road at an existing garage site which will be demolished. We are now under contract with them and they are starting on site on 28th April 2014. It is due to be completed in May 2015.

St David’s Road, Abergavenny St David’s Road will be 6 flats that will be built on a former garage site that we have already demolished. The new flats are being built to create new housing opportunities for tenants that are looking to downsize due to the Bedroom Tax. This development has been funded through the smaller property grant and is just one development in the pipeline that will meet demand for smaller properties due to the Welfare Reform changes. KW Bell are the contractor on this development. There are numerous developments in the pipeline for the programme for 2014 – 2015 and we are recruiting a new Development Surveyor to meet the needs and demands of the local housing community. 7

COMPLIMENTS Mr Thompson would like to thank Matthew Taylor for... “The service he received from Matt, he was extremely pleased. Matt was very supportive and patient and helped him to understand and sort out his finances.”

Mrs Griffiths would like to thank the Homesearch Team for... “Their help with the move from 24 to 21 The Lawns. Mrs Griffiths and her daughter are truly grateful to all of the team for their help and kindness that they have received.”

Mrs Moulton would like to thank Gareth Parks for... “Attending to the boiler over the weekend on standby. He was such a patient man and nothing was too much trouble for him.”

Mrs Bowen would like to thank Suzanne Powell and Adrian Simmonds for...

Job Shadowing in May Job-shadowing doesn’t have to take up too much of your time. It could be as little as a half-hour introduction to a team or up to half a day going to a different team or even out on site. How to go about it If you are interested in job shadowing throughout May , discuss with you line manager the areas of MHA that you’d like to know a bit more about, and contact the department manager and arrange a date that is convenient. We would like to promote job shadowing within the organisation so please carry out the Following;

“Meeting with her to discuss the work which is to be done at her home. She would also like to thank Suzanne and Adrian for the nice comments about her home.”

• ‘Take a ‘selfie’ photo of you on your job- shadowing experience • Email to ‘Jobs’ on Outlook, with a brief description of what you did

Mr Williams would like to thank Simon, Gareth and Craig for...

Job-shadowing can be arranged at any time of the year, all you need to do is speak to your line manager.

“Their very good work. They were reliable, cheerful, arrived on time and worked hard.”

Check out the team spotlights within EBUZZ for more information on what teams are doing.






Please contact Graham Harvey on 2091 or email


Holly Doughton Housing Support and Resettlement Officer I’m Holly, I have worked within the housing sector for the past 5 years, I previously worked for Solas and had various job roles during this time all specialising in homeless housing, I was based in Newport Council and also in various hostels in Newport. I started here at MHA on 10th March and have been made to feel very welcome and am enjoying my new role. My hobbies include going on holiday and the gym (they come hand in hand!) and spending time with friends.

Who would you like to be stuck in a lift with and why? I would most like to be stuck in a lift with Russell Howard because at least we would have a laugh and take my mind off being stuck in a lift!

Claire Dunning Administrative Assistant – Partnerships & Projects I previously worked for Bron Afon as a leasehold assistant before that I worked for REACH Supported Living. I enjoy going to see live music especially heavy metal and rock music, watching films, reading and catching up with friends whether it be shopping, coffee or something a bit stronger!

Who would you like to be stuck in a lift with and why? I would like to be stuck in a lift with the author James Patterson or singer Steve Lee.

Karen Driscoll Maintenance Officer (South) I am currently stepping into Suzannes shoes on a Freelance basis within the Maintenance Department. I have around 20 years experience as a Building Surveyor and Project Manager working mainly for Housing Associations, Local Authority, Universities and Consultancies although more recently I returned from London in March after working for Broadgate Estates as Building Surveyor on their More London site looking after commercial property such as GLA and Head Offices of PWC and Norton Rose. I am currently living in Merthyr Tydfil although I am unsure when I will get another urge to move away again as I love the freedom which freelance work gives.

Who would you like to be stuck in a lift with and why? I would be delighted to be stuck in a lift with a few of my mates, a selection of refreshments and some good music. 10

Natasha Jones Planned Maintenance Invoice Assistant I joined MHA on the 24th of March. I previously worked for a company called Atradius and have an ITS background. I have a BA (hons) degree in management and leadership. I now work in property services and I have been made to feel very welcome. My hobbies include horse riding and going to the gym as well as walking my dogs! I live between Usk and Raglan in a place called Gwehelog.

Who would you like to be stuck in a lift with and why? I would want to be stuck in a lift with the person that could fix the lift and let me go!

Rebecca Poulsom Tenant Profiling Assistant Hi my name is Becky Poulsom and I have very recently left the Royal Navy after 9.5 years of service. I joined the Navy in 2004 and worked on various Plymouth ships for 7.5 years and based in Portsmouth for a further 2 years serving on Cardiff affiliated ship HMS DRAGON. I was a Radar Operator before transferring to a Seamanship Specialist and then taking compulsory redundancy in 2014. I live in Pontypool with my furry companion ‘Merlyn’ the Vizsla. I enjoy sightseeing, mountain walking, horse riding and swimming as well as spending quality time with my family.

Who would you like to be stuck in a lift with and why? If i had to be stuck in a lift with anyone it would be Lee Evans! Imagine all the jokes in regards to being stuck in a lift! It would make the whole experience less daunting.

Shelly Leonard Tenant Profiling Assistant I’m Shelly with one ‘e’ and prior to redundancy, worked for the past 12 years as a caseworker for the Crown Prosecution Service. I was pleased to see the nonsinging Katie Perry here as we were colleagues for many years. I have acquired two daughters aged 22 and 19 with very long hair, three dogs, 2 mad cats and a pond full of fish and frogspawn at the moment. When not at work I can be found with paintbrush in hand, painting and re-decorating and always looking for new ideas and excuses to change something. My daughters say their memories of me will always be talking to the back of my head, half way up a ladder.

Who would you like to be stuck in a lift with and why? Rhod Gilbert for obvious reasons! Why not say hello to all the new starters on


Colin Ewers Carpenter Retired (see opposite page)

Philip Dalgleish Painter Retired (see opposite page)

Judith Davies Administrative Assistant – Partnerships & Projects Judith has left to return to a previous role working with Ministry of Defence.

Emily Thomas Administrative Assistant – Partnerships & Projects Emile was volunteering on reception through the Work & Skills Wise Programme and also 2 days a week with the Lettings Team. Emily’s time with MHA came an end but we wish her all the best for the future.

Sarah Kersley Corporate Services Assistant Sarah has left to pursue her career in Marketing on Cardiff Bay for a Video Production Company.


Bye Colin & Philip! Colin Ewers Colin was affectionately known as the Arnold Schwarznegger of the planned maintenance team. He has installed more kitchens than most of us have had hot dinners, worked almost non-stop each day and no-one can remember him being off work sick. John Keegan’s abiding memory is of being insulted by Colin at a junior rugby match in Abertillery when both their sons were playing on opposite sides. Unusually for John he could not repeat the actual words spoken! Lester and the planned maintenance team are already missing Colin, his contribution to MHA is legendary.

Philip Dalgleish Philip started as an Apprentice Painter in the Maintenance department with MCC over 40 years ago and has continued with his loyal service to MHA. We wish Philip a very happy and healthy retirement, no doubt he will spend his extra time playing golf with his family.


Don’t forget to complete your inhouse survey by Friday 11th April Inhouse is your intranet and we would like your feedback on how we can make it better and more interactive for you so please take 5 mins to complete the survey if you haven’t already done so; http://www.snapsurveys. com/swh/surveylogin. asp?k=139522359504

This and much, MUCH more can be found on 13

The Smart Move Incentive Scheme was launched on 7th June 2013. The purpose of the scheme is to encourage under occupying MHA tenants to move to a property that they fully occupy; in order to both mitigate the impact of Bedroom Tax as well as making larger properties available for families who need them. Tenants can apply for a non-repayable grant of up to £1000 when they move to a property that they fully occupy – any rent arrears, property recharges or court costs are deducted from the award. We have also had a limited time offer of £1500 available for Smart Move tenants who moved between 1 December 2013 and 31 March 2014. Since its launch, Smart Move has helped 14 people to downsize into a property that they fully occupy with two more moves in the pipeline. There are a further 39 people on the waiting list for Smart Move.


Tenant Feedback... Not surprisingly, all tenants who have received a Smart Move grant have stated they are very pleased with the scheme! One couple stated that they would not have even considered moving without the Smart Move incentive money. Whilst most other tenants stated that they were already considering moving due to not being able to afford their rent as a result of the Bedroom Tax, they stated that the Smart Move scheme gave them the extra incentive and financial ability to finally make the move. One tenant had been considering moving home for around 18 months and had been registered with Homesearch since February 2012. The Smart Move scheme finally encouraged her to make the move; she placed her first bid on a property in September 2013 and was successful. She was able to use the incentive money for removal costs and soft furnishings as well as clearing rent arrears of nearly £500. This gave her the ability to make a fresh start in her new property without the worry of clearing her arrears, as well as her rent being more affordable as she now lives in a property that she fully occupies.

Mr Lappin (above) is registered disabled and is a below the knee amputee on his left leg. He lived in a two bedroom flat and had his wheelchair stolen from sheds at the property. He needed to downsize as well as find a more suitable property for his needs. Smart Move helped him to make the move to a one bedroom bungalow with its own private storage. The money helped him with removal costs and to furnish his new home.

Smart Move is set to continue into 2014/15 with a budget of £15,000; enough to make 15 more moves and help make 15 more tenants happy in their new, slightly smaller homes!

Here are a selection of “Pickles” that you have awarded to your colleaguer recently: Julie McKim has “pickled” Graham Harvey for.... “Being extremely helpful and producing calling cards for the whole of the Neighbourhood Team – but producing a few early to assist myself. Thanks Graham” Naomi Pearson has “pickled” Andrew Knill for.... “Arranging a carpenter at short notice for the Community Investment DIY Beginners Course. A great big thank you!”

Collective switching is when consumers get together to negotiate a group deal with their gas and electricity suppliers. CydCymru are currently operating a collective switching scheme for anyone who lives in Wales. As a lot of the suppliers are raising their prices, now is the best time to see if you could get a better deal and save money in your own homes! There is no obligation to switch, and it only takes 5 minutes to apply on-line www.cydcymru-energy. com or on 0800 093 5902, in English or Welsh. The more who register, the better deal we can secure. We are also trying to promote this amongst tenants, so if you come across someone who may benefit, let Sarah Jones or Matthew Taylor know.

Helen Carter has “pickled” Bridget Gibbs for.... “Single handedly covering the work of two colleagues as well as her own workload” Tania O’Neil has “pickled” Dafydd Evans for.... “Attending the CSA Team meeting to discuss Homesearch. The session was really useful and has really helped us all understand the process. Thank you!” Clayton Charles has “pickled” Terry MacColl, Julie McKim and Lauren Francis for.... “Helping and covering for their team during an extremely busy period. Nothing has been too much trouble or was a problem. Thank you.” Do you think your colleagues should be recognised for their additional work efforts? Going above and beyond customer expectation and showing a good service. Then award them a pickle via InHouse. A prize will be awarded to the employee with the most pickles during the quarter.


EASTER By David Morris Ok so I really enjoy the chocolate eggs, time off work, being with friends and family, and bunnies are kinda ok (apart from the little “bullets” they leave around the place!). BUT Easter for me is about a cross and an EMPTY tomb. For those of you who have seen Mel Gibson’s “Passion of Christ”

you will know that there was nothing pretty about the original Easter story. Jesus was prepared to sacrifice His life, endure a horrific death on a cross then after three days rise to life again. I believe Jesus was prepared to go through this in order to bring us hope, peace, joy and freedom. It is because He suffered that Jesus can comfort us when we go through things, befriend the lonely and heal our brokenness.

Someone once said that if the story of Easter is false then Jesus is of no importance at all but if it is true then He is of absolute importance and should not be ignored. How about spending some time at the foot of His cross this Easter and wondering at the EMPTY tomb. Wishing you a very restful, enjoyable Easter!

Easter Activities We are holding a ‘Cooking with Kids’ session in Abergavenny on the 15th April between 10 and 12pm at Wellfield Close Hall and another one on the 17th April at St Pauls in Caldicot (same time). Please send any referrals for these sessions to Naomi Pearson. 16

The ‘Life & Soul’ Group is the new name for MHA’s Health & Wellbeing Group. We are a mix of representatives from each department, and have recently been joined by new members Sarah Needs and Caro Curnock.

So What Do We Do?

We meet quarterly to discuss and organise proactive health and wellbeing topics for the benefit of all staff. We have a budget which provides for referrals to Occupational Health and other health providers such as the Counselling service, but also allows us to organise events like the Wellbeing Days involving Reflexology and Back & Shoulder massage. Other initiatives provided by the group include ‘Mens’ and ‘Womens’ Health Talks, Flu Vaccinations, Nutrician and Hydration Talks. The group has also been successful in bidding for external funding for the Sustainable Travel Day, ‘Dr Bike’ sessions and the purchase of two folding bikes. This year we have gained an increase to the budget so that we can organise some more events. If you have any suggestions about Health & Wellbeing activities, please contact one of the ‘Life & Soul’ representatives.

Back Row: John Keegan, Neil Binnell, Karen Williams and Cheryl Tracy Front Row: Adele Aubrey, Sarah Needs, Tania O’Neil and Sue Kidd Side Panel: Caro Curnock, Dai Rees and Nigel Casson 17

THE MAINTENANCE TEAM SPOTLIGHT team are responsible for a The Maintenance The variety of roles related to any Team form part of maintenance issues our tenants are experiencing. the Neighbourhood Team, Karen Pre Inspections Maintenance Officers carry Davies is the Senior The out inspections within and around Maintenance Officer tenant’s homes and are Tenant for the repairs service who manages Champions MHA provide. three Maintenance There are a number of roles Officers; Alyn carried out by the team, primarily which vary and can Weaver, John inspections include: Davies and • Where tenants are unsure of the problem is or how Suzanne Powell, what it has occurred and a visual a Void Officer; inspection is required • Where complex technical issues Nigel Casson and that require an assessment and a solution to address them a Project Officer; • Wide ranging issues such as David Hood. fencing in gardens to leaks


internally and black spot mould internally and can include any of the communal areas within blocks of flats or surrounding ground that MHA own.

The team will also give advice and information on guidance of how to manage their home, this also includes referring tenants to other departments within MHA that will be able to help or assist with issues that have been raised. A request for an inspection can come via a tenant or any member of staff within the organisation or any stakeholders that MHA work with. The Maintenance Officers have their own areas that they cover: Alyn Weaver Abergavenny and the surrounding rural areas John Davies Monmouth, Including the Wye Valley, Usk, Rogiet and Magor Suzanne Powell Caldicot, Chepstow and the surrounding areas

Post Inspections

We work closely with other departments within the organisation like:

The Maintenance Officers also carry out post inspections and quality checks on repairs that have been carried out in tenant’s homes and in the surrounding areas if the land is owned by MHA, either by the DLO or a sub contractor. The purpose of the inspection is to ensure that repairs have been carried out to the appropriate standard and the tenant is happy.

• Our Asset Management Team to identify larger scale or cyclical works • The Community Safety Team assisting with issues surrounding security of our properties to address anti social behaviour • The Neighbourhood Team assisting with evictions, decants and attending walkabouts within the community

Part of the role of is to ensure the health and safety of tenants living in our Older Persons Accommodation. MHA received a favourable recent audit from BSI (British Standard Institute) which resulted in no non-conformance notices being issued. This was achieved primarily due to Maintenance Officers carrying out all statutory periodic testing of the alarms, emergency lighting and water running to prevent an outbreak of Legionella in all of the buildings and recording the information accurately on site and electronically. They report and raise repairs as required and check the works are carried out during their monthly building inspections. Along with this they co-ordinate and ensure all statutory service requirements are met and recorded, this includes arranging for any defects or faults found being rectified with the timescales required.

Void Properties Nigel is solely responsible for any property that becomes empty, from carrying out a pre-void inspection before the tenancy ends and completing the proforma’s and photographing a property, through to advertising the void on HOMESEARCH. Nigel specifies the works required to ensure that the property meets the “Moving In” Standard. Nigel liaises with the DLO who will schedule the works required. Part of Nigel’s role is to ensure that the properties are returned from the DLO or subcontractor with the set turnaround void time of 22 days, in Quarter 3 the average turnaround was 19 Days. Nigel will also advise tenants on any charges they may be liable for if they are not leaving the property in good order. Nigel works closely with outgoing tenants and provides sound advice on how some of these charges can be reduced.

WHQS Environmental Works David Hood is currently working solely on the Welsh Housing Quality Standard Environmental works. David is involved with everything from tenant consultation, assisting with the designs and ensuring the tenders sent out to contractors are correct to attending site meetings when the works are being carried out on site. David is responsible for managing the budget, ensuring that works being carried out are cost effective and are on schedule. David is the main point of contact for tenants, staff and contractors James Bannister was recently seconded to the team for a period of 5 months. “I enjoyed the experience of being a Maintenance Officer and working with a really good team, I was surprised at how diverse their roles are and found there is a lot more to it than you would think!!”

If you are interested in finding out more and would like to Job shadow the Maintenance Team, please discuss with your line manager for permission and contact Karen Davies on Ext 2018 or 01495 761018. 19

Parkrun Hi Everyone

Starting in Pontypool Park just before Christmas, Parkrun has been running in Tredegar and Newport for a long time. It’s a free 5k run every Saturday morning and they are always encouraging runners and volunteers to join. Sarah Jones Income and Energy Advisor does it most Saturdays. For more information either speak to Sarah or visit

I’m running Race for Life on 22nd June to raise money for Cancer Research UK. Events like Race for Life are vital in funding Cancer Research UK’s life-saving work into preventing, diagnosing and treating cancer. I’m running for all my family and friends who have lost a loved one from Cancer. Please sponsor me by donating online louisedavies6 or using the text details below.


Baby News! Congratulations to Support Officer Justine Whitcombe and her husband on the arrival of their baby girl Martha, who was born on Sunday 2nd March weighing 8lbs, mother and baby are doing well.


CuIsine Corner

Restaurant Review The Lime Tree, Chepstow By Sarah Kersley

Living in Chepstow, I would consider The Lime Tree to be my ‘local’ pub/café/bar/restaurant. I go there at least three times a month, whether for food, drinks or coffee and it offers loads of different reasons for to come and enjoy fantastic food, drink, service and atmosphere. It opens daily at 8.30am for breakfast (you have to try the Breakfast Club Sandwich!) and offers a range of freshly ground coffees and freshly squeezed juices and smoothies to compliment breakfast dishes. The carefully crafted menu has a brilliant range of filled breads, burgers, salads, tapas, antipasto platters and daily changing specials – not to mention tempting puddings and cakes! Aside from the tempting brunch menu that is offered throughout

Welcome to Cuisine Corner! We all love food and it’s always good to get some inspiration from others about what to cook and where to go. Each edition, we want some tantalisingly tasty, tried and tested recipes and reviews to feature in Cuisine Corner. the day, you can choose from a selection of brilliant burgers. They offer classic options with a range of toppings, as well as an option for the adventurous burger fans: the “Dragons Breath burger” which is served with bacon, jalapenos and great dragon’s breath cheese (my personal favourite) which you can pick up for £7.95. If you can’t decide on one thing to eat, you can go for the tapas menu. There are twelve different tapas dishes on offer at any one time and combine classics such as patatas bravas and tiger prawns with chorizo and caper berries (great for dipping bread in the chorizo oils!), piri piri meatballs and bruschetta with Welsh goats cheese. You can get three tapas dishes from £7.50 which I think is good value for money. The ambience is a friendly, chilled out atmosphere; great for catching up with friends and enjoying great food. You can find them at 24 St Mary’s Street at the bottom of town. Hope you enjoy it!

RECIPE White Chocolate Cheesecake By Graham Harvey Ingredients: • 500g of Mascarpone Cheese • 55g Icing sugar • 110g of white chocolate • Digestive biscuits • Unsalted butter • 1 lemon Utensils: • Weighing scales • Mixing bowl • Large spoon (for mixing) • Heat source (for melting butter & chocolate) • 10 inch baking tin (with removable bottom) • Grater (fine) • Fridge

Method: Crush the digestives in a bowl and add melted butter until the mixture sticks together to form the base. Add this to baking tin and compress the base so it’s firm and even. Melt the chocolate and mix with the icing sugar and mascarpone. Grate some lemon zest into the mixture (You won’t need more than a few gratings). Spoon the mixture onto the base. Note: If you want to add lemon flavour, squeeze a little bit of lemon juice into the mixture. Finally, place in fridge for a few hours until solid then enjoy!

If you would like to share your ideas with us, then please get in touch with the Corporate Services Team. 21

Chepstow Annual Walking Festival 12th-14th April Guided walks will be showcasing the very best that Chepstow and the Lower Valley has to offer. The walks will involve parts of the Offa’s Dyke Path, Wye Valley Walk, Wales Coast Path and the Gloucestershire Way as all four of these long distance trails start or finish at Chepstow. Whatever your requirements, there will be a walk for you ranging from 3 - 12 miles. Border Counties Steam and Vintage Show: 3rd - 4th May, Vauxhall Fields, Monmouth This show is an event for all the family; sideshows and entertainers keep the younger members happy, while the enthusiasts find plenty to see. The show is over two days.


Llantillio Crossenny Festival of Music and Drama 10-18th May, St Teilo’s Church The Festival programme always includes a night of opera, an orchestral concert, normally a children’s concert, an evening of lighter music (a “fun” evening) and a sung Evensong on the Sunday evening. If the programme permits then from time to time, they like to include a ballet. £10-19 per adult. For more information, please visit www.llantiliofestival.

Devauden Music Festival 17-18th May, Devauden Village Hall It promises to be a weekend of live music from bands and solo artists playing a wide variety of musical styles. The event is being held to raise money for Devauden Village Hall. Although food will be available for sale you are welcome to bring your own picnic. For more information, please visit www. festivalsinmonmouthshire.


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Tweet (@mon_housing) We’re just about to start our first leaseholder conference with some good speakers lined up #leaseholders2014 Tweet (@Mon_Housing)

Wear Red Day Thank you!

On Friday 21st February, our staff wore red in aid of the ‘Hope 4 Nikki’ cause raising £48.03. ’Hope 4 Nikki’ has been set up by friends of Nikki to help raise funds to cover the cost of specialist treatment, therapies and investigations for a rare form of cancer which cannot be funded in Wales. Nikki is a former employee of Seren Group. Members of the Housing Sector will be taking part in a bike ride to also raise money for Nikki. A huge thank you to all who donated to show their support.

Don’t forget our open day tomorrow in Plas Mawr! Come and view our show flat to see our 60+ accommodation offering. pic.twitter. com/kbdtBEoTgA Tweet (@Beth_CHC) And @Mon_Housing job fair attracted 430 people through its doors: publications/around-the-houses/ … #NAW2014 Tweet (@MonAdultEd) @AberYouth @IEAbergavenny @Mon_Housing Thank you everyone for their hard work on Saturday! From the Abergavenny Adult Education team. Tweet (@CHCymru) Don’t forget that #yourbenefits team is running a money advice session on its Facebook page on Tuesday, 10 until 4: Tweet (@catrinplewis) Massive congratulations to @ LisaEvans56, #RisingStarsCymru 2014! You’ve taught me loads and you’ve been a pleasure to work with :) #TAI2014 On Twitter? Why not follow us @mon_housing 23

Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013 Staff should be aware of a new law called The Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act which makes it a criminal offence to unlawfully sublet or part with possession of a socially rented home. If a tenant sublets in a way that breaches their tenancy agreement, they will now be breaking the law.

with Monmouthshire Housing Association to be able to sublet part (not all) of their home. They are also required to receive written consent from MHA before sharing their home. A tenant cannot sublet their home if they hold any other tenancy agreement with MHA, such as a starter tenancy agreement.

Subletting describes a situation where someone moves into a home, after a tenancy has begun, and begins to pay rent to have exclusive right to part of a home.

If a tenant holds an assured tenancy agreement and breaks their contract by giving their home to another person, they can lose their ‘assured’ status and the security this affords. Losing this means fewer rights as a tenant and the new law states this status cannot be regained by a tenant

A tenant must hold either an assured or an enhanced assured tenancy agreement 24

returning to their tenancy. If prosecuted for social housing fraud there are significant consequences that could include a fine or even imprisonment. The court also has the power to recover any profit gained from illegal subletting and award the profit to MHA. The new law is being factored into the review currently being undertaken on our Tenant Management services. Any tenant thinking about subletting their home should be advised to contact the appropriate Neighbourhood Officer for advice first.


TIPS 25% off your food bill at Pizza Express – Expires 20th April 2014 10% off bookings at – Expires 13th April 2014 visit Voucher codes also offers discounted vouchers for restaurants, shops to days out so check the offers before you go. You can sign up to voucher codes using a personal e-mail address and get the latest deals sent to your inbox.

Are you a member of ebay? Did you know you can register your nectar card and earn points everytime you buy on ebay? 1 point for every £1 spent You can also collect points with many other retailers, for more information and where you can collect and spend your points visit

Save Fuel Keep your tyres inflated Lower tyre pressure increases the drag on a car, meaning you need more fuel, so regularly check the pressures are correct and your car needs less oomph to keep it moving. Declutter your car The lighter your car is, the less effort it needs to accelerate. By clearing out junk from the boot, or on the back seats will mean less weight, so will use less fuel. Accelerate gradually without over-revving Speed up smoothly. If you press harder on the pedal, more fuel will flow - but you can reach the same speed using much less power. As a very rough rule, stay under 3,000 revs. Slow naturally Rather than brake all the time, let your car slow naturally. Use its stored momentum.


Spot the Difference Competition

Name: Department:

Can you find ten differences between the two pictures below? It’s a tricky one! If you think you can, please find copies in the staff forum which you can mark and return to Louise Davies by 25th April 2014 for a chance to win an Easter Egg!




ok pa ges We now have 2 active Facebo



www.fa ce bo ok .co m /M HACo m

m un ity Bu zz


s th at they can Don’t forget to tell our tenant ate with all the use this pa ge to keep up-to-d have going on latest events and activities we within their communities.


Ebuzz April 2014  
Ebuzz April 2014