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News s iew V & INSIDE

DON’T MISS OUR FREE SUMMER EVENT 2015!

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Noah's Ark Zoo Farm Take a look at our Family Awayday to Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm!

MORE PHOTOS INSIDE

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UNIVERSAL CREDIT IS COMING – ARE YOU READY?

INSIDE

MEET IAN CARTER: OUR NEW DIRECTOR!

INSIDE

WHY WE SUPPORTED HOUSING FAST 2015…

@CynonTafHousing CTCHG

ISSUE 2: AUG 2015

Is there something happening in your community that you would like to see featured in the next issue of News & Views? Please get in touch with Beki Lee on blee@cynon-taf.org.uk or call 01443 743226


HELLO EVERYONE AND WELCOME TO OUR SUMMER ISSUE OF NEWS & VIEWS. In this issue you can read about our upcoming FREE family fun summer event and Annual General Meeting (AGM). There’ll be lots of information stalls and fun activities for all the family. Hope to see you there! In addition, Ian Carter has now joined the Cynon Taf family as our Director of Development and Asset Management. Get to know him a little better by reading the interview on page 6. From September we have a range of exciting Health and Wellbeing Community Sessions planned. You can read the full schedule of all sessions on page 4. The Tenants’ Forum members have been busy as usual, and recently discussed the hot topic of Tenant Events. For a full update from the Chair, Dyfrig

Roberts, or to find out more about joining the Forum, please see page 5. As you may have seen in the last issue, Universal Credit is coming to Rhondda Cynon Taf in December this year, and we are here to help you prepare for these big changes if this affects you. Take a look at page 11 for all the information you need to get ready for Universal Credit. Have a lovely summer and we look forward to seeing you at our events. Best wishes

Gweithgareddau a hwyl AM DDIM i'r HOLL deulu

18 year old Rhys Phillips, a player for Rhydyfelin RFC and life guard and fitness instructor at Hawthorn Leisure Centre, has successfully secured himself an apprenticeship with Liberty Gas. Liberty Gas is a specialist heating services provider working across the UK offering professional gas installation, maintenance and servicing, as well as energy solutions and electrical installations. Through the DEVCO consortium, which is made up of 4 housing associations working within Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council - Cynon Taf Community Housing Group, Merthyr Housing Association, Rhondda Housing and Hafod Housing - an apprenticeship opportunity was created for young people 16-24 years old.

Michelle Reid, Chief Executive

rf aemeddim FREE activities & fun for ALL the family

Local Rugby Boy Rhys secures dream apprenticeship with Liberty Gas!

EVENT | DIGWYDDIAD HAF R E M M U S & Annual General Meeting & Cyfarfod Cyffredinol Blynyddol

Pontypridd Rugby Club, Sardis Road | Clwb Rygbi Pontypridd, Heol Sardis Thursday 20th August 2015 | Dydd Iau 20 Awst 2015 10.30 - 4.00

Limited free transport available call Bethan on 01443 743235 Cludiant cyfyngedig ar gael am ddim ffoniwch Bethan ar 01443 743235

Rhys’ passion bloomed while taking part in work experience with his father and uncle, always with the future goal of pursuing a career in gas engineering. Through his new post with Liberty, Rhys will get hands on experience in the trade and a stepping stone to a life long career. Since joining Liberty Gas, Rhys has proven himself an enthusiastic young man and has shown fantastic willing to learn, in only a short time he has become a real asset to the business.

DATE E H T E V SA

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Dates for the Diary

Thursday 20th August FREE Family Fun Summer Event and Annual General Meeting Monday 31st August – Office Closed Tuesday 1st September – Office Closed Wednesday 9th September Tenants’ Forum Meeting

What’s on in RCT

Rhigos Fancy Dress Carnival Rhigos Rugby Club Saturday 15th August Taffswell RFC FREE Fun Filled Summer Fair Ynysangharad War Memorial Park Pontypridd. Saturday 22nd August 2015 Pontypridd Aquathon 2015 Ynysangharad War Memorial Park Pontypridd. Sunday 6th September 2015


Charity News “Cynon Taf presented us with a cheque to the value of £4,948.74, raised by your staff, who worked tirelessly for a year raising funds by holding various events, raffles, marathons and much more. We are extremely grateful for this donation. It will go a long way to supporting our ladies with

their craft club, coffee mornings and evening meetings. It will also help to pay towards their annual day out, which is at the National Botanic Gardens in Carmarthen in July. From everyone – thank you.” Christina Ryan, Rhondda Breast Friends.

TENANTS' FORUM: WHAT HAVE WE BEEN UP TO? As the Tenants’ Forum we met most recently in May at Gower Davies Court. It was great to hold the meeting at one of our sheltered schemes and have residents join us, I hope you continue to come along to our future forums. We met and discussed the Hot Topic of “Tenant Events”. Members were able to share ideas and opinions on how to create the most successful events for our tenants – all feedback will be used in our upcoming free family fun summer event. Hope to see you there! The Forum members were delighted to learn that our Big Lottery Funded Money Matters Project had

successfully passed the first year. The evaluator report contains statistics on how the Team has performed over the last 12 months and future plans, this was made available to all at the meeting.

Dyfrig Roberts, Chair of the Tenants’ Forum

Chief executive Michelle Reid joined Forum Members and distributed the freshly printed Business Plans 2015-18 with the Tenant Approved stamp featured on the front. This is the first of many tenant approved corporate documents – it has proved a great addition.

Would you like to join the Tenants’ Forum? We will be holding our Tenants’ Forum 21st Annual General Meeting at our FREE Summer Event on Thursday 20th August at Pontypridd Rugby Club.

In Search of Summer Promoting Health & Wellbeing: Join the Club! Cooking Club: Cooking on a Budget

Stop Smoking. Start Living

at Penllew Court, Trecynon Starting Wednesday 16th September at 10am – 2pm

at Maesyfelin, Rhydyfelin Starting Tuesday 8th September at 10am – 12pm

FREE TRANSPORT AND REFRESHMENTS

For more information on how to get involved call Celestina John on 01443 743207.

COMING SOON: SEPTEMBER 2015 • Walking Groups at Trecynon and Cwmaman • Buggies & Babies at Rhydyfelin • Armchair Exercises at Ynysybwl and Rhydyfelin For more information on how to get involved call Ann Costanza on 01443 743204

Golden rays of sunshine dance in disarray A blue sky and cotton wool clouds At the start of a beautiful day The sun embraces the earth with a warm and feeling touch Brining life to the world around us a blessing needed so much. Birds sing their morning chorus, trees and grass are verdant green, flowers bedeck the gardens, a perfect summer scene. Brother sun, let us all rely on you, for without your summer blessing – what would we do?

Thanks to Chris from Maesyfelin for sharing her Summer poem in this issue. If you have a poem you’re really proud of and would like us to publish please get in touch! You can email Beki Lee on blee@cynon-taf.org.uk or call 01443 743226.


Meet Ian Carter Director of Development & Asset Management Tell us about your career so far… I have had a varied career to date working in both private and public sector roles as a Planning Enforcement Officer, a Town Planner, an Urban Designer, a Project Manager, a Regeneration Manager and most recently as a Programme Manager for Newport City Homes.

What made you want to work for Cynon Taf? When I spotted the job advert it’s fair to say that I did quite a lot of research into Cynon Taf - everything I read reflected what a great organisation this is, and every person I spoke to was unanimous in their praise for Cynon Taf. The people I have met through the interview process, staff, tenants, and Board Members completely reinforced this view and when I was offered the position it was an easy decision to make.

Noah's Ark Zoo Farm

Tell something you have achieved in your career that you’re really proud of? I am proud of a number of things in my career from completing specific projects, to securing planning permission on difficult sites, but the thing that I am most proud of is seeing members of my team achieve things and helping them get there. I’ve mentored a number people in the past and I mentor a couple of former colleagues on an informal basis to try and help them progress in their chosen careers.

Give & Gain Day 2015 Well done to Team Cynon Taf who took part in 5 projects across our 5 sheltered schemes on Give and Gain Day 2015! Our staff were joined by Legal and General and Gas Assessment & Training Centre who volunteered their time, equipment and money and worked hard towards improving the gardens and surrounding areas of our sheltered schemes.

What do you do in your free time? As a relatively new dad, much of my free time is now spent with my son, however when I am able to get some time to myself I am sports mad. I’ve been fortunate enough to represent Wales in a few sports and will try my hand at most things if challenged.

Describe yourself in 3 words… Honest, positive and energetic.

HAVE YOU JOINED PROJECT 43 YET? PROJECT

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For more information or to join Project 43 today, please call Celestina John on 01443 743207.

M

Dragonsavers offers an opportunity to save your money and access to affordable loans to those living or working in Rhondda Cynon Taf.

Project 43 means you get access to low cost, good quality food plus a safe place to save your money too! CO

Project 43 is a community food network available to all Cynon Taf Tenants. We are now taking bookings for Project 43. This means you come along on your allocated day and pay just £10 for a food box. £5 is used to pay off any rent arrears you may have, or if not it will be saved in your own Dragonsavers Credit Union savings account.

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YOUR LOCAL ONE4ALL The council One4aLL centres have now become appointment only. Residents are being reminded they can book an appointment at their local One4aLL centre to help them undertake their business with the council. The service offers experienced advisors who can help you process applications and related evidence for Council schemes such as Blue Badge, Bus Passes, Housing Benefit and more. You can book an appointment by ringing the contact centre on 01443 425005 or visiting http://www.rctcbc.gov.uk/

#UKHousingFast

The One4aLL Centres are open for appointments as follows: • 10am to 3pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at Mountain Ash and Treorchy Libraries • Between 9 am and 4 pm, Monday to Friday, at Sardis House Pontypridd; • Between 9 am and 3.30 pm, Monday to Friday, at Rock Ground Aberdare and Bronwydd House Porth.

Are you a customer of Welsh Water? Is your total household income less than £12,500 a year?

If so, you might be eligible for money off your water bill! Who’s eligible? If you’re a customer of Welsh Water and your total household income is £12,500 or less a year you may be entitled to up to 55% or an average of £250 off your water and sewerage bill. This is an average amount and we will be able to confirm the reduction from your bill if you are eligible and after you apply. How do I apply? Just fill out our simple application form that you can find from www.dwrcymru.com/en/My-Account/

What do I need to apply? 1. Your water account number (this can be found on the top of your Welsh Water bill) 2. To have to hand the personal details and employment status of everyone who lives with you aged 16 or over (Make sure that you have their permission to share the information) 3. To know how much you all received in income from wages, benefits, pensions and any other sources of income and its frequency (weekly, fortnightly, monthly or yearly) 4. A cup of tea or coffee and you are ready to start

Got a question about Rent? Contact our Rent Support Officers, Rachel Dent and Emily Nicholls, on 0345 2602633

#UKHousingFast is a social media campaign set up by 4 people working in housing who were all observing the Muslim month of Ramadan. They decided to set up the #ukhousingfast campaign to: •

Raise awareness of fasting and food poverty in a way that people can relate to and easily support • Bring people together to raise money and food donations for local good causes • Celebrate the diversity of people living and working in UK housing.

This year, staff and tenants at Cynon Taf got involved in lots of ways… 1. We donated food to Merthyr Cynon Foodbank, the main distribution centre for our local foodbanks. 2. Angela, Delyth and Alison (pictured below) fasted for the day and received donations for Merthyr Cynon Foodbank. 3. Everyone took a #platepledge selfie!

To support this campaign, people from lots of backgrounds up and down the country have given the campaign a big thumbs up because let’s face it, we all realise the importance of food and knowing where our next meal is coming from. Sadly the reality is often very different for thousands of people in our local areas and it’s up to us to come together to tackle this head on.

Face 2 Face ‘Face 2 Face’ is our new tenancy visit scheme we are introducing as way of keeping in touch with you. From September 2015, Housing Officers will visit all of our tenants once every two years. This visit will give you the chance to talk about any issues you have with your home or with your tenancy in general. The visit will help us find out which of the services we provide matter most to you, which will enable us to plan better for the future. At the time of the visit, the Housing Officer will look at your home throughout to check everything is ok and also ask you a series of questions to ensure that our records are up to date and that you are receiving appropriate advice or support where required.

We will make an appointment with you either by phone or letter and we will need approximately one hour of your time.

Face 2 Face

Please note that due to the high number of properties that the Housing Officers will be visiting, it could be some time before you hear from us. In the meantime, if you have any queries, please contact your Housing Officer or Housing Assistant on 01443 743200.


Welcome to Homefinder RCT

Money Matters: let's talk about it!

Homefinder RCT is an exciting new way to rent a home in Rhondda Cynon Taf. 1

Using Homefinder RCT you can register an interest in affordable housing in Rhondda Cynon Taf.

Are you ready for Universal Credit? The UK Government is changing the way people receive their benefits. The ‘Your Benefits are Changing’ campaign (YBAC) has been set up to inform people about these changes and to provide free, independent advice to those who need it.

2 Simply bid for the home you want.

What is Universal Credit? Universal Credit is the name of a new monthly payment that will replace a number of current benefits and tax credits. These include Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credit, income-based JSA, income-related ESA, Income Support and Working Tax Credit.

A weekly newsletter gives you a round-up of the

3 homes available exclusively through Homefinder RCT.

How is Universal Credit different from my current benefit payment?

Here’s a reminder of how the process works:

➧ 1

Thursday

Tuesday

g start biddin

es bidding clos

Bidding cycle begins every thursday at 9.am

➧ 2

Log on to: www.HomefinderRCT.org.uk

➧ 3

Search through all available homes

➧ ➧ 4

Bid for up to three homes

5

Wait for bidding to close on Tuesday at10pm

➧ 6

You’ll receive Universal Credit if you get benefits to: • Top up a low income • Raise children • Help with the cost of rent • Top up a carer’s allowance • Care for children under five

• Universal Credit will be paid into your bank account.

• Help when you are unemployed or sick and have low National Insurance contributions.

• You’ll get one monthly payment for your whole household.

When?

• Housing Benefit will be included in this payment and you’ll have to pay your rent to your landlord yourself.

Universal Credit is being rolled out across the country in stages and has already come to Wales. New benefit claimants will be put on to Universal Credit first and then all existing claimants will be moved over to the new system gradually between now and 2018.

• You will have to apply for and manage Universal Credit online. If your bid is successful you will be contacted by phone

What do I need to do? 1. Banking You will need to open a bank, post office or credit union account to receive and manage your Universal Credit. Once you have your account set up, it’s best to set up a direct debit – an instruction from you to your bank account to automatically pay bills such as your rent and council tax. Your landlord can help you to do this.

Coming to RCT this October

To take part in the bidding system you only need to be registered for re-housing with the Homefinder RCT scheme. Use your application reference to log in and search for homes each week.

2. Online

If you have any questions about the process simply contact the Housing Advice Centre at: 11-12 Gelliwastad Road, Pontypridd, CF37 2BW or telephone 01443 485515.

3. Budgeting

You will have to apply for Universal Credit and manage your claim online via a computer. If you need help to get online, your landlord, local library or Job Centre may be able to help.

If you’ve been used to getting your benefits weekly or fortnightly, it may be a challenge to manage your household income and budget on a monthly basis. Your first Universal Credit payment will also be paid at least five weeks after you make your claim.

If you don’t think you can manage to wait 5-6 weeks for your money, ask the DWP for a ‘short term advance’. It will have to be repaid within three months and will be deducted from your Universal Credit payment, but it will be interest free.

Prioritise your rent payment It is your responsibility to pay your rent to your landlord. If you’re used to having your rent paid straight to your landlord, you’ll now be responsible for paying the rent yourself. In certain circumstances, you can request an ‘alternative payment arrangement’ and your landlord may be able to help you with this.

Contact us Forhave more information If you any questions aboutplease any of thecontact information in this leaflet, please contact the YBAC line on 0300 your Housing Officer today on 303 1073 for free and independent advice. You can 0345 2602633 also text ‘change’ to 80018 for an adviser to call you back, or via Facebook (Your Benefits are Changing).


HOW DID WE DO BETWEEN 2014 AND 2015?

100 56 44 38 3 2

people accessed general information and advice

The Money Matters Team has been extremely busy this year. Read about the difference they have made to our tenants.

people received advice and engaged in activities centred around health and wellbeing young people (16-25) accessed independent and life skills

“If I wanted help again I wouldn’t be afraid to ask”

The facts... Out of the 38 people who received 1 to 1 advice, the total welfare benefits, grants and energy savings were £92,916.89

people received 1-to-1 advice and support

“It has made huge difference to my life”

community events were held community mentors identified

LET'S COOK! Tuna Pasta Bake Ingredients 600g/1lb 5oz pasta shapes such as fusilli, penne or farfalle 50g/2oz butter 50g/2oz plain flour 600ml/20fl oz milk ½ tsp mustard powder 200g/7oz extra-mature cheddar, grated 100g tin sweetcorn, drained 100g/3½oz peas 3 spring onions, sliced 2 x 185g tins tuna in spring water, drained Method 1. Heat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4. 2. Cook the pasta in a saucepan of plenty of boiling water according to packet instructions. Drain and set aside. 3. Meanwhile, for the sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat and stir in the flour with a wooden spoon. Cook for 1 minute, or until the mixture darkens slightly. 4. Slowly stir in the milk, stirring until smooth after each addition of milk. Stir in the mustard powder and continue to cook until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of the spoon.

5. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in most of the cheese, and all the sweetcorn, peas and spring onion. Season with salt and pepper. Stir the cooked pasta into the sauce. 6. Spoon the tuna into the bottom of an ovenproof dish. Pour over the pasta and sauce. Tap the dish gently so the sauce pours into every nook and cranny. Sprinkle over the remaining grated cheese. 7. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling and the top is a golden-brown. Serve immediately. 8. Finally, fold up the bottom to form a straight edge. ENJOY! This recipe is found on the BBC website and many more can be accessed by visiting http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes

Published by Cynon Taf Community Housing Group, Unit 4 Navigation Park, Abercynon, Mountain Ash, CF45 4SN. Tel: 0345 2602633 Email: info@cynon-taf.org.uk Web: www.cynon-taf.org.uk A registered society under the Co-operative & Community Benefit Societies Act 2014.


Cynon Taf News & Views August 2015