Wishing you a very happy Christmas and New Year
YOUR QUARTERLY MAGAZINE FROM FAMILY MOSAIC
GETTING ON TOP OF YOUR FUEL BILLS ENERGY SAVING TIPS q see pages 4 and 5
SAVE ON THE RENT 3
Cheap calls package
LIFETIME ADVENTURE 8
Last call for DoE award
WE'RE TRULY SORRY 11 Repairs line apology
WINTER 2013 1
editorial we can...
FILL THE GAP
CRACKDOWN ON TENANCY FRAUD
Why have we made this an energy saving special? We think it very likely that in recent months you’ll have seen news headlines or had a letter from your energy company warning of a leap in energy prices. Most of us are already thinking hard about how to use less energy in a bid to cut our energy bills. Unless you’re on a very good income, the rising cost of energy is going to hurt. So we hope the advice and steps set out on pages three and four will help you stay warm without breaking the bank.
The type of property you live in affects your energy use. We may not be able to move you to a highly insulated new house but you can make small changes that add up to a big cut in your bills. We are also doing a lot to improve energy inefficient homes, like putting in insulation through our affordable warmth programme. We all know that turning the central heating temperature dial up to the max and leaving it on for 24 hours will use a lot of energy and cost a fair bit of money.
inside this issue 4, 5 KEEPING WARM
PHOTO CREDIT: C0VER SHOT - CHARLOTTE SEXTON, EDITORIAL PORTRAIT - PAUL SANDERS
A special new service to help cut your fuel bills double page feature
Last call for this year's intake of young people doing the prestigious Duke of Edinburgh Award
9 FINDING WORK
Read how Hanzel came first in a tough race to train as a sports coach
AMAZING WORK AND TRAINING OFFERS! STREET TEAM
Get work experience the fun way with our Youth Academy street team
STUCK AT HOME
Find out your best options for securing a move to a new home
6, 7 Local news and events
The employment team has a whole host of tried and tested offers for those of you out looking for work or training
CONNECTIONS GOES ONLINE
Service switch gets off to a shaky start - but we're pulling the stops out to do better
HOME INSURANCE Special deal on offer through our trade body
Energy saving special
With this edition of Connections we are launching a website so you can read all the latest news and features online. www.familymosaicconnections.co.uk
But what about small things that will save money? Like making sure curtains are closed; not keeping appliances on standby; or turning the oven off five minutes before your food is ready. My house is 100 years old and it’s nice having a home with history but it sure gets cold in winter. Having four daughters who leave doors open and lights on doesn't help either, so I’ll be doing everything I can to cut my bills this winter! BRENDAN SARSFIELD CHIEF EXECUTIVE
GOVERNMENT GETS TOUGH ON SUBLETTING In October a new law was passed - The Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013. The law has made it a criminal offence to sublet a social home, like ours. We have just come to the end of a two-month amnesty which we offered to give any tenants subletting their home time to hand back their keys without consequences. The amnesty is now over.
If you are still subletting you could face prosecution and a criminal conviction. You would lose the property, get two years in prison and be fined up to £50,000. You are subletting if you have moved out of your Family Mosaic home and are letting someone else live there - even a relative - in exchange for money.
Our fraud check system recently identified a property in Stockwell that it thought was being sublet. We visited the two bedroom flat, without prior warning, where we met a person who told us his landlord was a person we identified as our tenant’s brother. The man had no idea he was living in a Family Mosaic flat. He had rented it through an advert in Gumtree and was paying nearly £800 a month to our tenant’s brother. More checks revealed other names linked to the flat over the years. We also found that our tenant owned another property. The case went to court and we have taken the flat back.
TALK, TEXT, SAVE ON THE RENT ... AND WIN £250
CONNECTIONS IS YOUR MAGAZINE
A new deal we've signed with allpay Mobile means you can get cheap texts and calls while saving money on your rent. To sign up, all you need do is: ●● Go to www.allpaymobile. net and register your details
Connections is written for you, to tell you about changes to services and local news. We are looking for people to contribute their ideas, write articles and take photos of interesting things in their community. If you’re interested, contact the editor at charlotte.sexton@ familymosaic.co.uk or call Charlotte J020 7089 1140. If you would like to get Connections by email, or not at all, please let us know!
Once you've registered, your SIM card will arrive in the post. Pop it in your handset then topup online, by phone or at a Post Office, PayPoint or Payzone. Each time you top-up, a 10% loyalty reward will go towards your rent account, appearing on your balance in April. And if you join before Christmas, you could be entered into a draw for £250 of Love2shop vouchers.
RENT DRAW WINNERS The following tenants have won £250 each following our quarterly draw of all tenants who make sure their rent account stays in credit. South: Ms Hayden, SE15 East: Miss James, E6 Essex: Miss Collins, CO2 North/west: Mr Dooley, N19
FRAUD CHECK UNCOVERS SCAM
Mirca Morera on
keeping warm NOT FEELING THE HEAT? HOW TO SPEND LESS, USE LESS, AND STAY WARM 4
This winter edition of Connections launches our new campaign to help you spend less, use less and still stay warm. Look out for the campaign pack coming your way soon, bringing information and details of how to get your free gift
MAKE THE SWITCH
HOME HEAT HELPLINE
With the big six energy firms set to put up their prices this winter, you could get lower bills just by switching your gas and electricity to a cheaper provider using our online fuel switching portal. We'll even give you £15 if you make the switch! Our independent fuel switching portal is free and could cut up to £176 a year from your fuel bills. All you need to do is pick the
best deal for you then sit back and wait. Your new supplier will soon get in touch to tell you when your new service will start. Just find your last electricity or gas bill then call q01259 220 170 or go to www.energylinx. co.uk/energy/familymosaic You'll be asked for your postcode and our energy advisers will do the rest. They will even take care of all the paperwork for you.
If our service doesn't solve your fuel bill worries, the Home Heat Helpline can give free help and advice on paying bills and keeping warm. And it can tell you if you qualify for help paying your fuel bills. Call free on q0800 33 66 99 or go to www. homeheathelpline.org.uk
I have unpaid debt on my gas or electricity account. Can I still switch?
I’m on a card meter. Can I still switch?
Yes, you may be able to save on your current tariff. If you're on a standard prepay, you probably pay too much. Choose the prepayment option on the website or call our energy advisers on q01259 220 170 to talk through your options.
I don’t trust the energy companies – how will I know if I'll save any money?
If you have never before switched your gas or electricity supplier, you will almost certainly save money by switching. Our energy advisers will talk you through it,and they'll explain how much you could save.
If you owe less than £500, you can still switch supplier. Call our energy advisers on q01259 220 170 to chat about your options.
I switched before and was told said I’d save but my bills were no lower.
It sounds odd but you can save money even if your bills go up. If energy prices go up 20% but you only pay 10% more, then you are paying much less than you would have if you hadn't switched.
Should I get advice from my existing supplier?
No, no, no. We want to find the cheapest rate for you, which may be with another provider.
Can I save money?
Yes! Just choose this option on the website or when you call our energy advisers on q01259 220 170.
What’s in this for Family Mosaic?
Nothing at all! We just want you to be paying the cheapest possible amount for energy for your home.
I’m worried I'll get a worse service with a less well known supplier.
A 2012 survey by consumer magazine Which showed that, for customer satisfaction, the small providers are streets ahead of the 'big 6' energy suppliers. Npower was worst of the lot, with a customer satisfaction score of just 39%. So switch today!
Any questions? Send an email to us at email@example.com
PUTTING OUR ADVICE TO THE REALITY TEST
Nikki, 35 lives on her own in a modern block of flats. She has a long–term illness so benefits are her main income, and rising energy prices are a worry. Here we analyse Nikki’s lifestyle and energy use to see how we think she'll save money
Nikki’s flat is double glazed, with insulated walls so is already energy efficient. But she is still using the energy firm that supplied the flat when she moved in. Another supplier might offer a cheaper rate. So we’ve asked Nikki to call the fuel switching portal (see left).
Abena, above, goes through Nikki’s bills with her and finds that Nikki isn’t sure what everything on her bills means. This is quite common. The graphs and language energy companies use can be confusing. Nikki spends about £50 on gas every three months. But her supplier is guessing what she’s used. Abena realises that Nikki is paying for more than she uses. Find out if we've saved Nikki money in the next Connections.
THERMOSTAT COMPETITION Look out for details of an energy saving pack offering even more energy saving tips, a free gift and details of The Big Thermostat competition – and your chance to win £200. Make sure you’re one of the first to hear about it! To sign up call q020 7089 1049 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
COMING SOON! Our affordable warmth programme will soon be coming to Haringey, Hackney, and Islington. If you live in one of these boroughs there'll be more information coming your way soon.
TOP TIPS FOR LOWER WINTER FUEL BILLS ●● Keep your thermostat turned down to
between 18 and 21˚C. Try it for a week - every degree lower could save you £35 on your annual heating bill. ●● Close curtains and blinds at night to keep heat in. This could save up to £20 a year. ●● Never cover radiators and don't put sofas or other furniture in front of them. It makes them 30% less efficient and wastes heat. ●● Fitting special radiator foil behind radiators reflects heat back into the room and makes the radiator more efficient. The foil tears less easily than cooking foil and comes in a kit with two-sided tape.
from north/west London
PRUNING SHEARS AND ELBOW GREASE
YOUTH ACADEMY KEEPS YOUNG - AND NOT SO YOUNG – BUSY!
International summit: Kay celebrates her 100th birthday with her son from Canada, and granddaughter and grandchildren all the way from Hawaii
Our Youth Academy usually works with our younger residents so team leader Reg Amoah was a little bit taken aback by an unusual request last summer.
Hard workers: our young volunteers taking a welcome break One of our older Islington tenants was delighted to get her overgrown garden cleared up over the summer, with the work carried out by young volunteers from Greenwich and Islington.
The young people are some of the many Family Mosaic tenants of all ages who have signed up to our Mind the Gap project. Helping them out on the day were neighbourhood managers and project workers from Greening Communities. The team started bright and early and worked solidly throughout the day, with just a brief stop for pizza at lunchtime. Joy Andries loves her garden but is finding it increasingly hard to keep the weeds under control. It has now been returned to some of its former glory and Joy called us the next day to say thank
you very much to everyone who had helped tidy it up. Our Mind the Gap project unites Family Mosaic customers across the generations. Islington support worker Melissa Vidal said: ‘Projects like this are an invaluable addition to our service. It was a great day. I’m really so proud we could be a part of it.’
‘But what about us grown ups?’ Adelaide Wharf resident Nana asked Reg. Reg was on the estate to get video feedback on summer activities for young people that had been organised for the estate by the Youth Academy. Nana’s question sparked a long conversation that led to Reg referring Nana to our employment team. A couple of months later, and after a few appointments with one of our employment coaches, Ren, we put Nana in touch with a recruitment agency for hospital cleaners. The agency was impressed by Nana and we’re delighted to say that she now has a full-time, permanent job at Whittingdon hospital in Archway.
Room to breathe: Joy’s garden, before and after the clean up
CELEBRATING A FIRST CENTURY! Feet were tapping at Chelsea Court recently to mark the 100th birthday of much loved neighbour Kay The older people’s scheme on Chelsea Embankment overlooks the river Thames, making it the perfect location for an important celebration. Long standing friend Shirley planned a party, helped in part by a generous donation from Kensington & Chelsea Council’s City Living Local Life fund. Janita made delicious spring rolls and Peter put on a tape of old dance hall classics to get partygoers up and dancing. Kay has seen many changes in her lifetime, from two world wars, to the now widespread use of computers and mobile phones. In her 13 years at Chelsea Court she has made a lot of friends, and
Family and friends...
many turned out for the party – and a chance to be snapped with their local celebrity! The big surprise for many guests was finding out Kay’s great age. Kay stays young by rarely sitting down and remaining independent and active. Royal greeting! Several generations of Kay’s family also turned up for the day. Her son flew in from Canada and her granddaughter and great grandchildren travelled all the way from Hawaii. Chelsea Court residents clubbed together to present Kay with a framed telegram and photo from the Queen (pictured, right) and a voucher for a day ... and good friend Sh irley out in London with her family.
GET WORK EXPERIENCE - YOUTH ACADEMY STREET TEAM OFFER!
Clued up: young tenant Nickelle, left, who worked with our street team over the summer break
THE ADVENTURE BEGINS FOR NEW DoE RECRUITS Our Youth Academy team has been signing up young people from across London and Essex to take part in the Duke of Edinburgh Award The award has three levels: bronze, silver and gold, with those gaining gold invited to Buckingham Palace to pick up their award. The Duke of Edinburgh award is highly valued by employers who see it as proof
that you are committed and have a broad range of skills and interests. So far 38 young people have taken up the challenge, 32 at bronze level and six at silver. Over the next six months they will enjoy regular
If you are aged 14 to 24 and would like to join Kweku and Ellen, get in touch. You'll get help from our youth workers and bursary funding. We’re running expedition planning sessions at Go Ape in London and Stubbers in Essex over the February half-term so make sure you sign up before then!
Over the summer, young tenant Nickelle MorganScott, pictured, helped us keep on top of the admin for our summer programme. Nickelle also us gave a welcome helping hand at our community events, along with other street team members. Would you too like to work with the Youth Academy street team? If you're aged between 16 and 21 and want some work experience, we need help promoting our activities and events. During busy times we could also do with some extra office support. If you’re interested in joining our street team, send an email to Rico.Coombs@ familymosaic.co.uk or call/text Rico on q07931 551 647 with your contact details. physical activity, learn new skills and will volunteer for good causes. At the end they get to plan and go on an exciting expedition. Kweku, 18, from Chelmsford is volunteering with our Get Connected project, helping older people learn about computers. For physical activity he has joined a gym and the skill he's learning is gliding. Ellen, 15, from Edgware is volunteering at an under-12s youth club, doing aerobics as her physical activity and learning football as her skill.
To find out more send your youth worker your contact details. If you live in: ESSEX: email reg.amoah@familymosaic. co.uk or call/text 07852 554 736 LONDON: email Rico.coombs@family mosaic.co.uk or call/text 07961 385 895
PART OF THE WINNING TEAM A chance comment from a woman being helped by our employment team that her son was also out of work has had a very happy outcome. Hanzel's mother said her son's situation was causing both of them stress and frustration. We invited him to meet employment coach Will. Will learned that Hanzel was very keen to work locally and with children. Will's suggestion that he apply for a job as a sports coach with sports mentors BADU Sports ticked all the right boxes. But first Hanzel had to pass Badu's tough three-stage interview. Despite being the youngest and having the least experience, Hanzel breezed through the first two stages.
For stage three he was asked to prepare and oversee a 10-minute game for some children, winning praise for both his presentation style and enthusiasm. Oh, and he got the position! Since joining BADU, Hanzel has thrived, recently taking 40 children to Devon for a packed week of sports mentoring and activities. Hanzel says: 'Being unemployed was rough, with lots of ups and downs. A lot of the time I was just loitering. Now, with help from the employment team, I feel independent and positive about the future.'
TAKE UP A PAID APPRENTICESHIP
OPENINGS IN CHILDCARE
BECOME YOUR OWN BOSS
Are you aged 16 and 24 and interested in getting paid work experience in an office or in the housing sector? If so we want to hear from you. We’ve got some exciting apprenticeship opportunities with Family Mosaic, in our IT, property services, housing management and corporate services teams.
A few months ago we advertised a chance to qualify free in childcare. Lots of you got in touch and are now working towards formal qualification. It was so popular, we're planning more. Does becoming a childminder or offering nursery care or after school services interest you? We'll offer support while you qualify and we'll even help you set up your own business.
Do you have a great business idea but aren't sure how to turn your dream into a reality? In the new year we'll be running a start your own business boot camp. Offering a structured programme run by leading business experts, demand is set to be high - so register quickly!
BE PART OF A WINNING TEAM
Hanzel is one of five of our young people now working with BADU. If you have passion for sports, like working with young people and are interested in sports coaching, call us on q020 7089 1345.
EMPLOYMENT BOOT CAMP SUCCESSES! Over the past year over 100 of you have signed up to Family Mosaic’s employment boot camp, with a hefty 40% going on to find work. We're planning more boot camps, and we'll also be running youth employment boot camps, throughout 2014/15.
For information on any of these opportunities, call the employment team on J020 7089 1345 or email email@example.com
ITCHING TO MOVE HOME? 10
SWAP YOUR HOME For most of you, the best way to move is by a mutual exchange. We are already completing more swaps than transfers. We also have a dedicated mutual exchange officer who can help you use the Homeswapper scheme and find the best possible swap. Once you find a swap you like, please make sure the swap is right for you and your family. We now have a cancellation charge of £100 for tenants who change their mind about a swap after we have visited your home to check its condition. www.homeswapper.co.uk
HOUSING MOVES Recent comments made by our tenants who swapped home:
“We did a three-way swap using your website. It was much easier than we imagined and was done and dusted within six weeks. Brilliant! Thank you Homeswapper for changing my life.” “It was simple and straight-forward.” “I was able to swap with someone from the same housing association, which made the swap even easier. Thank you for this site which helped me to find the right house for me.”
Don’t forget Housing Moves, which is there to help you move to another home in a different London borough. You will get priority for Housing Moves if you are moving to a smaller home (downsizing) or you need to move for a work reason. www.housingmoves.org
Back in October the law changed so you can now be taken to court if you move out of your home and sublet it to anyone else.
TRANSFER POLICY CHANGES: AN UPDATE
ESCAPE THE CITY: MAKE A FRESH START
In the last edition of Connections we told you about big changes up ahead in the way we deal with transfer requests.
Interested in moving out of London? We are thinking of joining a new scheme called Homefinder UK, which offers social housing tenants ways to move to other parts of the UK, mainly outside London and south east England. We want to know how many of you might be interested before we decide. Find out more at www. homefinderuk.org Tell us what you think at www.surveymonkey. com/s/homefinderuk, open until 12 January. Five lucky tenants who take part will win a £10 Argos gift voucher.
●● From February 2014 we will no longer
register tenants on our transfer list unless they have very urgent needs. ●● From October 2015 we will cancel all existing transfer applications in Bands B and C.
We consulted applicants already on our transfer list between September and November about some other changes due to take place in April 2014. A summary of all the responses we got to the consultation is available on our website. www.familymosaic.co.uk/changing-your-home
CALLING THE CUSTOMER CARE LINE...
JUST DIAL ✆ 0300 123 3456 » THEN PRESS 2 OPEN 8AM-8PM ● MONDAYS TO FRIDAYS OPEN SATURDAY MORNINGS ● 9AM-1PM
CUSTOMER CARE LINE DELAYS
WE'RE SORRY Back in August our customer care line took on responsibility for answering your repairs calls. These calls had been handled by our repairs contractors. We have 24,000 properties so this was a huge task to take on. But we did it because, even if it may not seem like it now, we think in the long term you'll get a better service. We prepared for the change by recruiting and training a lot of new staff, starting in May this year. There was a lot to learn for new and existing staff. All had to get to understand some complex repairs and maintenance issues. They also had to get to grips with a new IT system.
The volume of repairs we have since had reported by telephone and by email has far exceeded our expectations. As a result, our call waiting times have suffered. We are making the situation better by taking on extra staff, improving our IT systems and learning much more about repairs matters. We are truly sorry for any inconvenience the delays over these past few months have caused. We would like to thank you all for your patience during these frustrating times. We want to reassure you that we are doing all we can to cut call waiting times and are confident you will see a steady improvement.
SPECIAL DEAL: LOW COST HOME CONTENTS INSURANCE Our trade body, the National Housing Federation has a special low cost home contents insurance scheme for housing association tenants. We’ve signed up to it so you can apply.
WHEN'S BEST TO CALL… Our call centre is open from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday and also 9am to 1pm on Saturday. Early mornings, especially Mondays, continue to be extremely busy. If the repair you are calling about is not an emergency it is best to avoid these times.
10 000 repairs calls answered in November
FIND OUT MORE
My Home contents insurance offers a fortnightly premium starting at just £1.45, covering goods worth a minimum of £9,000 (if you’re under 60) or £6,000 (if you’re 60 or older).
●● call My Home on lo-call q0845
337 2463 or q01628 586 189
●● ask a My Home rep to call you
by filling in the slip below
●● email the same information
asked for on the slip below to Myhome@jltgroup.com
MY HOME PLUS POINTS
I am a Family Mosaic tenant and would like one of the My Home Team to call me to discuss home contents insurance cover and costs.
●● no minimum security rules ●● no excess – you don’t pay
the first part of a claim ●● covers freezer contents, loss and theft of keys ●● contents left in the open and contents of sheds and garages covered as standard ●● optional add-ons such as cover away from your home
Address: Postcode: Phone number:
Preferred call time:
pm (please ✓)
60 or over (please ✓)
The National Housing Federation My Home Contents Scheme is a product name arranged and administered on behalf of the National Housing Federation by Thistle Tenant Risks. A trading style of Thistle Insurance Services Limited. Lloyd’s Broker. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Please note your call maybe recorded to maintain a quality service.The information provided on this form along with any other related data will be held by Thistle Insurance Services Ltd (TISL) and/or its agents. The details provided may also be used to update our records and those of companies associated to Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group plc, so that we may provide you from time to time with information or details of events, services or products which we think may be of interest to you. By providing the information on this form, you will be indicating your consent to receiving messages from us unless you have indicated an objection to receiving such messages by ticking the box to the right.
Post the slip (no stamp needed) to Thistle Tenant Risks, FREEPOST RTEH-ZGA-KLGY, Oakwood, Grove Park Ind Estate, Waltham Road, White Waltham, Maidenhead SL6 3LW
Staying in touch with us General needs housing or leasehold enquiries: Customer care line q0300 123 3456, option 2 CustomerCareLine@familymosaic.co.uk Open 8am to 8pm weekdays, 9am to 1pm Saturdays
G M R
Report repairs 24 hours a day: www.familymosaic.co.uk or q0300 123 3456, option 1 If you live in London press 1 ● If you live in Essex press 2 Head office Albion House, 20 Queen Elizabeth St, SE1 2RJ q020 7089 1000 www.familymosaic.co.uk Essex office Pembroke House, Northlands Pavement, Pitsea SS13 3DU q01268 498 500 Care and support London q020 7089 1000 ● Essex q01268 498 500 Welfare rights officers To speak to a welfare rights officer call the customer care line on q0300 123 3456, option 2 or call your local adviser: north and west London q020 7089 1323 south and east London q020 7089 1187 Hackney and Essex q01268 498 563
Just for fun, we've hidden 18 words about energy efficiency in our wordsearch. See how quickly you can find them
Employment team q020 7089 1345
We believe that having a good job and gaining new skills makes people happier, healthier and wealthier. We believe that given access to the right support, guidance and opportunities, people can achieve their full potential.
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Call centre: longer opening hours
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