Page 1

Autumn 2013


the latest iPod shuffle

Want to work? Meet the residents giving something back and carving out careers... with a bit of help from us

Great Places Community Stars Awards 2013 Do you know someone who’s played a starring role in your neighbourhood?

Cooking on a budget

A tasty and cheap autumnal recipe to try



Numbers you need to know

Phone our Customer Access Team from 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday. It’s local rate. Call us on:

0300 123 1966

07797 870 734 or email us at

or simply text us on

For all Great Places residents you can call us between 8am and 6pm weekdays on:

0300 123 1966

& press 1 for repairs

You can also use this number for out-of-hours emergencies. Or you can email us about a repair at

Office addresses

Oldham office

Blackburn office

Salford office

Barnfield House (Suite 4 and 5) Groundfloor, Accrington Road Blackburn BB1 3NY Open Monday, 9.30am-5pm & Thursday 9:30am-12:30pm Appointment only at all other times.

Cheshire office

106 Longridge, Knutsford, WA16 8PD Opening hours: Monday only, 9.30am to 4.30pm

119 Union Street, Oldham OL1 1TE Opening hours: Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm

Fylde office

336 Talbot Road, Blackpool, FY1 3QU Opening hours: Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm

4th Floor, St James’s House, Pendleton Way, Salford M6 5FW Opening hours: Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm

Sheffield office

Great Places head office

The Quadrant, 99 Parkway Avenue, Sheffield SS9 4WG Opening hours: Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm

Southern Gate, 729 Princess Road, Manchester M20 2LT Opening hours: Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm

Write to My Great Place at:

Find us on Facebook at

Communications Great Places Southern Gate 729 Princess Road Manchester M20 2LT

Tweet us @MyGreatPlace

Access for all


We’ve already sent a magnifying sheet to our visually impaired residents. Let us know if you need one. An audio version of My Great Place is also available.


Autumn 2013


Justine (Lutala Sofini) from Salford, p 5-7

the latest iPod shuffle


Want to work? Meet the residents who are giving something back and carving out careers...with a bit of help from us

Great Places Community Stars Awards Do you know someone who’s played a starring role in your neighbourhood?


Cover star:

Cooking on a budget A tasty and cheap autumnal recipe to try

Welcome to

YOUR MAGAZINE! Welcome to this autumn issue of My Great Place. We’ve got another uplifting magazine for you with stories to warm your heart as the nights get colder.

work of someone you think has made a real difference in your neighbourhood. Turn to page 14-15 and nominate that special person/group for a Great Places’ Community Stars Award!

The stand-out theme is giving something back: whether that’s through volunteering, work or just being an integral part of your community. In this issue it’s your opportunity to highlight the

Rachel Machin, Editor

What’s inside? Features

Regulars 4

My voice

18 How we’re doing


Neighbourhood news

22 Get involved


Grapevine (elderly services news)

23 My green place


My money

24 Competitions

16-17 News

20 Advice to benefit you: info on Universal Credit, Personal Independence Payments and Council Tax reductions. 21 Surf’s up! Get on IT: a simple guide to getting online and staying safe.



Volunteering from the heart





COVER STORY: Opportunity knocks

A home fit for a mayoress

Community Stars Awards

Cleanup hero



14 11 3



Write to us at:

Star letter

We had some great emails, letters and Facebook messages from you – thanks so much for taking the time to contact us! Here’s a selection of some of your thoughts.

Every issue, one of your letters/emails/social media messages will be made Star Letter and you’ll receive a £10 voucher.

As you know there are new ways you can contact us via Facebook and Twitter as well as by letter. Whatever way you choose to contact us, we want to hear from you. Tell us about your neighbourhood or give us your thoughts on anything Great Places-related!

Editor: Dear Mandy, you’ll be delighted to know that this issue we’re launching our Community Stars Awards. Take a look at page 14-15 to see what categories you can nominate your neighbours in.

Email us:

Twitter: @PamelaWelsh “At Tesco in Salford, buying cake. Just drove past some hoardings from @MyGreatPlace - brill to see new homes being built in Pendleton!”

Tweet us: @mygreatplace

Facebook us at:

“Dear My Great Place

Star letter

“Dear My Great Place, there are so many people in my community doing many great things over the years, but they never seem to be recognised. I know a lady who has worked tirelessly in the community centre for years. Something needs to be done to say thank you!” Mandy Higgins

My Great Place Communications Great Places Housing Group Southern Gate 729 Princess Road Manchester M20 2LT

I found this issue of My Great Place really encouraging. It made me feel positive for the first time in years. I definitely will follow up on some of the articles. Cheers, Michelle McKeown” Editor: We are delighted to hear that you enjoyed the issue Michelle. It’s letters like yours that make it all worth it for us. Hopefully you’ll find this issue as encouraging!

Kids’ Competition Want a fancy new i-pod?

We had a great response to last issue’s ‘find Margaret Plaice’ competition! Thanks for all your entries. Congratulations to Karen Ncube, from Salford, who was picked out as our winner! Hope you’re enjoying your new i-pod. If you don’t already know, Margaret Plaice, our little fishy friend whose name is inspired by this very magazine, is hiding again somewhere. Can you find her? If you can, just email or write and let us know exactly where she is (make sure you put the page number) at the above addresses, making sure you put your address and phone number on the entry. The winning entry will get their hands on a cute little i-pod, so get searching!


must be 16 or under and a Great Places resident Entries must be in by 15th November 2013

An apology 4

In the summer 2013 issue, in the article ‘The rise of the residents’ group,’ we incorrectly named Joyce Powell as Joyce Simpson. Sorry Joyce! Hope you liked the article despite us getting your name wrong!

Opportunity knocks The job market is really tough at the minute, and youth unemployment is at an all-time high. But did you know, Great Places can open doors to work, training and volunteering? My Great Place met three residents who are carving out careers for themselves.

Peter Speight, a former addict, has turned his life around “I had a traumatic childhood which involved a lot of violence,” explains Blackburn resident Peter Speight. Peter moved into a children’s home at the age of 10, by the age of 12 was injecting amphetamines, and by 16 suffered a nervous breakdown and was sectioned. It was the 12-step rehabilitation programme and the move into a Great Places flat that Peter believed turned his life around. “Neighbourhood officer, Mary Brown was initially uneasy with me having a flat because somebody who’d accessed the service previously had smashed up the flat and been a really poor tenant. “But she gave me a chance which I’m so grateful for. She got it decorated, carpeted and put blinds in. That specific flat was so ideal for me – next door to the college, across the road from my keyworker – it was like it was meant to be,” he smiles. Now Peter is seven months into his tenancy and was recently approached by Great Places to be involved in the local Neighbourhood Watch scheme. “I felt privileged because I used to be the one who was getting watched!” he admits. He is fulfilling his dreams through a 12-month apprenticeship with Rock FM radio station and has been on a variety of training courses. “I have to pinch myself sometimes – I can’t believe what I’m doing! “I’ve learnt that if you’re living a constructive lifestyle, things come your way. If you’re doing good in society, doors open.”


Cover star!

Lutala Sofini, also known as Justine, has done general admin volunteering Mother, theologian and volunteer Justine had been looking to get into administration and general office work now that her daughter is preschool age. After being introduced to a CV writing course by Great Places she then found herself volunteering for the first time. Now Justine is volunteering in our Property Services department in Salford and is loving her time there. “It’s really local to me. I feel connected with everyone. From day one I felt like I belonged – they’re all such wonderful people,” she beams. Justine has been taken on permanently as a part-time admin person while she finishes her degree in theology at Luther King House, which is connected to Manchester University. Her husband, a pastor at a church on Langworthy Road in Salford, is also in his last year of a degree in micro biology. “We lead the church and sometimes get 70 people coming through the doors. I love seeing my children jumping up and down and singing during the afternoon service – it’s an uplifting feeling.” So is Justine’s enthusiasm and belief!


Liam Gray is hoping to work in our repairs team Liam would be the first to admit he was in a bad place before going to live at Pomona Gardens, one of our supported housing projects for homeless people in Trafford. “It turned my life around. It was great – the staff, the people. It doesn’t get as much credit as it should,” he says. Now he’s moved into his own flat in Salford and, in his words, is “getting everything together now”. He was introduced by Great Places to a 10week maintenance course at Salford City College campus which covered bricklaying, basic painting and decorating, and joinery.

“I found out about Build, Learn, Grow and now I’ve got three job opportunities”

Liam then found out about Build, Learn, Grow, a partnership between Great Places Housing Group, Bolton at Home, Seddon and Southdale offering apprenticeship places. Now he’s doing unpaid voluntary work with our repairs team and is revelling in the opportunity. “I’m doing this for a bit of experience and thoroughly enjoying it. I’m allowed to do up to 30 hours a week voluntary as I’m also on Jobseekers Allowance. Everything’s looking up. Originally I wanted to get into plastering but now I’m more into the maintenance side, especially now I’ve got my own place. “I believe there’s a position coming up for an apprentice soon so I’m going to apply for that. I’ve also got an interview with Seddon this month. I’ve had about three job opportunities in one month.”

For more information on work, training and volunteering opportunities, email or visit and look in the ‘What we do’ section under ‘Jobs and training in the community’


News neighbourhood

What’s going on where you live...

Bring home a winner BOLTON: Two football teams, set up by Great Places resident Elaine Dolan, brought home trophies for league champions and league runners-up in the Bolton and Bury Junior District Football League last season, which is a fantastic achievement! Great Places have proudly sponsored the under14’s team this year (pictured). Anyone wishing to join these teams should call Nick Shea on 0161 925 7990.

High-flying graduates

KNUTSFORD: These delighted year six pupils from Manor Park Primary in Knutsford are pictured enjoying their recent My World graduation ceremony. The project is just one great example of the partnership approach Great Places takes in the area.

Moss Side Carnival MANCHESTER: Many of our residents enjoyed Moss Side Carnival, which took place in Platt Fields this year as Alexandra Park is being redeveloped. In spite of this it was still busy: lots of food and music and thousands of people having fun.

Calling All Unsung Heroes! BOLTON: Do you live in Breightmet, Bolton? Are you a carer? Great Places is working with partners to provide you with respite through various free activities. Interested? Call Nick Shea: 0161 925 7990.


What can young people teach you in two days? Young people sponsored by Blackpool FC Community Trust entertained 30 residents from Elk View, Tulloch Court, St George’s Court and Hatfield Avenue. As part of the skills-building course, the young people will now help the older residents by painting fences and benches, and befriending them.

Cream tea in Longsight MANCHESTER: Many residents including Mrs Kassim and her children, enjoyed a cream tea at the new development in Longsight.

Fancy some bush tucker trials? SHEFFIELD: Are you into den building, zip wires and arts and crafts? Richmond Park Activities Group is running Forest Schools, Thursday afternoons from 4.30pm to 6.30pm. Contact Philip Walker on 0114 284 2061.

Let’s eat!

BLACKBURN: Youngsters from Romney Walk and Queens Road enjoyed a cook and eat session over the summer at Accrington and Chadsworth Community Centres.

Knit and Natter club

Shoot smart!

OLDHAM: Check out this great photo, it’s from an under 16s photography workshop which takes place every Saturday at the Coppice Community Centre, Werneth Hall Road, Oldham.

For the latest news in your area and more visit us online at:

SALFORD: The newly formed Knit and Natter club at John Atkinson Court, Salford, have been hard at work over the last couple of months. Belle Heathcote (resident of John Atkinson Court) has volunteered to teach residents how to knit baby clothes and blankets for babies in Africa, a cause close to her own heart.

Brighten a basket

Women’s cooking group

BLACKBURN: Families from Albert and Every Street, Nelson, got involved to make their streets look brighter and also gained new skills in planting their own hanging baskets.

OLDHAM: 12 women took part in this cooking group, which was funded by the Great Places’ Residents Fund. It takes place every Thursday from 5.30pm to 7.30pm at South Chadderton Methodist Church, Oldham.

Watch us wreck the mic KNUTSFORD: Young people have taken to the mic this summer, learning to make and edit their own podcasts. SHEFFIELD: The corner house in the heart of Wybourn (333 Manor Oaks Road) is a community resource offering a wide range of activities. Keep an eye out!

Strong Women BLACKPOOL: These women recently attended our strong women course, giving them new skills.



Elderly services news

The green gang gets a gong! The Gardening Gang from Elk View Court in Blackpool recently took home the Street of the Year award from Blackpool Civic Trust – a fantastic achievement! Put forward by local councillor, Kath Rowson (pictured), they attended a ceremony at the town hall and came third in the Best Communal Garden category at the Blackpool in Bloom competition. They’ve been working hard with help from a group of students at Myerscough College to transform the green space outside the scheme.

Another garden haven

A thank you from Will and Kate When news came out that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were expecting their first baby, Byrons resident Eileen Porter sent a card and crocheted baby gift set to their office to congratulate them on behalf of everyone at The Byrons. Shortly after, she surprisingly received a very kind reply from St James’ Palace. The letter said that William and Kate were very touched by the card and gift, sending their warmest thanks and best wishes. It also included a very personal touch – a handwritten good luck wish to all people at the Byrons for the upcoming summer fair. How sweet is that?

Tenants Kevin and Marlene O Hara from Lilac Grove, Knott End’s garden.

Celebrating a century!


Claire Corlett, who lives at Aldergate Court in Swinton, celebrated her 100th birthday with a surprise party organised by her family and friends at Moorside Methodist Church.



he ro


Middlewich resident Darren Ketley is ridding his neighbourhood of rubbish. My Great Place went to meet him. A James Bond-themed Mayor’s ball was not something Darren Ketley ever thought he’d be invited to. The Middlewich resident was coerced into attending but wasn’t sure why Janet, who runs the Middlewich Clean team, a group which rids the local area of rubbish, was forcing the issue. “They set me up!” explains Darren. “I made all the excuses, and when I found out that the tickets were £25, that was it. I told Janet I couldn’t afford it. She said: ‘Don’t worry, it’s all sorted’. The Mayor had paid!” exclaims Darren. What Darren didn’t know was that he would be presented with a Hero of the Year award in recognition of

his tireless commitment to cleaning up Middlewich and the surrounding area. “I’d never received anything like it,” says Darren, his voice breaking. “On the night I just cracked up when I returned home. They’d made a special badge with my name on.” Originally Darren had joined the Sandbach Clean team and when he got a Great Places flat in Middlewich was determined to get involved with the local clean team. Now he can be seen pounding the pavements with his custom-made litter-picker. “I go out nearly every day – I start from home and do what they call the perimeter – right round the border of Middlewich. It takes me an hour but that’s nothing to me. The longest I’ve been out is 11 hours. It’s a really satisfying job. The rubbish is there all the time especially when kids come out of school. I can’t go anywhere now without people saying hello to me,” he laughs.

Get down and dirty in your area! Great Places holds lots of cleanups across our neighbourhoods. • The Let’s Do It Manchester clean up campaign aims to encourage volunteers to litter pick targeted areas across Manchester. They’re holding a trash-mob event on Saturday 12th October to raise awareness. • Great Places’ litter pick in Morecambe – Aldingham Walk Estate – Wednesday 30th October 11am - 12 noon and Old Market Court 1pm - 2pm. Let us know if you are holding any clean ups in your area – Just email communications@ 11

my money

INGREDIENTS: • 4 tbsp oil • 2 onions, finely chopped • 1kg pumpkin • 700ml vegetable stock or chicken stock • 142ml pot double cream • Handful of pumpkin seeds

1 2 3

Have the kids managed to get a pumpkin out of you for Halloween? Why not turn it into some fantastic soup!

Send us pictures of your soup and spookily carved pumpkins! Email communications@

Heat the oil in a large saucepan, then gently cook 2 finely chopped onions for 5 mins, until soft but not coloured. Cut the top off the pumpkin, deseed then cut out the flesh and add to the pan. Carry on cooking for 8-10 mins, stirring occasionally until it starts to soften and turn golden. Pour vegetable stock into the pan, then season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 mins until the pumpkin is very soft. Pour the cream into the pan, bring back to the boil, then purée with a blender. The soup can now be frozen for up to 2 months. Add a handful of pumpkin seeds to a pan, cook until they are toasted then scatter seeds on soup.

Callpay! Callpay is an alternative way of making rent payments. You will need your debit/credit card and rent payment card. Once your transaction is completed you will be given a reference number. However if you need confirmation of your payment a receipt of your transaction is available on request.

You Can Glow 2013 Every year Great Places runs a campaign where we visit older residents to offer advice and support on keeping warm in the winter. This year we’ll be visiting residents affected by welfare reform to install energy-saving gadgets in the home. If you’d like a visit from a friendly member of staff to learn more about saving energy and reducing your fuel bills, please contact our Customer Access Team (CAT) on 0300 123 1966 or email 12

my money Direct debits are the way forward If you’ve not done it already, why not switch and pay your rent by direct debit now? In the last six months we’ve set up over 300 direct debits over the phone, that’s a 300% increase on the previous six months. In total we now have 2,800 of you paying this way. It’s the quickest and easiest way to pay so give it a try! For other ways to pay, just check out our website and go to ‘My homepage’ then ‘Pay your rent’.

Volunteering from the heart

My Great Place went to meet Fleetwood resident Judith Wilkinson who has been volunteering for the British Heart Foundation since 2009 in 2009 because I was “fedI started up being at home all the time. I’m disabled so am unable to work. I’ve been doing all sorts of fundraising for the British Heart

Foundation. I’m also sometimes asked to come and work in their charity shops. I get so much enjoyment out of it – it doesn’t matter that I don’t get paid. I just love helping people. I’d volunteer all the time if I could.

If you find yourself in financial difficulty, we are here to help. We have financial support coordinators in each region that will help you to manage your money. Last year we saved over £1m for our residents. Email financialinclusionteam@


I’d definitely encourage anyone to give volunteering a go.

Find out about how you can volunteer by visiting and looking in the ‘Where you live’ section then ‘Jobs and training in the community’

At one point I was doing it all week but now I just stick to Fridays and Saturdays. In 2011 I was honoured to be named Volunteer of the Year – it felt like a great achievement.


Great Places’ Who should we roll out the red carpet for in your neighbourhood? Who’s made a contribution in your area that puts them in the spotlight? Who are the unsung heroes in your community who deserve a mention?

You can help them get the recognition they deserve by nominating them for an award in our newly named Great Places’ Community Stars Awards! It’s easy – all you have to do is phone Maria Morris on 0161 925 7928 or email maria.morris@ and ask for a nomination form. All Great Places residents can nominate someone. The closing date is Friday 8 November 2013 so make sure you get your forms in before then!

We’ll be holding a special awards ceremony in January to celebrate the hard work that residents and their neighbours put in to make their neighbourhood a better place. Look out for information about the nominees and the winners on our website.


Award categories Good Neighbour Award

A person who goes out of their way to care for others in their neighbourhood – maybe they help with an older person’s shopping, provide a shoulder to cry on, support neighbours in times of need, help to bring the street together for social events.

Young Resident Award A person aged 25 or under who has worked to improve their area, made a positive difference to someone else’s life or stood up to bullying, hate crime, racism or other forms of anti-social behaviour, or shown particular bravery. Community Project Award

Do you know of a standout project in your area that’s impressed you? Has it transformed the place where you live or brought people together?

Community/Residents Group Award A group of residents who’ve pulled together to make a significant difference to where they live. Maybe they’ve helped to bring improvements to your building, set up social events to bring the community together or raised money to transform green space near your home. Green Award

An individual or group who have suggested or worked towards a new scheme or idea which has made a difference environmentally to a community. This could include a wildlife garden, community recycling or any other ‘green’ scheme.

Older Resident Award

A person aged 70 or over who works tirelessly to improve their community. They may have been working in their neighbourhood for years and have never received recognition.

Supported Housing Resident Award

A person who lives in one of our supported housing schemes who has made a real difference to the lives of others: they may have gone the extra mile to help a fellow resident, started up a group, or got involved in a community initiative.

Supported Housing Scheme Award

Is there one of our projects which stands head and shoulders above the rest? Has it become an important part of the community? It could be a scheme for young people, young parents, homeless, alcohol dependents, or those with mental health issues.

Community Champion Award This person will already be an important part of the community. Maybe they run the local youth club or help in the local school as a volunteer. They might be a key person in the local church or the chief organiser of the community fair. Are you of a who residents’ doing Is there someone frompart Great Places has gone thegroup extra milethat’s for residents? Who do you think embodies our vision: Strong,amazing Bright and Real? things? Let us know by emailing Great Places’Staff Award

How to enter – it ’s easy • Nominees for the Young Resident Award should be under 25. • Great Places staff can nominate individuals and groups. You can nominate someone by emailing Maria Morris at or calling her on 0161 925 7928, or writing to her at the following address: 4th Floor, St James’ House, Pendleton Way, Salford, M6 5FW

15 closing date : Friday 8 November:


Matt’s message I hope everyone has enjoyed the summer and made the most of the good weather. I’ve been in the job for nearly six months and one of the things I’ve been doing is getting out and about as often as possible to meet you and to find out what you think about the services we provide. Some of the feedback has been around the level of service you receive when you ring in for a repair. We have listened to what you’ve been telling us and we have taken on more staff to handle the calls so hopefully this will improve the situation but it’s something I will be keeping an eye on.

my predecessor’s retirement package was agreed. I would like to reassure you this has had no effect on the way we operate and we are recruiting new board members to strengthen the way we are governed. Finally, this is an optimistic time for most football fans as they cling to the hope their team will have a successful season. Sadly we are only in September and any hopes of promotion for my team Sheffield Wednesday are looking unlikely. So if you support a football team I hope your side is doing better than mine!

You may have also heard that our regulator’s rating of our governance arrangements, that is, the way the board oversees Great Places, has been downgraded because of the way

Finding a home in Oldham You can now apply directly for housing using the above site!

The Waterside’s a winner Our fantastic Waterside development in Rochdale has triumphed at this year’s Rochdale Diversity Awards, being praised for its role in improving housing for minority ethnic communities. The scheme, which is situated next to the banks of a canal and on a former mill site, is made up of a selection of 27 outstanding homes which are available for shared ownership and social rent. All of the homes were snapped up within weeks, with all residents and


buyers coming from British and Minority Ethnic communities. The team picked up the prize at a ceremony in Rochdale’s prestigious town hall, and Great Places’ chief executive, Matt Harrison, was delighted with the award. He said: “Great Places is committed to offering high-quality housing to residents who come from a variety of backgrounds. This win is testament to our staff who work within neighbourhoods to make all residents feel a vital part of their communities.”


What we’ve spent on you… We’re committed to improving your homes. In the financial year 2012/2013 we completed:

472 113 41

A-rated boilers installed

new bathroom suites fitted

electric heating systems installed

168 167 179 homes got new windows

homes got new doors

1329 392 homes painted

new kitchens installed

homes got new fencing

Countdown to Kenya! You may remember from our November 2012 issue of My Great Place that three of our staff are going to Kenya to volunteer at the Walk Centre in Nakuru, which provides free education, food and support to children of the Hilton slum. Steve, Ruth and David have endured several visits to the doctors and numerous large needles, but they’ve been fundraising like mad over the last year. Following on from the epic bike rides and swims across lakes, they’ve just completed a sponsored walk across the Yorkshire three peaks! We’ve been raising money and volunteering at the Walk Centre for the past eight years in memory of the late Reverend John Banks who sadly passed away in 2004. Reverend Banks was the founder and once president of Manchester Methodist Housing Association, which has since evolved into Great Places Housing Group. Good luck to our very own volunteers!


How we’re doing Quality of service


of you are satisfied with our overall service across our general housing

Right first time


of repairs are completed at the first visit

The personal touch


of you are satisfied that your views are taken into account


At your convenience

91% 96%

We’re revolutionising our approach to resolving your complaints! We want to prove to you that we really do put the ‘Great’ in Great Places. Our new complaints process has three main steps: • ‘Nip it in the bud’ - we want to resolve complaints early without the need for a formal response. • ‘Right first time’ - if we cannot ‘nip it in the bud’, one of our operational managers will investigate your complaint and provide a full and final resolution that is fair and reasonable. • If you’re not happy with our final offer of resolution we will provide advice on referring your complaint for independent resolution. If you do have a complaint, a comment or a compliment you can email our Customer Access Team at

of repair appointments were made at a time convenient for you of these appointments were kept

You can keep up to date on how we’re doing in the ‘What we do’ section on our website:

We’re improving the way we deal with complaints


of you are satisfied with our repairs and maintenance services


A home fit for a


Farhana Mulla moved into a brand new Great Places home in Blackburn a year ago. Nothing special about that you might say – but she’s not your typical resident. Here she tells My Great Place what it’s like to be the Mayoress of Blackburn.

She’s already met the Queen and Prince Philip at Buckingham Palace, and that was before her dad, Councillor Salim Mulla, became the Mayor of Blackburn in May. Meetings with dignitaries are something she’ll be getting used to over the next year as she attends numerous engagements and events with her sisters. “My mum had a kidney transplant and she’s still in recovery, so me and my sisters will be supporting my dad in his duties,” explains Farhana.

it was spacious, they had no garden so they bid for a new Great Places property and were successful. “I was thrilled to get it,” enthuses Farhana. “The kids are really settled here – because it’s an end property we’ve got a lot of garden space and it’s safe because there are gates all around. My dad was impressed too! Great Places have been brilliant.”

equipment of the renal dialysis unit, making a difference by improving ‘quality of life’ for the many local people who live with kidney failure.

If you would like to donate to the Blackburn and Darwen Kidney Care Appeal, please call the Mayor’s office on 01254 585 229

“I was thrilled to get it – the kids are really settled here.”

“Him becoming mayor was a really big thing in our family. We had a big celebration in a hired hall and invited hundreds of people for a big meal. My mum’s sister came over from India. It was a really proud moment but also sad because my grandparents weren’t there to see it.” A year ago Farhana was living in a flat with her husband and three children Tahurah, Shifah and Ayesha. Although

Gardening has become a bit of a theme for the Mullas as Farhana recently attended a gardening project organised by Great Places. “It encouraged us to try and grow strawberries and tomatoes in our garden – the children love getting involved!” Farhana’s dad is raising money for the Blackburn and Darwen Kidney Care Appeal. The aim of the charity is to raise funds to improve the facilities and


Advice to benefit you


My Great Place gives you the lowdown on Universal Credit, Personal Independence Payments and Council Tax reductions

Universal Credit

will replace six different benefits: Housing benefit, Income based Job Seekers Allowance, Income Support, Income based Employment Support Allowance, Working Tax Credits, Child Tax Credits. Most claimants will get the same amount of money as they do now and all other benefits will be paid as normal.

Disability Living Allowance (DLA)

has now been replaced by Personal Independence Payments (PIPS). There are differences in the way claimants will be assessed. If you claim DLP there are some key dates to note: 8th April 2013 – if you are 65 or over on this date you will not be affected and will stay on DLA. Under 16s will also continue to claim DLA. October 2013 – existing DLA claims will be reassessed for PIP if they are

When? Tameside, Oldham, Warrington and Wigan are the first areas to take new claims. Other areas will introduce Universal Credit between October 2013 and 2017.

Who? Only new claims will be invited to apply for Universal Credit. If you have a change of circumstance, eg you move, have a baby, death in the household then you may then be moved onto Universal Credit.

How? If you’re eligible, you’ll get one payment, every calendar month, into a single bank or Post Office account. This will be a big change if you are used to managing your money weekly or fortnightly. If your housing benefit is currently paid directly to Great Places, you’ll have to arrange to pay your rent out of your Universal Credit payment.

coming up for renewal, or a child turns 16 or if you have an indefinite award and you report a change in your condition.

moved over to PIP.

7th October 2015 – if you have an indefinite award and your condition stays the same you will not be affected until after this date.

If you qualify you’ll be sent an application form where you’ll have the opportunity to tell your story. If successful you’ll receive a letter, and if unsuccessful the assessor will try to ring to explain why.

If your claim is coming up for renewal the DWP will

write to you and tell you that your DLA claim has come to an end and invite you to apply for PIP. You must apply, you will not be automatically

To apply for PIP you must ring the helpline on 0800 917 2222.

We can help you fill in the application form. Just contact CAT@greatplaces. or call 0300 123 1966.

Council tax reduction scheme


If you are the only person aged 18 or over living in your property, or the only other person is a full time student make sure you claim your 25% reduction in your council tax bill. Contact your local council tax department for more information.


Surf’s up! Get on IT What you need…

Step 1 Use a web browser such as Internet Explorer, Safari, Google Chrome.

Step 2

You don’t have to have a computer and home broadband connection to access the internet, these days you can even access it on the beach. Other devices and places you can get connected on or at include: • Mobile phones • Tablets • At a library • Cyber or internet cafes

Use a trusted search engine like Google, Yahoo, Bing, Ask.

Step 3 Want to search for benefits or beaches? Type it into your chosen search engine’s box and press the return key or ‘search’. Then start surfing!

Surf safe Look out for our ‘Surf safe’ campaign, which will be making residents aware of the dangers involved in using the web. Here are a few simple rules to follow: • Don’t give out personal information on public sites where everyone can see • Don’t arrange to meet anybody you’ve chatted with on the internet without telling someone where, and who, you’re going to meet • Tell your friends and family if you’re in contact with anyone who’s making you feel uncomfortable

• If anyone is harassing you or doing something online you find offensive, report it to the appropriate social media site and delete them from your friends/ followers. If they are actually threatening you, report it to the police • Don’t open junk mail • Keep an eye on what your children are looking at and who they’re talking to on the internet Next issue we’ll look more closely at how to keep your children safe on the internet. 21

Get involved Fabulous funding Would you like some cash to help improve your community? Our Shared Spaces Fund has been created to help you do just that. The fund has two main aims: to increase the safety and security of your shared spaces, and to improve their appearance. In recent weeks we have had two successful applications, which will make big improvements to your communities. If you have an idea for a project, contact our customer access team on 0300 123 1966 or email An alternative option is our residents’ fund, which awards money for projects that make a difference to your lives and the areas in which you live. We’ve funded 22 applications in the first round and you have until 1st October to get your applications in. If you’d like an application form, or you’re interested in joining the funding panel that makes decisions about spending the money, call Maria on 0161 925 7928 or email maria.

Volunteers’ corner: green, clean... and on the scene

Fancy being our eyes and ears in your local area? We’re looking for volunteers to be community reps – residents who work with Great Places to welcome new neighbours, report communal issues and repairs, and do a monthly inspection of their area. It’ll only take two or three hours a month and we’ll make sure you get monthly feedback about any issues you raise. For more details, contact your community development co-ordinator. In our last issue we asked for volunteers to be green wardens, and help to make sure that our residents are getting value for the gardening service they pay for. Then there’s clean wardens, who are asked to keep an eye on the standard of the window cleaning and communal cleaning at their homes. If you’d like to be a green or clean warden, call 0161 925 7930 or email cathy. Mystery shoppers test Great Places’ services and check we are giving you the best service. We’re always on the lookout for new recruits, so contact Tracy on 0161 925 7918 or email if you’d like to take part. Thanks to everyone who has taken part so far – many of you have told us it’s a great way to get involved that doesn’t take up too much time!

Local Area Forums Knutsford

21 October - 5pm - 7pm

– a chance to have your say

Oldham & Rochdale

Blackburn 23 October – 11.30pm - 1pm Jans conference centre, Higher Audley St, Blackburn BB1 1DH.

Falcon Bearer pub in Knutsford

23 October – 10.30am-12.30pm Deeplish community centre, Hare Street, Rochdale, OL11 1JT

Contact Alex Barker on 0161 447 5117 for more info

Contact Naseem Ahmad on 0161 484 3221 for more info

Contact Louise Ramsay on 07767 644 352 for more info




15 Oct – 1pm - 4pm

Lunch and interpreters provided, and help with transport can be arranged.

Includes a stock tour of Preston

23 October – 6pm - 8.30pm The Quadrant 99 Parkway Avenue, Sheffield, S9 4WG

22 September – 6.30pm - 8.30pm Waterside Arts Centre, Sale M33 7ZF

Contact Gill Fernandez on 01253 750 842 for more info

Contact Philip Walker on 0114 284 2061 for more info

Contact Sarah Riley on 0161 447 5120 for more info



green place

Advice, tips and ideas on staying green and saving money!

Top tips for keeping cosy this winter

1. Set your heating programmer to meet your winter needs. 2. Turn down radiators in the rooms that are not used all the time such as spare bedrooms or dining rooms. 3. Move furniture away from radiators to let the heat flow correctly around them. 4. Close doors around the house to keep the heat in. 5. Draw curtains at dusk to keep the heat from escaping.


What is Radflek?

Send u s for kee your top tip s ping w arm a you co n d u chanc ld be in with e of w a in very o wn Ra ning your dfl us at c ommu ek! Email nic greatp laces.o ations@ r your id with eas!

Smart recycling

There’s a fab free recycling app available for smart and android phones.

Did you know that 45% of heat from your radiators escapes through your external walls? Radflek stops the heat escaping and reflects it back into the room. They are easy to fit behind your radiators and once fitted you should be able to turn down your radiators and still be comfortable, which will save you money!

The app covers Manchester, Bury, Oldham Stockport, Tameside and Trafford and there’s loads of info on there from bin calendar dates, A – Z of materials and even leftover food recipes! Check it out! www.recycleforgreater phone-app


A Competitions!

Word Search!




Find and circle each of the words from the list below. Words may appear forwards or backwards, horizontally or vertically in the grid.

You could win £25 in vouchers!




Congratulations to last issue’s winners:



Elizabeth Hall, Whaley Bridge Mr Brendan Ping, Sheffield Shanaz Akhtar, Nelson



Have a go at this Community Stars Awards - themed wordsearch!

Words to find are: Nominate Resident Volunteer Community Initiative

Difference Winner Champion Star Helper

























































































SPOT THE DIFFERENCE Just circle the FIVE differences on picture number two, cut it out, pop in an envelope and send it in! You could be one of three lucky people to win £10 worth of vouchers.

Don’t forget to include your Nominate Resident name, telephone number and address. The three winners will be drawn out of a hat so get your entries in by 15th November 2013.

Send your entries by post to: FREEPOST, RLSC-HLLJ-EZRZ, My Great Place, Great Places Housing Group, Southern Gate, 729 Princess Road, Manchester M20 2LT. 24

Congratulations to last issue’s winners: Difference Sylvia Streets, Sheffield Zaara Patanker, Blackburn Sam Marshall, Sheffield

Volunteer Community Initiative Star Helper


Copyright ©2013

All entries must be in by 15th November 2013

Remember you don’t need a stamp!


My great place autumn 2013 web version  
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