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Around the Houses

October 2011

Welcome to the third edition of ‘Around the Houses’! ‘Around the Houses’ is published monthly to showcase the excellent work members are doing in a wide variety of different areas. If you have any stories you’d like to include in the next edition, please send them to All stories received will also be put up on CHC’s website. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library comes to Wales Cadwyn is bringing a child literacy programme to Wales that was established by Dolly Parton in Tennessee. The Imagination Library provides a free age-appropriate book, for all children who have been registered, every month until their fifth birthday. The programme improves child literacy skills by giving parents access to books regardless of their income. 50 children have already registered and this number is likely to increase significantly when Cadwyn launches the programme on 28 October. To help fund the programme, Cadwyn recently raised over £1000 through a football competition involving staff, tenants, other HAs, contractors and suppliers. Cadwyn staff who have been involved in launching and raising funds for the programme were lucky enough to meet Dolly Parton during her concert in Cardiff last month. Dolly said: ‘I still can’t believe that so many people have taken my little dream and made it their own. This may be our first Imagination Library in Wales but it won’t be our last!’ As part of the programme, Cadwyn is also setting up a reading club for parents and children to improve literacy skills and to encourage parents and children to read together. For more details please contact Leynie Meagher on 029 2043 4435 or email

Cardiff to Paris Bike Ride - they’re back! Well, we did it! Nearly 350 miles in four days. I would like to thank all my sponsors for helping me to raise over £3,500 for Shelter Cymru and for making it possible for me to participate in what has been one of the best long weekends away I have ever experienced. The group of people who signed up for this were fantastic company, no egos and really supportive and encouraging. Riding in a group was a revelation to me and we were easily exceeding 20mph on long stretches with little effort. There was great encouragement from locals who waved us on and gave donations, and the French school kids shouted “allez” as we sped through their village. The evening we spent in Paris was quite emotional and quickly descended into a sing song led very capably by Wyn and Ben (from Only Men Aloud) to rapturous applause from passing Parisiens. The fundraising page will stay open for a while longer so if you want to donate and were waiting to see if I achieved it then the link is here: Thanks again for your support. Paul Roberts Newydd Housing Association

Melin’s Community Safety team are leading the way Rachel Mason, Housing Manager, has been at the forefront of innovation within Melin’s Customer Service team. She has been a driving force behind many of the advances in Best Practice for tackling ASB and is committed to making a positive difference. A scheme in Newport is an excellent example of the team’s hard work alongside other partner agencies to help residents reclaim their streets. The estate, once considered notorious due to its problems with ASB, underwent a transformation thanks to the innovative approach of the Community Safety Team. A high profile eviction of a drug dealer sparked a period of relationship building with other residents who could now live in harmony and take pride in their community. Rachel has also led Melin’s revolution in the use of holistic therapy to help tackle the fallout from anti-social behaviour, and they are the first Landlord in Wales to offer Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to residents who have suffered as a result of ASB. This unique service is a positive move towards greater community cohesion by fundamentally changing perceptions and behaviour. This is not a ‘quick fix’, but offers a lasting solution for victims and perpetrators of anti-social behaviour. The Be Me initiative extends the counselling to other housing associations so their residents can benefit from its success:

NPT Homes work experience placement becomes a permanent job for a local youngster After joining NPT Homes on a 3 month work experience placement, previously unemployed Ria Coates has earned herself a permanent position. Ria was initially offered a three month contract working as an admin assistant at the organisation’s offices in Briton Ferry. Ria was then asked to provide temporary support to the Tenant Liaison Team who have been appointed to provide guidance to tenants during the WHQS improvement programme. This experience helped broaden Ria’s knowledge of the programme, strengthened her skills and gave her the confidence to apply for the job when it became permanent. She is now working with the Tenant Liaison team at the very start of the improvement programme. Before it was set up, NPT Homes promised that it would offer local people placements, apprenticeships and work experience opportunities. Therefore, it is delighted that Ria is the first youngster to take advantage of a placement opportunity, which gave her the chance to learn new skills and gain relevant experience.

Around the Houses October 2011

Tenant engagement goes digital for North Wales Housing North Wales Housing has launched its new ‘Open Access’ and texting digital initiatives as a way of enhancing and improving communication with tenants. The first phase of the service introduced text reminders about rent payments and allowed tenants to check the balance of their rent account. The second phase will include text alerts advising tenants of pending, forthcoming or existing maintenance and repair services. The service will act as a reminder tool and once a repair is complete, contact will be made asking whether the tenant was satisfied with the service. In phase three, tenants will be given a choice on the best way to communicate with them and a profile will be developed for each individual. A tenant portal, which can be accessed via the NWH website ( will allow tenants to review their rent balance, make payments, view current repairs and update contact details. Cher Williamson of NWH said: ‘The purpose of using new technology in this way for us as an organisation is to reach our tenants in the most simple and effective way possible. We will advise everybody on how to make the most of this service whilst monitoring usability and effectiveness, making sure we discuss this initiative with tenants to gain feedback. We hope this will encourage our tenants to engage with us and offer their feedback on ways which will improve and enhance the range of services and support we provide.’

Family fun in John Frost Square Newport City Homes (NCH) held its annual Resident Festival event last month in John Frost Square. The sun shone and the rain stayed away when residents from across the city joined staff, contractors and other partner organisations in celebrating the theme of ‘home being at the heart’. Attendees were able to take part in a wide range of fun events including hook a duck with the Neighbourhoods team, the Smoothie Cycle and an innovative way of communicating the common causes of blocked toilets! The event was mc’d by Newport City Radio who introduced a variety of acts on the main stage. Peter Gillon, resident and Chair of the Resident Festival Working Group said: ‘It was fantastic to see the fruits of the group’s hard work over the last year come together into such a successful event that suited the needs of all of our residents. Once again I have had the pleasure of working with a great team of volunteers, staff and residents alike. Thank you one and all.’

Clwyd Alyn HA helps raise flood awareness Clwyd Alyn HA is working with the Environment Agency Wales to help raise awareness about the risks of flooding. They have teamed up with the Flood Awareness Wales campaign to make sure that residents have all the information they need to find out if they are at risk of flooding and how to draw up an action plan for their community if they are affected. North Wales Flood Awareness lead officer Katie Davies said: ‘We really appreciate Clwyd Alyn’s support in making their properties more protected from flooding. We are working with Clwyd Alyn’s scheme managers and housing officers and are providing them with the support and guidance they need to reduce the risk of flooding to their properties. One in nine properties in Wales are at risk from rivers and the sea. Environment Agency Wales works to protect these people.’ You can call Floodline on 0845 988 1188 to find out if you are able to sign up to receive free advance warning of flooding.

Around the Houses October 2011 Improving house and home Pengwndwn Community House in Blaenau Ffestiniog has a new logo and will soon be given a new look, thanks to Lovell. The community house is owned by Cartrefi Cymunedol Gwynedd (CCG) and leased by Pengwndwn Tenant and Residents Association. From children’s after school club and Health Visitor surgeries to room hire, craft activities, fundraising, sport activities, reading sessions and organising clean up days, the house is a hive of activity. Lovell is the main contractor on CCG’s Welsh Housing Quality Standard improvement programme which will see all of CCG’s homes bought up to the standards laid out by the Welsh Government. Improvements to homes include installing new kitchens, bathrooms, windows and doors, and heating systems. As part of their work for CCG, Lovell has also committed to contributing to local communities, ensuring that they leave a lasting legacy, and they will be refurbishing Pengwndwn Community House. To kick start the work, a competition was held to create a new logo for the house with local children invited to submit their designs. Catrin Edwards, aged 8, was chosen as the winner on by the Lovell Site Manager, and her winning logo will appear on the house’s new sign. Kelsey Hughes is a member of Pengwndwn Tenant and Residents Association who volunteers at the house. She said, ‘Pengwndwn house is at the heart of our community, it’s open to everyone and is a great resource for local people… These improvements will ensure that we can continue with all the good work that is being done through the house and offer the community a place to learn, meet and socialise.’

Hat-trick for WWHA in Welsh Housing Awards Wales & West HA is celebrating a hat-trick with three entries shortlisted for the Welsh Housing Awards. Scheme manager Lucy Clewlow has been shortlisted for the Outstanding Academic Achievement Award, Board member David Davies has been shortlisted in the Housing Hero category, and the team behind the Stoneleigh Manor More Housing Options project have been shortlisted for the ‘Making Best Use of Stock’ award. Anne Hinchey, Chief Executive, said: ‘I am thrilled for Lucy, David and the Stoneleigh Manor team to have been shortlisted for these prestigious awards. Each and every one of them has worked so hard, either on an individual basis, or as part of a team, to do the very best they can for our residents, and WWHA as a whole.’ The winners will be revealed on 25 November at a red carpet ceremony in The Vale Resort.

Cynon Taf Community Housing Group Nominated for NCWE Awards Cynon Taf Community Housing Group has been nominated for the National Council Work Experience Awards by a recent graduate after receiving an exceptional experience during a Go Wales Placement. Beki talked about the skills she has developed because of the help and guidance from the organisation: ‘My confidence has grown in communication and networking, which are two important skills for my aspiration to work in Media and PR. Working with such welcoming colleagues allowed me to feel comfortable from the beginning. They motivated me to perform to the best of my ability and encouraged me to take measured risks.’ Beki’s time at the Association was planned to last 10 weeks, but Cynon Taf CHG were able to offer a 6 month contract. Chief Executive, Antonia Forte, expressed her delight: ‘Cynon Taf CHG has always been aware of the opportunity that we can give those entering the employment field in terms of appropriate and relevant work experience. We try to match individual expectations with our own objectives – finding real projects that give the placement some sense of achievement as well as delivering something that we need.’

Around the Houses October 2011

Perthcelyn gets hands-on to help neighbours A group of RCT Homes tenants from Perthcelyn have been getting their hands dirty to spread some happiness in the local area. Perthcelyn, near Mountain Ash in the Cynon Valley, has its own gardening group which meets every week to plan green-fingered activities in the community. The group is made up of men and women of all ages who have an interest in the natural world. The team have been putting their talent to good use and volunteering their skills to make over gardens of local people who are unable to manage their gardens. One lucky neighbour was RCT Homes tenant Fay Griffiths. Her garden had previously been too difficult for her to manage and was becoming a mess. After the group of residents from Perthcelyn got involved the garden was transformed. A lawn area was created, garden walls were painted white to make the most of the sunshine and brightly coloured hanging baskets and potted plants were introduced, making it easier for Fay to maintain. Fay said: ‘They worked really hard to improve the garden and I love it now – it is easier to look after and is a lovely sunny place to sit. I can’t thank them enough!’

Around the Houses - October 2011  

CHC's monthly electronic newsletter featuring members' news.

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