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SPRING 2010

Your newsletter from One Housing Group

Swing into spring!

Shape future editions of One page 3 Meet residents making a difference page 5


How to contact us One Housing Group Head Office 100 Chalk Farm Road London NW1 8EH www.onehousinggroup.co.uk

General Enquiries and Complaints 0300 123 9966

Local Housing Offices Community 100 Chalk Farm Road London NW1 8EH

Toynbee Berkshire Sinclair House, Gardner Road Maindenhead SL6 7PH

Toynbee London Suttons Wharf South 44 Palmers Road London E2 0TA

Island Homes (Millwall) 12 The Quarterdeck London E14 8SJ

One Housing Group Board Recruitment We recently sent out an advert inviting you to contact us if you are interested in joining the One Housing Group Board. Our Group Board is responsible for the whole of One Housing Group, making strategic decisions and working closely with the Executive Team. The Board is keen to recruit a resident member who can draw on their own experiences to assist with this task. As One Housing Group is a large and complex organisation you will need to have experience working at a senior level in a large organisation and monitoring performance at

a strategic level. You will also need to have experience and knowledge of at least one other business function in areas such as banking/treasury matters, property development, customer service delivery, community development or neighbourhood regeneration. It’s still not too late to apply as the deadline is Monday 8th March. To find out more or to receive a recruitment pack please email ohgboard@onehousinggroup.co.uk or phone 020 7428 4190.

Why 0300?

Complaints by email Community

What you pay on 0300

17 Castalia Square London E14 3PQ

complaints@onehousinggroup.co.uk

Toynbee info@onehousinggroup.co.uk

Island Homes info@onehousinggroup.co.uk

Repairs Community, Toynbee London & Island Homes 0300 123 9966

Toynbee Berkshire 0800 587 9941

1 • ONE Spring 2010

• The same cost as a normal call. Whatever tariff you’re on the cost of an 0300 number is the same as calling a normal phone number • If you’ve got free inclusive calls, then calling 0300 won’t cost you. For example if you’re on BT’s free evening calls package, calling 0300 in the evening is free • This works on mobiles too. If you have inclusive minutes on your mobile, the 0300 number will be included

Since asking for your service improvement priorities we have been working with resident reviewers to decide how to implement changes and monitor performance. Here is a summary of our progress so far.

ha ve to chase you fo r progress! l We’ll work to bring about a cultura to change across the organisation ping remind staff of the importance of kee will ing train f staf you updated. Future emphasise this.

For more information about our Resident Impact project please contact project leader Lisa Mayo on 020 8821 5165 or visit www.onehousinggroup.co.uk and click on Performance and Policy.

Return my voicemail message within 24 hours Monday to Friday!

As you are probably aware One Housing Group’s Customer Contact Centre can be contacted on just one number – 0300 123 9966. What you may not know is that Ofcom created the 0300 tariff as a cost effective alternative to 0800 numbers. These were previously used by Toynbee and Island Homes residents but were not free from mobiles.

Island Homes (Castalia)

Progress being made with your Top Five Keep me updated so I don’t

this; We’re working towards achieving es rcis exe we’ll use mystery shopping r and a staff questionnaire to monito progress.

• On average, costs per minute to call an 0800 number through the main mobile providers are as follows: Contract

Pay as you-go

O2

20p

15p

Orange

15p

25p

Vodafone

20p

25p

T-Mobile

40p

40p

With more and more of you choosing to contact us via mobile phone, the 0300 number makes it cheaper for the majority of residents to get in touch. Please contact your service provider to confirm the cost of your calls.

I want to be given more information about how our complaints are being dealt with - what went wrong and how it will be put right! We’re training staff to respond better to complaints. We will be carrying out a complaints audit before and after these changes to measure our progress.

I want to talk to specialist maintenance staff about complex problems. We are looking at ways to improve staff training and provide specialist staff with the knowledge to deal with complex repairs. To see where the focus of training needs to be, our Resident Reviewers have been conducting staff mystery shopper exercises.

How do I know who to contact? What happens when staff change? We’re making officers’ direct lines more readily available on the website and our literature, which we’ll make sure are regularly updated to reflect staff changes.

Action Plan – Thank You! Following a period of resident consultation we submitted our Action Plan to the Audit Commission back in December 2009 and have now been given promising prospects for improvement. This is a good result and reflects the hard work of residents and staff. Paul Coates, Managing Director of Toynbee said “I am delighted that so many residents took the time to tell us what they think of the resident involvement service. Your opinions and comments are important and have greatly influenced our improvement work - Thank you.”

www.onehousinggroup.co.uk • 2


Tell us what you really think and shape future issues of One

Did you know? There are free courses available to help train you in a wide range of subjects.

You may have noticed that this edition of One looks a little different from the others. This is because we are working to change the length and style of the articles we include.

The first meeting will take place during the first week in April and everyone who attends will receive a £10 shopping voucher as a thank you.

More than 100 people took part between April and December last year and we’ve listened to their feedback to improve the opportunities available in 2010.

If you’d like to tell us what you think about it, why not join the Editorial Panel so you can help shape future issues?

To register your interest or find out more please contact Claire Guest on 020 7428 1141 or email cguest@onehousinggroup.co.uk by Monday 15th March. Alternatively you can write to the Communications Team: One Housing Group, Freepost LON4191, London NW1 0WT.

As well as costing you nothing, you can also get up to £25 support for childcare and have your travel costs paid for. A course could be a valuable addition to your CV and provide you with some useful new skills.

We’re looking for 6 residents* to meet and discuss each newsletter after publication.

Equality and Diversity

Youth forums a huge success The forums, run by Youth Development Officer Kamilah McCalman and One Housing Group’s North Camden Youth Services Team, were the first of their kind in the borough. Topics for discussion were chosen by young people and explored various aspects of youth culture.

The Police, Camden Council and other local organisations were in attendance, while ex offenders and ex gang members showed their support by delivering a series of key messages.

We are currently reviewing and updating our equality and diversity strategy to ensure that all residents receive quality services that meet their needs. You will find a summary of our action plan at www.onehousinggroup.co.uk under latest news. If you would like a hard copy of this summary or the full action plan please call our Customer Contact Centre on 0300 123 9966.

Please respect our staff Please remember that abuse of any kind will not be tolerated. All our staff have a right to work without fear of verbal or physical abuse and as such, we have a zero-tolerance policy towards behaviour that is aggressive, threatening, abusive or insulting in any way. Any behaviour, intentional or otherwise, that constitutes harassment or discrimination will be treated very seriously.

3 • ONE Spring 2010

Where possible we like to involve residents in estate inspections across the Group. The feedback we receive helps us to make improvements and monitor progress.

Contact the Community Investment Team on 020 8821 5162 or email communityinvestment@onehousinggroup.co.uk

*We will select members based on their reasons for joining and what they can bring to the group.

Three youth forums designed to help young people in Camden discuss and solve problems without resorting to gun and knife crime have been a huge success, attracting more than 150 participants.

Rate your estate

To find out what is planned in your area please contact your Housing Officer or call our Customer Contact Centre on 0300 123 9966.

ASB – We’re in it together We know anti-social behaviour can be a real problem, which is why we’re working in partnership with the Police, the Courts and residents to stop this kind of behaviour. We dealt with many ASB cases across the Group in 2009 and had a number of successes which included the eviction of a nuisance neighbour and the closure of a notorious drug house. We want to build on this success in the coming year but can only crack down on ASB with your help. Please be vigilant and report any cases as soon as possible to your local housing office, Housing Officer or via our Customer Contact Centre on 0300 123 9966.

www.onehousinggroup.co.uk • 4


Consumer Panel Residents air their views on making a difference

“I believe that whatever community you are in, you should have a say in its future”

One Housing Group’s Consumer Panels allow residents to become more actively involved in the running of their housing association and take a direct role in shaping the services they receive. Since it started over a year ago, the Toynbee London Consumer Panel has provided feedback on a number of housing management and customer service issues and has been responsible for key changes including the expansion of the Group’s resident training programme and the increase in call centre staff taken on during peak times.

One Housing Group also run panels for Community and Island Homes residents. To find out more about the work that they do or to get involved, please contact the Community Investment Team on 020 8821 5162 or email communityinvestment@onehousinggroup.co.uk

Edward Ofori Adu

We talked to members Jennifer Fernandes (JF), Edward Ofori Adu (EOA), Abdur Raheem (AR) and Tasneem Suleman (TS) about their experiences.

Would you normally get involved with something like this?

Jennifer Fernandes Abdur Raheem

Why did you get involved? JF: As a new leaseholder of Toynbee I thought it was important to make my voice heard. The panel allows me to put forward ideas and influence decisions about the services I receive. TS: So I could get more involved with issues that affect my area. EOA: I believe that whatever community you are in, you should have a say in its future. I also wanted to learn and to share my experiences.

JF: As a resident, you pay service charges and want to know what they are being used for, and the panel does show that. AR: It’s a useful forum to air opinions about how the Group operates its services, provide feedback and help residents to improve their lives. It’s also good to meet other residents and to learn about their issues.

What are the hardest things about being a member?

What other work do you do? TS: I work in a bank as a cashier. EOA: I am a finance administrator.

What are the benefits of being a panel member? TS: I’ve got to know more people at One Housing Group, meet other residents and discover what the Group are doing behind the scenes. You get to know what they’re doing to improve things for people. EOA: The benefits have been enormous – people from different backgrounds are on the panel and you get to understand where they are coming from. You can share information about how tenants are feeling about their area. 5 • ONE Spring 2010

TS: Keeping up to date with everything and making sure I have childcare organised for when meetings take place. EOA: At the start we weren’t sure what to expect or what we wanted to achieve as part of the panel but we were able to discuss our objectives together and decide what we were aiming for.

Is it what you expected? TS: I didn’t know what to expect but I’ve got lots more out of it than I first imagined. EOA: Yes – it was an opportunity to learn and to share and I’ve done that. JF: I expected it to be a forum for raising realistic ideas and to be a voice, I think the panel really provides that.

TS: No but I saw a letter inviting us to get involved. Since then I’ve joined other panels too. EOA: This was my first time and I’ve loved it. AR: I already work in best-practice panels but this is completely different, a new experience but something my work helps me relate to.

What have you learnt about One Housing Group by sitting on the panel? EOA: That residents’ concerns aren’t just about repairs – there’s more to it than that. JF: When you put in an idea, it is taken forward and implemented. AR: A great deal about how it provides its services to residents. Its strategies, complaints procedures and other services it provides like training which I didn’t know about until I joined.

Would you advise other residents to get involved? EOA: There’s no limit to knowledge – no matter what you do, it’s good to learn about the things around you. It’s a chance for everyone to participate. TS: Definitely, they should do – it’s very good. JF: If people have the time and want to get involved, then they should really get involved. AR: It looks good on your CV, definitely get involved. The more diverse the panel the better. The things you raise – your views and suggestions put up to the panel do have to be acted on, so it’s accountable.

Don’t Suffer in Silence Is the person you live with abusive or violent towards you? We know that often home is not a place of safety, with one in four women and one in six men experiencing domestic abuse in their lifetime.

How to get help and information: • Contact the National Domestic Violence helpline on 0808 2000 247. The line is open 24 hours a day and is free from landlines. Calls from landlines to this number will not appear on the telephone bill • Speak to your Housing Officer or a Duty Officer via the Customer Contact Centre on 0300 123 9966, or visit or write to your Local Housing Office • Contact your Local Authority for advice on temporary accommodation options in your area.

www.onehousinggroup.co.uk • 6


Staff efforts recognised We all know that the Earth is paying a heavy price for man’s excesses, and here at One Housing Group we have been doing our bit to cut energy costs and save you money. We are: • negotiating with new suppliers to cut electricity bills on our estates and at our offices • improving cavity wall insulation in many of our properties • introducing recycling points at our larger offices to cut down on the amount of recyclable waste we throw away.

Go Green Save Money

A number of Island Homes staff members have been rewarded for their contributions at an awards ceremony organised and voted for by the Bengali Welfare Organisation (BWO). The BWO focus group work with staff and residents to provide feedback on services and make suggestions for improvements. They combined the awards ceremony with their 2nd Eid gathering held on the Island in December.

Award Winners:

Environmental charity Friends of the Earth have offered some great tips to help you cut your monthly bills and save energy at home:

4. Forget expensive cleaning products

1. Standby plug

Lemon juice Surface cleaner, stain remover, deodoriser. 1. Cut in half and leave in fridge to absorb smells. 2. Mix with salt to clean copper and brass. 3. Mix with water to whiten whites and brighten colours.

A clever multi-adaptor to cut standby electricity. Plug in your computer and other appliances and it will turn them all off when you shut down your PC.

2. e-cube

Cuts the energy used by your fridge by up to 30% by monitoring the temperature of your food, not the air in your fridge, reducing demand on the motor.

3. Bye Bye Standby

Allows you to turn off standby buttons by remote control, ensuring everything is off. It could save you 10% on your electricity bill. Intelliplugs™ are a similar good product.

Friends of the Earth have given us some traditional cleaning methods which work just as well for less and are kinder to the environment.

Bicarbonate of soda Mix with water to dissolve dirt and grease. Use dry to lift stains from carpets (e.g. red wine) and marks from surfaces. Good for cleaning shower curtains. Malt vinegar Surface cleaner, stain remover, descaler, de-greaser, deodoriser and mild disinfectant. Diluted mix is good for cleaning windows (apply on scrunched-up newspaper). Olive oil Use sparingly as furniture polish and fingerprint remover for stainless steel. Tea-tree oil Antiseptic, disinfectant. Effective on mould and mildew. Dilute as deodoriser for musty clothing.

For more energy saving tips and advice visit www.foe.co.uk

7 • ONE Spring 2010

White-wine vinegar Organic Surface cleaner, stain remover, limescale descaler, cuts through grease, deodorises and acts as mild disinfectant.

Catherine Kyne – Community Cohesion Award Sylvester Joseph – Manager of the Year Sonya Nash – Customer Service Excellence Terry Ann Milton-White – Customer Service Excellence

Catherine Kyne (far left) and Terry Ann Milton-White (far right) are pictured with Community Liaison Officer Harun Rashid and Chair of the BWO Mohammed Maium Miah.

Berkshire credit unions One Housing Group is working in partnership with other registered social landlords and organisations in Berkshire to develop and deliver a Berkshire-wide credit union. As a member of the credit union you can save regularly and apply for a low cost affordable loan using a straightforward and uncomplicated application with no external credit checks.

For a credit union information pack or for further information about the Berkshire-wide Credit Union, please contact the Community Investment Team on 020 821 5162 or email communityinvestment@onehousinggroup.co.uk

Find the words and win!

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Eco, Efficient, Energy, Future, Green, Planet, Recycle, Reuse, Saving, Switchoff. Return your completed word search to the Communications Team, One Housing Group, Freepost LON4191, London NW1 0WT. Include your name and address, and send by Friday 26th March to be entered into a prize draw. The first correct entry pulled from the hat will win a £25 M&S voucher and have their name published in the next edition of One.

www.onehousinggroup.co.uk • 8


It’s Ready, Steady Cook for youth clubs Youngsters from Hillview and Cliveden youth clubs are celebrating after winning funding from Camden and Windsor & Maidenhead Youth Opportunity and Capital Funds for new kitchens. Hillview in Camden was awarded just under £8,000 while Cliveden in Berkshire received £2,500. The work at both clubs has now been completed and the state of the art facilities are already being used to teach members how to cook healthily for themselves. Ash Rahman, Youth Development Officer for One Housing Group said ‘We are delighted to be able to provide these facilities for not just one but two sets of young people. The kitchens are already being used regularly and have become a valuable addition to both clubs.”

Home Insurance are you covered?

In view of recent fires in housing blocks, we fully understand that you may be concerned about the risk of fire in your block or on your estate. We take fire safety very seriously and an independent assessor is currently working with us to complete a full review of our properties. While this assessor is helping to reduce the risk of fire across the Group, there are many things that you can do to protect yourself and your family. Please read the following fire prevention checklist to ensure that you stay safe: A real transformation - new kitchen at Cliveden youth club

Accidents happen – pipes burst, roofs leak and burglary is a sad fact of modern life – but an estimated three million housing association and council tenants don’t have contents insurance. One Housing Group’s Insurance does not cover the contents of your home so please organise your own policy to protect your belongings before it’s too late. Contact your Housing Officer or visit your local housing office for more information.

Wake up to gas safety Your gas boiler must be checked every 12 months and given a safety certificate to ensure it’s working safely, so you can sleep soundly at night. Our contractors will do this for you but they need your help – please try to keep your appointments, or let them know in advance if you can’t. If your boiler doesn’t have a valid certificate, you, your family and other residents could be in danger and legal action may be taken against you – you could even lose your home. It’s just not worth it.

Book a gas safety check today: Community, Island Homes and Toynbee London residents please call 020 8821 5101 or 020 8821 5136

Don’t Let Your Plans Go Up In Smoke

Do: • Keep all fire exits and communal areas clear from obstructions • Keep matches in a safe place out of children’s reach • Fit smoke alarms and check they are of an approved standard. Check the batteries often and don’t remove them for use in other things • Switch off electric blankets when in bed and get them checked regularly • Close chute room doors and bin chamber doors after use • Dispose of rubbish in a responsible manner, ensuring that corridors and lobbies are kept clear • If pan oil catches light, turn off the heat.

Gas Leak? • Call the National Grid’s Gas Emergency freephone number: 0800 111 999 • Open all the doors and windows • Shut off the gas supply at the meter control valve (if you know where it is). If you are in any doubt about an engineers identity, you can ask to look at their licence number and telephone the Gas Safe Register: 0800 408 5500 Or look on their website: www.gassaferegister.co.uk

Don’t: • Use pram sheds and garages to store combustible materials • Smoke in bed • Overload electrical sockets • Overfill pans and deep fat fryers.

Escaping from a fire: • Plan your escape route and know where the exits are and where to find your door keys • Keep keys to window locks next to the correct windows • Get everyone out as soon as possible • Crawl under smoke and fumes • Block gaps around doors if trapped by fire • Dial 999

Home Safety Visits are offered free of charge and provide fire safety advice as well as a free smoke alarm. For more information or to book a visit, please call: London Residents: London Fire Brigade on 08000 284 428 Berkshire Residents: Berkshire Fire and Rescue on 08005 876 679 The back page of this newsletter gives more information on fire safety. You can also contact your local housing office for advice.

Toynbee Berkshire residents please call 0800 587 9941

9 • ONE Spring 2010

www.onehousinggroup.co.uk • 10


Translations

Any feedback?

This document is also available in other languages, large print, Braille and audio format upon request.

If you have any feedback about this edition please let us know.

Email cguest@onehousinggroup.co.uk

Phone 020 7428 1141

Post the Communications Team, One Housing Group, Freepost LON4191, London NW1 0WT. A

production

DO YOU HAVE A WORKING SMOKE ALARM AT HOME? IF NOT, YOU ARE MORE THAN TWICE AS LIKELY TO DIE IN A FIRE 200 people die each year in accidental fires in their homes, caused by smoking materials, candles, and other factors such as cooking appliances. You can reduce the risk of fire in your home by following some simple fire safety steps:

1

2 Fit smoke alarms on each level of your home

3 Test your smoke alarms weekly and never remove the batteries.

Social Housing landlords have a responsibility to you and your home and must ensure that gas and electrical appliances they supply are safe and in good working order. Your landlord may also fit smoke alarms in shared accommodation and communal areas. Speak to your landlord if you have any questions or concerns.

4 Put it out, right out! Make sure you put cigarettes out properly and never smoke in bed.

Plan an escape route and make sure everyone knows it, and where window and door keys are kept.

Your local fire and rescue service offers free Home Fire Risk Checks and may be able to fit free smoke alarms in your home.

For more information visit

www.direct.gov/firekills


One Housing Group Spring Newsletter