Page 1

Sowing the seeds of summer

A first-class graduation ceremony Pages 14-15

Pages 8-9

The magazine for Great Places Housing Group residents

August 2012

Our very own boy wonder! Ethan triumphs against all odds: full story pages 4-5


And the award winners are... Inspirational tenants put in the spotlight Pages 12-13

and 24 MyGreatPlace 1 What’s going on in your area? Find out on pages 22, 23

Welcome to

Page 11

Page 6


elcome to your summer edition of My Great Place! Unfortunately we’ve not seen the red-hot weather we’ve all been hoping for, but not even weeks of torrential downpours put a downer on some of your brilliant community events that have taken place these past few months.

NEWS & FEATURES 4-5 Meet our 10-year-old tenant beating all the odds 6-7 Your jubilant jubilee parties – pho to special 8-9 Summer events neighbourhood rou nd-up 10 Changes are just what the Green Doctor ordered 12-13 Customer awards / training academy graduation 14 Knutsford high flyers are ready for take-off 18-19 Community news from acr oss the regions 25 My great job... by Josh Halstead, app rentice 30 Garden tips to really get you buzzin g

From crazy and colourful jubilee parties (pages 6 and 7) to loads of outdoor events – including barbecues, gardening workshops and summer fun days (pages 8 and 9) – you’ve done your neighbourhoods proud by turning up in your masses and having a great time, whatever the weather. As ever, we’re pleased to see you enjoying yourselves and hope you continue to get involved! Turn to pages 23 and 24 to find out all the dates and details for upcoming events in your area. Our customer involvement crew are often at the heart of these great occasions, and they’ve been busy planning our Customer Awards 2012, which were presented in a wonderful ceremony at Media City in Manchester recently. We had asked you to tell us about your fantastic neighbours and you responded in great numbers, so the judges really had their work cut out selecting the nominees. Find out who won what and check out the photos from the day – which included the Great Places Training Academy graduation – on pages 12 and 13. Ethan Evans, a 10-year-old boy with a truly inspirational story to tell, was joint winner of the Young Tenant Of The Year category – and when you read his story on pages 4 and 5, you’ll see why he deserves it. Anyone who has come through so much at such a young age, and is still so positive, driven and determined to help others deserves huge congratulations. We know loads of you have brilliant stories to tell, so please get in touch to share yours – this is your magazine, after all! Call 0161 447 032 or email julia. graham@ if you have any comments or suggestions for future editions.

31 32

Brand new look for Hawkshaw Cou rt haven Blackpool Kidz get their kicks for free

HELP, INFORMATION & ADVICE 14 All the emergency numbers you nee d to know 16-17 Welfare reform - beating the benefits cap 19 Our new Blackburn office opens its doors 25 Report anti-social behaviour round the clock 26 Your rent statement explained 28 Money-saving magic – loads of saving tips 29 Home improvements: when are you rs due? 31 Have you got the Great Places app yet? 31 Beware of bogus callers – catch the conmen!

STEPHEN SAYS our chief executive, page 14 WHAT’S ON, WHERE pages 22-23 WIN WIN WIN! 34

Prize wordsearch... bag yourself £25


WAYS TO GET INVOLVED 20-21 Come and get involved wit h us... here’s how! 24 Local Area Forums – details and dat es for you 27 Community reps at large – fancy sign ing up? 33 Have your say. Whatever it is, we wa nt to hear it!

GET IN TOUCH Julia Graham, editor 2



All the details you need to contact


Free laptop love! lp you get online Great Places gives away £8,000 to he

Want to speak to us? Call us on

0300 123 1966 Got a problem? Need to get in touch with Great Places? It’s easy! Here’s how to do it: • Our 0300 123 1966 number is cheap to ring from a mobile and 0300 numbers are included in “bundled minutes”. We recently changed it because our old 0845 number could be expensive to call from some mobiles. The 0300 number is cheaper to call than the old one from mobiles and landlines.


n the last edition of My Great Place, we told you that Great Places was shelling out £8,000 to help you get online. We promised to donate the cash to buy some of our residents laptops... and you responded in huge numbers!

The number of entries we had was overwhelming, so thanks to everyone who took the time to fill in the entry form and tell us why you should qualify. We’re currently working out way through the applications and the prize draw will take place

later this month. If you don’t hear from us by September 1, assume that you’ve been unsuccessful. We’ll tell you the names of all the lucky laptop winners in the next My Great Place, out in November – so look out for that!


New Blackburn office opens doors Great Places has a new office in Blackburn! We’ve moved to Barnfield House, Suite 4 and 5, Ground Floor, Accrington Road, Blackburn BB1 3NY. The lease was up on our previous address at Park Bank House, and that office closed on 13 July. Even though we’ve physically moved, the disruption to our Blackburn tenants is minimal. If you need to get in touch with us, all direct dial numbers to our neighbourhood co-ordinators and officers will stay exactly the same as they were before. Please ring our customer access team on 0300 123 1966 as normal if you have an enquiry.

• Our customer access team is here 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday. If you call us you will be asked some “security” questions at the start of the call to make sure we are speaking to the right person. • You can pay your rent over the phone, report a repair or tell us about property maintenance issues. • If you call us during our busiest times, our call queuing system will prompt you to leave a message and we will call you back within one hour. • We may check your contact details with you, including includes things like your e-mail and phone number.

Move it: our new Blackburn HQ

If you want to pay us a visit... You can still come and see us if you’d prefer - our normal office hours are Monday 9.30am to 5pm and Thursday 9.30am to 12.30pm. If you would like to see a member of staff outside of these hours, please contact us to make an appointment.

You can also text us on 07797 870 734 or email cat@great It’s good to talk: our new number is included in free ‘bundled minutes’

MyGreatPlace 3 MyGreatPlace 3

Charity champion... charity champion... charity c

Beating the odds to be xxxxxx

Great Places tenant Ethan Evans is no ordinary 10-year-old – in a lifetime. Now the budding Olympian faces afeltnew challen immediately comfortable in the poolge...

GThe fabulous figures reat Places’ tenant Ethan Evans is no ordinary ten-year old boy. He’s had more challenges to overcome

than most of us have in a lifetime. Now, Age: the budding Olympian is facing up to an altogether new challenge, raising £10,000 Planning to raise: for a charity close to his heart. My Great Place went to meet this remarkable Ethan’s record swim time for a mile: young swimmer. [Body copy] Life-threatening septicaemia at oneyear’s old, a violent reaction to the MMR jab six months later, and croup at fouryear’s old… Sounds like a script from an episode of Coronation Street, but this is real life – the life of Ethan Evans, a young boy from Salford who, against the odds, is now on the road to becoming an Olympic swimmer in 2024, and raising thousands of pounds for charity in the process. If being struck down by serious illness three times isn’t enough, when Ethan



30mins, 43 secs

was just eight-year’s old he was knocked down by a car outside his then school on Langworthy Road in Salford. His Grandad Edwin Green picks up the story. “The driver of the car drove off and left him. His knees were damaged, he broke his jaw and several teeth came through his bottom lip. His face completely knocked off the wing mirror of the car.” After a long recovery with extensive physiotherapy Ethan was told the crushing news that he would not be able to pay his beloved football again at a competitive level. However, his physio suggested an alternative, swimming. “I’d done swimming before but not at any kind of level,” says Ethan, who attends Willow Tree Primary School in Salford. “I

and 12 months after I was knocked down I took part in my first races and won three silver medals.” Now Ethan swims for Salford and Worsley and has just completed trials to swim for Lancashire. Great Britain is his next challenge. “I prefer sprints, I’m not really a distant swimmer but I recently completed 64 lengths in 30 minutes 43 seconds which means I’m the fastest swimmer in our school.” Ethan’s achievements eclipse those of most boys his age but he’s determined to go even further and use his swimming talents to help others in need. He has set himself a target of February 2013 to raise £10,000 for the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital Cancer unit. “I want to raise money for different charities. I know a boy who’s being treated for Leukaemia at the hospital and he’s not strong enough to raise funds for the ward so I’m doing it on his behalf,” explains Ethan. Different charities are set to benefit from Ethan’s swimming challenges each year




champion... charity champion... charity champion...

our charity champion

he’s had more challenges to overcome than many of us face to raise £10,000 for a charity that couldn’t be closer to his heart


ife-threatening septicaemia at one-year-old, a violent reaction to the MMR jab six months later, and croup at fouryears old… it sounds like a script from an episode of Coronation Street, but this is real life – the life of Ethan Evans. He’s a young boy from Salford who, against the odds, is now on the road to becoming an Olympic swimmer in 2024, and raising thousands of pounds for charity in the process. If being struck down by serious illness three times isn’t enough, when Ethan was just eight years old he was knocked down by a car outside his then school on Langworthy Road in Salford. His grandad, Edwin Green, picks up the story.

“I’d done swimming before but not at a competitive level,” says Ethan, who attends Willow Tree Primary School in Salford. “I immediately felt comfortable in the pool and 12 months after I was knocked down, I took part in my first races and won three silver medals.”

‘Ethan has come through so many things that I’m determined to help him achieve his £10,000 goal... he’s a very special kid’ Edwin, Ethan’s grandfather

“The driver of the car drove off and left Ethan after he was hit. His knees were damaged, he broke his jaw and several teeth came through his bottom lip. His face completely knocked the wing mirror off the car.”

Now Ethan swims for Salford and Worsley and has just completed trials to swim for Lancashire. Great Britain is his next challenge. “I recently completed 64 lengths in 30 minutes 43 seconds, which means I’m the fastest swimmer in our school.”

After a long recovery and extensive physiotherapy, Ethan was told the crushing news that he would not be able to pay his beloved football again at a competitive level. However, his physio suggested an alternative – swimming.

than’s achievements eclipse those of most boys his age but he’s determined to go even further and use his talents to help others in need. He has set himself a target of February 2013 to raise £10,000 for the Royal


Manchester Children’s Hospital Cancer unit. “I want to raise money for different charities. I know a boy who’s being treated for leukaemia at the hospital and he’s not strong enough to raise funds for the ward so I’m doing it on his behalf,” explains Ethan. Different charities are set to benefit from Ethan’s swimming challenges each year and he’s committed himself to adding a mile on to his swimming distance for every year he fundraises. Wish Upon A Star Foundation, which makes dreams come true for children with lifethreatening illnesses, and Francis House Children’s Hospice, are next on the list. “He’s got the fundraising genes from me,” says Edwin, Ethan’s grandad. “I raised £120k for St Ann’s Hospice when my wife died. Ethan has just done a mile for his school and he raised £450. He’s come through so many things that I’m determined to help him achieve his goal of £10,000. He’s a very special kid and we’re all so proud of him!” Turn to pages 12-13 to find out how Ethan got on in our Customer Awards 2012.

Want to donate to Ethan’s campaign ? Email eddieg20 02@hotm MyGreatPlace 5

Dancing in the streets The Queen’s diamond jubilee prompted big parties and There were smiles all round recently as residents across Great Places joined staff to celebrate the Queen's diamond jubilee. Everyone got into the party mood to raise a toast to her majesty’s 60 years on the throne... check out these great photos to see the fun activities that some of you got stuck into! An action-packed jubilee street party took place at The Vibe, New Broughton, Manchester – organised by Anne Hudson of Baronet walk.

Far left: Baby Maddison Mae White in her very above, even some of Great Places’ four-legged taking the lead and in the mood for a rather Left: fun and competition

Above and one of the residents... At Tulloch Court, Blackpool, Barbara Middleton was ‘Queen for the day’ - she’s pictured with her daughter, left. Ellen Widdowson and Margaret Henry relax, right, and Ray Weedall cooks on, above. 6


as you sing in the reign! community celebrations... are you in this photo special? Great Places residents in Oldham celebrated the Queen’s diamond jubilee in style at the Werneth Cricket Club (pictured left and below). More than fifty residents attended and were treated to a chocolate-making demonstration followed by cream tea, delicious scones and a raffle. special dress; friends were patriotic party! games during the egg and spoon race as the heated up in New Broughton’s jubilee sports day

They even sang along with a Cliff Richard lookalike (who was very well impersonated by the man behind the chocolatemaking demonstration... multitasking at its finest!). The residents sang, danced, popped party poppers and tucked into the tasty chocolates. Everyone who attended had a really good time, and warmly applauded the organisers at the end.

below right: Young tenants having fun at Oldham parties for Crossley and Primrose Bank this one involved a crown-making competition!

Felicity Kearney, neighbourhood officer for Great Places, told us: “It was a celebration that the Queen herself would have been proud to attend!”

Residents from Valley Close, Nelson (Blackburn region) organised a wonderful party which featured delicious homebaked cakes, a royal fancy dress competition and some great games. MyGreatPlace


Your events photo special...

Your events photo

Baskets of brilliance... whatever the weather! Northmoor, Manchester Northmoor, Manchester More than 100 residents attended a fundraising games day at Northmoor Community Centre, with money raised going towards an interactive whiteboard. Residents also got their rhythm sticks going with a drumming session (pictured) and took part in a raffle and other activities. £516 was raised – great effort!

Knutsford Forty two of our Knutsford residents, along with staff and the new mayor of the area, Vivien Davies recently got green-fingered to make some beautiful hanging baskets. The results were very impressive, as you can see – pictured right and below.

Morecambe The tenants of West End Morecambe braved the elements to produce some lovely hanging baskets and tubs to brighten up their homes (pictured above). They also took time out to re-plant the area that was created last year by volunteers from the Princes Trust – and it’s now looking so much more colourful and appealing.

8 MyGreatPlace


Your events photo special...

Your eve

Blackburn Blackburn residents from the Cicely/ Bridgemill area of Audley and Apple Close and Court, Wensley Fold, rolled up their sleeves and planted hanging baskets to commemorate the Queen’s jubilee recently. Great Places and Cruden staff worked with residents over two days to brighten up the housing schemes with flowered baskets, which look great and provide a nice reminder of the occasion. Pictured: far right, Aaisha Hussain from the Cicely/Bridgemill scheme; right, Amy Harris (Apple Close) and Anne Hood (Apple Court) with their effort.

Crowcroft, Manchester The rain finally stopped for the Crowcroft Park Fun Day (pictured below and left), and more than 300 people attended! Activities included a climbing wall (pictured below), bouncy castle and slide, drumming workshop, giant games, face painting, tombola, a raffle, hair braiding, Indian head massages and Henna tattoos. We might not have had the sun, but the Gorton Steel Band brought a tropical feel to the day. The NHS Health Bus came along too, with information on stopping smoking and cholesterol checks (far left).

As soon as the greenhouse was ready, staff worked with the residents to arrange more training – this time around greenhouse gardening. The majority of residents were involved and it is intended the containers they used before can be filled with plants they grow in their own greenhouses in future.

Accrington Following a beginners’ gardening course held on Spindleberry Court, Accrington, last year, the residents were inspired to put forward a successful bid for funding from the Great Places Opportunities For All fund for a communal greenhouse.

The residents have said working in the greenhouse has dramatically improved community spirit, as well as the scheme’s appearance! They also have lots more to talk to each other about and are planning to share all the fruit and vegetables they produce. MyGreatPlace 9

rs at Great Places

r u o s e v i g s i s o n g a i d s ’ r o t c o D Green h t l a e w f o l l i b n a e l c a s e m o h m Oldha ent matte All the latest in environm

The diagnosis is purely positive with our latest green initiative...


t’s an emergency... call the Green Doctor! Great Places has been working with the Groundwork charity to implement a Green Doctor programme through funding secured from LEAF (Local Energy Assessment Fund). The key aim of the project was to engage with residents in Oldham to provide energy advice to help them improve the energy efficiency of their homes, making them warmer, cosier and bringing the cost of their bills down! More than 400 Great Places households were involved in the project. Some were given energy efficiency leaflets while others signed up to the full Green Doctor scheme and received energy efficiency information tailored for them. These residents also gained energyefficiency devices including radiator reflectors, draft proofing, energy-efficient light bulbs and timers for plug sockets.

All better: Resident Mrs Peverley with a Groundwork rep


n addition to the potential financial savings that our residents will benefit from, the project as a whole is predicted to save more than 60,000kg of Carbon every year and help to improve the sustainability of the homes. Great Places is seeking more funding options to be able to roll out a similar project in other areas, so watch this space for more!

Lisa gets your home energy levels in check! In the last My Great Place, we introduced environmental liaison officer Lisa Mcauley and told you how she can come and carry out home energy checks at your property. Many of you expressed an interest, and the environmental team will shortly be arranging visits to see if they can help residents

reduce the energy they are using in their homes while maintaining or improving on their comfort factor – and saving money on their bills! We also ran a quiz to win £60 of green goodies, and the lucky winner was Jacqueline McCloud – well done to her!

If you want Lisa to do a home energy check in your home, give her a call on 0161 447 5093... the environment and your bank manager will thank you! 10 MyGreatPlace

Gardening competition 2012... the winners!

Grounds for great things A huge thank you to all our residents who braved the horrendous weather to get your garden space ready for this year’s competition.


“It shows that lots of our residents really take pride in their garden space. They should give themselves a massive pat on the back,” one happy judge declared. Were you a winner?

Most environmentally friendly garden: Dorn Reed, Overfields.

This year’s winners

Best hanging baskets/window box display: Mr and Mrs Edwards, Shaw Drive.

Best garden: Anthony Acton, Longridge.



Most environmentally friendly garden: Residents of Bankfield of Ainsworth in Bolton.

Most environmentally friendly garden: Mrs Bibi, Logwood Street, Blackburn.

Best garden: joint winners: Mr & Mrs Holloway, Western St, Salford; and Mr & Mrs Sciberras, Hawkshaw Court, Salford.

Best garden: Mrs Riley, Town Walk, Blackburn.

Best hanging baskets/window box display: Mr & Mrs Holloway, Western St, Salford.


Best hanging baskets/window box display: Emma Rea, The Sawmills, Blackpool. Most environmentally friendly garden: Mr Mallam, Hatfield Mews, Fleetwood. Best garden: joint winners: Elk View, Blackpool; and Tulloch Court, Blackpool.


Best hanging baskets/window box display: Mrs Khan, Hopkins St, Longsight. Most environmentally friendly garden: Mrs Miah, Wansford Street, Moss Side. Best garden: Mr Arshad, Longsight.

Best hanging baskets/window box display: Mrs S Sudmale, Yeadon Close, Accrington.


Best hanging baskets/window box display: Aysha Iqbal, Rochdale. Best garden: Allison & Mr A Frater, Sylvan Close, Middleton.


Best hanging baskets/window box display: Mrs N Heath, Wybourn House Road, Wybourn. Most environmentally friendly garden: Mrs Vogado, Richmond Park Croft. Best garden: Mr & Miss Cockman, Richmond Park Grove, Handsworth.


customer involvement ... customer involvement...

And the most out of being involved with Great Places, gain more skills and knowledge and be more effective in meetings.

I Involved tenant of the year: June Meaney, Blackpool June, of Elk View Court, is a star events organiser. She’s organised several great events for her fellow residents and has done lots of vital work to ensure that disabled residents are always able to attend the day trips.

Green award: David Neale, Blackpool Despite his limited mobility, David still managed to start a gardening gang at Elk View Court and worked hard to encourage other residents. Sadly, David passed away the day before the ceremony - but his brilliant environmental work will leave a lasting legacy.

June Meaney and Lily Crawford are pictured collecting the award on David’s behalf from Guy Cresswell (Great Places’ director of housing) and Christine Goulden, Tenant Services Committee chair.

n the last couple of editions of My Great Place we asked you to tell us about your fantastic neighbours, and loads of you entered yours in our Customer Awards 2012! Our judging panel had a tough time drawing up the shortlist – and selecting the winners was almost an impossible task, as all entrants are winners in our eyes. Around 90 residents and guests attended the awards ceremony at Media City on July 21, and everyone had a great day, with each winner receiving a trophy and some gift vouchers and the runners-up getting certificates. As well as the customer awards ceremony, guests were treated to the Great Places’ Training Academy graduation ceremony. The Great Places Training Academy was launched in January 2012. It was created so that residents could get the

Ethan and Guy, left; and relaxing with his sister Morgan, right

Young tenant of the year: Ethan Evans, Salford Ethan is no ordinary 10-year-old - he’s overcome life-threatening illness, a hit-and-run accident and major surgery. He’s now a champion swimmer and fundraiser – read the full story on pages 4-5! 12 MyGreatPlace MyGreatPlace 12

It was free, and residents didn’t need any formal qualifications to take part. More importantly, it was fun and sociable! Residents helped to develop the academy in partnership with Great Places and Jayne Boote from training provider Engage for Change. We asked some tenants who already worked with us to take part in the four-day training courses, so we could teach them essential skills. This event was a great chance for the graduates – all 13 of them – to come together, celebrate their achievements and receive their scrolls. If you would like to register your interest in attending the Training Academy, email and put Training Academy in the subject line, or call Pauline Heron, customer involvement co-ordinator, on 0161 925 7938.

Young tenant of the year: Harrison Grant, Manchester Peggy Cooke, who nominated Harrison, told us: “He helps out at every community event – including fun days and our recent jubilee party. He’s a great help and every neighbourhood needs more young people like him.”

customer involvement ... customer involvement,..

.customer involvement...customer involvement...cust

winners are...

The first Great Places Customer Awards took place recently – and our nominees were joined by the class of 2012 for a fabulous event

Staff award: Friends of Openshaw Court and Ramsden Fold, Salford

Our proud graduates, top; and a selection of the delighted award winners, below

The ‘friends’ organise all their own activities and welcome new tenants with open arms. Their efforts organising events including film nights, line dancing and fun days – as well as helping in the communal kitchen – are really impressive.

Community rep of the year: Joyce Hitchon, Blackpool Since Joyce took on the rep role there’s been a big improvement in the time problems take to be reported and solved.

Neighbourhood champions: Jacqueline Hoyle and Margaret Plant, Stretford

Both of these inspirational ladies have played a vital role in tackling anti-social behaviour in Stretford. They have always been vigilant in reporting such issues and recently gave evidence in court, which resulted in the eviction of one of their neighbours. They refused to be intimidated in the witness box and stood firm in their determination to clear their neighbourhood of ASB.

Unsung hero: Linda Hughes, Old Trafford

The stylish Media City was a great venue

Our customer involvement crew organised the day

Linda’s neighbour told us: “Linda is a kind, thoughtful member of the community. She’s always there to help her neighbours and the answer is always yes when you need a favour! She’s restored community spirit and constantly looks out for everyone in her smiling, supportive manner.” MyGreatPlace 13

..customer involvement...customer involvement..

A word from

our chief executive


he summer is flying by and even though the government’s welfare reform measures – which will kick in next April – might seem a long way off, it’s vital that everyone understands the changes so we can start preparing for them now.

Community achievements...

High flyers P

upils leaving a Knutsford primary school had a special sendoff with an amazing graduation ceremony in Manchester airport’s Concorde hangar. It was the culmination of the My World project, which gave children from Manor Park Primary School their first taste of the world of work.

In this issue we cover the benefits cap (see the following two pages for more), while in the last edition we talked about the bedroom tax – which means your housing benefit will be cut if you’re of working age, get housing benefit and are seen to have more bedrooms than you need. If you are going to be hit by the bedroom tax, your local council will write to you to let you know, and Great Places will be in touch to discuss how you plan to pay the shortfall in your rent. If you missed this article and want to find out more about the changes, Great Places has a team of people that can help you make the most of your money - call 0300 123 1966 or email financialinclusionteam@ and we’ll do our best to help you.


nother big change coming up concerns the way Great Places organises its repairs. We launched our in-house repairs service last September following feedback from residents. It now covers 5,800 homes, and so far you’ve told us you’re very happy with it! As a result of this, and in an effort to provide an even better service, we have decided to bring all responsive repairs work in house. By the end of this year, the team will operate in all our regions. The changes will obviously have a big impact on the way Great Places works within the property services team and with our contractor partners, especially Cruden and Kier. Our contracts with them are soon coming to an end, so this seems the right time to respond to your feedback. Hopefully you’ll all feel the benefits! 14


So, what exactly do we If you have an emergency, we guarantee someone will visit your home within four hours. Some customers are not sure what we mean by an emergency, so to help you be clear on this, we’d class these situations as one:

• It’s winter and you have no heating and hot water • There is a serious leak/burst • You have no water supply • You have no electricity • A door or window needs boarding up • You can’t lock your home, or it isn’t secure for another reason

. community achievements

are ready for take-off

Experiencing work at Manchester Airport, Bruntwood and Tatton Park, the children met a variety of people in different job roles in and around Knutsford. These were as diverse as head gardener, airport fire officer, park ranger and security officer, and the graduation itself was a great success.

mean by an • Your home is unsafe and damage could worsen if it is not repaired In some exceptional circumstances – for example, if there are major problems on the roads – we may respond only to emergencies.

Great Places community development co-ordinator, Lucy Beesley, said: “This has given the children confidence to get out there into the world of work, showing them many of the opportunities available to them. It was brilliant to be able to have the graduation in such an unusual location, too!”


If this happens, we’ll tell you that this is the case when you call. We will also put details on our website,

For urgent repairs we will offer an appointment in one to three days.

Examples of urgent repairs include a breakdown of part of your heating system, or some of your electrics. See the box on the right for the numbers to call if there’s an emergency at your home.

Here are the numbers you need to know Great Places’ in-house repairs: 0300 123 1966 Cruden: 0300 1234 599 Kier (South Yorkshire): 0114 205 3600, 0114 273 0101 (out-of-hours) MyGreatPlace 15

Benefits cap ... Benefits cap


Benefits cap


If the cap fits... we’ll From next April, the government will limit the amount of benefits that many workless people are able to claim. The changes are part of the Welfare Reform Bill, and the cap will be:

£500 a week maximum If your household is made up of a couple (with or without children), or if you are a lone parent and the children you have responsibility for live with you.

£350 a week maximum If you are a single person and you have no children, or the children you have responsibility for don’t live with you. Pensioners, those on disability benefits and those that get working tax credits will not have their benefits capped.

What if I’m affected?

If you are going to be hit by the benefits cap, you will receive a letter from your local authority explaining this to you. It is housing benefit that will be reduced to bring people within the cap, so if you are affected you will need to speak to your housing officer about how you will pay the shortfall in your rent.

Where can I get help?

April may seem like a long way off but if you are worried about how you’ll cope on less benefit, it is best to deal with it now before you get into rent arrears. Our financial inclusion team is great at saving tenants’ money, and they put almost £1 million back in your pockets last year. Even if they can’t save you cash, they have loads of advice for you.

‘The CV To Success so much more –


o help people get back on the jobs ladder, Great Places has joined forces with Salford Housing and the People’s Voice Media Team to give our residents a ‘CV To Success’. The project aims to give residents confidence, good IT skills and much more besides to help them back into training or employment. Everyone who attended sessions completed video CVs which involved writing scripts, filming and editing their own video, and uploading it on to a blog site.

Getting back into work

Your best option may be to look for work, as this allows you to qualify for working tax credits – which will mean you are exempt from the cap. You’ll qualify for working tax credits by working 16 hours or more a week if you’re single, or 24 hours or more if you are in a couple (one person must work at least 16 hours). Read on for top tips to help you beat the cap and get back in the job market.

Lutala Tambwe attended the project and was delighted with the results. She said: “The course has inspired me, and made me realise I can do so much more. I loved being back in the workplace.”

Release your potential in the health sector

If you’re unemployed, live in Salford, want to learn new skills and work in the health sector, we may be able to help you. 16 MyGreatPlace

Great Places, Unlimited Potential and Contour Homes are looking for people to volunteer on the Healthy Communities Collaborative (HCC) project, ideally to help out for about one day a week. Through hands-on fun and community engagement,

you’ll help raise awareness of the early symptoms of cancer and encourage people to visit their GP to see if they are at risk of heart disease. At the end of the programme, you’ll have the skills to deliver great community activities on important health messages – and we’ll also help you use your

new skills to hopefully find a job that’s right for you.

How to apply

If you’d like to have an informal chat and find out more about this opportunity, please contact Kieron McGlass on 0161 743 4509 or email kieron.mcglasson@


Benefits cap


Benefits cap ...

Benefits cap

help you back to work

course really inspired me. It made me realise I can do and I absolutely loved being back in the workplace!’ Skill-up with our free courses! Some of our residents can take advantage of a wide range of free 10-day courses which will provide them with some great skills for getting back in the job market. Courses will be available for Salford residents – with the potential to expand into our different regions – in vehicle maintenance, construction, IT skills, horticulture and hair and beauty.

Lutala really benefited from the work experience gained as part of our CV To Success initiative

Those who attend will work with tutors to get training and qualifications in one of the following areas: construction skills, fire marshal training, first aid, health and safety or food and hygiene. You’ll also work on CV building, interview techniques and job searching, which will come in handy when you’re promoting all your new skills!

Since attending the course, Lutala was completed a successful work placement at CSC Construction (pictured above), and this led to a course which should result in a formal qualification. She also has

Salford residents who want to get involved can contact Brighter Futures on 0161 737 4790. If you live in our other regions and would like to register your interest, please text the word ‘bright’ along with your name, address and contact details to 07786 631 990, or email

plans to spend time with the Great Places property services team in the future. Look out for more on CV To Success in future editions of My Great Place.

Let us know if your circumstances change! Welfare reform will affect lots of our tenants. We can help you understand the changes, but we need to make sure we hold your correct details, so it’s vital that you let us know if your circumstances change – call our customer access team on 0300 123 1966. The more up-to-date information we have for you, the better we can tailor our services to meet your needs.

Financial affairs

If you tell us when you gain or lose a job, our financial inclusion team may be able to help you make the most of benefits or lower utility bills.

Family matters

Tell us if you have more children! That way, we may be able to move you into larger properties to avoid over-crowding. If families

get smaller as children move out of home, we could help you downsize to a more affordable property.

Healthy households

If you let us know about any health conditions, we could fit aids and adaptations to help you to live independently. Also tell us about long-term problems, for example, if someone

has a degenerative illness such as muscular dystrophy, their condition will worsen over time and we can plan to either adapt their property where possible, or move residents into a more appropriate home. MyGreatPlace 17

House party harmony rules! Oldham


ere you at the House Party in Oldham recently? Oldham Housing Investment Partnership (OHIP) brought together residents from social housing landlords across the town, including Great Places, Aksa Housing, Contour Hones, First Choice Housing Association and Villages Homes for the event, which was a big success.


Sign up to perform, produce and more! Do you live in Salford? Would you like to make new friends and get out more, and learn new skills at the same time? The Salford Project began in January and is looking for volunteers who could be office workers, designers, actors, performers, writers, producers or admin staff... no experience is needed!

Cohesion, diversity and the topic ‘who is your perfect neighbour?’ were the main themes of this year’s House Party, which took place at Mahdlo – a purpose-built £5million youth zone in the heart of Oldham. The 50 residents who attended were divided into three groups. Using the resources provided, including magazines, photos, paper, scissors and glue, the groups had great fun designing collages of their perfect neighbour - individuals and families. Members of each group then talked about their collages and the thinking behind them. There was also some discussion about bad neighbours and the stereotypes surrounding them. If you’d like to find out more about the House Party, call Naseem Ahmad on 0161 484 3221.

The project is run by a team from Great Places and Footlights Theatre School. Earlier this year they joined forces with locals to perform a play at Media City about the dangers of borrowing money from loan sharks (pictured). It was a great success and now they’re looking to build on that achievement! All you need to apply is a willingness to learn, share your skills and be part of a team! If you’re interested, call Nicola Shea on 0161 925 7990 for details.

Groundwork for greatness

As well as all this, Sadar has been working with a number of local work clubs where jobseekers can get advice, information about jobs and support to find the right career for them.

Blackpool, Manchester, Oldham

Currently there are work clubs at New Day (Peel Grove) in Manchester, Blackpool Foyer and Werneth Community Centre in Oldham.

Great Places’ new initiatives manager, Sadar Uddin, has been keeping busy with a range of projects to help people in several of our communities. He’s been working closely with Your Environment Team (YET), which is helping a group of former offenders turn parts of north Manchester into a green oasis! 18 MyGreatPlace

YET is a partnership between Great Places, Groundwork, Adactus, Arawak Walton, Guinness Northern Counties, Johnnie Johnson, Places for People and Tung Sing.

They give residents the chance to meet others looking for work, share job-hunting experiences and get the help they need. Call Sadar on 07971 568 173 if you’re interested in finding out more.

Garden group is united for fun day


Oldham Residents from many different communities came together for a fun day at Yasmin Gardens in Westwood, Oldham, recently. Great Places teamed up with Aksa Housing to put the event on, which took place during the school holidays. The turnout was excellent with more than 60 residents – who were mostly children – getting involved in the activities on offer which included a bouncy castle, face painting and sunflower-seed potting. The afternoon finished with a litter pick and all the children were rewarded with an ice cream for making the day so successful.

New Islington, Manchester

Dino gets a trim! When a group of New Islington residents told us their area needed a spruce-up, we met with community rep Liam Ryan and had a walkabout to identify grot spots. The result was a clean-up and hanging basket workshop with support from Urban Splash... and we even restored the topiary dinosaur back to its former glory (pictured)!

On the bounce: Naseem, Smira and co with some happy residents The purpose of the event was to bring together tenants from Great Places and Aksa Housing and ask if they wanted to work in partnership on planning activities for Yasmin Gardens tenants. They are now attending a meeting to discuss setting up a tenants’ association. Staff co-ordinating the event on the day from Great Places included Naseem

Ahmad (community development co-ordinator) and Smira Khalid (neighbourhood officer). If you want to organise a similar event in your neighbourhood or you’re interested in forming a tenants’ association, just let us know by getting in touch with your Great Places neighbourhood co-ordinator.

Take note of our magic numbers


e’re always trying to improve our performance here at Great Places, and we are proud of how we look after day-to-day issues. Our priority is to provide high-quality services to every single tenant, wherever you live.

latest key figures dotted throughout the following pages – they’re all in bright pink boxes like the one below.

Figure finder


All the figures are based on the information we have collected up to the end of June 2012.

We also present It’s important we statistics at our local Of residents are happy with the overall service monitor and measure area forums. See page we provide how we’re doing. 24 to find out where and We set ourselves when your next meetings ambitious targets and are taking place. work really hard to meet them. If you want to know more, contact Razwan Anwar on 0161 447 5062 We set objectives for all areas of our or send him and email him at business and check how well we are doing every month. You’ll find our MyGreatPlace 19

customer involvement ... customer involvement...c

Resident inspectors put us back under the microscope


t’s been a hectic few months for our resident inspectors, who have been busy checking that the services Great Places delivers to customers meet the standards we promise. In response to customer feedback, inspectors have recently been looking at customer access to make sure that our tenants are able to contact Great Places in a way that suits them, as and when they need to.

who to contact if you need to report anti-social behaviour. The results allow us to find out if there are any gaps so that our services can be improved. We’d also like to say a big thanks and welcome to a number of new faces who have joined our team of resident inspectors, after reading about the role in the last edition of My Great Place.

Inspectors became ‘mystery shoppers’ to find out what it is like to contact us either by telephone, text, email, online or by visiting a local office to ask general questions about our services. These could include getting advice on moving home, ways to pay rent and

Great Places has also been involved in a ‘peer review’ with Rochdale Housing Initiative and six other social landlords in Rochdale. This compares the different ways landlords deal with specific things, and involved sharing ideas about how we all work. We’re reviewing our scheme inspection procedure as a result!

‘The whole experience was so positive and invaluable’ It’s easy for you to get involved with us and have your say about the services we provide. We recently helped resident Bev Norris attend a meeting with Lovell, a contractor who looks after some of our technical services including CCTV and electronic gates. The meeting was to go through how they operate to make sure they’re providing the best possible service. 20


Bev, who is pictured above, said: “We looked at how things work and identified ways we can make it better.

Zoe Bate, Lovell’s technical manager, added: “Having residents involved in our decisionmaking processes means we can make changes that benefit all service users. It was extremely rewarding for everyone.”

To find out more about becoming a resident inspector or getting more involved with us, “The experience was really contact Tracy Gregory positive and invaluable, on 0161 925 7918 or and I’ll look forward to email at tracy.gregory@ getting more involved.”

TSC talk: Christine Goulden, chair of the Tenant Services Committee, gives her regular update on what your reps have been up to


t’s been a really busy time for the TSC. We all got together for an away day recently, which was very productive. While we were there, we talked about the many ways tenants can get involved with Great Places. I’d like to say a huge thank you to all those across the regions who sit on our various groups and committees, including the Complaints Learning Forum, Value For Money and Service Improvement groups, community reps, tenant inspectors and many more. Your work is invaluable! Many tenants take part in these groups and take advantage of our ongoing training programme, to gain skills which help improve our services. It was great to see how successful the Great Places Training Academy

Like what The TSC needs new members!

Do you care about people? Can you represent other tenants’ views? Want to make a difference? Do you have a can-do attitude? Can you challenge information and tell us how Great Places can do things better? If this sounds like you, read on.

olvement ... customer involvement,

customer involvement...customer involvement...custo

come and join our team today! ‘You can make things better by listening to the tenants’

Who we are, what we do The Tenant Services Committee is a tenant-led, decision-making body that operates at the highest level and means that Great Places is accountable to tenants. Members examine our has been – I attended the recent graduation (see pages 12-13) and was so impressed. Congratulations to all involved!

This quarter we’ve been... • Closely monitoring the impact of welfare reform on our tenants • Working with you to improve the Opportunities for All fund • Reviewing new services standards • Sending key messages to the Great Places board.

Local area forums

The TSC also spends lots of time considering the key messages from our tenants who attend local area forums (see page 24).

services, monitor performance matters, approve changes and improvements and question how we do things. It also sends key messages from tenants to the Great Places Group Board. Recent topics included: • Communal services Concerns about the standard of works being completed by communal cleaners, window cleaners and grounds maintenance contractors • Investments works Many residents attend forums to find out when they can expect work to be done - see page 29 for more on this • Parking concerns This throws up many issues, which we are currently examining • New developments and how Great Places staff deal with the added workloads which arise as a result. Christine and Harrison Grant, our 2012 young tenant of the year

you hear? Sign yourself up! We are looking for people to join us on Great Places’ Tenant Services Committee. Most members are tenants, with five independent members and a director from Great Places. We meet six times a year to discuss issues that affect tenants from

all over Great Places. We have the power to make decisions, monitor how things are going and challenge anything we think could be done better. Are you interested? To find out more please contact Pauline Heron on 07786 110713 or email

By Carol Neale Tell us a bit about yourself… I have been retired for two years after spending 22 years in the Civil Service and the last 20 working in the voluntary sector for various disability charities. We have been Great Places tenants for two years. Why did you decide to become a TSC member? I saw the article about the TSC and decided to apply because I thought it would make me more involved and I hoped that I had the right skills. I also thought that being a TSC member would be a challenge and I would understand the more corporate side of the organisation. What does being on the TSC involve? Attending the TSC meetings, and I have become involved in the equality and diversity group, which I find really interesting. I am also a member of a group which is looking at funding. In addition to this, we have regular training sessions which increase our knowledge of various areas of the organisation. What do you think Great Places should be particularly proud of? Its commitment to equality and diversity; the fact that it is always striving to improve and the brilliant opportunities it offers for tenant involvement. As a tenant, what are the three most important qualities that you look for in a landlord? A landlord that keeps its promises, offers a secure tenancy and strives to achieve constant improvement for its tenants. What do you think Great Places could improve on? In any organisation there is always room for improvement. Great Places is aware of the areas it falls short in, but is always working on ways to improve. Why do you think it’s important for tenants to get more involved with their landlords? In the current environment it is too easy for an organisation to become very corporate and not listen to tenants. By including the tenant voice and actually listening, they improve the tenant experience by responding to our actual needs. MyGreatPlace 21

ustomer involvement...customer involvement...

what’s on ... what’s on ... what’s on ... what’s

Find out what’s happening near you and come and join in... Blackburn and East Lancashire Space bus/community consultation Wed 15 Aug, 2pm-4pm, Goodall Close, Earby. School holiday activity for young residents, including Playstation, Xbox and TV. Plus residents’ consultation around lettings/local issues. Gardening Training for new residents 23, 29 or 30 Aug, noon to 4pm, Hurtley Street, Burnley. Garden maintenance tips. To book, please call Louise Ramsay: 07767 644352 or email louise.ramsay@

Cheshire/Manchester Southport day trip Wed 29 Aug. Come and enjoy a day out at the seaside. Local pick-ups for the residents in the following areas: Cheshire, Manchester and Trafford. Places are limited, so to register your interest, please contact the customer access team on 0300 123 1966. Knutsford Free Netball sessions for all ages Tue 14 Aug 1pm-2.30pm; Thu 16 Aug 2pm-3.30pm. Call Lucy Beesley for more (see below). Stoke Free Football sessions: Wed 8, 15 and 22 Aug, 4pm-7pm, Lyme Road field, Meir. To find out more contact Lucy Beesley on 07917 527 280. 22 MyGreatPlace

Fylde Claremont Community Fun Day Sat 1 Sep, 1pm onwards, Claremont Park. Entertainment for everyone. Talbot Road fish and chip supper Wed 3 Oct, 5.30pm–6.30pm, 336 Talbot Road. For all our tenants at 123 Talbot Road. Little sports stars every Tuesday, 1pm-2.30pm, Sports Barn, Gorton Street, Blackpool. Activities for pre-school children. Health Play every Tuesday, 6pm-8pm, Sports Barn, Gorton Street, Blackpool. For 5 to 11-year-olds. Maple Crescent Preston Guild Street Party Sat 8 Sep, all afternoon. Fun and games. Kickz (football skills) every Fri and Sat, Sports Barn, Blackpool, 6pm-9pm. For details, contact Gill Fernandez on 01253 750842.

Manchester Summer cricket camp Wed 15 Aug - Fri 17 Aug, Bignor St Park, Cheetham Hill. In partnership with Lancashire County Cricket and Manchester City Council. 10am-noon: 8 to 11 years; 1pm-3pm: 11-13 years. Northmoor Community Café Until 16 Aug, Tue- Thu 10.30am-1.30pm, Northmoor Community Centre. Tasty and affordable food, advice and fun. See page 27 for more.

Soak it up in Southport: Will you be joining us on our free day trip to the seaside on 29 August? Apply now!

Northmoor Together Mon 17 Sep, 6pm-7.30pm, Northmoor Community Centre. Residents’ meeting. Levy Youth Club Every Tuesday 6.30pm8.30pm, Inspire Centre, Levenshulme. Games, table tennis, arts, crafts and much more - everyone is welcome, so come along and have some fun. Co-op building Centenary Northmoor Community Centre, Wed 17th Oct, 4pm– 6pm. Help us celebrate the Co-op’s 100th birthday in style with food, music and much more. If you have memories or photos you would like to share please contact Sarah on 0161 447 5120 . To learn more about events in Manchester, or to book places, contact Sarah Riley on 0161 447 5120.

Oldham/Rochdale Mini Olympics Wed 29 Aug, 1pm-4pm, Tudor Street kick pitch, Oldham. Community Allotment Mon, Wed and Fri, Kellett Street, Rochdale. Come along on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and get involved in all aspects of organic fruit and vegetable growing. Contact Naseem on 07815 311125. Girls’ youth club Every Fri, 5pm-9pm, Coppice Community Centre, 61-63 Werneth Hall Road, Oldham OL8 4BD. Featuring training, outbound trips

Figure finder


Percentage homes with gas servicing up to date (national average 99.8%)

what’s on ... what’s on ... what’s on ... what’s

on ... what’s on ... what’s on ... what’s on ... and Zumba. Contact Coppice Community Centre on 0161 626 4586. Boys’ youth club Every Mon and Thu, 5pm9pm, Coppice Community Centre, 61-63 Werneth Hall Road, Oldham OL8 4BD. Pool, table tennis and boxing sessions. Contact Coppice Community Centre on 0161 626 4586. Drop in advice surgery Mon to Thu, 9.30am-noon, Coppice Community Centre, 61-63 Werneth Hall Road, Oldham OL8 4BD. Information on welfare, benefits, tax credits and help with interpretation for residents wanting to contact companies but have a language need. Contact 0161 626 4586. Werneth & Freehold Community Development Project A women’s project has been set up and activities will include computer classes, sewing classes, ESOL classes, cooking workshops and job-search clubs. Organisers are asking local residents for ideas for projects. For more details contact Kiran on 0161 628 2235. Activities at Mahdlo Youth Zone Various dates, times and activities - log on to, email or call 0161 624 0111 to find out more information. Activities at Rochdale Leisure Centre Various dates, times and activities at a brand new leisure centre that only opened in July 2012. Log on to for more.

Salford/Bury/Bolton Sheffield Glee club Every Friday, Radcliffe Riverside School, Spring Lane, 5 to10 years, 5.30pm-6.25pm; 11 to 15 years, 6.30pm7.25pm. Sing and dance like your favourite Glee TV characters.

New build Consultation Event Fri 10 Aug, Cricket Inn Crescent, 5pm-7pm. Another opportunity to comment on the proposed plane to develop the Wybourn House Road site.

Junior Wardens Event, Broughton, Salford. Final details to be confirmed. Watch out for more info!

Street fun day, Sat 11 Aug, Manvers Way, Rotherham. Our fist event here to say welcome to all the residents. Activities including face painting, bouncy castles and an opportunity for you to give us your views.

Radcliffe Surgery Every Wednesday 9.30am12.30pm, Radcliffe Housing Benefit office, Whittaker Street, M26 2TD. For enquiries relating to rent, benefit advice, tenancy and management issues – and the chance to meet our staff. Clean-up day Holland Court, Bury. To be held at some point during the

Wybourn Fun Day, Fri 17 Aug, Skye Edge Playing Field, noon-4pm. Lots of activities for all ages, including face painting, football competitions, bouncy castles, stalls and more.

In a spin: Richmond Park summer fun day is always great fun... come along and see for yourself! summer holidays - watch out for more details circulated nearer the time! Bolton Wanderers Community Trust Looking to organise a program of events for children, following consultation feedback at our Bolton Local Area Forum. More information will follow soon.

Athelstan Tea Party, Fri 17 Aug, Athelstan Close, noon to 2pm. An opportunity for residents to get together and share their experiences. Richmond Park Summer Fun Day, Wed 22 Aug, Richmond Park Community Centre, 1pm-4.30pm. Fun and games for all the family.

Tea, cake and consultation Fri 14 Sep, Doncaster Gate, 5pm-7pm. For all residents living within this scheme. Please come along and talk to us about how you can get involved. Picnic & Consultation, Fri 21 Sep, Larking Grove, 4pm-6pm. Talk to us about housing services and how to organise activities for all ages over the coming year. Wybourn Steering Group Community Forum, date to be confirmed. Date for the launch of the forum will be announced by the end of August for a September meeting. The focus is to work in partnership with residents and local agencies to strengthen the Wybourn community. Members will work to improve services, bring people together and build the community’s voice. Topics for discussion revolve around funding opportunities, access to training, health, improving the environment, housing issues and community engagement. All residents who live in Wybourn are welcome to attend future meetings. For more information please Dawn Dale (MCDT) on 0114 278 9999. To learn more about events in Sheffield, or to book places, contact Philip Walker on 01142 842 061.

Figure finder

93.9% Of residents are satisfied with our repairs service

MyGreatPlace 23

s on ... what’s on ... what’s on ...what’s on ...

Local Area Forum update... Local Area Forum update...Local Area

Forum fun proves plain sailing


e had our last round of local area forums in July. During the meetings, residents across all Great Places regions got the chance to meet the staff who work in their area and discuss a number of issues that were important to them, including investment works to their homes and the jubilee events held in their communities. We also invited members of our financial inclusion team to come to meetings and explain how benefit changes are likely to affect residents; in particular, how much people will have to pay when the new bedroom tax kicks in next April. Under changes to the benefit system, residents living in homes where they have bedrooms that are not being

At the Salford forum, one of our residents who is a qualified joiner was directed to our Great Opportunities team to try and help him back in the job market; everyone completed our financial inclusion questionnaire (see page 28) and interest was shown in the community rep role (see page 27) – all very encouraging!

Simply splashing: The Bury forum on Lake Windermere used may be asked to pay a contribution to their rent (see page 14 for more on this). People got the chance to find out more about the changes and how they will be affected, and learn how to be best prepared for the new laws.

Recent successes

The recent Bury forum was aimed at our tenants

in Bury aged over 55, and was combined with a day out to the Lake District. The 29 residents who attended shared their views and heard updates on welfare reform as well as Great Places’ performance, investment works and more. The tenants had a lovely day in Bowness, and the highlight was a boat trip on Lake Windermere.

What’s next?

The next local area forums will be held in October and you will have the chance to tell us what you think of our new service standards, and how you want us to check that we’re doing what we say we will. Why not come along and have your say?

All the dates, times, places and numbers Blackburn

Wed 17 Oct, 6pm-8pm. Venue to be confirmed – please look out for flyers and posters before the event. Call Louise Ramsay on 07767 644352.

Blackpool/Fylde Wed 10 Oct, 12.30pm-2.30pm, Solaris Centre, Promenade, Blackpool. Lunch and transport will be provided. Call Gill Fernandez on 01253 750842.

Preston Tue 16 Oct, 1.30pm-3pm, Community Gateway, Strand Road, Preston. Afternoon tea will be provided.


Dates to be confirmed – look out for posters. Call Nick Shea on 0161 925 7990.

24 MyGreatPlace



Tue 9 Oct, 6.30pm-8.30pm, Gallery Room, Waterside Centre, Sale. Call Sarah Riley on 0161 447 5120.


Details to be confirmed - please look out for flyers and posters before the event. Call Naseem Ahmad on 0161 484 3242.

Wed 12 Sep, 6pm-8.30pm, Ponds Forge, meeting room two. Discuss housing services, meet staff and offer views on group-wide initiatives. Call Philip Walker on 07917617330 to book your place or find out more information.

t to be a tenan g in in a tr in d too? I’m intereste the benefits, l e fe I l il w inspector

Yes – we told the job centre our tenant was seeking training, which could help him back to work; and our Great Opportunities team helped him gain new skills


efore I started my apprenticeship at Great Places, I was working for an auto-electrics company. Unfortunately I was laid off as there was no work coming in, but now I’m going out with various tradespeople to try and find out which one I’m best suited to. Since I joined the Great Places team I’ve been travelling all over Manchester doing repairs with plumbers, electricians etc. On the plumbing side I’ve been watching how to repair common faults and I’ve also been involved in carrying out various repairs. A typical day for me starts with the gaffer either picking me up in the van, or I make my way to the Salford office and go out from there.

Every issue, a member of staff from Great Places will explain who they are and what they do. This time round it’s ...

Josh Halstead, repairs apprentice

The best bit is seeing the smiles on residents’ faces when we’re done! I I

We look through the diaries to see what’s on for the day, then plan the schedule. Then we’re off on our first job, or to the supplier’s yard to make sure we’ve got enough materials to complete most jobs in one visit. From there it’s busy fixing residents’ homes, then I’m dropped off back at my house for a well-earned rest!


love my apprenticeship as no two days are the same. It’s hands-on work and I enjoy meeting new people and speaking to Great Places’ residents the best part is seeing the smile on their faces when the repair is done!

Figure finder


Total repairs completed on time

I hope that during my time at Great Places I get the qualifications I need in the trade that suits me, which will help me develop my skills for the future. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get a full-time job with Great Places too... fingers crossed! Getting stuck in: Josh has tried his hand at all manner of repairs since starting his apprenticeship

Report anti-social behaviour round the clock We take anti-social behaviour very seriously and we know it doesn’t just happen in office hours. We want you to report anti-social behaviour whenever it happens, so Great Places has launched an out-of-hours service.

Residents in all areas (excluding Sheffield) can call 0844 893 2267 to log reports of out-of-hours anti-social behaviour.

holidays. We are confident that this new service will help us take care of your concerns quickly and more effectively.

The service is available Monday to Friday, 6pm to 8am, and 24 hours over weekends and bank

Arrangements are the same during office hours: call the customer access team on 0300 123 1966.

Sheffield residents should ring 101 to report low-level ASB – this includes drunken, behaviour, people being noisy and litterdropping. MyGreatPlace 25 MyGreatPlace

Your rent statement explained All Great Places customers receive a rent statement every three months. Like bank statements, these contain a lot of useful information. Here’s a reminder of what to look for... 1

This line tells you the name and phone number of your neighbourhood officer. Call them if you want to talk about your rent.


Great Places Housing Group Rent Account Statement

Miss G P Resident 729 Princess Road Manchester M20 2LT




Here is your weekly rent charge, plus any extra charges or adjustments. Your tenancy number is the unique reference we use to identify you on our system. The date shows when the statement was printed and the rent charge shows your total weekly rent including any service charges. Where it says ‘balance carried forward’, this shows the balance of your account. If it says DR, it means you are behind with your payments and your account is in debit. If it says CR, like this example, it means your account is in credit and you are up to date or ahead with your payments.

26 MyGreatPlace

Tenancy GP1234567 Tenancy GP123 4567 Statement 2nd August 2012 Statement 2nd August 2011 Rent £70.05 Rentcharge Charge £70.05 Balance £170.79CR Balancecarried Carrieforward d Forward £170.7 9CR

Please contact Mr Mann if you have any queries about this statement on 0161 447 5000

Here are the weekly dates when we have charged you for rent. These most recent transactions are at the bottom, like a bank statement.



Date 02/05/11 09/05/11 16/05/11 23/05/11 30/05/11 06/06/11 13/06/11 20/06/11 27/06/11 04/07/11 11/07/11 18/07/11 25/07/11


Charges 70.05 70.05 70.05 70.05 70.05 70.05 70.05 70.05 70.05 70.05 70.05 70.05 70.05

HB Paid 0.00 -280.20 0.00 0.00 0.00 -280.20 0.00 0.00 0.00 -280.20 0.00 0.00 0.00


Rent Paid 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00

Balance 170.79CR 380.94CR 310.89CR 240.84CR 170.79CR 380.94CR 310.89CR 240.84CR 170.79CR 380.94CR 310.89CR 240.84CR 170.79CR

Registered Office: Southern Gate, 729 Princess Road, Didsbur y, M20 2LT Please note: this statement will not include any payments made since the statement was printed


The ‘Charges’ column shows money taken by Great Places for rent owed. The ‘HB Paid’ column shows housing benefit that has been paid. In this example, all rent is covered by housing benefit. ‘Balance’ shows the balance on your rent account. DR means your account is in debit (arrears), and CR means you are in credit, or up to date.

What happens if I am in arrears because my housing benefit has not yet been paid? Your account can be in arrears (DR) before your housing benefit has been paid. If this happens, providing all is being processed as it should be with your housing benefit, and they are not waiting for any information from you, the arrears are nothing to worry about. As already mentioned, you can call your neighbourhood officer, or alternatively, contact our customer access team on 0300 123 1966 to check your current balance, make a payment or set up a direct debit.

Reps take it all on board Bolton The Great Places community rep annual get-together was held recently, and 18 reps from across various regions attended the event at Bolton Arena. During the course of the day, reps heard presentations on the topics of anti-social behaviour, how to save energy, lower your bills and be more environmentally friendly. They were also consulted on the layout and content of the My Great Place Magazine, and their constructive feedback has been taken on board. A big thank you again to those reps that attended on the day... keep doing your great work in your communities!

Fancy getting involved? Join us! Community Reps are very valued members of our organisation. Their role is to be the eyes and ears of the neighbourhood and report any problems; they also monitor the performance of the window cleaners and gardeners. Reps are an important link between the neighbourhood co-ordinator and the tenants in their area. Their role does not require them to be involved

with any personal issues tenants may have, but they may be able to signpost them to the right person. At the moment we have 59 reps in the organisation. If this is a role you are interested in, please contact your local neighbourhood co-ordinator or community development coordinator, as we’re always looking to recruit more! You will be paid £60 a year to cover any expenses.

Community cafe serves up plenty to smile about Northmoor, Manchester For four weeks over the summer, Northmoor Community Centre (pictured) will turn into a café, which will be run by volunteers from the local community. Helpers will receive a basic food hygiene qualification as well as learning new skills including food prep, stock taking, budgeting and customer service. Each week features crafts and a different theme – debt and money advice, education and work, health and wellbeing and hobbies. Advisors will be popping in every day from organisations such as 27 MyGreatPlace

Charity cash goes a long way

Gingerbread, NHS, Open University, Macmillan and Rubbish Revamped to give advice and support. The café serves hot and cold drinks, salads, sandwiches, cakes and more, and is open Tuesday to Thursday, from 10.30am to 1.30pm, until August 21. Contact Sarah Riley on 0161 447 5120 for more.

In the last edition of My Great Place, we told you how Great Places and its staff give thousands of pounds to great causes each year and the employee committee, Voice, decides how it’s spent. Recent updates include funding fresh-water pumps in the Indian state of Bahir (top) and a portable DVD player for our resident, James (above), who was recently diagnosed with leukaemia. Speak to your neighbourhood officer to find out more about our charity fund. MyGreatPlace 27

Helping you stretch finances Helping you get most from Helping you get the the mostfurther from your your money money

Cash in on your cover


ave you bought goods from a weekly payment store? If so it is likely you will also have bought their insurance cover. What a lot of people don’t realise, however, is that if you have home contents insurance, you may not need the extra policy.

How much could it cost?

If you were to buy a 46 inch LED Smart and 3D TV from a weekly payment store, over the three years you pay for the TV, you would have the following average payments: Cost of TV: £11.69 a week (totalling £1823.64). Our advice: can you borrow cheaper from a credit union? Damage liability cover (you can cancel this at any time): £3.37 a week, totalling £525.75. Many weekly payment stores encourage you to take this, but our advice would be that you don’t need to if you have home contents insurance. These stores may also try and sell you optional service cover, which in this case would cost around £6.30 a week (totalling £982.80). This is a shop-bought warranty which money-saving expert Martin Lewis, pictured above, calls “a complete waste of money”.

Money-saver Martin Lewis advises against shop-bought warranties


ith Great Places insurance you can insure all of your home contents – all individual items included – from £1.64 per week (£1.95 with accidental damage cover). There’s no excess with our insurance, so you won’t have to pay anything if you make a successful claim, and the cost of the insurance won’t increase if you make a claim. So you can protect all of your goods for less than the price of insuring just one item with a weekly payment store! Call 01962 892 086 or ring our customer access team on 0300 123 1966 to find out more about our insurance.

You can pocket £20! Last year our money-saving experts helped our tenants save £1 million. We want to offer the best-possible support, so if you’d like to fill in a survey on our services – and be entered in a prize draw to win £20 – call 0300 123 1966 or email financialinclusionteam@

Join the union to make savings the sensible way Great Places is working with Manchester Credit Union to offer membership to all our tenants. MCU is a not-forprofit organisation offering low-cost savings and loans and other services like current accounts/insurance products. They can help often people who have been refused by high street banks. 28 MyGreatPlace

The credit union can also be a cheaper way to borrow small amounts of cash. The law says credit unions can’t charge more than 2% per month in interest, which can be much less than other loan providers. Manchester Credit Union also offers its own current account, but unlike most

banks, credit union members won’t be hit with any hidden fees or charges. Interested in signing up? Log on to www.manchestercreditunion., call 0161 231 5222 or speak to your Great Places financial support co-ordinator to find out how they can save you money today!

How do you know when your home improvements are due? Great Places spends millions each year improving your homes. Here’s how we decide what gets done, when!


reat Places manages more than 16,000 properties, so making sure which homes need new kitchens, bathrooms, boilers and doors at the right time is really important to us. Last year, the budget to spend on these works was £5million – our largest ever!

How do we know when it’s your turn? Everything in your home is given a typical ‘life cycle’ - an expected amount of time it’ll function well until it could need replaced and we’ll review this when that time is up. These are listed in the box below:

The life-cycle guide Kitchens

15 years


25 years


30 years

External/flat entrance doors

30 years

Electrical re-wires

30 years

External cyclical painting 5 years Consumer units

15 years

Storage heaters

30 years


30 years


15 years

Do you always stick to this? Note that this is just a guide - we will always replace something before its life cycle is up if it’s a health-and-safety issue. On the other hand, sometimes we don’t replace kitchens or boilers even if they are more than 15 years old due to the fact that they are in good condition or we have to defer it to next year’s programme due to the budget situation.

How is my home assessed? The decisions of which of Great Places properties will be improved are made using information collected after completing surveys of stock condition. This information is gathered when surveyors visit residents’ homes to assess when kitchens, bathrooms, doors, windows and boilers need to be improved based on how old the items are and what condition they’re in.

How many homes have you surveyed? Great Places started to complete these surveys in June 2009 and we aim to survey 20% of our homes each year. If we don’t have information about your home just yet, until it is possible to survey it, the assumption is made that it will be similar to a neighbouring property. We know this may not always be accurate, so if you contact us to ask about improvement works and your home hasn’t been surveyed, we will always try to arrange for a someone to visit and do this for you.

Who gets priority? If your home falls into more than one of the following categories, you will have priority over others: • Homes falling below government’s Decent Homes Standard, including issues of health and safety. • Homes whose stock condition surveys state improvement works are overdue. • Homes that need work which will save us money on repairs in the future (for example, we might replace a roof rather than doing lots of patch repairs). • Improvement work which local staff advise is a priority to residents in an area. For more information, please contact our investment team – call 0300 123 1966 or email investmentenquiries@ MyGreatPlace 29

Seeking strong mums in Blackpool / Morecambe Are you a mum living in Blackpool or Morecambe?

An idea to really get you buzzing Fleetwood tenant Val Leather talks us through some brilliant bee benefits

We’re planning on running two ‘strong mum’ courses made up of several workshops in a fun and useful programme. They’re designed to equip you with the life skills and confidence not only to deal with your day-to-day lives, but also to allow you to move on to further opportunities such as education, training or work. Being a mum is one of the hardest but most rewarding jobs around... so let us help you! If you’re interested in our course, call Gillian Fernandez on 01253 750842 or send an email to gillian.fernandez@

The Great Places mobile phone app has now been launched! If you have a smartphone, you have another quick and easy way to get in touch with us. The Great Places app will improve the services we offer and is an easy way for you to communicate with us, in addition to post, phone, email and text.

Come in, honey: Val points out her bee house and is keen to attract more buzzing buddies into her garden


ome people think bees are pests, but without them, cereal crops and fruit orchards will not produce fruit – so we can make sure the food plants they need are available! Planting pots and window boxes can help – as long as plants have plenty of pollen and nectar, the bees will find them. If you’re unsure whether your plants will be beneficial to the bees, look out for a ‘bee friendly’ sign on the labels when you buy them.

ft out rn scheme is le bu ck la B y m rty organised.’ ‘I feel as no jubilee pa w e er th e us beca

We explained we couldn’t organise a jubilee event everywhere but we supported residents who organised their own... and pointed out upcoming events at the scheme.

30 MyGreatPlace

Have you got our app on your mobile phone yet?

Fancy building a bee house? All you need is a pile of hollow canes (about six inches long) tied together and put in a quiet shady corner, or you can also drill holes in a dead branch.

Alternatively, go for a “bug house” like the one in the photo, which has drilled holes, canes and even plastic straws! This year I bought a tube of Red Mason Bee cocoons to put out in spring, and many bees have been attracted to it and laid their eggs in the canes. Those which live will emerge the next spring. So please help our furry friends by planting food plants and if possible, putting a house out for them too. It is so worthwhile and I’m really happy I did it!

Available to download for free, the app lets you report a repair, pay your rent, log an issue, apply for housing, find out what’s happening in your area and much, much more! To get the app, just open the app store on your phone, search for mygreatplace and look for our logo. Yes, it’s as easy as that!

Figure finder

22.4 days Average time taken to re-let empty homes

Whole new look for the haven that is Hawkshaw! R

esidents and staff at Hawkshaw Court, Salford, had plenty to smile about recently, as the scheme received a £100,000 cash injection for a much-needed makeover. Over the course of a few months, Great Places staff worked with an architect/interior design lecturer from Manchester Metropolitan University, to create the haven for some of our older residents.

Doors and windows at the scheme have been replaced, and a new heating system has been put in. The main building has had a complete facelift, and offices have also been decorated. For those residents who fancy a bit of pampering there is even an area specially for hairdressing, health and beauty therapy. For more information, call Carlie Ford on 07917 527 346.

Figure finder

Figure finder



Of residents are satisfied their rent represents value for money

Percentage of rent not paid on time

Beware of bogus callers... let’s catch the conmen out We’ve had a report of bogus callers recently - conmen and women who use a variety of stories to get into a person’s home with the sole intention of stealing from them.

Don’t be fooled!

Before you let anyone in, stop, think and check. Use your spy hole, They most often pose as official chain or look out of callers from a local authority or utility the window to see company, and may claim they need if you recognise the to check for a leak or read the meter. caller. Ask for proof of ID – genuine They frequently work in pairs, with tradesmen and our contractors should one of them trying to distract you. carry a card with their photo on. If

you’re unsure, call Great Places and we will be able to confirm if your caller is who they say they are. Utilities companies offer a password ID system which means people from one of these companies should be able to give a pre-arranged password. If you’re not convinced, don’t let people in and ask them to come back when you’ve got someone else with you. Call the police if you’re still suspicious! MyGreatPlace 31

Blackpool kids get their Kickz for free


oungsters in Blackpool have been taking part in the Kickz project – a national initiative which was established by the Premier League and the Metropolitan Police at professional football clubs in 2007. Kickz offers free football/sporting involvement for 12 to 18-year-olds. Its vision is to build safer, stronger, more respectful communities through the development of young peoples’ potential, helping hard-to-reach boys and girls and guiding them towards a range of opportunities such as volunteering, coaching, officiating, further education and even employment. Since the first Kickz project was set up by the Blackpool FC Community Trust last year, local crime and ASB figures for

young people have reduced significantly. The Blackpool FC Community Trust has also now developed the project so that new sessions have recently started at the Sports Barn on Gorton Street in Blackpool. The sessions take place every Friday and Saturday from 6pm till 9pm

and are completely free to young people living in the area. With the support of Great Places, the Trust is also hoping to start sessions at Mereside. Please contact Gill Fernandez on 01253 750 842 for more details.

Sanctuary scheme helps 500 people stay safe An initiative to help victims of domestic abuse and repeat burglaries in South Ribble and Chorley has benefited more than 500 people since being launched four years ago.

ground floor doors and windows, to creating special ‘sanctuary rooms’. South Ribble Borough and Chorley Councils fund the scheme, and now seven housing associations - including Great Places – have signed up to it.

The Sanctuary scheme aims to ensure vulnerable people and families can feel safe and secure in their own homes. A wide range of help is available, from installing panic alarms and securing

Jill Collinson, neighbourhood officer in Preston, is pictured far left. Email for more.

Faulty timers could leave you in hot water timers, which could cause the units to overheat and set on fire. While efforts have been made since then to replace or repair all affected units, there may still be a number of affected ones which have not been replaced or repaired. In 2005 a fault was identified with the back plate component of Grasslin QE7 electric water-heating 32 MyGreatPlace

What to do about it

If you have a Grasslin QE7 Electric Water-Heating Timer which was not

previously replaced, stop using the device immediately. Do not use the main switch and boost buttons while sleeping or out of the house. Please contact Mr Electric on freephone 0800 7311 606, who will arrange to replace your unit free of charge. If you experience any problems with this contractor, call the Great Places repairs team on 0300 123 1966.

We’ve been inundated with messages from Great Places tenants since the last edition of My Great Place was published. So, keep filling in the form below and let us know what you think. Whatever you want to say about Great Places and our services, good or bad, we want to hear it! Your comments will be passed on to the relevant staff.

Name ............................................................................................................................................ Address ......................................................................................................................................... .................................................................................................................................................... .................................................................................................................................................... Phone ....................................................... email ........................................................................ Is it ok for us to print your comments with your name and area where you live in this magazine?



Post your comment to FREEPOST, RSET-BJBG-YACS, Maria Morris, Great Places Housing Group, 4th floor, St James’ House, Pendleton Way, Salford, M6 5FW Don’t forget to enter our prize wordsearch over the page!

MyGreatPlace 33

! s r e h c u o v n i 5 2 Win £ We’re right in the middle of summer now, so this edition’s wordsearch is packed with words to do with the year’s sunniest season. Find them all and three lucky readers could win £25 in vouchers. So, get cracking!

Closing date: October 1

3 chan

ce to win s !

Send your entry by post to: FREEPOST, R L S C - H L L J - E Z R Z , Maria Morris, Great Places Housing Group, Southern Gate, 729 Princess Road, Manchester M20 2LT.

You don’t need a stamp!

Fill in your name and address on the form over the page ... and please take the chance to have your say on our services

Sunshine Holiday Barbecue Barefoot Breeze Sea Boat Airport Passport Garden Icecream Picnic Relax Shorts Shade Tan Hot

Have you won? Congratulations to the three lucky winners who successfully completed the wordsearch in the last issue. Each wins £25 of vouchers. They are as follows:

Mrs Edith Delainey, Ramsbottom Mrs J Marsh, Blackpool Mr David Neville, Blackburn Remember: write your name and address clearly when you fill in your entry. If we can’t read it, you can’t win it!

34 MyGreatPlace


‫اذا كنت تريد الحصول على ھذه المعلومة بلغة اخرى او بخط اكبر او بخط البريل او على قرص مضغوط الرجاء‬ ‫االتصال بنا‬



If you would like this information in another language, large print, Braille or on CD, then please contact us.


If you would like this information in another language, large print, Braille or on CD, then please contact us.


Si vous voulez ces informations dans une autre langue, en gros caractères, en Braille, ou en cassette, alors veuillez nous contacter.


W celu uzyskania tych informacji w innych jezykach, wiekszym wydruku, zapisanych alfabetem Braillea lub na kasecie, skontaktuj sie z nami.


Hadii aad u bahantahay warbixintan oo luqad kale ku turjuman , ama far aad u waa weyn ku qoran ama farta indhoolaha ama isagoo cajalad ku duuban oo maqal ah fadalan nalasoo xidhiidh. Somali



0300 123 1966 8am to 6pm 07797 870734

Call our customer access team (CAT) on Calls are charged at local rate. You can also text us on

This magazine is printed on environmentally friendly paper. When you have finished with it please recycle it. ARABIC

MyGreatPlace 35

Need to call us? It’s cheap and easy! Just ring this number:

0300 123 1966 Wherever you live!

or simply text us on

07797 870 734

8am to 6pm ay Monday to Frid It’s local rate

Calls may be recorded for training and

quality purposes

Blackburn office

Barnfield House, Suite 4 and 5, Ground Floor , Accrington Road, Blackburn BB1 3NY. Opening hours: Mondays 9.30am to 5pm, Thursdays 9.30am to 12.30pm

Cheshire office

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

Fylde office

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

Great Places head office

Southern Gate, 729 Princess Road, Manchester M20 2LT Opening hours: Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5.30pm

Manchester office

Southern Gate, 729 Princess Road, Manchester M20 2LT Opening hours: Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5.30pm

Oldham office

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

Salford office

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

Sheffield office

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

Your repairs numbers! If you live in South Yorkshire, call Kier between 8am to 4.30pm on:

0114 205 3600

For out-of-hours emergencies, call:

0114 273 0101

36 MyGreatPlace

If you live in Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Salford, Stockport, Tameside or Trafford call Great Places between 8am and 6pm weekdays on:

0300 123 1966

Press 1 for repairs. You can also use this number for out-of-hours emergencies.

You can also visit our website at If you live in Bolton, Blackburn, Blackpool, Burnley, Chorley, Congleton, Fylde, High Peak, Hyndburn, Knutsford, Lancaster, Liverpool, Macclesfield, Morecambe, Pendle, Preston, Ribble, Rochdale, Rossendale, South Ribble, St Helens, Stoke-on-Trent, Warrington, Wigan or Wyre, call Cruden between 8am to 6pm weekdays on:

0300 1234 599

You can also use this number for out-of hours emergencies.

My Great Place August 2012  

My Great Place is the magazine for Great Places Housing Group residents

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