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Pictured: An example of the fun that children are having at this year’s Summer Playschemes.



In this edition... Welcome 2

Your Homes

Pip’s Welcome...



Welsh Water Assistance...


Let’s Flush That Problem...


Carbon Monoxide KILLS!...


Good as Gold Winner...


Saving Money...


Apology from John Keegan...


Help Us Help You...


It’s All About You Winner...

Corporate Feature 10

MHA’s Senior Voice...


Plas Mawr’s Love Story...


MHA’s Fun Day 2011...


Summer Playschemes 2011...


Your Neighbourhood...


Tenant Board Elections...

Contacting Us... 12

A Poem from Mo...


A Letter from Sam...

Bits & Bobs 7

OWL in Monmouthshire...


Handyperson Service...


Staffing Update...


Fire Safety Visits...

Health Warning!

Tenants’ Forum 9

If you would like this Newsletter in a different format (e.g. large print , electronically, etc.) or in Welsh please contact Naomi Mitcheson on 01495 761142 or email naomi.mitcheson@ m o n m o u t h s h i re h o u s i n g . co . u k

The Tenants’ Forum...


Be free of bacteria and make sure you clean your shower heads regularly!


Pip’s Welcome... Welcome to this edition of Tenant Matters. Having set up the Service User Inspection Team, (SUIT’s) and recruited tenant members to it last year along with the Tenant Scrutiny Panel, I am pleased to report that both groups are making good progress. The first project for the SUITs was to look at our empty properties (Voids) with the Scrutiny Panel then going through all aspects of Void management. This aspect of the business is very important; homes not occupied means that there are people and families not in appropriate housing and those empty homes are not generating income for the Association to use on improvements and services.

Got an idea for the Newsletter? - Contact the Newsletter Editorial Team on 01495 761115 or email newsletter@ monmouthshirehousing.

The Fun Day at Monmouth was great success. The weather was good and everyone enjoyed the attractions that were available to everyone. A young band of 14 year old students from Mayzmusik Performing Arts Academy provided the music along with Seven Corners Street Dancers and all enjoyed either taking part or just watching the Zumba dance exercises. Soon it will be Tenant Participation Advisory Service Wales (TPAS Cymru) Conference time again and we will be looking to take tenants up to Llandrindod Wells to experience what other tenants in other housing associations & local authorities are doing with regard to Tenant Engagement in Wales.



Good as Gold Rent Winner... by Naomi Mitcheson

As you are all aware, we launched our rent incentive scheme this year and we held our first draw in July. The lucky winner of £250 was Mrs Williams from Caldicot. When Mrs Williams was told she had won she said she was very happy and completely shocked as she never wins anything. This scheme has been launched to encourage tenants to maintain a healthy rent account throughout the year, by

offering a substantial amount of money which can come in very handy. Winners are drawn at random from our tenancy database, so as long as you have a clear rent account and no problems with your tenancy you are in with a chance of winning £250 or £500 at Christmas. The next draw will be the big prize of £500 before Christmas so it’s definitely worth trying to get your rent account up to date if it already isn’t to allow you the chance to be entered into the draw...

Apology from John Keegan... As part of our promises to tenants prior to transfer, we undertook to send regular rent statements to you. This is a widely established practice and copies that of banks and utility companies who also send such statements. Unfortunately this has not proved universally successful. For some tenants it happily showed they were entitled to a refund, but for others it caused concern and confusion and for this I would like to apologise. 3

Our intention was to inform tenants of the current balance of their account but the statement did not always show this clearly. I would like to emphasise that if any tenant is in arrears MHA will write to them separately outside of this problem. Many of you rang MHA to question the statements and we have taken any comments or criticism into consideration for the next time, which will be at the end of January. If you wish to give feedback please contact us on 0845 6772277.

Your Homes

Welsh Water Assistance...

What is the Welsh Water Assistance Fund? As an MHA tenant you pay water rates via your rent and therefore could be eligible for assistance. Dwr Cymru (Welsh Water) have developed a fund which is called Welsh Water Assistance Fund. This is a fund which helps low income families and individuals with relevant medical conditions by offering reduced water charges. To qualify for a reduction in your water bill you need to make an application and meet specific criteria to qualify. There are 3 key criteria that needs to be met to qualify this includes:

The 3 Key Criteria: • You have to have a residence. • The bill payer or a member of the household is in receipt of a qualifying benefit or tax credit; • Either 3 or more children, under the age of 19, are living in the household, for whom child benefit is claimed, or someone in the household has a medical condition that requires significant additional use of water.

If you think you qualify and want further information, please contact your Income & Energy Advisor Matt (07792596915) or Hayley (07725824800) for further assistance?

Let’s Flush That Problem Together... Suzanne Powell, one of MHA’s Maintenance Officers and our Repairs Hotline have been receiving rather a lot of telephone calls lately regarding blocked pipes/toilet. The culprit a new type wet wipe that has been advertised as being flushable. They do appear to be flushable but not very biodegradable. The problem is wet wipes are blocking the pipes and toilets of tenants’ homes. We therefore urge all of our tenants, not to dispose of flushable

by Suzanne Powell

wet wipes down the toilet. It would appear that they do not do what it says on the tin and flush away completely. 4

Your Homes

Carbon Monoxide KILLS!... by Graham Collard

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning

Carbon Monoxide is a colourless, odourless, tasteless, poisonous gas produced by incomplete burning of carbon based fuels such as gas, oil, wood and coal, Carbon based fuels are safe to use, it is only when the fuel does not burn properly that excess carbon monoxide is produced, it is also a known fact that cigarette smokers carry carbon monoxide in their blood cells. Monmouthshire Housing Association have fitted audible carbon monoxide detectors in properties that are most at risk such as properties with solid fuel and gas back boiler appliances. As Landlords MHA will continue to carry out an annual service, inspect and maintain the heating appliance in your home.

• • • • •

Continual headaches Dizziness Nausea Breathlessness Collapse, loss of consciousness

Preventative measures against carbon monoxide poisoning • Never block up flues or vents • Always be available for the annual appliance service • Use the correct fuel for the appliance (solid fuel) • Do not use unvented appliances like paraffin heaters and cabinet heaters • Ensure your gas cooker is in good working order, the flame on your cooker should be crisp and blue, lazy or orange flames mean you have to have your cooker checked

If you feel unwell with the symptoms above, open all doors and windows, turn the appliance to the off position, contact your Doctor for medical advice and inform MHA so that your heating appliance can be inspected and if necessary made safe for use. 5

Your Homes

Saving Money & Staying Warm This Winter... by Graham Collard

The five steps to Cost Effective Heating this Winter: 1. Set your room thermostat at 21 degrees. Research by boiler manufacturers show that a boiler operating at a demand of 21 degrees is the most cost effective temperature.

4. Make sure you are available for the annual appliance service. A service engineer will clean and reset burning pressures to make sure that 2. Where you have thermostatic radiator your appliance runs correctly and valves fitted, turn the temperature efficiently. down in rooms that you don’t use very often and remember to close 5. Where you have a hot water cylinder, the door. turn the cylinder thermostat down to 65 degrees. A temperature above 60 3. Keep windows and doors closed, degrees will clean greasy dishes and keeping windows and doors closed will kill any possibility of legionella. help to trap heat.

REMEMBER! - Carbon Monoxide can kill, so do not block any air vents or appliance flues!

Help Us Help You With Your System... Before calling the MHA please check the following: 1. That the heating system and hot water is switched on. 2. That the room thermostat is set correctly. 3. That you have Gas or Oil and an Electric supply, (credit on your token meter where fitted).

4. Is the pilot light lit, and or, is the boiler working. 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 - The Repairs Hotline: 0800 980 7755



Monmouthshire Housing Association are proud to introduce to all it’s Tenants a full Handyperson & Gardening Maintenance Service At highly competitive prices, MHA are able to carry out all those odd-jobs that have been building up around your house and garden that you haven’t had time to look at.

Offering practical help with odd jobs & small tasks around the house.

Tasks that MHA’s Handyperson could help you with are: • Fitting shelves, brackets, shelves, mirrors, etc. • Putting up roller-blinds, curtains, curtain poles, nets, etc. • Small decoration jobs such as: filling in holes, touching up paintwork, etc.

Offering practical help with odd jobs & small tasks around the garden.

Tasks that MHA’s Gardening Maintenance Service could help you with are: • Mowing, strimming & trimming of hedges and lawns, etc. • The cutting back of shrubs and bushes, etc. • General weeding of flower-beds, etc. • Path clearing, etc.

• Erecting flat-pack furniture, garden furniture, etc.


Tenants’ Forum

The Tenants’ Forum... by Rob Carey

Are you ready to come along to the Tenants’ Forum? There are over 280 tenants registered as members of the Forum. It meets bimonthly at venues around the County so it could be coming to a venue near you soon. If you would like to have your say and take advantage of any of MHA’s tenant involvement opportunities contact Rob Carey your Tenant and Resident Involvement Co-ordinator 01495 761115 or email rob.carey@

Tenant Forum Meeting Dates (all meetings start at 10am) • Wednesday 21st September (Abergavenny) • Wednesday 23rd November (Monmouth) Forum’s 10th Birthday & Making a Difference Awards

Can I get help with getting back-and-forth to meetings? Yes. MHA will pay your travelling costs to and from the meetings or provide transport to get you there. We will also pay for any child care or respite care if you are a carer. We will give you a form to complete at the meeting which you send to us in a pre paid envelope with any receipts. You will receive a cheque in the post reimbursing your costs or we can pay the money directly into your bank. We also provide refreshments at meetings. 9

Pictured: Proof that the Tenants’ Forums are not all just about discussing serious matters. Having fun is also encouraged.


MHA’s Senior Voice... by Neil Binnell

The photograph shows the new ‘Senior Voice’ group working on the questionnaire that will be going to MHA’s tenants in sheltered schemes. ‘Senior Voice’ is a group of MHA’s older tenants that live in sheltered schemes who meet with the Housing Support Manager (Neil Binnell) and Rob Carey (Tenant and Resident Involvement Coordinator) to raise issues and help ensure MHA is providing a quality service to the tenants that live in its sheltered accommodation. We are currently looking to recruit more members as not all schemes are represented at the Senior Voice meetings. In particular we would like to hear from

you if you live in Glan-y-Nant, St. Cadocs and Prince Charles Close, Trevor Bowen Court, Davis Court, Brookside, The Reddings, The Lawns and Chestnut Close. The meetings are held at our head office in Mamhilad and we meet on a quarterly basis. The meetings last around two hours and lunch is provided. As always, free transport can be arranged for you if required and travelling expenses are paid if you use your own transport. If you are interested in joining this group or for further details, please contact Rachal Collins on 01495 767176

Plas Mawr’s Love Story... by Ian Pearce

You may remember that I wrote an article for the engagement of Brian and Margaret in last year’s autumn edition of this magazine. I am very pleased to tell you that on the 18th June, along with many friends and family, I witnessed the wedding of Mr and Mrs Abbott.

I am sure you will all join with me to wish them a long and happy married life. 10

Bits & Bobs

Staffing Update... There have been a number of changes over the past few months and therefore there are a few new faces that you might be meeting in future.

by Ceri Morgan

Tenant Profilers

Emma Gallo

Michael Adam Rees Metcalfe

Michael Turner

4 tenant profilers have been appointed – Emma Gallo, Adam Rees & Mathew Turner and they will be out and about talking to you regarding the ‘It’s all about you’ questionnaires that were sent out to all tenants in July.

Trainee Housing Officers

Community Investment

Laura Denyer

Cheryl Tracy

Robyne Squire

We also have 2 new Trainee Housing Officers – Laura Denyer who is currently based in the Community Services Team and Robyne Squire who is based in the Neighbourhood Team and Following the departure of Jenny Herbert nee McCarty your Community Investment Co-ordinator after her marriage in May. Cheryl Tracy has now been appointment as the new Community Investment Co-ordinator and will be taking up her position in September.

IMPORTANT: DLO Uniform Changes Also please be aware that we now have a new uniform for repairs & trade staff who visit your home, our DLO uniform has now changed our boys & girls are no longer in their green T-shirts they are now beige. So now we can tell them apart from the council workmen. 11

. are long, dead and gone s ay w cil un Co ty un Co d The ol right what was wrong. MHA is working with us to s had no voice, Once upon a time, tenant and you have a choice. e on t go ve u’ yo w no t bu d see what can be done, an n, io at cip rti pa s nt na one. Join in te it’s many voices, not just so t, an w u yo t ha w r fo to speak up st, hard doing their very be g in try e ar s nt na te y an M let’s know your request. , on e m co lf, ha be ’s ne to work on everyo get a picture that’s clear, Fill in tenant surveys, to t you hold dear. so MHA are aware of wha t, of which there is no doub ce en flu in ve ha DO s nt Tena to pull their fingers out. WE even set the targets, nts forum you attend, na te a n he w t en itm m m There is no co d. HA’s commitment to men M t ou ng di fin of ay w a s it’ hat MHA are seeking for Tenants satisfaction is w ore. ns we can do so much m ea m m ru fo a at s nt na te the more d working side by side, ea ah ay w e th is er th ge To d not allow anything to an , up s rd da an st ep ke We need to help slide.



Your Neighbourhood Contacts... Hi Everyone! On January 1st the re-structure of the Housing and Communities Directorate resulted in changes to the roles and duties of staff who formed the new Neighbourhood Management Teams.

Neighbourhood Officers & Maintenance Officers for North & South North

Alyn Weaver


Jane Philpott North


Andrea James


Geraint House


Clayton Charles



Tina James

Kerris Winter

North North

Alison Bromham

Nigel Casson

Terry MacColl

South South

Caro Curnock

Angela Zenati


Helen Screen

The Neighbourhood Officers retain responsibility for all housing, estate and tenancy management, within a defined neighbourhood (including sheltered accommodation.) They are responsible for lower level and non-urgent anti-social behaviour cases together with estate walkabouts, implementation of estate agreements and supporting rent management. Together with Senior Neighbourhood Officers, Andrea James & Clayton Charles (pictured above), they deliver community based projects.

Senior Neighbourhood Officers The Senior Neighbourhood Officers, Andrea & Clayton, have line management responsibility for the Neighbourhood Officers, Income and Energy Officers and cleaners. Their remit includes identifying opportunities for community based

Neighbourhood Maintenance Officers The Neighbourhood Maintenance Officers retain responsibility for maintenance of all MHA housing stock – including void management and responsive repairs. Health and Safety, planned estate improvements, estate walkabouts, Liaison with surveyors etc. 13


Your Neighbourhood Contacts... Neighbourhood Manager My duties include managing the Neighbourhood Teams North and South (as highlighted on pages 13 & 14.)

Andrew Nash

Other Key Members


Robyne Squire Housing Trainee

(unavailable for the group photo)


David Hood Maintenance Officer



Suzanne Powell

Janet DeLacy

Maintenance Officer

Neighbourhood Officer

Handypersons & Gardening Maintenance A new position, and a service designed for tenants, specifically for non-repair issues and gardening. This is a chargeable service.


John Davies


Matt Taylor North

Income & Energy Officers

Hayley D’Alessio

Pictured above are Matt & Hayley, together with MHA Tenant, Tony Poynton. Matt & Hayley are responsible for advising tenants how to maximise their income by, for example, opening rent accounts, progressing benefit entitlement, joining the Credit Union, promoting affordable loans, cutting energy costs and increasing take up of contents insurance. Contact Hayley on 07725824800 or Matt on 07792596915.

A full contact list, if needed, can be obtained via a request made to one of the admin officers on 01495 761016.



MHA’s FUN DAY 2011...

On Saturday 2nd July at Monmouth Leisure Centre Playing Fields, MHA held its second Summer Fun Day for tenants and residents and it proved to be a great success with families from all the County coming to the event. There were lots of fantastic activities for adults and children including bouncy castles, face painting, a bucking bronco, climbing wall and craft activities too. Tenants and residents had the opportunity to meet staff in a much more informal setting and with the sun shining everybody had a fun packed afternoon. On the main stage a band of young musicians from Mayzmusik, Abergavenny kept the crowd entertained with their live music performances in the main hall. Monmouth Gymnastics club gave a fantastic gymnastics display. A collective Zumba exercise session was held with staff and tenants keeping fit together.



MHA’s FUN DAY 2011... by Rob Carey & Pip Williams

Many families attended the event and were very complimentary about the afternoon saying such things as “The kids had a fantastic day” and “MHA should do more events like these” The winner of the fun day prize draw was Jason Price from LLanarth (opposite), who instead of winning the Nintendo Wii Games Console and games opted for the cash equivalent in Argos vouchers. He is pictured here with his family receiving his £170 prize. 16


Summer Playschemes 2011... by Steph Dye

Monmouthshire Housing, Three Counties Play and the County Council joined forces to keep our youngsters busy and happy through the summer holidays. If you’re wondering why the streets were a bit quiet or why there was lots of laughter and noise coming from your local park this summer holiday it may be because MHA’s Play in the Park scheme has arrived in your community.

MHA has increased its investment in providing free open access play schemes for our children in local parks. MHA has provided schemes in parks in Abergavenny, Caldicot, Bulwark and Thornwell and Monmouth and Wyesham. We also travelled around some more rural areas with the Play in the Park roadshow, and sponsored Abergavenny’s Mulberry Centre to hold free Eco playschemes throughout the summer. 17


Summer Playschemes 2011...

If your children had the chance to experience Play in the Park this year, please let us know how they found it and what you think about it. MHA are keen to invest in better play provision for your children if you and your families feel you are benefiting from it.

To pass on your thoughts about summer play provision contact us on 0845 677 2277 and we’ll make a note of all of your comments to help us plan for next year. 18

Bits & Bobs

Fire Safety Visits... by Neil Binnell

The Fire Service has recently visited most of MHA’s Sheltered Schemes and if they haven’t been to your scheme yet, they will be coming in the near future and Tenants were offered the opportunity to attend talks about fire safety with the aim of raising fire safety awareness. For those tenants who were unable to leave their flats due to mobility issues, they were offered personal home visits. All tenants were offered fire safety checks in their homes and awareness was raised about the risks of overloading sockets and advice was given about deaf fire alarms, and fire safety products

such as, ashtrays, fire retardant bedding, electrical blankets, and deep fat fryers. It has taken several months to get the visits done and it has been eased by the hard work of the Support Officers. The total figures to date show that eleven out of the twelve sites have so far been visited with 166 residents receiving advice. The total number of free home Fire Safety inspections was 27 and we would urge all tenants and residents to think seriously about fire safety in their home.

Tenant Board Elections... by Naomi Mitcheson

As you all know Jill Sayers will be stepping down from the Board this year therefore we have carried out our tenant board elections which hopefully everyone took the opportunity to 19

choose who you would like representing you on the Board. The winner of the election process will be formally appointed at our AGM in September.

Dear Monmouthshire Housing Association, I am Sam Ward and I am 13 years old, I go to Chepstow School and I am involved in The Bungalow Project. Some of the year 11 students and staff organised a trip to the beach in Weston-Super-Mare, for some older people of my community. Many of the guests were MHA residents, including Mr. Bill Jones of Davis Court. During the trip they discovered that Mr Jones was going to be 90 year of age in two days time! We thought that it would be a nice idea as to throw a surprise party for him, so, I got together with Megan Beacham, Chantelle Pensom and Lucy Thomas who are also involved in The Bungalow Project and together we organised a party.

We put a coloured invitation through every house in Davis Court apart from Mr Jones’s home! Mrs AJ and Mrs Roche who run The Bungalow Project went to Tesco to get the food. Me and the girls blew up some balloons to decorate the lounge and went round asking if anyone wanted a cup of tea or coffee. One of Mr Jones neighbours agreed to take Mr Jones to the party but keep the surprise. When Mr Jones arrived he looked so delighted and when we all started to sing happy birthday, he looked so happy, and we were so glad we could do something nice for an older member of the community.

Yours Sincerely,

Sam Ward (age 13yrs)



It’s All About You! (Tenant Profiling).... by Scott Bryant

Many of you will be aware that Monmouthshire Housing is in the process of collecting information about tenants as part of our ‘Tenant Insight’ project. We’re collecting this information in order to improve our services and plan them around you, and your needs. Without this information, it’s much more difficult to work out what services you need and want. The information will also allow us to better monitor access to services so we can ensure that all tenants are treated fairly and equally.

You should have received a questionnaire at the beginning of July to collect this information. We want to say a huge thank-you to everyone who has returned this questionnaire, or who has contacted us about it. We recognize that some of the information we are collecting as part of the project is personal, and want to stress that tenants are under no obligation to provide us with this information. If you haven’t yet completed the questionnaire, and we haven’t already spoken to you about this, please do contact us on 0845 677 2277 during office hours. We can then collect this information over the telephone, visit you or send you a questionnaire by post for you to complete.

The prize winners for the £50 gift vouchers have been contacted and they are: Mrs Phillips (Monmouth), Miss Forward (Abergavenny), Mr Hughes (Llanelly Hill), Mrs Derrick (Magor), Mrs Webb & Mrs Emms (Caldicot) and Mrs Bishop & Ms Sterry (Chepstow). 21

• Sums

• Desk

• Teacher

• Fun

• Map

• Play

• Book

• Read

Neighbour from Heaven

Best New Initiative

For the person who goes that extra mile for their neighbours.

For the best idea and activity that has started up in the last year.

Community Champion

Parent/Carer of Year

For the tenant that is making a real difference to your community.

Nominations for this award can only be made by children.

Bright Young Star

Outstanding Achievement in Tenant Participation

For any young person (under the age of 25) who is positively contributing to their local community.

For a continued involvement in MHA’s services and the way they are delivered.

Environmentally Friendly Champion

Adult Learner of the Year

For those that have taken action to make their home more environmentally friendly.

For the tenant who has successfully completed a training course and used it to improve their life.

Neighbourhood of the Year

The closing date for nominations: Friday October 21st 2011

For the Neighbourhood that’s been active and community orientated.

For more information call: 01495 761100 or 08456 772277

Tenant Matters <Issue 11> Autumn 2011  
Tenant Matters <Issue 11> Autumn 2011  

Tenant Matters <Issue 11> Autumn 2011