Page 1



Winter 2015

Winter 2015

Raising the Standard



Contents & Contact

Tenant Matters

Inside This Issue... 3 Jill’s Welcome 4 Making a Difference Awards 2015 6 Trevor Bowen House Launch 7 Rent Management Review 8 Universal Credit 9 Safe Hands 10 Meet the MHA Board Members 14 Complaints Service 15 Sponsorship 16 Community Safety Team 17 Meet Jemma 18 The Big Chat 20 Ability Group Launch

21 Swap & Move 21 Good as Gold 22 Mrs Marlog’s Story 24 The MHA Chat Board 25 AGM & Shareholder Membership 26 Wellbeing of Future Generations

Act 2015


Your Details are Safe With Us

28 Performance Indicators 29 Your Heating 30 Pet Corner 30 The Tenants’ Forum 31 Puzzles 32 Kids Corner

If you would like this Newsletter in a different format (e.g. large print or electronically) or in Welsh please contact Louise Davies on 01495 761104 or email 0345 677 2277


Scan the QR code to access the MHA website.

Jill’s Welcome


Winter 2015

Welcome to the final Tenant Matters of 2015. This year has been a busy year for the Tenant Engagement, we have had lots of exciting things going on at MHA which you can find out about by looking through this magazine. Tenants have been launching the Ability Group, attending conferences and training and continuing to help feed in to MHA through Tenant Participation groups. As Chair of the Tenants’ Forum I have been busy attending the wide range of Tenant Engagement groups we have, along with conferences such as Disability Wales and the TPAS conference of which both were of great interest to myself and other tenants. They were great opportunities to promote good practice and network with many tenants and staff from across the housing sector. Finally don’t forget to enter the competitions at the back of the edition. If you have any views, comments or questions about Tenant Matters then please contact me via email jill.ray@

Jill Ray Tenant Chair of the Tenants’ Forum


MHA News

Tenant Matters

On the 10th September we had an evening full of fun, food and inspiration! Held at the Glen Yr Avon Hotel in Usk, MHA celebrated its Making a Difference Awards for the Sixth Year. The awards give us and the award sponsors a chance to say thank you to those in the community who work very hard to run community organisations, care for their neighbours, excel in learning and study and lead the way in making our communities really great places to live. This year was a great success with the most nominations we’ve ever had and over 100 people attending the event.

Neighbour from Heaven

Winner: Graham Howells Graham transformed an old utility area and made it into a social hub and beautiful area for the community to enjoy the outdoors.

Volunteer of the Year

Winner: Kate McKinlay Kate is a volunteer with Monmouthshire Youth Service and has made a huge difference by supporting young people to overcome a variety of issues such as Bullying, confidence and behavioural problems.


Adult learner of the Year

Community Champion

Achiever of the Year

Winner: David Pepper David is determined and passionate leading to him completing a Diploma in mediation studies with a distinction!

Winner: Marjorie Roberts Marjorie has worked tirelessly for the last 7 years organising the village show and numerous Fundraising events in Rogiet, raising in excess of ÂŁ10,000 for Velindre Hospital.

Winner: Wayne Jenkins Wayne is a motivated and hard working single parent. He has continued to develop his skills, by completing a Level 2 Diploma and volunteering, to help him pursue his chosen career path.

Best New Project or group

Winner: Our Gardening Group Janie McCarthy, Linda Fury, John Wilson - Our Gardening Group is a small group of tenants who continuously work hard to look after the gardens and keep them in a good condition, especially helping those who are unable to do it themselves.

Bright Young Star

Outstanding Achievement in Tenant Participation

Winner: Peter Richards Peter has been involved in Tenant Engagement for the last 3 years, being an active member of the Tenants forum, Better Build Group, Your Homes Workgroup and also the Steering Committee.

MHA News

Winter 2015

Award for Outstanding Achiever - A Special Surprise award!

Judith Langmead Judith is being recognised for her dedication and longstanding contribution in the development of the community and services in MHA. She has recently retired from her 9 year term on the Board but continues to work on other tenant groups!

Winner: Kerry Williams Kerry has been a devoted volunteer with her local youth club. She has gone from attending the sessions to organising and leading them!


MHA News

Tenant Matters

Trevor Bowen House Launch MHA marked the opening of Trevor Bowen House, its flagship development for people aged 60+, at an event held at the scheme on Thursday 8th October. David Davies MP helped to launch the event, which was well attended by new Trevor Bowen House tenants as well as Nick Ramsey AM, Mayor of Monmouth Graham Pritchard, representatives from the town and community councils, Monmouthshire County Council, local community groups and MHA staff and board members. A choir from the Grange School in Monmouth also performed two songs at the event.


Trevor Bowen House is situated in the historic town of Monmouth and offers spacious, modern one and two bed apartments. The new building features MHA’s new Life Begins branding throughout. Life Begins has been introduced to MHA’s 60+ schemes to give them a fresh, vibrant and modern look. Trevor Bowen House replaces the old Trevor Bowen Court building. The development of the site included the building of 12 new homes at Bowen Gardens which were sold to help fund Trevor Bowen House. Those moving back are thrilled with their new homes. MHA recognised the importance of keeping Trevor Bowen’s name in the name of the new development due to the historic links between Trevor Bowen and the town of Monmouth.

Your Homes

Winter 2015

Rent Management Review We’d like to thank all of the tenants who have taken time out to provide us with their opinions, thoughts and ideas on the way we currently collect rent. Over 300 tenants have provided us with information that is now helping to shape our new “rents” service. As part of reviewing our current service we have focused on the following:

David Davies MP said: “Trevor Bowen House is a real credit to the work of Monmouthshire Housing Association. It was a pleasure to be invited along to help launch these great new homes for Monmouth.” MHA Chief Executive John Keegan said: “It’s been a great day for the new residents and their families, they have been enthusiastic and cooperative throughout. I am thrilled by the sheer quality of this new development and would like to thank all the MHA staff, contractors and consultants involved on such a high quality finish. Trevor Bowen House is now a template for MHA going forward.” Trevor Bowen House tenant Roy Thomas said: “I’ve moved in with my wife, Margaret. Trevor Bowen House is beautiful! We just can’t fault it. It’s great to be here and we’ve really enjoyed the launch party today.”

• Making sure it’s easy for tenants to pay us their rent. As part of this we are exploring other options so we can offer new and more convenient ways for you to make payments • Making sure we have good processes in place to help tenants through Universal Credit. This has included training for all staff to ensure you’re getting the right advice to help you through your claim • Understanding what support tenants may need when they fall into financial difficulty and cannot afford to pay their rent. This also includes helping new tenants work out whether their new home is affordable and what additional costs they may need to save for or take into account • Making sure our internal systems are the best they can be, which should result in a better service being delivered to tenants The review is in its final stages and will be launched early in the New Year – Watch this space!



Tenant Matters

I’m Prepared l a s r e v i n U for

Universal Credit was introduced in Monmouthshire on 21st September Don’t forget – we are here to help. Call us today on 0345 677 2277 for help and advice. Our 1-2-3 postcard campaign aims to raise awareness amongst tenants of how they can prepare for the introduction of Universal Credit and the changes to their benefits. The third 1-2-3 Campaign postcard will have been sent to MHA tenants potentially affected by the introduction of Universal Credit by the time you read this. It features hints and tips on getting online and using the web. The first postcard featured key messages around setting up the right bank account, and the second was focused on helping people budget effectively. Each postcard was backed up by a text message introducing the campaign.

Tear toon make For alloff thethis latestchecklist information Universal Credit in Monmouthshire, please visit sure you’ve got everything you need to fill in your application for:

Our #1 to pre 23 campai g p benefi are for th n will help e forget ts starting changes to you th on 03 – we are h is autum your n. er 45 67 7 227 e to help. Don’t Call u 7 s

• Cho ose thing an acco u s Your easy for nt that m b yo akes union ank, build u in made will need g society, to becau straight in receive or credit paym to ents Cred se that is h your ac co it will be pai ow your U unt • Set niver d. Up sal It’s use Direct D e b fu its l to se stand tu in gas an g orders p Direct D for eb d elec tricity. bills like its and • De your cide rent, wheth acco er yo unt u If you need and yo a join eligib t le for ur partner a sing Univer are b le you ca paymen sal Credit oth , t joint n choose for both you’ll get of yo or a si to hav u ngle e it paid – accou into a nt.

#1- G e Bank t the righ t Acco unt Did y ou k

If you now? that d open a b facilit oesn’t hav ank accou y yo nt e to go u won’t an overdra norm throu ft al gh a credit ly have chec k. MHA0

288 Un


l Credi

t Postc

Are yo u Credit going to b ? This e card affected b can h y elp yo the introd u pre pare. uction of U nivers al ard -




d 2

Are yo


288 Un


l Credi

t Postc

ard -


u rea The UK dy for (YBA Governm Unive C) h ent as b need een set is chang rsal it. Cr up to in ing the way peo edit? What form peo is Un ple abo ple rece Univ ive t iversa ersa ut th l Cre ese cha heir ben that l Cred will repl dit is nges an efits. Th the cred it? d to pro e ‘Your its. The ace a num name of Benefits inco a new vide ber of me-bas se incl free mon are ude curr and , ind ent ben thly pay Hou Workinged JSA epende Changin sing You’l , inco men efits nt advic g’ camp Tax t me-rela Benefit, and l rece Cre How e to tho aign dit. ted ESA Child Tax tax if yo is Un se w u ge ive Unive Cre , Inco ho from • Top ive me Sup dit, t bene rsa up a lo my cu rsal Cr port fits to: l Cred • Univ • Rais w in ed rrent com it ersa e ch e l Cre ildre • You bene it dif feren • Help dit w n ’ll ge ill be with fit pa t househ t one m paid in the cos • Top ym onth up a ca to your old. t of en ly pa • Hou • Car yme bank ac t? rer’s all rent sing nt fo e for ch owa count. you’ll ha Benefit r your w nce • Help ildre will be i ve t hole n un whe • You o pa der n yo y your rencluded have will u are un five low in this p Credit have to nt to Nati emp you onal online. apply fo aym loye When ent and Insu d or r and m r landlor ranc d yo ? e con sick and anage U urse Univ tribu lf. ersa nive tions. rsal in stag l Credit MHA0 claim es and has is being 313 Univer rolle ants alre sal Credit d out will then Tear acro all exis be put ady com Off ss e to new on to ting dd 1 Wales. the cou syst ntry em gradclaimants Universa New l Cre will be ually dit first benefit betw mov and een ed ove now r to and 2018. the






d 1


Tear off thi sure s ch yo need u’ve g ecklist to ot eve to fill make ryt in yo ur ap hing you plica tion for:



34 04/06/







Ms Davies is an MHA tenant living in Abergavenny. She receives Housing Benefit that is currently paid directly to MHA. With the introduction of Universal Credit, Ms Davies will soon be required to pay her rent to MHA herself. As Universal Credit is managed online claimants ideally need to set up an online bank account for payments – something Ms Davies didn’t have. After receiving the first of MHA’s 1-2-3 Campaign Postcards, which was focused on informing people about online banking, Ms Davies contacted her Neighbourhood Officer Lauren Francis.

“After I got the 1-2-3 postcard from MHA in the post I wanted to prepare for Universal Credit. I don’t like change, but paying my rent is the most important thing. I’ve never been in arrears and I don’t want to be. I spoke to Lauren and she helped me set up an online bank account, so I am prepared for when I move onto Universal Credit.” “Paying the rent is my responsibility now. It’s a big change, but I’ve taken steps to prepare and I always feel more secure knowing my rent is paid.”


Winter 2015

In Safe Hands “As you get older, it’s nice to know there are people out there that can help you and that you can really trust.” Annie Foster, 65, is a tenant at Plas Mawr, an MHA accommodation scheme for older people in Usk. Annie moved into Plas Mawr after becoming homeless earlier this year. The stress of her situation coupled with the need to manage her rent, bills and finances generally was causing Annie to worry a lot.

“Justine has been amazing. She’s helped me settle in my new home, assisted me with my contents insurance and helped me get my utilities bills sorted. She also helped me to successfully apply for Housing Benefit.” “I know if I need anything, that Justine and the Safe Hands team are there for me. They offer a real peace of mind.” Safe Hands is MHA’s older residents support service. Safe Hands offers free, specialist support for people aged over 55 and who need help to live independently in their own home. The service is grant funded by Monmouthshire County Council’s Supporting People Team. For more information about Safe Hands and to watch a new film about how the service is making a difference to the lives of older MHA tenants, visit www.monmouthshirehousing.

After assessment by MHA staff shortly after her arrival at Plas Mawr, Annie was assigned a case worker, Justine, from MHA’s Safe Hands support Contact Neil Binnell on 01495 761008 for service. more information.


MHA News

Tenant Matters

Meet the MHA B There are four tenant members, four Monmouthshire County Council representatives, and four independent members on the MHA Board. Tenant board members are elected yearly and voted for by MHA tenants, Council members are nominated by the Council and Independent members have applied and become board members based on their professional skills (for example accountancy, housing management, surveying, legal etc). Here’s a little bit about them:

last 34 years running and developing what is now a well-known local hotel, employing over 60 people in Monmouthshire. Peter has been a County Councillor for almost 20 years and is the current Chair of the Planning Committee. He also sits on the Police Committee and is a Social Governor.

John Barrow

Tenant Member John lives in Caldicot, having previously lived Andrew Martynin Portskewett and Johns Pwllmeyric after crossing Chair of the Board the river from South Gloucetershire. John Andrew is a Chartered has been an active supporter of a number of Accountant who lives in charities, both before and since his retirement Bristol with his family. He in 2013. These include the British Heart spent 30 years working for Deloitte, and during Foundation, St David’s Hospice Care and the last eight years heading up the firm’s social Macmillan Cancer Care. He is also a member of housing practice where he was responsible the Caldicot Musical Theatre Society. His entire for the external audit of over 16 housing career has been in the field of environmental associations, experience which has proved health, one third in local government as an invaluable to MHA. Since retiring he has served enforcement officer, one third in Central Africa on the board of an English housing association, training local Health Inspectors and later Alliance Homes, and is also a co-opted member heading relief operations with the International of the Audit, Risk and Finance Committee of Red Cross. The remainder of his career has been Shelter England. He has extensive experience in private industry working for British Airways of advising housing associations on risk for eight years and his own consultancy for management, governance and business another seven. planning. John’s hobbies include boating, fishing, Councillor Peter photography and travel and he was a keen scuba diver until recently. John is a Christian Clarke and lives life by those tenets. Vice Chair of the Board Peter was born in Royal Leamington Spa and moved to Wales in the 1960’s. After working as a Quantity Surveyor for a number of local builders, he bought the GlenYr-Afon House in Llanbadoc and has spent the


Barry Gallagher Independent Member Barry was born in east London and has lived in Wales with his

Board Members family for the past 23 years. He has been involved in supported housing and social care for vulnerable adults for more than 25 years. Barry is the Chief Executive of Drive, a charity supporting people with disabilities in Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil, Monmouthshire, Neath Port Talbot, and Rhondda Cynon Taf. Barry holds a Masters Degree in Business Practice & Social Responsibility from the University of Bath. His interests include walking, gardening, cycling and he is passionate about long-term sustainability.

Councillor Susan White Susan was born in Monmouth, left school at 16, and went to work in local Pharmacy for eight years until she married Graham. Susan has been a Town Councillor for the Overmonnow ward since 1999, sitting on Environment and Community committees. She is also a Community Governor at Overmonnow Primary School as Governor for Special Needs, Class Nine and is also a Governor at Monmouth Comprehensive School, for Special Needs. Susan was Mayor of Monmouth in 2003 for six months, and then for a year in 2004-2005.

MHA News

Winter 2015

Susan is County Council Governor on Haberdashers Monmouth School for Girls. Susan was Chair of the County of Monmouthshire for 2008-2009. Susan has many interests other than her civic duties with the Council and enjoys music, gardening, reading, and last but certainly not least, volunteering at St Thomas the Martyr Church in Overmonnow, where she is Church Warden.

Ken Bucknall Tenant Member Ken has spent most of his professional life working at the BBC and ran his own media business for many years. Actively involved in his local community he is a member of The Caldicot Community Events Team and The Friends of Caldicot Castle Group. Ken has been a tenant for eight years and has been involved representing tenants in Monmouthshire Housing Association for around six years with his involvement in the Tenants Forum and other committees, as well as being a Board member. Ken has achieved a Chartered Institute of Housing Qualification in Social Housing. These experiences have enabled me to confidently take an active role when participating in our association’s activities and have always been keen to ensure tenant’s views are at the very heart of the way in which the organisation is run.

Since 2005, Susan has been a County Councillor, now sitting on Stronger Communities, Economy and Development select committees and the Central Monmouthshire Area Committee as Chair. Ken previously served as a Board member between 2001 and 2014 and is very grateful Outside of her Council work she is involved for the opportunity again. Ken is passionate with Monmouthshire County Farms and Lower about Social Housing and making sure that MHA Wye Drainage Committee. She is a committed delivers excellent services for every tenant. part of the Board at Monmouthshire Housing Association and has been Board Vice-Chair and is now Operations Sub-Committee Chair. Continued overleaf


MHA News

Tenant Matters

Lynnette Glover Independent Member Lynnette is the Head of Housing for Wales and West Housing Association, and as a member of WWH’s Senior Management Team, is responsible for leading their housing services. With a career of over 30 years in the sector she has extensive experience of strategic planning and the coordination and implementation of corporate priorities. Lynnette is also passionate about delivering excellent customer service. Lynnette has a Post Graduate Diploma in Housing and is a Full Corporate Member of the Chartered Institute of Housing.

Gary Witcombe Tenant Member Gary has lived in social housing for the past 75 years, both within Pontypool and Monmouthshire. Gary is a member of a number of tenant groups within MHA, including the Better Build Group, Steering Committee and Tenants Forum to name a few. Gary’s career began with seven years’ service in the Army, including two years active service in Malaya jungle warfare, six months in Singapore and over two years on tower patrol in Germany.

He has held a number of roles with trade unions including being Branch Secretary of the Transport and General Workers Union, a Shop Being a practitioner in housing, Lynnette is well Steward for workers for NUPE National Union versed with the demands which MHA is facing of Public Employees. Gary spent eight years on now and into the future and will bring a wealth Monmouth Town Council. of housing knowledge and experience to the Andy Jones MHA Board. Independent Member Councillor Alan Andy took the opportunity Wintle to retire from Barclays Bank PLC in June 2014 Alan served in H M forces after more than 38 years’ for 22 years; with 15 years’ service. Andy’s last 13 years with Barclays service in the RAF and were spent funding Housing Associations seven years in REME as throughout Wales and the South West (with an Electrician on a variety of different types Barclays being one of the biggest funders in of equipment from Vehicles, Generators to the sector). He looked after over 30 clients and Bloodhound Missiles. a lending book in excess of £1bn. He was first elected to County Council in Andy joined Santander in September 2014 May 1999, and has represented Vauxhall/ working as a Relationship Director covering Drybridge ward since. He also served as Education, Healthcare and Communities Cabinet Member for Housing Services up to throughout Wales. Until September 2014, May 2007 and currently sits on the Adults, Andy served as Board Member at First Choice Strong Communities Select Committee and Housing Association and following ten years’ the Central Monmouthshire Area Committee. involvement resigned after fulfilling two terms He is also an LEA Governor for Overmonnow Junior School, and a member of the Lower Wye as Vice-Chair and three years as Chair of the Association. “I am looking forward to working Internal Drainage Board. with a dynamic and progressive organisation He is a Director of South East Wales Crossroads making a real difference in their area of Caring for Carers, was the Chairman of operation.” Monmouthshire Crossroads until they merged.


Andy was originally from Abertillery and is married with two grown up children and now lives in Penarth. Andy’s interests include DIY, most sports (particularly squash) and walking.

Councillor Ann Webb On leaving school, Ann worked for Lloyds Bank for 17 years in Reading, Portsmouth and Cardiff, where she and her husband purchased a farmhouse. During her time in Wales, Ann has been Clerk to Trellech United Community Council, Raglan Community Council and Monmouth Town. Ann held these positions for 10 years before becoming an elected member to Monmouthshire County Council, representing St Arvans and Tintern Ward. Ann very much enjoys working with Constituents, trying to help them with the various needs they have in relation to the County Council’s services.

Pip Wiliams Tenant Member Pip has lived in his home in north Abergavenny since 1997 and has been an active member of the Tenants’ Forum since 2003. He was also Chair of the Tenants Forum for seven years and qualified as a Housing Practitioner with the Chartered Institute of Housing during that period. Pip is a member of the Welsh Government’s Tenants Advisory Panel and a former member of the TPAS Cymru Management Committee. He is a part time music teacher in a performing arts academy in Abergavenny and is an active member of the Musicians Union sitting on the Wales and South West England Regional Committee and the Teachers Section Committee.

Pip feels that it’s important to remember that a housing association is a business, and the needs of that business to be successful and solvent come first; “As a Board we contribute to decisions that will impact on the running of a business that will turnover (receive and pay out) around £15 million every year, looking after assets (your homes, our offices, land and equipment) worth over £50 million and is responsible for employing over 220 staff and safeguarding their livelihoods.”

MHA News

Winter 2015

So what type of decisions do we make as a Board? Below are the sort of things the Board are responsible for and are discussed regularly at meetings: • Setting future strategic direction • Setting the vision and objectives of the association • Deciding what and where to build or improve • Setting the budget and approving the accounts • Setting the rents in line with government rules • Ensuring that the organisation is well run • Making sure that services are run according to our values

“We are all voluntary Board members which is very important to MHA as it means that we sit on our Board of Management because we understand the importance of organisations like MHA in providing services and investing in our communities and commit our time to make sure we all do it well”.


Have a Problem? Let Us Help You! You may or may not be aware that in 2014, MHA changed its Complaints Service to make it more user-friendly and effective. We have recently been working with you to test this theory and am pleased to say you have told us it’s working very well!

Following an email survey, 107 of you responded and this feedback has proved invaluable too. 24% did not know how to report a complaint/concern to MHA. There are many ways to get in touch with us:

When you contact us now with a concern/ complaint, we believe it’s best to deal with things straight away rather than try and sort them out later. If the member of staff cannot help, they will explain why and you can then ask for a formal investigation (for more information please request a copy of the new Complaints & Concerns booklet).

• Visit the website

• Ask family/friend or representative to get in touch with us on your behalf • Speaking to your Neighbourhood Officer or other member of staff. We welcome compliments too and if you have received an exceptional service and would like to pass on your thanks to an individual or team, please get in touch.

at Location

at Homes, Gre

Great People, Gre

ovi “Pr n di

We have altered the website so it’s easier to report concerns/complaints to us and a text service requests a ring-back facility (just text the word COMPLAINT and your name to 07538 004 004)

• Via your local councillor, AM or MP


You suggested that we look further into some of the issues not reaching formal investigation and see if there are any trends or other areas for improvement.

• Write to us: Corporate Services at MHA’s Head Office, Nant Y Pia House, Mamhilad Technology Park, Mamhilad, Monmouthshire. NP4 0JJ

le f

You have also asked that we promote some of the positive changes we have made once a concern/ complaint has been raised. This will hopefully encourage others to get in touch if something is bothering them, and not suffer in silence.

• Email us

e op

The Tenants’ Scrutiny Panel discussed this with other tenant groups and between them have made some suggested changes to the booklet which have been taken on board and here it is!

• Ring the mainline




MHA News

Tenant Matters

hq uali ty

ices homes & serv

tp tha


“Thank you for all your help, your complaints service is excellent!”

Our Service

Concerns Complaints & 27/10/2015 11:06:14

ints & Concerns

MHA0364 Compla




- Email survey respondent


Winter 2015


Are you involved with a group or event within Monmouthshire which could benefit from MHA’s support and sponsorship? Recently we have sponsored a local charity group, MAGIC to help support their additional needs play sessions in Abergavenny. The group, which supports autistic children and their families, was established two years ago. Since then it’s grown and has provided a support network for families to access services and advice. Last March they developed an idea to hold dedicated play sessions; to give the children a chance to play their own way. Kingdom Come Soft Play Centre provided the venue for an evening each month to enable the children to play together without being overwhelmed by the busy atmosphere of a public play session. The play sessions have grown in popularity as word has spread and numbers have grown from 8 to 29 children in only 5 months.

Working with schools and the parents’ network the group hopes to be able to support more families to attend and applied to MHA’s sponsorship scheme for funding which will help subsidise sessions for 15 families/children over the next year. Committee member Lorraine Jenkins is thrilled by the award, “We’re so pleased to have been given funding; having seen the difference the group makes to families we’re keen to offer it so that more children can benefit.” All you need to do is fill in a sponsorship form; if the request meets all of the requirements you could gain funding. For more information or to request an application form, please contact Emma Assender on 01495 745762 or e.mail: emma.assender@monmouthshirehousing.



Tenant Matters

Community Safety Team High on the agenda for us at Monmouthshire Housing is the quality of life of both our tenants and the wider communities in which they live. Having well maintained, warm and well-equipped homes for our tenants is a key focus of our work and we aim to ensure that they are able to enjoy those homes in relative peace and quiet. However, there are occasions where the behaviour of a very small minority of people causes unreasonable annoyance and disruption to others. Part of our responsibility to our tenants is to listen to their concerns about the behaviour of others which affects the peaceful enjoyment of their property and where appropriate, take action. Whether or not conduct amounts to behaviour which we will take action upon is a matter of judgment, however, we would not take action in respect of noise which can be considered to be the everyday sounds produced by normal day-to-day living, for example, the noise from washing machines ( at reasonable hours ), people walking across a room or voices at ‘normal’ levels. We would also not consider a complaint that someone was staring to be behaviour on which we could take action as that would be virtually impossible to prove. The majority of the complaints we receive are addressed by our Neighbourhood Officers as part of their work in their areas. In urgent cases, we would make contact with parties within one working day and for non-urgent cases, five days.


Most complaints are resolved by parties being reasonable with each other and understanding the others’ point of view. Very often a word of advice or the mere fact that a complaint has been made is enough to prompt parties to reach a compromise position and this low-key, dialoguebased approach is very successful. However, we sometimes deal with complaints which are at the more serious end of the scale in terms of the conduct complained of or its persistence. Our Community Safety Team manage these cases. The Team have regular contact with the Police and other agencies and share relevant information where there is a need with a view to resolving complaints. Where all other efforts to resolve complaints have been exhausted, the Team sometimes take court action, usually in the form of an application for injunction, which is a court order designed to prevent a person from behaving in an ant-social manner. There have been occasions where the Team have been forced to seek possession of a property, but only as an absolute last resort where even other courtrelated enforcement action has not resolved the situation. The Community Safety Team consists of Bill Fitzpatrick, Alan Webber, Terry MacColl and Mandy Davies. All are available at Monmouthshire Housing Association on 01495 767175 for advice and discussion concerning any anti-social behaviour problem.


Meet Jemma

Winter 2015

Jemma Browning

Housing Management Trainee Tell us a bit about yourself Hello I am Jemma Browning and I am the new Housing Management Trainee. I was delighted to be offered the position and am looking forward to gaining new experiences and knowledge through my training with MHA.

What is your background? I am a qualified Nutritionist through studying an undergraduate BSc degree in Health, Exercise & Nutrition at the University of Wales, Newport. Prior to this position, I worked for just over three years with Blaenau Gwent Council as a Healthy Eating in Schools Coordinator. I have also carried out a great deal of volunteer work over the years with various community projects, supporting people to make healthier choices. I am also a qualified Martial Arts Teacher, teaching classes in the local community and am the Chief Instructor for the Welsh region of my martial art.

What inspired you to apply for the housing management trainee role? I was firstly drawn to the appeal of undertaking a post graduate qualification, as it has been something I had been contemplating for quite some time after enjoying the challenge of completing my undergraduate degree. I also loved working within the community in my volunteer positions and was keen to undertake a career that involved helping and supporting people. After researching the

role further and MHA, I was inspired by their drive and passion that came across from their website for providing not only a first class service, but also having aspirations for being the top performing Social Enterprise in Wales. As someone who strives to be the best I can be, MHA sounded like the perfect employer for me.

What does a Housing Officer do? A Housing Officer helps tenants manage their tenancies by helping with rent accounts, general queries relating to tenancies, concerns relating to anti-social behaviour and physical improvements to the community and neighbourhood. We assist tenants with sign-ups of new properties, showing them around their new home and go through their tenancy rights and responsibilities. We can help tenants manage their rent account and support them if they experience any problems paying rent, including assisting with Housing Benefit Queries or refer them to our MoneyWise team for further help. We are a first point of contact for problems with anti-social behaviour, nuisance or breaches of tenancy. We also ensure that the areas our tenants live in is pleasant, attractive and safe and deal with any issues that may affect this.

What areas in Monmouthshire do you cover? I am part of the North Neighbourhood Officers Team and cover areas in Abergavenny.


MHA News

Tenant Matters

We have just completed the second year of The Big Chat, a project which has given tenants the chance to tell the organisation what they want from the additional services that tenants are offered. The project, which ran from 21 September to 2 October received a great response from 460 tenants. From the first year of the Big Chat we realised that formal methods of feedback didn’t suit all tenants and after learning that tenants wanted to see more of their Neighbourhood Officers, we knew that going out and being seen around tenant’s homes was the best way to get feedback.


We used a number of different methods of contacting tenants, from direct door-knocking to telephone surveys and Big Chat café events as well as giving tenants the opportunity to give feedback online. The Big Chat Café and door-to-door exercises took place in specific areas around the county. The Big Chat received a positive response from MHA volunteers who not only wanted to play a part in gathering responses, but also took the opportunity to engage with people in the neighbourhood. Staff from across the organisation took part in the door-knocking exercise and chat sessions on the Big Chat Sofa. “It was a reminder of our purpose and it was good to get to know our neighbourhoods. Walking around the estates and developments that we manage was a great chance to see what we’ve achieved with Welsh Housing Quality Standard and to meet our tenants and find out what they think.” says Governance Assistant, Emma Assender.

MHA News

Winter 2015

Karen Tarbox, Director of Property Services said, “Being relatively new to MHA, the ‘Big Chat’ provided an excellent opportunity for me to meet and talk with some of our residents about the quality of the homes and the repairs service we provide. It’s really important that as senior managers we understand the impact that our strategic decisions have on our residents and there is no better way of finding out than by talking to them.” If you would like to find out more about The Big Chat or tenant involvement please contact Jessie Sibthorpe, Engagement Officer on 01495 761007 email jessie.sibthorpe@


MHA News

Tenant Matters

Ability Group Launch Day On the 7th October 2015 a launch event of our Ability Group took place at our offices in Mamhilad. The Ability Group was set up in order to increase the involvement of disabled tenants and tenants with support needs in the work of MHA and to enable those tenants to communicate and support each other. The group wanted to raise awareness of their group along with raising awareness of disabilities which is why they decided to hold a launch day. Four organisations came along on the day, these organisations were; Stroke Association, Diabetes Wales, Age Cymru and Mind Monmouthshire. On the day the organisations set up tables with lots of information available for staff and tenants to look at and have a chat with them about the work they do. Stroke Association were offering free blood pressure checks, this went down very well with both staff and tenants. Staffs were asked if they wanted to bake/buy cakes for the cake sale on the day to help raise money for the organisations who came along. The senior management team also made a large contribution to the day resulting in the


total money raised ÂŁ691 which is a fantastic amount, well done to the ability group! If you would like to be involved in the Ability Group then contact Jess on 01495 761007.

We are moving to SwapandMove! Let me introduce you to our new online mutual exchange service.

I’m Hugh and I can help you swap your home with another MHA tenant or a tenant outside of MHA/ Monmouthshire. Whether you want to downsize, live closer to your family, find a larger home or move nearer to your new job you can use - All our registered mutual exchange users will soon be migrating to this new service. All you need to do is register your details and the details of the type of property you are looking for on the swapandmove website - If you don’t have access to the internet or need more information or support then please contact myself - Hugh Thomas on 01495 761 121.

Bits & Bobs

Looking for a Fresh Start?

Winter 2015

Congratulations Mrs Mutlow & Mr Goggin

Mrs Mutlow who won the July draw of £250 for keeping her rent account up to date.

Mr Goggin of Abergavenny won the Oct draw. Mr Goggin was delighted to have won £250, here he is receiving the cheque from his Neighbourhood Officer Lauren Francis. The Good as Gold Scheme prize draw is held every quarter for ALL tenants with rent accounts up to date, whichever method you use to pay your rent. To be in with a chance of winning simply keep your rent account up to date and clear of debt.

Good Luck!



Tenant Matters

Mrs Marlog makes a Smart Move Until recently, Mrs Marlog was living in a two bed house in Abergavenny. With the introduction of the Under Occupancy Charge (more commonly known as the Bedroom Tax), Mrs Marlog was beginning to struggle financially. Having been registered with the Monmouthshire Homesearch scheme, Mrs Marlog was looking to downsize to a smaller property for over two years. Mrs Marlog heard about the Smart Move scheme and got in touch with us. MHA Neighbourhood Officer Lauren Francis worked with Mrs Marlog to secure a new home and helped her to secure her new property this summer. Mrs Marlog said that Lauren has been a great help on every step of the way.


Why did you want to move? “I was living in the house with my husband, until he sadly passed away. Following the introduction of the Bedroom Tax and having to pay the extra money for the additional bedroom, I started to struggle financially.”

What do you think of your new property? “I’m absolutely thrilled with it, I feel like I’ve won the lottery! Although I bid on the property, I never expected to win. I’ve bid on so many over the last 12 months and to hear that it was going to mine was wonderful news.”

Do you have a favourite room? “Yes, my bathroom, I absolutely love it! It’s spacious and fitted out so beautifully”

FOLLOW MHA ON “As a Neighbourhood Officer it is so rewarding to be able to offer such a great standard of property in order to create such a positive change”


Winter 2015


Lauren Francis - Neighbourhood Officer

Have you seen a reduction in your household bills, since you downsized?

“Yes, my bills are much more manageable now and less of a worry.”

What have been the benefits since you moved? “Moving here was a fresh start for me and being able to live comfortably and managing my money again. Although my property is smaller, I have more space and my grandchildren love coming over.” Unfortunately MHA are no longer able to offer the Smart Move Scheme. Our Moneywise team are still able to offer a range of services aimed at helping you save money. Please contact us on 0345 677 2277 or visit our website


MHA News

Tenant Matters

Join in the Conversation on the MHA Chat Board The Ability group focuses on disability issues and what people can do rather than what they can’t do.

Follow the following steps to gain access to the Chat Board:

1. Enter the following web address into your As part of the actions from the Ability Group internet search bar https://MHAchat. we have created an online message board, (The ‘https’ means you are giving tenants the ability to interact with one logging on to a secure site). another through a different format. We update 2. The website will then ask you to login or the Chat Board with relevant information about register, click the register button to join. meetings, housing news etc. The Chat Board 3. The page will then ask you to enter your full can be a great way of finding out what is going name, email address and birthdate. (The on with disability issues, MHA and housing. information you provide will be protected under the Data Protection Act). 4. Your request to join will then be approved by MHA and you will be able to have a look around.

If you have any questions about the MHA Chat board or any issues then you can contact Jessie on 01495 761007 or on email 24

AGM & Shareholder Membership

The AGM was held on 23rd September 2015 with a great turnout of our Shareholder members and stakeholders. The Annual Accounts were approved and MHA are pleased o report that we are in good financial health.

Tenants’ Forum

Winter 2015

Being a Shareholding Member will allow you to: • Vote on the appointment of Independent and Tenant Board Members at the Annual General Meeting • Vote on the appointment of the auditors of the association. The auditors place checks on the company to ensure that all actions taken by the business are legitimate • Approve the annual accounts and financial statements, the annual report and the Chief Executive’s report. These statements are critical to ensuring that company performance is transparent Along with these key responsibilities, Shareholders will be entitled to attend the Annual General Meeting and will be kept updated with news from MHA. Shareholders will also receive copies of the Corporate Plan and Annual Report from MHA.

Shareholders approved the appointment of our External Auditors Mazars and voted in out two Please contact Emma Assender on 01495 new tenant Board members John Barrow and 745762 or e-mail emma.assender@ Ken Bucknall. (see meet the Board article to find our more about John and Ken) We also said a fond farewell to our longest serving Board member Judith Langmead and David Gregory. Would you like to be part of our AGM next year? All you have to do is become a Shareholder. We actively encourage tenants and leaseholders of MHA to become a Shareholding Member. Becoming a Shareholder couldn’t be easier; it doesn’t involve huge time commitments, it simply involves the completion of an application form and payment of £1.

Farewell to former Board Members Judith & David



Tenant Matters

A new law was introduced in Wales on 29 April 2015, designed to safeguard the social, economic, environmental and cultural wellbeing of Wales. The law takes effect from 01 April 2016. The law introduces key concepts around wellbeing and places a responsibility on public bodies (such as Monmouthshire County Council) to think more about how their activities affect future generations. To achieve this, the Act outlines seven well-being goals: • A prosperous Wales • A resilient Wales • A healthier Wales • A more equal Wales • A Wales of cohesive communities • A Wales of vibrant culture and thriving Welsh language • A globally responsible Wales


To help meet these aims, it also introduces the sustainable development principle, which says, ‘activities must seek to ensure that the needs of the present are met without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’. Although the Act places no specific responsibility on MHA, it mirrors most, if not all of our work, because of the social purpose we have. Examples include: tenant participation in running MHA, letting homes, managing homes and also improving and repairing homes. The principles of this Act are also reflected in our aims. For example: Directly supporting at least 500 tenants each year to improve their quality of life or reducing our CO2 footprint by a further 10% from 2014. This piece of legislation is designed to benefit everyone in Wales. It directly links with our aims and values and so will help to inform our business activities both now and in the future, helping MHA play its part in improving the well-being of Wales.


Winter 2015

Your Details Are Safe With Us

It seems like wherever you go people want to know everything about you. It can feel like organisations are being nosey and you might be unhappy sharing your personal details. Why we want to know

We ask you for personal information while you are a tenant with us or if you want to be a tenant. We want the information because: • It helps us to use our money and staff to provide the best services and support we can for you • It tells us if there are certain groups of people who need our services and allows us to make sure they are aware of what we offer. • It allows us to make sure that we are treating our tenants fairly, regardless of their age, race, religion, gender, sexuality, disability, or marital status.

It’s nothing personal Usually when we use the information your name will not even be attached so we don’t even know it’s you!

Your information is safe

You may worry that the information that you give us is not safe and that other people will use it. But we follow the very strict laws on how to deal with the information you give us and we do not share it with anyone without your permission. Of course, if you still don’t feel happy we will respect your right to refuse providing the information.

Your information can help We use information from our tenants to help improve our services. For example, we are able to offer help and advice to tenants who are affected by welfare reform. And we can offer large print formats for tenants who have cannot see very well. You are really making a difference by telling us about yourself. If you don’t tell us, we can’t know how best to help you. Please tell us when your details change. For example, let us know if you change your work pattern, you have a baby, or you oldest son leaves home. You can tell any member of staff so that we can keep our records up to date and deliver services relevant to our tenants. For more information contact Nathan Cook on 01495 767191 or email nathan.cook@


MHA News

Tenant Matters

Performance Indicator - Quarter 1 - 2015/16 (01 April 2015 - 30 June 2015)

On or Above Target

No Change

Below Target

MHA use a traffic light system to easily identify whether we are performing well or not in certain areas (above). 97.18% of Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) cases have been resolved. Target - 98%

91.3% of tenants were satisfied with the repair work done in their property. Target - 97%

1.48% of rent is owed by current tenants to MHA. Target - 1.8%

There were 18.57 of new ASB cases per 1000 tenancies. Target - 18 cases

94.52% of repairs were completed right first time. Target - 94%

96.31% of emergency repairs were completed within target. Target - 98%

90.26% of urgent repairs were completed within target. Target - 98%


16 seconds is the average time taken for a call to be answered. Target - 20 secs

14.75% of offers for new properties have been refused. Target - 18%

93.68% of repairs appointments were kept. Target - 95%

Your Homes

Winter 2015

Your Heating It’s that time of year again and as the temperature drops the heating systems are raised from their slumbers. Most homes turn the heating back on in the Autumn and this is when we get a high level of callouts for boiler failure. You can help to prevent this by making sure that we have access for the annual service of your boiler. This is both a legal and safety requirement and we have a duty to service all gas-fired boilers within each 12 month period. Over 99% of MHA properties with a gas-fired heating system have the service completed within this target but a small number of tenants make it difficult for the engineers to gain access. We have never had a major incident affecting health and safety and you can help us maintain this important record by allowing access for our engineers to carry out the annual service. This ensures the safety of yourself, your family and your neighbours. Please help us to protect you and keep you warm.

Help us to help you when your Gas Heating system breaks down. Before calling the Association please check the following: 1. The heating system and hot water is switched on. 2. The heating programmer is timed to be on. 3. The room thermostat is set correctly. 4. You have Gas and Electric supply (credit on your token meter where fitted). 5. The pilot light is lit. If you have checked the above and the heating or hot water system still does not work, please telephone the Repairs Line. We will endeavour to correct faults promptly.

Repairs Hotline: 0800 980 7751


Bits & Bobs

Tenant Matters


The Tenants’ Forum

Tell us their name, age and a little bit about them.

The Tenants’ Forum is a great chance to learn new things and meet new people. We always welcome every MHA tenant to come along to the Tenants’ Forum and enjoy seeing new faces.

Postal entries to: Jessie Sibthorpe, Monmouthshire Housing Association, Nant y Pia House, Mamhilad, Monmouthshire NP4 0JJ.

We always reimburse travel costs and child/ adult care costs, so don’t let that stop you coming along. Refreshments are also provided at every Tenants’ Forum.

Email entries to: Jessie.sibthorpe@ or post them on our twitter/facebook page with the #petcorner: @Mon_housing or Monmouthshire Housing Association

If you would like any more information or just an informal chat then please contact Jessie Sibthorpe on 01495 761 007 or jessie.

Is your pet special to you? Why not send us a picture of them to include in the next edition.

Future meetings for your diary 2015/16: • Wednesday 20th January 2016 - Abergavenny • Wednesday 23rd March 2016 - TBC • Wednesday 18th May 2016 - TBC • Wednesday 20th July 2016 - TBC Please note all meetings begin at 10am and the above dates are subject to change.

Hello, we’re Barney & Sassy Barney & Sassy are 3 year old standard poodles. They are the most loving and caring dogs and they don’t shed any hair. If you want to find out more information about poodles, visit: Tony Poynton - MHA Tenant







Bits & Bobs

Winter 2015


Tenant Matters





Address: Please return completed colouring to Jessie Sibthorpe, Monmouthshire Housing Association, Nant Y Pia House, Mamhilad Technology Park, Mamhilad, Monmouthshire, NP4 0JJ

Christmas Jokes Q: What did the snowman say to the other snowman? A: Can you smell carrot?

Q: What does a cat on a beach have in common with Christmas? A: Sandy Claws Q: Who hides in the bakery at Christmas? A: A mince spy 32 MHA0387

Tenant Matters - Winter 2015  
Tenant Matters - Winter 2015