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OurTimes

N HA E T R MO T A JUS ORD L ND LA

THE NEWSLETTER OF

WINTER 2009

W W W. V I L L AG E S . O R G . U K

IN S I TH UE S IS

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REMEMBERING JOYC E

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Stockbridge is ‘blooming lovely ’ Residents of Stockbridge Village are celebrating after winning an astounding 15 awards in the prestigious horticultural competition ‘North West In Bloom’. The whole of Stockbridge Village won ‘Best Community Effort’, considered to be the biggest coup of the competition, and were also joint second, with Manchester City Council, in the ‘Best Urban Regeneration’ Category. The aim of ‘North West In Bloom’ is to encourage the improvement of our surroundings through the imaginative use of trees, shrubs, flowers and landscaping. It also aims to achieve a clean, litter free environment. The judges award marks for recycling, funding,

YOU SAID ...

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marketing and sustainable projects as well as floral displays and landscaping. The estate also won 12 Neighbourhood Awards including awards for St Albert’s Church, Villages Housing’s Tenants’ Forum and Little Woods Little Rangers. Pool Hey Community Garden received an ‘Outstanding’ Neighbourhood Award. The Neighbourhood Awards are an addition to the main competition as a new and unique initiative for small, resident-led community groups ‘greening up’ their local areas.

to make our estate look so ‘blooming marvellous’! The residents of Stockbridge Village have been entering ‘North West In Bloom’ for 5 years now, and have gone from strength to strength, culminating in winning these fabulous awards.”

Vernon Jackson, Villages’ Chief Mary Steele and Joyce McGowan of Executive, says, “Everyone at Pool Hey, collecting the award and Villages is so proud of all the crystal bowl for Best Community Effort residents who work so hard from Lord Fearn of Southport. STATUS SURVEY

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You Said... We Did!

We Value Your Suggestions on how we can improve our services to you. There are Suggestions Boxes in both Fitton Hill and Stockbridge Village reception areas or you can call your local Villages Office or email us at info@villages.org.uk.

YOU SAID Energy prices are too high

WE DID Staff have worked very hard and have managed to secure a £100,000 saving on the cost of gas supplied to the multi-storey blocks. This saving will be passed directly to multis residents as a reduction in their heating service charge of at least 20%, from April 2010, we are minimising the costs to tenants but maximising the service they receive. We also worked with partners to hold an affordable warmth event in Space building on 19 November, where people were able to get hints and tips on how to reduce their energy bills.

YOU SAID We want a free phone connection at the villages Stockbridge office to contact key services and agencies.

WE DID We have set up a Freephone for residents in a private area within our Reception. The Freephone is pre-programmed to contact Knowsley Council, Citizens Advice, Housing Benefit, Scottish power and Age concern.

YOU SAID We want to be able to pay our utility bills locally

WE DID We listened to your comments and have ensured that the new off-licence that has recently opened at The Croft will have this facility available, so please use the service.

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Dogs In Multi-Storey Flats

One of the biggest complaints for residents in the multi-storey blocks is in relation to dogs. We know how upsetting and frustrating it can be to live in the multi storey blocks and have to encounter dog mess on the landings, or have dogs barking close by. The Villages Housing tenancy agreement does not allow dogs inside the flats as we feel that multi-storey living is not suitable for animals that require regular exercise. In the past we have tried to give tenants breaching their tenancy agreements, by keeping dogs in flats, opportunities to find their dogs a new home. However to some people, it seemed as though we were “letting them off”. As this approach has not always been successful, we will be responding to this issue in the New Year by working with residents to develop an approach that will alleviate the current problem and ensure that all new tenants moving in are aware that dogs are not allowed in our multi-storey flats.

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Remembering Joyce Everatt It is with great sadness that we report that Joyce Everatt, a long standing tenant and Board member of Villages died on the 22nd November 2009. Joyce originally resided in Towerdene (a demolished tower block within Stockbridge Village), transferring to Firscraig in 1982 where she lived for the remainder of her life. During her time on Stockbridge Village, Joyce was a tireless and devoted champion of the estate and its people. From as far back as the 1960’s, Joyce became an active member of the community through her involvement with the Towerdene tenants’ association and her role as manager of the Stockbridge Citizen’s Advice Bureau. Following the transfer of the estate to Villages in 1983, Joyce joined the Villages’ Board as a tenant member, a position she held for 26 years and through which she served the community with outstanding dedication. Joyce was also instrumental in assisting with the foundation of Claire House which was built in memory of her granddaughter. Everybody who met Joyce found her to be a very genuine person with a positive attitude to life, a good sense of humour and an ability to make others smile. She will be greatly missed.

Prize Winners At our tenants conference back in September, in Oldham, we asked attendees to fill in a questionnaire about how the good and bad points of both Fitton Hill and Stockbridge Village. We also asked how we can improve our estates, and whether they enjoyed the conference and if they had any comments to make. Everyone who filled in the questionnaire was entered in to a prize draw and the lucky winner was D Jones of Stockbridge Village, who won £20 of Tesco vouchers.

Below are some of the recent winners of our various prize draws. Pat Bostock of Fitton Hill, was the first person to be awarded the “Golden Goodbye” of £70 when she left her property recently, pictured with Jackie Bradley from Villages’ Fitton Hill office. Mrs Patricia Duxbury who lived in Fitton Hill from 1992 until November ‘09 has also been awarded a “Golden Goodbye”. Mrs A Evans won the second of our Direct Debit Prize draws, pictured with Carol Hart from Villages. Mr & Mrs Hewitt and Ms Ross were winners in the Fitton Hill Gas Prize Draw, both pictured with Guy Parkinson, Lead Breakdown Engineer with Premier Gas. In Stockbridge, the winner of the September gas draw was Mrs Corfield and the winner of October's draw was Ms C Preston, pictured with Katie Miller from Villages. Have a look on our website for details of all the different prize draws you could win.

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Fitton Hill Environmental Programme

The successful contractor for the project will be chosen and appointed in December. Three local residents have agreed to be involved in the interview process and monitor the progress of the works programme once on site. The environmental programme in Fitton Hill will be starting early next year and all works will be completed by March 2011. Below is an overview of the main works we will be carrying out: • Many Villages properties will be provided with driveways. •

An area of green open space equivalent to 4 Wembley football pitches will be improved. This is on 42 separate spaces throughout the estate.

A total of 3.5 miles of boundary will be improved with 76 Villages properties having new boundaries where none existed before.

A series of enhancements will improve the main route through the estate on Fir Tree and Keswick Avenues. These will include way-markers, new planting, copings and general repairs to raised planters, beacon features and new planting to the roundabout and verges.

We have appointed Rodney Perkins (see page 17) as our Environmental Project Officer and he will be happy to answer any queries you may have about this programme.

Cyclical Works Cyclical works are planned maintenance works that Villages carry out on a 5 year cycle. This is external painting, gutter cleaning, paving repairs, fence repairs, servicing and repairs of windows and doors. Area 1 work started in 2009 and was due to be completed by March 2010 but we are happy to say that we have had an early completion of this work on 181 properties and we are now preparing and running survey work for Area 2. AREAS Area 1 Bankfield Drive, Keswick Avenue, North Croft, South Croft, Snipe Road, Tuns Road Area 2 Dowry Street, Lichens Crescent, Sportsmans Drive, The Green, The Spur, Woodpark Close

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Villages Calendar 2010 You should be receiving your Villages 2010 Calendar soon, or maybe even along with your copy of ‘Our Times’. We hope that you like the revised format. Following feedback from last year’s calendar we have gone back to a design with a hook to make it easier to hang up. We have worked again with the local primary schools and for the first year the new secondary school, Christ the King, in Knowsley. We do appreciate the support of the local schools and pupils and we hope that you enjoy the pictures. The themes for drawings this year are varied but link to issues that we feel are important such as celebrating good things; thinking of others, aspiring to reach new goals and respecting each other and the environment. MORE THAN JUST A LANDLORD WINTER 2009


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Equality & Diversity WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT? Well, quite simply it means that Villages will treat everyone equally and fairly when we are dealing with customers, appointing contractors or recruiting staff. What do we mean by Equality and Diversity? By ‘equality’ we mean treating people fairly. By ‘diversity’ we mean valuing peoples’ differences. It is illegal, and simply wrong, to discriminate against anyone because of their age, disability, sexuality, transgender, faith/religion, ethnic origin or gender. If any of our tenants suffer harassment because of any of the above, we have procedures in place to deal with the causes of the harassment. Villages recognise that effectively addressing Equality and Diversity is not only good for business, but also for the communities we serve. We need to ensure that: • we fulfil our legal responsibilities; • our services are relevant, responsive and sensitive to the needs of our existing and future customers; • all sections of the communities in which we work, and the wider communities, have equal access to those services; We have been working with all sections of our communities in Oldham and Knowsley to develop an Equality and Diversity Strategy, which basically is a plan of how we intend to make sure that we place Equality and Diversity at the heart of all that we do.

Community Cohesion For Everyone FIRST CROSS BORDER COMMUNITY EVENT On 26th November community activists attended a special meeting in St Albert’s to celebrate the achievements of individuals and groups on the estate. The aim of the meeting was to introduce all the community groups to each other and consult with them about developing a meaningful programme of community activities for 2010. Recent successes for The Ramblers, The Little Woods Little Rangers and Stockbridge in Bloom resulting in them all achieving prestigious awards are evidence that this neighbourhood is going from strength to strength and should be celebrated by the people who live here.

These qualities will be profiled during 2010 to help us change the perception of our neighbourhood. The evening was a great success and officers from Knowsley MBC, Liverpool City Council and all the local registered social landlords, including Villages, and other partner agencies will be working hard on the development plan for launch in the New Year. If you wish to get involved in any way contact Barbara Murray, Community Development Officer, on 0151 480 1313.

A large part of the evening was given over to “Character Matters”, an exercise to define the qualities which describe this estate and its people to enable us to market the area better and over come persistent bad press. The five qualities everyone agreed represent the estate are Respect, Pride, Green, Belonging and Regeneration. MORE THAN JUST A LANDLORD WINTER 2009

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Squash Nutrition Squash Nutrition pulled out all the stops in November when Café Society took place at The Croft. They set up a massive marquee in the car park and all the stalls where related to healthy eating and cooking. The atmosphere at the event was fantastic. Barbara Murray from Villages commented: “This event was great. I am so glad I attended on the Saturday; for one thing I left with healthy recipes and a pile of fresh vegetables! Squash Nutrition have really excelled and the soup is delicious!”

Tackling Anti-Social Behaviour Villages Housing Association has always taken a strong stance against anti-social behaviour and those who perpetrate it, with a view to creating a more peaceful environment for the residents of Stockbridge Village and Fitton Hill. The development of our approach to anti-social behaviour has resulted in the appointment of a specialist Anti-Social Behaviour Officer, Sue Grimmett, who’s role will encompass both Stockbridge Village and Fitton Hill. Sue will continue to respond to any incidents reported, but will also adopt a pro-active approach to engaging with local youths and directing them towards activities specifically designed to disperse gangs & reduce ASB. Villages Housing intends to develop Sue’s role further by meeting with Service Improvement Groups and asking our residents exactly what they want from a dedicated Anti-Social Behaviour service. We meet regularly with partner agencies such as Merseyside Police, Knowsley Anti-Social Behaviour Unit, Knowsley Housing Trust, various Youth Services and Oldham Community Safety Unit to discuss ongoing ASB issues and try to find solutions to the problems that cause them. We promise all residents of Stockbridge Village & Fitton Hill complete confidentiality when reporting ASB and will very shortly be announcing a Direct Dial phone number. This phone will be answered only by Sue Grimmett, or Anne Jackson in Sue’s absence. Sue has already been to Roughsedge Community Centre to introduce herself and her new role to the residents of both Roughsedge and Brandearth Houses and she will attend various community meetings over the next few months to introduce herself to the wider communities on both estates. If you are suffering from anti-social behaviour and wish to report it, please ring Villages Housing on 0151 480 1313 or Fitton Hill on 0161 633 4060. DON’T SUFFER IN SILENCE – PLEASE HELP US TO HELP YOU

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Service Standard Leaflets THE STANDARDS YOU SHOULD EXPECT FROM US Last year we consulted with tenants and put together a set of “Service Standard� leaflets which tell you what standards you should expect from different services provided by Villages Housing. Below we have provided a brief description on what each leaflet is about. They are available from reception areas now, or you can download them from our website www.villages.org.uk or you can call 0151 480 1313 to request a copy.

Complaints, Compliments and Suggestions

Villages are committed to providing its customers with an efficient and high quality service by reacting promptly to complaints and learning from our mistakes.

How to help us keep your home in good repair

This leaflet details what you can expect when you report a repair and the services we will provide.

Caretaking/Cleaning and Landscaping Services

Villages provides Caretaking/Cleaning services and Landscaping services to multi-storey flats. This leaflet will detail what you can expect from us.

Customer Service

We aim to provide a high level of service that you will appreciate. Our staff will be friendly and you will be treated with courtesy and respect.

Code of Conduct for Contractors

Villages is committed to providing its customers with an efficient and high quality service by working closely with our contractors. It is important that you know the standards of conduct expected of all our contractors.

What you can expect from your new home

This tells you the basic standards you should expect in areas such as the kitchen, bathroom, garden, when you move in to a Villages property.

Rent Standard

It is very important to pay your rent and service charges on time. This income is used by Villages to pay for the services and improvements that are provided for you. This leaflet tells you the ways you can pay your rent, and what happens if you fall behind in rent payments.

Repair Priorities Standard

Repair requests are dealt with according to urgency. We would like to do all repairs straight away but it is more efficient and fairer to prioritise. This leaflet explains how we decide how urgent a repair is and the response time you should expect.

Tenant Involvement

Villages Housing believes tenant involvement is very important to the services we offer, and so we consult people in a number of ways to make sure we continually improve.

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Performance: How Are We Doing? We want to improve the services we offer you, so we keep a constant check on how we are doing. The tables below show you how we are performing against our targets. This information is gathered on a Monthly basis using information provided by our tenants and our contractors. Villages Community Housing Association (VCHA), which is the charitable subsidiary of Villages Housing Association, has a portfolio of 165 properties. Key

 for the year to date  isPerformance around the target figure Performance for the year to date  is below the target figure Performance for the year to date is at or better than target

April –

Villages Community Housing June Association

Q1

Average re-let Times (The number of days it takes us to let out homes) % Emergency Repairs completed on time % Urgent repairs completed on time % Routine Repairs completed on time % customers satisfied with their repairs % properties which have had their annual gas safety check % rent collected as a % rent charged The average number of seconds it takes to answer a phone call

  

July – Sep Q2

The trend over the previous three months is improving Performance is steady or there is no significant trend over the previous three months The trend over the previous three months is worsening

Oct – Dec Q3

Target

_

77(*)

77(*)

50

100%

100%

100%

100%

95.2%

93.9%

93.1%

98%

98.9%

96.9%

96.9%

98%

98.6%

97.7%

97.7%

95%

98.1%

99.4%

100%

100%

113.8%

105.5%

104.3%

100.2%

10

9

10

10

Year to Date

Trend

       

       

* = 1 specialist needs property

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OurTimes Villages Housing Association has around 2583 properties, covering both Fitton Hill in Oldham, and Stockbridge Village in Knowsley Villages Housing Association Average re-let Times (The number of days it takes us to let out homes) % Emergency Repairs completed on time % Urgent repairs completed on time % Routine Repairs completed on time % customers satisfied with their repairs % properties which have had their annual gas safety check % rent collected as a % rent charged The average number of seconds it takes to answer a phone call

iVan Visits Stockbridge The iVan is Merseyside and Cheshire Cancer Network’s Health Awareness, Information and Support Vehicle. Its purpose is to support the increase of cancer awareness and ultimately support prevention and earlier detection of cancer by coming out into the community. The iVan visited Stockbridge on the 5th November 2009 and the team hope to return again next year.

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April – June Q1

July – Sep Q2

Oct – Dec Q3

37

30

32

97.8%

98.5%

98.6%

Target

Year to Date

Trend

37

98.6%

100%

97.7%

97.7%

98%

98.8%

98.9%

98.8%

98%

98.6%

97.7%

97.7%

95%

98.9%

99.9%

99.9%

100%

  

106.3%

101.6%

101.1%

100.2%

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Do You Want An Allotment? Are you interested in having an allotment? Opportunities are arising for some new allotments on Stockbridge Village. If you are interested in growing your own vegetables, contact Barbara Murray on 0151 480 1313.

Green Light For New Facility Residents of Fitton Hill will soon benefit from a brand new facility.

The Neighbourhood Centre –

This state of the art facility will be built by 2011 and provide a range of integrated services including health and community facilities, as well as youth and library services for the area. The Centre will be built on the unused land on New Barn Road, near to Medlock Valley Community School, and will provide modern facilities at the heart of the estate.

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Christmas Is Coming How will I pay for it? Christmas is a time when we all need extra money to spend on presents for family and friends. It’s often difficult to find that money and many people go into debt to pay for those extra special bits and pieces. Christmas can be a difficult period for all of us, especially if you are on a low or fixed income. It is sometimes too easy to cover our spending by borrowing. Think carefully before you borrow, can you afford the repayments and the interest charged? If you are thinking of borrowing please consider borrowing from your local credit union, these are non profit making and offer low cost loans to their members. If you are struggling with debt there are many agencies who can give practical help and advice. Knowsley Council has produced a booklet ‘Don’t Suffer in Silence’ that gives details of agencies that can help you. You can pick up a booklet from the Stockbridge Village office. Alternatively, ring Knowsley Council on 0151 489 6000 or visit their website (www.knowsley.gov.uk/residents/financial-advice) for more information. You can also be ready for next year by joining a Credit Union “Christmas Saving Scheme”. You can save over the year and when next Christmas comes you won’t need to go into debt to be able to enjoy the festivities. For details of the schemes contact the Credit Union directly. They can be found at: Enterprise Credit Union Hall Lane, Huyton, Knowsley, L36 6AX 9.30am – 4pm, Monday - Friday Tel: 0151 482 0177 Knowsley Mutual Credit Union 11 Market Square, Kirkby, Knowsley, L32 8RG Tel: 0151 545 3380 Oldham Credit Union Tel: 0161 678 7245

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Get Professional help

If you are in debt and feel that you cannot afford to repay your debts then you must get professional help. Do not ignore bills, they will not go away. Priority debts like rent, utility bills and council tax must be paid first because you do not want to lose your home or these services. There are lots of agencies who can help:

The Citizens Advice Bureau

The CAB provide free advice on debt, housing employment and benefit issues Knowsley - O845 122 1300 Oldham - 0161 627 8333 Villages holds a CAB surgery in both offices: Stockbridge Office: Tuesday and Thursday 10am until 12 noon Fitton Hill Office: every second Friday 9am until 12 noon

National Debt Line

A helpline that provides free confidential and independent advice on how to deal with debt problems. Telephone 0808 808 4000.

Tenants Extra Support Service (TESS)

TESS is a specialist floating support team based in Villages Housing in Stockbridge Village. They help people of Knowsley who may be in danger of losing their homes because of rent arrears or lack of support. Lyn Kelly, Supporting People Manager at Villages, says “TESS provides an excellent service; they have helped many people sort out their problems. We often find that tenants are not aware of all the benefits they are entitled to so they miss out. Filling in forms and dealing with officials can be complex so, TESS provide all the practical help and support tenants need.” You can contact the TESS team on 0151 480 1313.

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OurTimes Are You In Rent Arrears? If you are due in court because of rent arrears with Villages, please contact us as soon as possible. Failure to contact us before a court appearance could lead to your eviction and the loss of your home. Every court appearance costs you, as the tenant, £100, and damages your credit rating which means you will not be able to obtain future credit cards and loans. All this can be avoided by coming to a suitable agreement with Villages Housing – please contact us on 0151 480 1313 or 0161 633 4060 to discuss further. We would like to take this opportunity to remind tenants who are in arrears that they need to ensure that payments are made during Christmas “no rent due week”.

Poppy Appeal When you bought your poppy in November, did you know…the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal helps not only ex armed service personnel but also their dependants. Money raised from the appeal can be used to help with essential bills, to buy furniture or to contribute to essential building works. Ex service personnel or their dependants who feel they may be eligible for such help should contact their local Royal British Legion who will provide further advice. You can contact the Royal British Legion at any time of the year, as they work hard all year round. More information can www.britishlegion.org.uk

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Changes to Benefits

Do you have children, live in rented property but don’t get Housing Benefit at the moment? Then from November 2009 you may have become entitled. Changes to the rules will mean that any Child Benefit you get will not count as income anymore.

Anybody who already has an active benefit claim and receives Child Benefit will not need to do anything; the necessary amendment will be made by Knowsley’s Benefit Service automatically.

Are you over 60?

Did you know that you can now have up to £10,000 in savings or capital if you are aged 60 or over without it affecting your benefits.

This means you may be able to claim some Pension Credit, Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Benefit Don’t miss out – make your claim today! Ring the Pension Service helpline on 0800 991234

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You can get a Housing or Council Tax Benefit claim form from your local council. In Knowsley - visit any One Stop Shop or ring 0151 443 4042 and we will send a claim form through the post. If you are ill or disabled and can’t get to a One Stop Shop please telephone 0151 443 4135 and we will arrange for a visitor to call.

In Fitton Hill - visit the One Stop Shop in the Civic Centre in Oldham- or call 0161 770 6633. If you already get Pension Credit, Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Benefit you don’t need to do anything; your benefit will automatically be adjusted for this change If you have over £16,000 you will not be entitled to Housing or Council Tax Benefit.

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OurTimes

Nine Tree School ART-TASTIC AT CHRIST THE KING For six weeks, the year five children from Nine Tree School, visited the Christ the King entre for Learning. The children took part in an art workshop with Mr. Stewart. All the children thoroughly enjoyed learning printing skills. They produced a brilliant ‘Bugs and Butterflies’ display for the school hall. The children were praised for their excellent behaviour and attitude to hard work. They have certainly caught the Christ the King bug and can't wait to go back again. The children would like to say a special thank you to Mr. Stewart.

HARVEST FESTIVAL

On Thursday 22nd October Nine Tree School held our annual 'Harvest Festival'. The children were keen to invite their friends from a local senior group. They were warmly welcomed by the children, especially Joe Corrie who demonstrated how to be polite and respectful to our senior citizens.

They invited them into the classroom and the ladies enjoyed looking through the books. Then the children had their lunch, chatting about their experiences of growing up and what Harvest festival meant to them. Afterwards the children delivered parcels donated to the ladies in the group. The lady p i c t u r e d holding Honey is Rose Thomas who won Knowsley's best adult learner. She is a firm friend of the children and staff at Nine Tree School, and thoroughly enjoys her visits to the school. In the words of one of the ladies ’We enjoy our visits - the children keep us young'.

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PEACOCK IN LITTLEWOOD While walking through the woods with some children from Nine Tree School on an early July morning this year. We were amazed at what we saw. There was this beautiful peacock walking calmly through Littlewood in Hollowcroft. It saddened us to see this elegant creature have to walk on glass and all kinds of household rubbish that has been dumped there. It is obvious that Littlewood still attracts such wonderful wildlife. We talk all the time of looking after our planet, so maybe it is time to look a little closer to home and take care of the wonderful environment of Stockbridge Village and encourage people to disperse of their rubbish in the appropriate places. Let’s make Littlewood a safer and more pleasant place to visit for everyone.

GOING FOR GOALS Nine Tree school never needs an excuse for dressing up, but everybody jumped at the chance for 'Going for Goals’ (SEAL). We held a special assembly attended by children and staff and even the very young -Natasha Shaw is pictured with Mr. Blackburn dressed as what we hope she wants to be when she grows up - an angel! The children got actively involved in all aspects of learning surrounding the ‘Going for Goals’ topic. It gave them opportunities to ask questions and, more importantly, to talk together and have fun. It was another memorable day at Nine Tree School. MORE THAN JUST A LANDLORD WINTER 2009


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St Brigid’s School INTERNATIONAL SCHOOLS AWARD St Brigid’s RC Primary has gained an International Schools Award. This national a w a r d recognises schools which are developing international activities. Mrs B u c k l e y travelled to London to receive the award from BBC news presenter George Alagiah at a ceremony on the 16th October. The school had to complete a portfolio of evidence over the last 12 months that detailed our many international activities. St Brigid’s has links with schools in Belgium, France, The Czech Republic and Spain. Each class has taken part in a variety of projects that have helped them learn about other cultures and celebrate our similarities and differences.

EUROPEAN DAY OF LANGUAGES St Brigid’s celebrated the European Day of languages on the 25th September. This is an annual event that aims to develop awareness of the different languages and cultures of Europe. Children enjoyed dressing up in traditional costumes or in the colours of a European Flag. We had a s p e c i a l assembly were each class sang a French song. The children got to taste French foods such as pâté, crusty baguettes and brioche. Each class had different activities, for example, Y5 learnt some Polish, Y3 learnt how to play Gaelic football. It was an enjoyable day for all.

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Launch of Your Local Children’s Centre Medlock Vale Children’s Centre, which is situated in the Honeywell Centre on Ashton Road, Oldham, had its big launch on Wednesday 14th October. The family event showcased what is on offer and was a great success The Children’s Centre runs a number of fun and exciting sessions for children under 5 and their families, such as ‘Jumping Beans’ which is a fun physical and musical session for children over 18 months. There is also a Baby Clinic every Thursday afternoon at the centre and running alongside it is ‘Baby Play’ a lovely sensory session for you and your baby. All sessions are themed along healthy lifestyles, improving your child’s speech and language and encouraging learning. All sessions run by the Children’s Centre are free of charge. For parents there are a wide choice of activities available such as Cook and Taste courses and courses to help you to help your child to learn. If you need advice on getting back to work, into training or help with managing your child’s behaviour or routines then we can signpost you to the agencies that can help. From January 2010, The Children’s Centre will also be running sessions on Fitton Hill. For more information look out for the centre activity timetables which are available at Villages Housing office or call 0161 621 3921.

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OurTimes

STATUS Survey Update In the Autumn edition of “Our Times” we gave you a brief overview of the results of the Status Survey we carried out in May. We also told you that we would be highlighting issues of most concern to you over the next few editions. In this issue we will address Landscaping

and Gardening.

This year’s STATUS survey results showed that overall 75% of people who responded to the survey were satisfied with the landscaping and gardening service. We were disappointed with this figure, as satisfaction has fallen since the last survey and we had set an ambitious target of 95%.

What We Do

During the Summer months we carry out work to shrubs and trees to maintain walkways, we ‘weed control’ spray 3 times a year, and we plant and maintain flower borders. In the Winter we concentrate on hard landscaping, litter picking, rubbish removal (including from the bonfires) and leaf collection.

What’s gone wrong?

In the last 12 months we have had a higher level of staff sickness, due to a variety of circumstances, which meant that we lost valuable working days. This issue is being picked up in staff monthly assessments.

How will we put it right?

We will be reviewing the standards of the landscaping service on both estates and we have also set up a Service User Group.

Service User Group

In September Villages held its very first Tenants Conference, at the Honeywell Centre in Oldham. During the conference the issue of landscaping came up, and some residents volunteered to be a part of a new “Service User Group”. The purpose of the Service User Group is to involve residents, staff and team leaders to discuss what the issues are, and come up with plans that will work towards resolving those issues. We had our first meeting earlier this month, and agreed to meet every 2 months or so. We’ll be feeding back any developments in future editions of “Our Times”.

Recognising what we do well Void gardens When a property becomes empty the Landscaping and Gardening team work on preparing any gardens at the property to Villages’ “lettings standard”. Sometimes this can take up just a few hours of the team’s time, and sometimes it can take days. Below are some images of a property left in an appalling state by a tenant, before and after our landscape team worked on it.

After

Before

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OurTimes Grass Cutting Our landscaping team have very high standards. We cut large grassed areas every 11 days from mid-March to mid-October (depending on the weather); we cut smaller less accessible grassed areas every 14 days from mid-March to mid-October (depending on the weather); and we prune and cut down trees between November and March, as needed. These standards are much higher than other social landlords in the area. Working with schools

During National Tree Week the landscaping team usually goes in to the schools to do presentations to junior school students. The team discuss how trees work for the environment, and they also take in the climbing gear that they use when cutting down the branches on trees to show the pupils. The following week the team will return and plant trees with the children, and this time they take machinery such as tractors with them. Working with the schools means that the children get to understand their environment more, get to know the team and what they do, and it’s also useful from a safety perspective; showing the children how the machinery works will hopefully deter them from going near the machinery when it is in operation. We actually have some trainees on the team now who remember being at school and enjoying the presentations made by the landscape team!

North West In Bloom We want to build on the success that Stockbridge Village has had in ‘North West In Bloom’ in Fitton Hill, so our staff will be working with any residents of Fitton Hill who want to be involved, and the schools, to hopefully reflect the success that the residents of Stockbridge Village have had. You can read more about NWIB on the front page.

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Gardening Competition Every year Villages holds a gardening competition for the best maintained gardens on the estate. The competition is open to anyone to enter, but sometimes the landscaping team will see beautiful gardens on the estates and will nominate these gardens for awards. Each year a member of the landscape team helps to judge the competition on both estates, and gives feedback to everybody who enters, at the awards ceremonies. Going the extra mile Every year the landscape team support the whole of the Stockbridge Village estate bid for awards at North West In Bloom, and they introduced the hanging baskets at the Croft shops. The landscape team also cut back the trees and bushes regularly at the resource centre in Spruce Grove, which is owned by Knowsley council. They organise the festive lights at The Croft shops, help manage the skip services, and work with Villages partners during the Estate Impact Days. When the problem of fly-tipping became an issue in Woodpark in Fitton Hill and in Boodecroft in Stockbridge Village, our landscape team made gates and bollards for the areas to stop this happening again.

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OurTimes Landscaping and Gardening continued... Gardening Service Villages provides a gardening service to the elderly and vulnerable, which includes fortnightly grass cutting and hedge cutting from April to October (weather permitting). Gardening Services are only offered to tenants of Villages Community Housing Association and those who are elderly, vulnerable, or have very poor health or mobility, within Stockbridge Village. This service is also provided to tenants in bungalows in Fitton Hill.

Mr Chinn, from Stockbridge Village, has been using the gardening service for many years, “I have been having the lads from Villages doing my garden now for a few years. They do a good job; they do the things that I can’t do anymore. I can’t get down on my knees anymore, or trim the edging, so they do that for me. They keep it tidy more than anything else, and keep the garden looking loved.”

Meet The Team

We decided to interview our Landscape Supervisor, Mike Worthington, to let you know a bit of background about the man in charge of the Landscaping Service at Villages. • What is your role? I am Senior Landscape Supervisor - responsible for Stockbridge Village, and Fitton Hill and the contract that we have to do the landscaping for Cosmopolitan Housing Association, from Liverpool to Southport, and from Wigan to the Wirral. • How long have you worked at Villages? I started in November 2000, so 9 years now. • Where did you work before? I was a tutor at Myerscough College in Garstang near Preston. I taught Arboriculture, Agriculture and Horticulture. •

Tell us something that we wouldn’t necessarily know about you I enjoy mountain biking. I go at least once a week, and even go on biking holidays all over the North West. I’m also quite keen on kayaking; I go to the Lake District fairly often to do it. I’m not very good at it, but I love it - and I’ve got several scars to show for it!!! • What’s the best part of your job? Even though lately some residents feel that the landscaping service has deteriorated slightly, I know that there is a massive improvement in the standard of the landscaping since I started.

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A member of staff from the office told me that a lady who lives in Canada and was visiting her sister in Boodecroft, Stockbridge Village, made a special visit to the Office to say how lovely the Estate is looking since her visit last year. •

What’s the worst part of your job? When our team have worked so hard to get a garden to a re-let standard, once a property becomes vacant, and then we see it a few months later unmaintained, that’s quite difficult to see. •

What’s your best gardening hint or tip - winter related? Don’t cut your grass too short, and remove fallen leaves from the grass, as they block the sunlight and will kill the grass underneath. •

What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a landscaper? Practical skills are essential in this job, so get as much experience as you can using different machines, and using the skills that will be needed, try to build a portfolio of all the different machinery you have used.

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OurTimes

New Starters and Promotions

JOHN HUGHES

FIONA BARDEN

Fiona has now been promoted to an Estate Management Officer, and she is now responsible for collecting rent and letting properties. She has worked at the Fitton Hill Office for 2 years, previously as a Customer Service Officer dealing with rent payments and general enquiries. In July this year Fiona completed and passed with Merits the Chartered Institute of Housing Level 3 certificate.

AINE MACRORY Aine is the new HR manager and will be responsible for all HR and employment issues. Previously she had been a partner at Cobbetts solicitors where she headed up the Employment team in the Leeds office. She qualified as a solicitor in 1996 and has specialised in Employment law for over 12 years. Originally from Ireland, she is married to a scouser who is also a lawyer and has 2 daughters. She was a choral scholar at Girton College, Cambridge and she can do a bit of irish dancing!

IFEDOYIN ALE Ifedoyin is a new temporary Customer Service Officer at Fitton Hill. She will be working in the cash office taking payments (rent, rechargeable repairs, sundry etc) and also on reception attending to tenants’ enquiries. She has previously worked as a Database Administrator in America and, more recently, as a volunteer helping refugees at the Oldham African Community Association (ACA). Outside work, she is involved in the church where she helps to address womens' issues.

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John is an Estate Management Officer at Stockbridge Village, with responsibility for the day-to-day housing management of a number of properties. This includes dealing with rent arrears, allocations and estate inspections. John previously worked for Sefton Council and One Vision Housing in a number of locations in the Sefton area, and has experience in several different roles including Estate Management, Supported Housing and Choice Based Lettings. He is married and has, over the last few years, completed some sponsored walks in aid of local charities.

RODNEY PERKINS Rod is the new Environmental Works Project Officer and will manage the Environmental Improvements at Fitton Hill. Previously he was the General Manager of a Construction Company, and has worked in Civil Construction at all levels. In his spare time he enjoys caravanning and walking in the Lake District. Gary is the new Building Surveyor at the Fitton Hill office, and previously worked in a consultancy capacity, undertaking specialist timber and damp surveys for a variety of social housing landlords and private developers.

GARY TAYLOR

Before this he worked for Parkway Green Housing Trust as Senior Legal Surveyor following stock transfer of properties from Manchester City Council , where he worked for 16 Years. Gary enjoys sailing and is in the process of refurbishing a 1960 classic gaff cutter.

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OurTimes

News From The Multi Storeys Library News FIRSCRAIG COMPLETE In November 2009, G & J Seddons completed the second phase of refurbishment works at Firscraig – kitchen, bathroom and window replacement works. Overall tenant satisfaction with the Seddons work at Firscraig was over 96% - a big thanks to all residents who returned their surveys. If there are any repair issues with Firscraig works, please contact the Project team on site. Two other programmes which have recently been completed in Firscraig and Whincraig are the external painting and internal door programmes.

LIFT REFURBISHMENT The ‘odd’ lift at Whincraig has been completed with the ‘even’ lift to be completed before Christmas. The two lifts at Firscraig will also be refurbished in January 2009 - all residents will be informed prior to the start of works.

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INTERCOM UPGRADE AT FIRSCRAIG During December 2009, Firscraig front door intercom panel and individual handsets in each of the flats are due to be replaced. The Project team would really appreciate if Firscraig residents could allow access to contractors, where required, for these works to be completed before Christmas – thank you in advance!

HOUSING SURGERIES A reminder to all residents that the Project Officer, Rachel Tracey, is available to discuss any housing-related issues at the two housing surgeries: Merecliff, Thursday 2 – 4pm, and Craigs Community Centre Friday, 12 – 1pm or via an appointment on 0151 449 1788.

STAFF CHANGES Following the Caretaker Review, Villages are in the process of reviewing the structure of the caretaking service. We are pleased to announce that Peter Caine (previously Cliffs Senior Caretaker), has been employed as Caretaking Supervisor for both the Cliffs and Craigs sites, from the beginning of December 2009.

New Year, New Library! From January 2010, Stockbridge Library will be temporarily located in one of the Villages Housing shop units at The Croft, while the regeneration of Stockbridge Village is taking place. At the moment, it is expected that our opening times will remain the same; however, you will be notified of any necessary changes to this nearer the time. We envisage that the new library will open in Autumn 2011. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all our customers for their continuing loyalty and support to the library. Forthcoming New Year Events Words and Pictures sessions for pre-school children: The session involves toys, games, crafts and a story. It is a great way to introduce your child to the library. Everyone is welcome. It is held every Monday during t e r m t i m e 10am – 11am.

Have you ever wanted to research your family history but didn’t know where to start? If so, enrol on our family history course. The course is for beginners and is run over 11 weeks. The aim is to build confidence in research skills and to enable you to trace your ancestors using library resources and Internet searches. Places are limited; so please book early to avoid disappointment! Ask staff for further details.

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OurTimes

New Start For Intergenerational Group The highly successful Fitton Hill inter- generational group, “Fun For ALL Ages”, was formed over 3 years ago, uniting older people from the Skills Swap Shop and young people using the Xpress bus. Since then many activities have been enjoyed, including: • Sharing baking skills • Dancing classes • Ten Pin bowling • An educational trip to Liverpool • A visit to a mining museum in Yorkshire (including a trip underground!) • An educational trip to Chester (with a Centurion guide) But now the children have turned 16 and have moved into higher education or work, and our dedicated Youth Service worker, Sarah, has been moved to a new job elsewhere in Oldham. So on 27th October the group of current FFAA members enjoyed our last outing together, a fantastic day trip to Blackpool Zoo followed by fish and chips on The Golden Mile. We all had a really great day – probably the best outing we have been on – but little touches like a teenager linking the arm of the oldest member (91 years of age) to make sure she didn’t slip on the wet leaves, made us realise how close the group has become and how sad we are to be parting company. But that’s not the last you’ll see of this inspirational group, for we will be taking on a new batch of “young” members very soon. In recognition of the success of the group they have been awarded a Pride of Oldham Award – everyone at Villages passes on their Congratulations to them!

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Group members would like to thank Villages for their help with Community Budget Grant funding and Janet for helping to get the group off the ground. From the Youth Service we would like to thank Sarah for her hard work, dedication and enthusiasm. We are also grateful to Saeed from the Fitton Hill You t h Centre for his support, minibus driving skills and use of the kitchen facilities for our baking lessons. And, last but not least, our thanks to Sandra from the ‘Skills Swap Shop’ group for always being there and being the contact person to ensure communication between the two groups. Finally, welcome to our new Integrated Youth Service worker – Liz – who has already identified a new group of young people to meet with us and share skills. Young people – the future of our community!

Eileen Clegg

Andrew Wins Another Title!

Andrew Lofthouse, aged 18 from Fitton Hill, is taking the world of Muay Thai (Thai Boxing) by storm, under the watchful eye of Assistant Grand Master Kevin Lloyd, at the Siam Camp in Hathershaw, which is a martial arts centre for excellence. In September Andrew added another British Title to his name (the GBMTO British 57kg Title), to add to the 2 titles he already holds (the Nai Khanom Tom World Title which he won in Thailand, and the EMF National Title which he won in February). Andrew has been selected to represent England again next March, so if anyone would like to sponsor him please contact Andrew, or GM Kevin, or the gym directly. Andrews achievements are all the more special, as he also looks after his very ill mother and aunty, and is chairman of the Youth Bank, which helps young people in the area.

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OurTimes

Value For Money

Villages is committed to ensuring that we provide services that tenants feel are both high quality and affordable, and that we ourselves receive goods and services from suppliers and contractors which we consider to be cost effective. We always want to spend the money that we have available in the most appropriate and cost-effective ways. We call this approach ‘Value For Money’ and we have made it a priority for all staff at Villages. So, what is Value For Money? It can mean:

“Getting the SAME for LESS”

For Example: We have secured a £100,000 saving on the cost of gas supplied to the multi-storey blocks. This saving will be passed directly to multis residents as a reduction in their heating service charge of at least 20%, from April 2010, we are minimising the costs to tenants but maximising the service they receive.

“Getting MORE for the SAME”

For Example: On our Kitchen and Bathroom improvement programme, the contractor will be carrying out this year’s improvements at last year’s price, even though costs have gone up for them. This means that with the money we save from not having to pay an increased price to the contractor, we can do more kitchens and bathrooms for the same amount of money.

“Getting MORE by INVESTING for RESULTS”

However, value for money is not just about cutting costs. Sometimes we have to invest more to get more. Example - We have chosen to use a different contractor to carry out our day-to-day repairs in Stockbridge Village and Fitton Hill. Our new contractors are more expensive than the previous contractor we used, but the level of satisfaction amongst tenants has improved significantly. The service we receive is far better, response times have improved, and we now have 100% of our properties with valid gas safety certificates. Villages has encouraged all staff, at every level, to come up with ideas on how we can get Value For Money. The very best of those ideas, which are worthy of implementing, receives a small reward. We believe it is very important to question everything we do and the way we do it. This suggestion scheme has helped us to save over £284,000 since April 2009, from 54 ideas that have been put forward. We would like to involve all of our tenants in trying to get the best value for money that we can. At the tenants’ conference in September, some tenants were asked to join a Value For Money steering group, which will meet every quarter with staff from Villages to identify priorities and come up with ideas on how we can achieve our aim of being a “Low Cost High Performing Organisation”. These tenants will be contacted soon to arrange the first meeting. We’ll be feeding back any developments in future editions of “Our Times”.

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Compliments, Complaints and Suggestions Please feel free to tell us if you think that we or our contractors have let you down. Alternatively, if we or our contractors have done something that has pleased you, we would love to know about it. If you would like to make a suggestion as to how we can improve any aspect of our service to you, please let us know. You can come in to either of the Villages offices and ask for a complaints or compliments/suggestions form or you can call the office and we’ll either post one out to you, or take your complaint over the phone; or log on to our website www.villages.org.uk MORE THAN JUST A LANDLORD WINTER 2009


OurTimes

Shops At The Croft Villages Housing have been working extremely hard over the past 12 months to try and ensure that all the shop units at The Croft are occupied. This has been especially challenging given the current economic climate.

Recipe Veggie Scouse Recipe courtesy of Squash Nutrition INGREDIENTS

In January, Unit 12 which is currently Villages Housing’s Meeting Place, will become the new home for the Stockbridge Village Library whilst Heatwaves is demolished and the new build programme gets underway. A brand new library will be built opening in late 2011.

2 medium onions, sliced 1 tablespoon of olive oil 200g (7oz) mushrooms 225g (8oz) celery 225g (8oz) carrots 225g (8oz) swede or turnip 2 tbsp flour 175g (6oz) split red lentils 60ml (2floz) soy sauce 1 tsp sugar 900ml (1½ pints) vegetable stock 1 bay leaf ¼ tsp dried thyme, ¼ tsp rosemary, ¼ tsp marjoram 3-4 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped freshly ground black pepper

Please continue to support all your local shops and services.

METHOD

We are therefore especially pleased to announce that all the units are now taken and the new Hairdressers and Off-licence are open for business. We listened to your comments about the ability to pay utility bills locally and negotiated with the new off licence to ensure that this facility will be available – so please use the service.

Spot It Jot It!!

1. Slice the onions and fry gently in the oil in a large pan for about 5 minutes - until soft and transparent

At this years tenants’ conference, we witnessed the success of the Street Rep scheme run by The Neighbourhood Team (TNT) which works throughout the Medlock Vale area. To follow on from their good work, Villages want to introduce the SPOT IT JOT IT form. Spot it Jot it is a way for you to report anything that you think needs our attention.

2. Slice the mushrooms and celery, slice the carrots into rounds and dice the swede/turnip and add to the pan

Have you spotted: Graffiti, street lights not working, pot holes in the road, dog mess, damaged walls and fencing rubbish, overgrown gardens, trees and hedges or dumped cars?

4. Add the red lentils, soy sauce, sugar, bay leaf and dried herbs and mix well. Add the hot vegetable stock and bring to the boil

Spot It Jot It

If so, simply jot it down and contact your local housing office to report any issues you find. Spot it Jot it reporting forms are also available from both Fitton Hill and Stockbridge Village offices. With the benefit of your involvement we aim to increase your satisfaction with your home, neighbourhood and the services we provide.

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3. Mix in the flour thoroughly and cook gently for a few minutes

5. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Stir occasionally. Add the parsley just before serving. Season with black pepper to taste. Serve with soda bread or oatcakes

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OurTimes

Mystery Shopping One of the key themes in the status survey was about understanding how you can get more actively involved in designing the services you receive. Whilst tenants wish to be consulted and informed about matters that may affect them, many did not wish to take an active role in housing management and decision-making. We were keen to identify what were the barriers to tenants participating in the decision making progress. Tenants were asked if they would consider a number of methods of becoming involved with the association. Six out of ten residents indicated that their preferred method of involvement was filling in questionnaires (63.3%) and mystery shopping (24.6%). Results were similar across both estates, though there was more appetite for mystery shopping at Fitton Hill,

and Stockbridge Village residents were keener than Fitton Hill residents about focus groups. We have already started to address greater engagement with our tenants, and we hosted our first Tenants Conference at the end of September. The next phase is to train a number of our tenants and residents to be ‘mystery shoppers’ – that means that our tenants and residents pose as normal customers and perform specific tasks—such as requesting a service, asking questions, registering complaints or behaving in a certain way – and then provide detailed reports or feedback about their experiences . Training for tenants took place on 19th and 20th November, in conjunction with Cosmopolitan Housing Association, for both tenants and residents of Fitton Hill and Stockbridge Village, and staff. Once trained, they will focus on a number of service areas to ensure that services are being delivered that conform to our published service standards. We are also keen to engage with tenants and residents who may prefer to get involved in other ways, such as reading groups or focus groups. If you are interested in becoming a mystery shopper or getting involved in any other way, please contact Barbara Murray or Janet Taylor who will be delighted to give you more information.

Community Budget Grants Fitton Hill & Hathershaw Bulldogs ARLFC received Villages sponsorship for the cost of re-spraying their minibus. The bus not only transports the Bulldogs to away matches, it is also made available to other community groups locally. Villages’ logo and those of other sponsors will be sign written onto the van. Stockbridge Village Estate Management Committee have awarded twenty six bids from the Community Budget since April. Ashbury Athletic FC under 12s were so delighted to receive funding in September, for the first time, they asked if they could put the Villages logo on their strip and of course we agreed. The Estate Management Committee is now seeking further assurances from groups applying for funding to pay back in kind. For example, sports groups will be asked to help out with green environmental projects as part of their successful bids for funding.

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OurTimes Dear All,

Stockbridge Boxing Club

SVABC are sincerely grateful for the continued support we receive from all residents of Stockbridge Village to those who came along to the Boxing Show on 10 October at the Huyton Suite, to support our lads; we hope you enjoyed the show. We would like to thank Villages for the sponsorship on the night and thank them for the donation which went towards the trophies and medals. The evening was a tremendous success. Dylan Johnson (Red Head Guard) vs Bradley Strong (Blue Head Guard)

Most of all, ‘Thank you’ to the mums and dads for your continued belief in the club’s commitment to the boxers’ physical & mental wellbeing, and the understanding that without the club, a lot of youths would be doing something far less constructive with their time. This club is a wonderful opportunity for local youths and men & women to train under qualified boxing coaches who have been CRB checked and have a commitment to the estate and its ongoing regeneration.

Another season of boxing has begun, and it is already starting to become apparent that it is going to be another hectic one. We have received confirmation that we have been accepted on to a club ‘Kite Mark’ scheme, which is an award for the best run clubs in Britain. We have been invited to visit Guernsey, in The Channel Isles, to take part in a SVABC v Guernsey Select Squad show. We have boxers who will be defending their titles and some who have the potential to gain several more. Some of our boxers (and coaches) have been chosen to represent Great Britain at the 2012 Olympics. We do not charge an entry/joining fee as this, we believe, will exclude some of the young people who would normally be standing on street corners. More importantly, it would exclude anybody who just wants to get fit through boxing or training and using the equipment and coaching that we provide, free of charge. We have more boxers than we have ever known in recent history and are becoming a force to be reckoned with within the boxing circuit. We will keep you all informed of any events that will be arising in the near future.

Gerry Hill, Club Secretary, SVABC

Give Respect Get Respect RESPECT STANDARD FOR HOUSING MANAGEMENT

In May 2007 Villages ‘signed up’ to the Government’s ‘Respect Standard For Housing Management’. This is our commitment to residents to show that we intend to do all that we reasonably can, working with partners, to provide good services to tackle anti-social behaviour. WHAT IS THE RESPECT STANDARD? The Standard is aimed at social landlords (local authority landlords and housing associations such as Villages). A landlord who signs is MORE THAN JUST A LANDLORD WINTER 2009

making a public commitment to delivering good services to help stop anti-social behaviour and create a culture of respect. It is based on things that landlords and partners have done over the past few years which have had positive results.

role, working with the community, the police and other services. They can help protect communities from anti-social behaviour and can help stop some of it from happening in the first place.

People care when respect is disregarded and too many people still experience anti-social behaviour and feel that little can be done to stop it. A great deal can be done and it works. Social landlords play an important

Villages has now appointed a dedicated Anti-Social Behaviour Officer, Sue Grimmett, please see page 6 for more information.

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OurTimes

Ramblers’ Diary On Saturday 5th September sixteen ramblers took part in a charity walk for CHICS, a charity that helps children with cancer. We walked from Southport to Aintree, a distance of 17 miles with the help of our back-up driver Chris Power and raised £1285. The ramblers would like to thank everybody who supported us and sponsored the walkers, it was a great effort. Well Done!! Also, on the 19th October, Stockbridge Village Ramblers were invited to the Kirkby Suite to the Knowsley Sport and Physical Activity Awards 2009, where we were nominated for the ‘Contribution to Health Award’. There were 15 groups nominated and Stockbridge Village Ramblers won it!!!! The lovely glass trophy was presented to our chairman Jimmy Langton and Tony Carden; this was a great achievement for the ramblers. We have been involved with ‘Walking For Health’ and we help organise the Knowsley Walking Festival. We hope that the trophy will soon be on show in the Villages reception area for all to see. The ramblers would like to take this opportunity to wish all the residents a very Happy Christmas and prosperous new year, and to thank Villages Housing for their support; also Liam and all at St Albert’s who have been there for us. A big thanks to all who have supported us throughout 2009, our club has had another good year with some great walks. Our first walk in the New Year is on 2nd January, hope to see you all there!!! Gwen Osbourne, Secretary, Stockbridge Village Ramblers – 0151 220 5837

New Jobs For Christmas Opening Villages Housing Hours To help support local people into work Villages Housing, working in partnership with Fusion 21, has created 13 new temporary posts through the Future Jobs Fund.

Please note that the Villages Housing Offices will close for the Christmas Period at 3pm on Thursday 24 December (Christmas Eve) re-opening at 9am on Monday 4 January 2010. The rent office will close at 2.15pm on Christmas Eve.

The posts are based in the Stockbridge office and include four admin based jobs in finance, initiatives, landscaping and community development, eight external estate orderly jobs which will help us improve both the general environment and our properties, and an extra position has been created within the Landscaping Team.

If you need to report an emergency repair then please contact (for Fitton Hill) Premier Heating on 0161 303 3800 for gas heating and boiler emergencies or Jackson Lloyd on 0845 389 7247 for emergency repairs; and for Stockbridge Village please contact KHT Services on 0151 290 7375 for emergency repairs or call them on 0151 290 7000 for emergency heating (gas) repairs.

We hope that the new posts not only help the participants to improve their future job opportunities, but also improve our service delivery to our residents.

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The Board, Estate Management Committees and staff would like to wish all residents

“A happy and safe Christmas and New Year”. MORE THAN JUST A LANDLORD WINTER 2009


OurTimes

Christmas at Villages Santa Visits Villages

All things Christmassy came to Fitton Hill during the week of 7th December. The Tenants Forum members, with help from the Fitton Hill landscape team, decorated reception and kitted out a Grotto for Father Christmas to visit. The ‘big man’ himself was there on 4 different afternoons with youngsters, ranging from tiny to age 10, who visited him for a photograph and a present. It was also the week of Villages pantomime performance for local school children (Mother Goose this year), and the New Deal for Communities (NDC) Christmas tree switch on at Fitton Hill, followed by festive activities at the Honeywell Centre. Santa will be visiting Villages Housing’s Stockbridge Office on Monday 14th December, Tuesday 15th December and Wednesday 16th December from 2pm to 4pm. For just £3 you can have your photo taken with Santa and receive a gift from him too!!! We recommend that only children under 12 years of age come to see Santa, and all children must be accompanied by an adult.

It’s Behind You!!!

The Villages Annual pantomime for young pupils at our local schools went down a storm on Tuesday 8th December in the SPACE building. Screams of "BEHIND YOU, BEHIND YOU" must have been heard for miles as children enjoyed Hurricane Productions’ version of “Mother Gosse and The Magical Golden Egg”.

Community Carol Concert

Once again the community came out in force to celebrate the start of the festive season and enjoy, yet again, fantastic performances from all our local schools of familiar and totally unusual versions of traditional Christmas Carols. We were lucky to be joined again this year by George Howarth MP and the Mayor and Mayoress of Knowsley. It was the first concert for Father Ferry the new parish priest at St Albert’s and we do hope he enjoyed it as much as everyone else. A special well done and thank you to all the children who represented our schools.

Tree of Hope

The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation is the only charity in the UK wholly dedicated to defeating lung cancer. Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer death amongst British men and women. This Christmas Villages will be supporting this charity and would very much like your help. We are planning to have a ‘Tree of Hope’ in our reception areas. To raise funds we are asking staff and customers to write a message on a brightly coloured gift tag (supplied by Villages) and decorate the tree by placing it on one of the branches. Messages can be festive wishes or a way of remembering a lost loved one at Christmas, with a suggested £1 donation for each gift tag. Every penny you raise for the foundation will be spent to help achieve the aim of defeating lung cancer and making a difference to the lives of so many people. If you’d like to place a tag on our tree, please ask at your reception for the gift tag. MORE THAN JUST A LANDLORD WINTER 2009

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OurTimes

Quiz Page

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Sudoku Corner

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Fill the grid with numbers 1 to 9 so that every row, every column and every 3x3 box contains the digits 1-9, without repeating any numbers. Congratulations to Barbara Wilson who won the Autumn Sudoku quiz.

Brain Teaser

My daughter has many sisters. She has as many sisters as she has brothers. Each of her brothers has twice as many sisters as brothers. How many sons and daughters do I have?

Hints & Tips

• To remove the strong odour of onions from your hands, hold a stainless steel spoon in your hand while running water and rub your hands as though the spoon were soap.

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StockVille The Villages Penguin

In the last edition of ‘Our Times’ we told you about how Villages have sponsored a Penguin as part of the ‘Winter’s Trail’ of penguins in Liverpool City Centre. Over 100 five-foot tall penguins went on display across the city from 22nd November and will be there until 10 January.

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Villages’ penguin was designed by local residents from Stockbridge Village, including toddlers, school children and pensioners, in a design to reflect the past, present and future of Stockbridge Village. The staff at Villages voted on what to name our penguin, and they chose “StockVille”. StockVille will be spending Christmas and New Year in Liverpool One, on Paradise Street. We have decided to run a competition. We want you to go on the hunt for our penguin and tell us “How Many Mini Penguins Are There on StockVille?” Send your answer to Elena Lloyd at the Stockbridge Office for your chance to win some fabulous penguin prizes!! Make sure you provide your name, address and a contact number. The closing date is Tuesday 12 January 2010. Good Luck!!!!

Also, why not send in photos of you with StockVille and we’ll put them on the notice board in reception?

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MORE THAN JUST A LANDLORD WINTER 2009


OurTimes FITTON HILL

What’s On & Where

STOCKBRIDGE VILLAGE

Citizens advice Every other Friday 9am- 12pm. - villages housing office

Citizens advice Tuesdays and Thursdays 10am 12.30pm, Villages Housing Office

27 December 11am - family friendly film club A series of films and animations suitable for the under 7s

Roughsedge House Community Centre 17th December, 11am, Communion Service 18th December, 12-4pm, Christmas party - for all residents of Stockbridge Village, free 3-course meal, buffet and entertainment

20 December 11am- 3pm Festive craft making workshop with face painting 17 December 7.30pm Oldham Chronicle Festival Of Carols The Parish Church Oldham Call Chronicle Promotions on 0161 622 2130 for details Saturday 19 December Guess who’s coming to town? Keep your eyes peeled as Oldham Town Centre will be welcoming lots of Christmas characters and musicians on to the streets between 11am and 3pm, including Chinese Lion Dancers, a jazz band and Crazy Cossacks. Saturday 19 December Country Christmas 11am - 3pm at Lymefield Visitor Centre - Drop In “Deck The Halls” by making a seasonal wreath and tree decorations, all from natural materials. Donations towards materials. Sunday 3rd January Moors and Mills Meander Drive away those hangovers and winter blues on a five mile walk with Paul Nethercroft. 11 am at The Copley Centre, Huddersfield Road, Stalybridge SK15 3ET (4hours) Thursday 18 February Nature’s Calendar A family friendly walk to map and discover nature’s changes through the seasons. Groups please book. 1pm at Lymefield Visitor centre, 2 hours Sunday 7 March Mottram Hill A moderate four mile walk linking hilltop and valley 1pm at Lymefield Visitor centre, 2 hours

17 December, 5pm - 7pm Father Christmas and His Real Reindeer Fill your children with festive cheer with a visit to Father Christmas and his reindeer in Clayton Square, Liverpool. 17 - 23 December Carols at The Phil: The Spirit of Christmas Join us for our annual celebration of all things festive, a mouth watering spread of Yuletide music old and new. And of course, the whole family can join in with the carols! Accompanied by RLPO. Liverpool Philharmonic Hall www.liverpoolphil.com 5 - 21 December Liverpool Christmas Market The Christmas market arrives in Whitechapel, Lord Street and Paradise Street. Find festive treats from German sausage to mulled wine or pick up special gifts for Christmas. 2 - 3 January The Wizard of Oz: The Film with Live Music First performed in the UK by the Phil two years ago, and back by popular demand, you’ll never forget hearing those glorious songs performed live, with the classic movie, by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. Liverpool Philharmonic Hall www.liverpoolphil.com Why not see what’s happening in the Space building next to St. Brigid’s school? They have lots of activities for all age groups, so for more information on the Space Building call 0151 477 8586.

Do you have an event you would like us to promote in ‘Our Times’ or on our website or in our reception areas? If so, call Elena Lloyd on 0151 480 1313 or email elena.lloyd@villages.org.uk

MORE THAN JUST A LANDLORD WINTER 2009

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OurTimes

Skip Dates The Skips will be sited on Thursdays, early morning, and removed around lunch time or when they’re full. Please note the skip service cannot take fridges, freezers, gas bottles or tyres. For free removal of these items phone Knowsley Contract Services on 0151 443 2400, or Oldham Council on 0161 770 6644 . Thank You.

STOCKBRIDGE VILLAGE

FITTON HILL Rosary Road (opposite No 66) (grassed central area)

17 December and 11 March

Woodpark Close (to the side of No 60)

7 January and 18 March

To rear of 180 Round Hey - 17 December and 25 March Car park opposite 8-10 Plumtree Close

7 January

Rosewood Close

14 January

Cliffs Car Park

21 January

Car Park to rear of 328 Boode Croft

28 January

Car Park adjacent to 135 Boode Croft

4 February

Fold View (on the grass across from The Ace)

14 January and 25 March

Snipe Road & Bankfield Drive (grassed area at the junction)

21 January

Dowry Street (on the car park)

28 January

St Cuthberts Church, Tanners Fold (in the grounds of the Church)

4 February

Sportsmans Drive (in the parking bay on the left)

11 February

Car park 3 /4 Spruce Grove/ 53 Brandearth Hey 11 March

Reins Lea Avenue

18 February

Southcroft (grassed central area)

25 February

Car Park on corner between 33 / 34 The Spinney 18 March

Wildbrook Crescent (car park to front of Nos 59-85)

4 March

Fitton Hill Address: 2 Fircroft Road, Fitton Hill, Oldham, OL8 2QN Tel: 0161 633 4060 Fax: 0161 628 5920

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Car park opposite cul de sac Hollow Croft 11 February Car park opposite 93 Custley Hey/ 64 Woodfarm Hey 18 February Car park adjacent to open space Marled Hey 4 March

Contact Details email: info@villages.org.uk Website: www.villages.org.uk

Stockbridge Village Address: 16 The Croft, Stockbridge Village, Knowsley, Merseyside, L28 1NR Tel: 0151 480 1313 Fax: 0151 480 5189

MORE THAN JUST A LANDLORD WINTER 2009


Winter 2009 Our Times