your quarterly magazine from family mosaic
lend your voice read why on pages 4-6
SPRING 2014 1
editorial we can...
lend your voice 2
Why should you lend your voice? I was recently speaking with some politicians about some of the ways in which the needs of older people are not met. What was clear from the discussion was that older people are influential. They have strong influence over public decisions. They are listened to. Their voices and concerns are listened to more so than those of other groups. Why is that so?
Because older people are known to use their vote in elections. Politicians and journalists call this the ‘grey vote’. I think it is great that older people's needs are high up the political agenda, but what about the young, people with disabilities and social housing tenants? I would argue that political parties - all of them - do not fairly represent these groups simply because these groups are less
inside this issue 4, 5, 6
lend your voice
Local round-up from down your way
photo credit: c0ver shot - charlotte Sexton, EDITORIAL portrait - paul SANDERS
Be heard Don't be a voice in the dark - important reasons why you should use your right to vote
turning point Fresh out of our youth boot camp, 22-year-old Susan spreads the word
moving in, moving out Our new service can help lessen the strain of moving
Repairs line Making progress
solving complaints Change of tactics puts focus on solutions
part of the family Take an active role in our caring, sharing community, suggests tenant board member Keith Clancy
Look out for...
clear the way Qualify as a gardener with us and we'll throw in paid work experience
spot the difference! The eyes have it
Information will shortly be coming through your door about joining our independent resident scrutiny panel. See also page 6 for how to contact the panel by email if you are interested in joining.
likely to cast their vote than older people, able-bodied people and home owners. Times are hard, with further government cuts being planned. Whatever your views, we think it is critical that your voice is heard nationally, locally and within Family Mosaic. You may only have one vote but, together, our voices can be heard. Brendan Sarsfield Chief Executive
connections is your magazine
neighbour You don't need to have watched Australian soap opera Neighbours to recognise its theme tune. Everybody does indeed need good neighbours so it's sad that growing numbers of people have never spoken to their neighbours. We think neighbours who know and look out for each other are one of the keys to a healthy, happy community. So we want to
celebrate the good neighbours out there! We'll give £150 in vouchers to the neighbour judged 'best', with prizes for the runner-ups. Has your neighbour supported you or others at a time of need? Maybe they have started a local project that benefited all of you. Or maybe something else makes them a great neighbour. If that's the case, we want to hear!
Nominate a neighbour, telling us why you think they deserve to win our competition. Email or write to Connections editor Charlotte Sexton at email@example.com or Albion House, 20 Queen Elizabeth Street, London SE1 2RJ
Connections is written just for you, to tell you about changes to your services and local news. We are always looking for people to contribute ideas, write news or features or take photos of things of interest in your local community. If you’re interested in contributing to Connections, contact editor Charlotte Sexton by email at charlotte.sexton @familymosaic.co.uk or call Charlotte on J020 7089 1140.
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 P Vaughan, SW6 East: Ms Y Easton, E8 Essex: Miss S Lucy, SS15 North/west: Mrs Clarke, NW11
refund was your benefit cut in error?
In January, the government announced that some of the people now paying the bedroom tax should have been exempt due to an error made drafting the rules. Housing benefit was in some cases wrongly underpaid to people claiming the benefit.
Were you wrongly taxed?
You may have been wrongly told to pay the bedroom tax if you: ●● are below pension age ●● have lived at the same address since 1 January 1996 ●● have claimed housing benefit without a break since then. Your housing benefit should have been paid in full for all but four weeks last year, between April 2013 and 2 March 2014. You may also be due a bedroom tax refund if you took over a housing benefit claim from: ●● a partner or family member who had died ●● a former partner following a relationship breakdown. If any of the above apply to you then all the money cut from your housing benefit since April 2013 should be paid back into your rent account.
If you would like to get Connections by email, or not at all, please let us know!
Rent draw winners
In just one year we have backed the community champions of 14 fantastic projects, with more coming up. Hackney resident Chiho, above right, who started a now thriving after school club and is now taking the next step of registering with Ofsted. We're also awarding medals to those who finish our special training course in community action, agreed with tenant participation experts TPAS and run by the Chartered Institute of Housing. We are repeating the course so if you’re interested or have an idea that will make a difference to your community, get in touch for a chat with Tobi Wilson on q020 3544 9427, n07852 259 629 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The government corrected the errors allowing these loopholes in early March so as of 31 March you will again be liable for the tax. Your local council will be checking its records and may contact you if it thinks a mistake has been made. If you think you may be entitled to a bedroom tax refund, we can help you ask the council to review your housing benefit claim. Please call the customer care line on 0300 123 3456 and ask to speak to a welfare rights adviser.
special feature lend your voice
be heard 4
priced out In London and the south east, especially, many people are having to pay rents they cannot afford and a whole generation has been priced out of buying a home. For decades, when opinion pollsters have asked people their priorities, housing has always been close to the bottom of the list. Arguably, this may have led to fewer homes being built.
leaders, from MPs' expenses to much-too-close relationships with news media bosses. It hasn't done a lot to boost our faith in politics. But here’s a thought. If you feel powerless now, by not voting you have even less power. If you think your vote doesn’t matter, you’re wrong. Here's why. Politicians need voters. If they lose the support of people who vote, they have no power. There are few votes lost by upsetting people who won't or rarely vote. That is: young people, disabled people, people in social housing and those on the lowest incomes.
Plans to cut benefits for young people aged under 25 are one line of discussion. This would likely include their housing benefit.
do you think we have a growing housing crisis? The problem has likely been made worse by other factors. People are buying property to leave empty or let out at market rents. Both of these take cheaper homes off the market. Council homes lost to right to buy have mostly not been replaced, indeed many are now 'buy to let's. Arguably too, the removal of rent controls in the 1980s allowed for a huge rise in private rents, a problem also affecting the level of rent you pay. Years of not building enough housing is now impacting on even
youth first in line for welfare cuts
more cuts? Chancellor George Osborne decides how government money is spent. Since the Coalition government came into power in 2010 he has introduced extensive cuts to public spending. He says more cuts are now needed to get rid of our country's budget deficit. The welfare system is there to help anyone whose income is too low for them to afford the basics - food, shelter and security. It is from the state budget which pays for welfare that the chancellor plans to make most of these cuts.
Using your vote is one of the best ways to make your voice heard. What do you do to make things change for the better? Are you the sort who sets out to make things change, who speaks up when something is cruel, misguided or unfair? Or are you more likely to shout at your TV or grumble in disgust when you walk past dog poo in the park, again? What’s the point when you can’t change anything - right? Comedian Russell Brand caused a recent stir by urging people not to vote. Brand said there was no point. You might think politicians don't care about or understand the issues you face. Perhaps you feel you can't trust what they say. In recent years we've seen many scandals involving our political
those on good incomes so it is getting the attention of politicians. However their concern is very much focused on home buyers. Again, this is likely down to who votes. People who rent are far less likely to vote than those buying their home. People on low incomes are 43% less likely to vote than those on the highest. We care about the cost and quality of your housing. We think that you, and your children and grandchildren, do too. You need to speak up. Politicians need to know this has to be taken seriously.
In the 2010 general election, just 56% of 18-24 year olds were registered to vote, and just 44% voted. This compares with the 76% of over 65s who voted.
Older voters have been promised that their state pension will rise,
by at least 2.5% a year, if the current government is re-elected. Of course vulnerable pensioners need and deserve social and financial support. But it could be argued that young people are coming off worst in the first round of welfare cuts.
Pensioners are exempt from the bedroom tax and still get council tax benefit. Even very wealthy pensioners get free television licences. The number of young people out of work remains at very high levels. Many of those who are earning are in low paid or irregular work or apprenticeships. Young people trying to improve their work prospects have seen education maintenance allowance abolished and university tuition fees rocket. There are now very few homes that young people can afford to rent, let alone buy. Cutting their benefits could leave them with even less choice. Politicians know that if large numbers of any one group are not going to vote, few votes will be lost by hitting them in the pocket.
statistics show that these are the groups least likely to vote! ! young people ! disabled people ! social housing tenants ! people on low incomes
don't lose your chance to make your vote count In April the rules for registering to vote change. It will mean each person having to register to vote instead of leaving it to one person in the household who fills in a form for all of you. A lot of people say this could lead to more people dropping off the voting register, making it harder for people to vote. You may not feel like voting for anyone right now but you may feel very differently when the chance comes up to vote in an election or referendum. If you forget to register or put it off 'until later' there is a very good chance that when you really do want to vote for or against something or someone, it's too late.
Make your vote count
You have to be on your council's electoral register well before an election to be able to vote. Paying council tax or dealing with any other part of the council does not mean you are automatically registered to vote.
If you can get on the internet go to Aboutmyvote.co.uk, enter your postcode, then follow the instructions. If you’re not sure if you are on the electoral register, then when you enter your postcode the website will tell you who to contact to check. If you are away from home for long periods, maybe because you are in the armed forces or you're a student, there are other options available.
special feature lend your voice on board 6
We're not politicians but we do listen. We offer ways for you to influence the way we run your services, care for your homes and help make your community a great place to live, work and play.
Our board has an important role in deciding how Family Mosaic is run. That makes it important that tenants are represented. Tenant board member Keith Clancy tells Connections what motivated him to join our board in 2009
Everyone wants a better future. Even when we are no longer spring chickens, we still want things to be better, if not for ourselves, then for our children. Why is that so? We all want to feel that we are achieving something and winning in life. Family Mosaic can just be the landlord that we pay our rent to or, as it is for many tenants, Family Mosaic can be something that belongs to us. Feeling part of your housing association means we feel deeply at home and wanted, in a community of people who are making life safe and enjoyable, with new opportunities.
Closer to home: make sure we hear your voice
Not happy with how we manage your neighbourhood or carry out repairs? Join one of our customer panels to have a direct role in deciding how things should be done differently.
I joined Family Mosaic as a tenant board member because I wanted you, me and all tenants to have the best life possible.
We can only make Family Mosaic a warm and wonderful community of people with a future if you take part in making that future happen. If you want to be part of that community then get in touch with us - the Family Mosaic board – and let us know how you feel.
Your views will be more than welcome.
Be a community champion
Have your own ideas about what your community needs? We can give you training and funding to help you set up and run your own community project.
Join other tenants who review our policies or put our services under scrutiny, on Panel Plus or the independent scrutiny panel. To find out more call q0300 123 3456, email get.involved @familymosaic.co.uk or visit www.familymosaic.co.uk/ get-involved and read our resident involvement strategy.
The independent resident scrutiny panel is now recruiting. To contact them email email@example.com
Other ways to
BE HEARD Sign petitions or start one of your own...
Write to local politicians - your MP or councillors. Go to council meetings...
Be inspired by other selfmotivated people. Take a look at www.change.org
from east London
ready for springtime Parmiter Street in Bethnal Green will be looking rather lovely right now, thanks to some intensive bulb planting carried out last December
Over 200 daffodil bulbs were planted by members of the Parmiter Street Tenants Residents Association, alongside native British wild flowers, including camomile, woodsage, white clover, yarrow and wild strawberry.
The improvement works are the happy result of a bid by two members of the TRA to brighten up the courtyard and curb vandalism, that included the uprooting of plants from flower beds. Katrina Power and Lindsay Green called on neighbourhood manager Liz Bailey and Greening Communities project worker Carole Wright for support and, with their help, got other residents involved, most importantly some of the children. Liz and Carole worked hard to get more residents involved in the planting, including some of those who wouldn’t normally use the courtyard. ‘It was a great event for building the community and everyone worked as a team,’ said Liz. TRA members Zita, Lindsay, Steve and Dom led the planting, helped by Carole and area housing manager Dele Fatogun. Greening Communities has also been helping the TRA start a gardening club, to encourage use of the roof top allotments at Parmiter Street and neighbouring Silk Weaver Way. The allotments were an extra ‘green’ addition to the building, designed to let people in this very built up neighbourhood enjoy the health and environmental benefits of growing your own food. The TRA is especially keen to get more children interested in growing edible plants, with one allotment being set aside as a teaching space. If you’d like to get involved with gardening at Parmiter Street or Silk Weaver Way, please contact Carole Wright by email at carole.wright @familymosaic.co.uk or call q0300 123 3456.
Summer draw: native British flowers planted last winter at Parmiter Street will over each summer act as a useful source of nectar, attracting insects like butterflies and moths
Willing: local volunteers tackling the bare flower beds at Parmiter Street
TURNING POINT 8
Our employment boot camps aren't just for older tenants. Fresh out of our youth boot camp, 22-year-old tenant Susan tells us what the two weeks did for her
When I first moved into a Family Mosaic home last year I had no idea that my housing association was quite so special – and that over the following months it would offer me both opportunities and support.
The next step
I was in my last year of university, and wondering how I would make the step from education to earning a living, when my dad showed me a leaflet from our communal noticeboard.
to share their professional wisdom and sometimes just offer a friendly word.
For a disengaged person, unsure where their life is going, the employment boot camp is a real turning point. I saw first-hand what happens when an organisation makes a conscious effort to invest in 20 capable young people and, as a result, I’m now contributing to this magazine!
Strange and slushy as it sounds there really is a family at Family Mosaic. And after you’ve seen me collapse in a puddle of sweat as I attempt a run across the park, there isn’t much left to hide. After only two weeks the fantastic people I met at the camp have become my everyday friends and colleagues. The same family is supporting me with financial backing and the expertise that will help to make my production company a success.
I saw first-hand what happens when an organisation makes a conscious effort to invest in 20 capable young people The leaflet gave details explaining Family Mosaic's youth employment boot camp, a twoweek programme combining interactive sessions taught by a fitness trainer, nutritionist, life coach and employment coaches. For me, the promise of a nutritionist and personal trainer was the main incentive. And there was personalised coaching, something normally reserved for the rich and famous! Who could resist that? On the course, every day brought tremendous progress – with my fitness, eating habits and even interpersonal skills. I was struck by the commitment of all the coaches, and the way they came together
Employment Boot Camp: be inspired, motivated and challenged
Clear the Way
We’ve got new dates and exciting plans for our ground-breaking employment boot camp, here to help you if you have been unemployed for some time and want to get back into either work or training. Our boot camps offer group learning and personalised coaching, designed to motivate, challenge and inspire you, making you ready to take the next step. We will cover your travel and childcare costs.
We’re offering a free package of training, support and a parttime paid work placement. ●● 8-week part-time City & Guilds level 2 award in horticulture ●● Thursday and Friday, 10am-4pm at The Hoxton Trust, Hackney ●● paid work placement for one or two days a week ●● travel expenses covered ●● equipment is provided, including your safety gear ●● support and advice finding work and claiming benefits.
Call the employment team to sign up for our boot camp, on q020 7089 1345 or email employmentteam@ familymosaic.co.uk
Clear the Way is a free, part-time accredited course designed to give you the training, experience and confidence to find a job in gardening or grounds maintenance
7 April deadline for applying 17 April enrolment 24 April first day of course 20 June last day
9 June deadline for applying 19 June enrolment 26 June first day of course 22 August last day
How do I apply? Get in touch with Amy Nelson, who is running the programme. Email Amy.Nelson@family mosaic.co.uk or call q020 3478 9864 or n07930 874 957
book now! Over 25s Boot Camp 1 April - 7 May Two days a week, every Tuesday and Wednesday
Over 50s Boot Camp 24 June - 30 July Two days a week, every Tuesday and Wednesday
Youth Boot Camp 4 - 15 August 3 -14 November Both courses last two weeks, five days per week
Motivated: university graduate Susan, above, on a Duke of Edinburgh trip organised by Family Mosaic's Youth Academy
Above: Clear the Way trainees transforming an Islington garden. Left: trainer Amy Nelson
Moving-Out, Moving-In We know moving home is stressful. So we’ve introduced Moving Out, Moving In – a new service to help you with the practical tasks
If you're moving to a new home, it's now our aim to carry out a Moving Out, Moving In check with you before you go. If you complete all the steps we ask you to carry out, you will even get a cash reward of £100! It will speed things up if, before you go, you let us in to inspect your home and see what repairs are needed. We'd also like to show the new tenant around before you move out. To find out more about our Moving Out, Moving In service, go to www.familymosaic.co.uk/moving-out
changes to our Transfer policy: quarterly update
no place like home
We've told you in recent editions of Connections about changes we are making to our transfer policy. Since February 2014 we have been restricting our transfer list to new applicants with the highest needs. On 1 April, more changes will be introduced. These include: ●● if you ask to join the list we will check that you have looked after your home. We also expect you to join a swapping scheme and apply to your local council first ●● a one-year time limit on new applications
If you’re not having much luck finding the right place to move to come along to our
a maximum of three offers of a different property if you are downsizing to a smaller home a new way of working out how many bedrooms we think your household needs new waiting lists for sheltered housing for older people and for tenants who need a home suitable for wheelchair use when we make you an offer, you will now have to agree to let us show your current home to potential new tenants before you move out.
For more on the changes and how they will affect you if you are on the transfer list see www.familymosaic.co.uk/changing-your-home
monthly mutual exchange surgery We’ll help you get registered and find you at least one property that matches your list of 'must have's!
calling the customer care line...
just dial ✆ 0300 123 3456 » then press 2 open 8am-8pm ● mondays to fridays open saturday mornings ● 9am-1pm
call centre on the right track Thank you all for your patience as our customer care line adapts to managing the repairs line. It is now six months since we brought the service in-house from Mears We have found demand far higher than we had expected and are still taking on more staff to handle your calls. We hope you feel you are now getting a better service. Bringing the call centre back under direct control is just one of
many changes we are making to the way we look after our properties.The move has been difficult and complex but it will in time lead to you getting a very high quality repairs and maintenance service.
Efficiency drive: note down the number
When you first report a repair you will get a CCL (customer care line) reference number. Please write it down. It really does speed matters up if you can tell us the number if you need to change an appointment, chase the repair or have any other query about it.
Best time to call: after 6pm or on saturdays
A reminder that on Mondays the line is always extremely busy. If your call is not urgent please try to call on another day. You are most likely to get through quickly if you call between 6pm and 8pm from Tuesday to Friday or on a Saturday morning between 9am and 1pm.
solutions now top priority for complaints handling We are changing the way we handle your complaints. This move comes after we reviewed our old process for managing your complaints and feedback.
Solve the problem
We will now make sure your service requests are managed by one person. They will keep you updated until we meet your request or tell you why we can’t. If you are unhappy with the time it took us to meet your request you can ask for an independent review of your feedback and we will scrutinise the way the service was carried out.
When? Monthly at our head office near Tower Bridge
You felt the complaints process was too complicated and would be better focused on solutions. We have taken that on board.
How? By appointment. To guarantee your place call Miles or William today on q020 3478 9927.
You can read about our new 'resolution' process in greater detail at www.familymosaic.co.uk ■ New leaflets explaining it will available from the end of March. All issues raised with us from 1 April will follow the new process.
electrical safety in new hands We sometimes employ contractors to do specialist work, especially the tasks that keep your home safe. You should soon hear from one of two new contractors we have signed up to check all our homes for electrical safety. AJS or Polyteck will contact you soon to arrange an appointment to carry out: ●● electrical installation condition reports ●● emergency light testing ●● portable electrical appliance testing in communal areas (or your home, if you live in supported housing). Please note that they are only there to check your electrics. They will not be authorised to do any other repairs at your home.
South and east London and Essex
Served by AJS, at Farley House, Kinvara Business Park, 22-42 Freshwater Rd, Dagenham RM8
north & west London
Served by Polyteck, based at 143 Leman St, London E1
Staying in touch Head office
Welfare rights officers
Albion House, 20 Queen Elizabeth St, SE1 2RJ q020 7089 1000 www.familymosaic.co.uk
Queries about housing or leasehold matters, call the customer care line. Lines open 8am to 8pm on weekdays, 9am to 1pm on Saturdays q0300 123 3456 then press option 2 h CustomerCareLine @familymosaic.co.uk
q0300 123 3456, then press option 1. Online at www.familymosaic.co.uk
q0300 123 3456, then press option 2 or call your area adviser direct on: north and west London q020 7089 1323 south and east London q020 7089 1187 Hackney and Essex q01268 498 563
PRINTED AND DISTRIBUTED BY COUNTRYWIDE PUBLICATIONS ON PAPER FROM SUSTAINABLE SOURCES ✆ 01502 725 832 SUBEDITED & DESIGNED BY the thompsons ✆ 01732 750 433
Can you spot every way one kitchen is wasting energy? For the answers, see below...
Drawings by Ben Mellor ©
Which kitchen is saving energy and money on bills?
Fridge door has been left open Flame under saucepan too high Window has been left open Kettle has been over-filled Trick question: the dog's tongue!
q020 7089 1345
and The answers... 2 Washing machine set at 60C 4 Heating thermostat at top setting 6 Sink tap has been left running Old, non-energy saving light bulb
Pembroke House, Northlands Pavement, Pitsea SS13 3DU q01268 498 500
London q020 7089 1000 Essex q01268 498 500
Care and support