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Issue 4 - December 2006

Dame Norma Major, Chan Abraham, guests and staff launch Out & About Carols for Christmas P2

B e s t Va l u e R e v i e w P 8

Out & About P10

Community Fun Day P13

Welcome In this edition... Page 3:

Group Chief Executive's Message

Page 10:

Out & About

Page 4:

Choice Based Lettings Disability Advisory Panel

Page 11:

Developments in Town

Page 5:

Services to Leaseholders Respect Agenda

Page 12:

Neighbourhood Services Team Letting Homes

Page 6:

Christmas Safety Oak Foundation Forum

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Community Fun Day Be Water-wise!

Page 7:

Christmas Closure Winter Dampness

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The Ferry Project

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Managing Surveys and Results Disability Equality Duty

Page 16:

Luminus Contacts

Page 8:

Best Value Review

Page 9:

Sapley OfďŹ ce Move Congratulations! Garages to Let Area Association Meeting

Luminus invites you to join our Carols for Christmas on Thursday 14 December 2006 starting at 5.00 pm. Come and enjoy a great time of singing favourite carols with mulled wine, mince pies and special appearance by guest band Face2Face


Growing hope in 2006 ...and sustaining hope for the future Chan Abraham, Group Chief Executive, emphasises the Luminus’ theme of hope Our theme this year has been Growing Hope in 2006, and there have been many examples of this as evidenced by the positive letters I receive. Luminus has worked to provide all our existing residents with homes that are properly maintained, with services given by staff who have a strong sense of personal commitment and dedication. Throughout the year we have also provided new homes for people in housing need, including the first housing for key workers in Cambridge. We did that without any government aid. We have also worked with various partners to help encourage a sense of community, of neighbourliness, safety and contentment. Our staff are really important in helping to grow hope. So, we have actively encouraged them to be the best, with training and guidance, good working conditions, clear direction and communication and, most importantly, a sense of purpose. We are very proud of them. And now we look forward to 2007, during which we will celebrate our seventh year. While 2006 has been a year of good results, we know that challenges lie ahead. With this in mind, our theme will be Sustaining Hope in 2007. Luminus is now recognised as a “community anchor” and we want to work actively to create solutions to problems. We will continue to seek to give great service in maintaining our homes. We will also particularly invest in encouraging communities to be stronger, where people look out for each other, help to care for their environment and have a sense of growing contentment and fulfilment. May I send you my personal greetings for a Happy Christmas and a New Year of sustained hope. With kind regards


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Disability Advisory Panel

Choice Based Lettings • Disability Advisory Panel

This session will look at how the Disability Equality Duty will affect the services you receive.

The next meeting of the Disability Advisory Panel is being held on Friday 8 December 2006.

Please contact Tracey Stone on 01480 428541 for more details or if you would like to attend. Alternatively email her on

Tenant Involvement Impact Assessment If you were involved with the Tenant Involvement Impact Assessment in November 2005, look out for a questionnaire landing on your doormat asking for feedback from you on how tenant involvement services have been improved. Focus groups will be held in December and we look forward to seeing you then. Please contact Tracey Stone on 01480 428541 for more details or email her on

Choice Based Lettings

Giving you more choice Luminus Homes is working in partnership with the Cambridge Sub-regional Choice Based Lettings scheme, looking at new ways to let our homes as part of a new government requirement. The scheme will give applicants more choice about where they want to live and provide feedback about which homes they are more likely to be housed in, although it cannot make more homes available. Project teams will be listening to the views of residents, staff and other stakeholders in the coming months. For more information or to share your views, please e-mail or contact Neighbourhood Lettings on 01480 428544.

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Improving services to leaseholders

The groups discussed issues relevant to them, including service charges and repairs and maintenance. Some leaseholders expressed an interest in joining a formal leaseholder group which will fit into the tenant involvement framework. We will keep you informed on their progress. If you are a leaseholder or shared owner and would like to be part of this group, please contact Tracey Stone on 01480 428541 or tracey.

Leaseholders having their say at a Focus Group

Respect Agenda

Luminus Group has recently demonstrated its commitment to tackling anti-social behaviour by signing up to the Government’s Respect Agenda. In signing the Respect Standard for Housing Management, Luminus Group is making a visible commitment to our residents that we will do all we reasonably can to provide good services to confront anti-social behaviour in our communities. The Standard consists of six commitments that any landlord who signs needs to deliver: ◆ Working closely with partners, such as the police and social services, to create a culture of respect ◆ Involving our residents more closely in working in our communities ◆ Dealing with anti-social behaviour early so the problem doesn’t escalate ◆ Supporting people who report incidents of antisocial behaviour to us ◆ Swiftly enforcing measures to tackle anti-social behaviour ◆ Providing support programmes to give individuals the opportunity to change patterns of behaviour

Respect Agenda • Services to leaseholders

Leaseholders are valued Luminus Group customers and the services we provide to them are now being reviewed. In line with our Tenant Involvement Strategy we have recently held two focus groups with leaseholders and shared owners, to discuss the services they receive.

We will also use the Respect Standard to assess whether we are measuring up performance-wise to what is expected of us from Government. Page 5

Christmas Safety - be safe this Christmas

Christmas safety • Oak Foundation


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Do make sure that all decorations, including the tree, are flame retardant.

Don’t place the Christmas tree too close to open fires, portable heaters or radiators.

Do be extremely careful with lighted candles.

Don’t put Christmas cards, stockings or decorations above an unguarded fire or heater.

Do have the chimney swept before lighting an open fire. Do put a guard around open fires and switch off portable heaters when you go out. Do empty all ashtrays first making sure that cigarettes, cigars and pipes are fully extinguished.

Don’t leave the Christmas lights on unattended for long periods. Don’t use party poppers or other party streamers where there are naked flames. Don’t place Christmas presents too close to heaters or fires. They could quite easily catch alight.

Oak Foundation Forum Oak Foundation Forum, meeting at Mellors Court, Sawtry on Wednesday 23 August 2006 A new way of recording the issues raised at Oak Foundation Forum meetings and the actions taken was proposed. This will highlight individual scheme feedback and it was agreed to adopt this format for future use. The Forum members were invited to comment on the new Out and About scheme and the proposed forms and activities for the project. This produced good ideas and the overall project was well received by the representatives. The next meeting of the Oak Foundation Forum is the 31 January 2007 at Crown Gardens, Alconbury.

Members of the Oak Foundation Forum enjoying refreshments

 Christmas Closure  Emergency Repairs

If you have an emergency repair during the closure period, please telephone the 24 hour service on 0207 540 9820. Please note: This service is for emergencies only and the operator will inform you to contact us on 2 January 2007 for any non-emergency repairs.

Winter Dampness


Did you know that the average human being releases a litre of condensation every night whilst sleeping?

no longer the coldest place, so corners of rooms especially behind wardrobes and cupboards are areas where problems often occur.

Not the world’s most interesting fact. However, at this time of year the Service Centre gets a marked increase in tenants reporting damp in their homes. Investigations often conclude that the problems are caused by condensation.

If the causes of condensation are not managed effectively, spots of mould can grow, eventually covering walls, ceilings and clothes.

Condensation occurs mainly during cold weather. It appears as tiny drops of water and invariably gathers on cold surfaces. The advent of double glazing means that the windows are

How can you help combat the problem?

Dry washing outdoors on a line or put it in a bathroom with the door closed and the window open or extractor fan turned on

Close the kitchen & bathroom doors when extractor fans are in use; open the windows after cooking and bathing

Ventilate your house by opening windows of rooms when not in use – always keep trickle vents open if your windows are fitted with them

Cover pans and do not leave kettles boiling

Christmas Closure • Winter Dampness

Luminus Group offices will close at 4.00pm on Friday 22 December 2006 and reopen at 9.00am on Tuesday 2 January 2007.

For further advice, call the Service Centre on 01480 428333

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Best Value Review

Best Value Review

The Best Value Review of the Response Repairs Service has now been completed! Our Best Value review of the Response Repairs Service is complete. A final meeting was held in late August with the Best Value Review Panel (BVRP) and the Tenant Services Assessment Group (TSAG).

The following are some key points agreed by the BVRP and TSAG that will be included in the report:

A number of activities were carried out as part of the Best Value Review of Response Repairs to assess Luminus Group’s processes, procedures and satisfaction levels. The views that were taken into account included customers, managers and staff.

Appointments System should be established

The Service Centre answers calls excellently

• •

Tradesmen are courteous and polite

The activities were designed and led by Luminus Group staff in conjunction with our Best Value Review Panel (BVRP) and Tenant Services Assessment Group (TSAG). Some of the activities included:

Quality checks should be carried out regularly

• Response Repairs Focus Groups • Appointment System Survey • Response Repairs Survey • Presentations and Question and Answer sessions held by Michael Thayne, Customer Relations Manager and Brian Ward, Head of Maintenance Services • Focus Group with tradesmen The full findings and recommendations will be put forward for further consideration by the Executive Board.

Some of the Best Value Review Panel's enthusiastic members Page 8

Repairs are carried out within the appropriate time frame and done to a good standard of quality

Thank you to members of the BVRP and TSAG for all of their hard work during the Best Value Review of the Response Repairs. We will soon be carrying out another Best Value Review although the service to be reviewed has not yet been selected. A meeting with the BVRP and TSAG will be held soon. If you would like to become involved in the next Best Value Review please contact Tracey Stone, Tenant Involvement Officer on 01480 428541 or email her on


Congratulations! On September 8 2006 Tenant Involvement Officer, Tracey Slater married Foreman, Ricky Stone in Paphos, Cyprus. Tracey who organises tenant involvement activities will now be known under her married name of Tracey Stone. Congratulations Tracey and Rick!

Your Local Update

As part of the Oxmoor Action Plan the new Oak Tree Centre and Maple Centre were created. This is the new Heart of the Oxmoor and provides local facilities such as doctors, dentists, pharmacy, shops, community room and offices. This is where Neighbourhood Wardens, Lisa Harris and Sarah Dicks have relocated to along with the Neighbourhood Policing Team and the SRB (Single Regeneration Board) Team.

Garages to rent We currently have garages available in the following towns / villages: St Neots Huntingdon Ramsey

There are also parking bays for rent in: Shaftesbury Terrace, Huntingdon

Concessionary rates for holders of Disabled Driver badges For information, contact: 01480 428526

A date for your diary Area Association Meetings

29 March and 1 November 2007 Brook House, Huntingdon 12.30pm – 2.30pm 7.00pm – 9.00pm Garages are allocated on a first come first served basis

Free transport will be available if required

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Out & About in Motion

Out & About

Promoting community wellbeing

The official launch of Out & About took place at Brook House on Friday 29 September. The launch began with a reception followed by photographs and a presentation by Chan Abraham, Group Chief Executive, with special guest Dame Norma Major, Jeff Dutton, Mayor of Huntingdon, Richard Butcher, Mayor of Godmanchester and several staff and Oak Foundation Forum members. The aim of the project is to improve the quality of life for older, vulnerable and disabled people, by breaking down the barriers that prevent them from leading more active and healthy lifestyles. The Out and About service is available to any elderly, vulnerable or disabled person within the Huntingdonshire District. We are offering an introductory rate of membership, which is £5.00 per year per person. This includes every member receiving a quarterly newsletter and access to our transport services. We also have arranged that certain taxi firms in the area will give discounted rates on local trips to Out & About members. Members have already enjoyed a day out in Hunstanton, a trip to the Raptor Centre in Pidley and to Wood Green Animal Shelter. These trips are examples of the type of activities that will follow but they will also include exercise classes, shopping, adult education including computer course, days out, arts and crafts and lunch clubs. It is a very exciting new project and if you would like to be involved in this or you know anyone who would benefit from this new service please contact Amy Roe, the Activities and Transport Co-ordinator on 01480 428428.

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Luminus Transforms Former Garage Site

The three garage sites, which often attracted anti-social behaviour, have all been demolished and seven homes have already been completed to a high Eco-homes standard. The further development of fourteen homes on the two remaining sites is due to follow shortly and will be of similar design to the seven homes already completed. All homes will have private rear gardens Luminus and the Council working in partnership and rainwater-butts, to minimise the impact of water run-off during heavy rainfall and to reduce water consumption. Chan Abraham said, “This is an important further step in the transformation of the Oxmoor area. We hope that the development will show the way for many sites built in towns throughout the UK. The innovative electronic secure parking that is offered with the homes is the first in Huntingdon and we will be providing the same with phases two and three of the development. The homes will be very well located, as they are within walking distance of the local shops, bus stop and other amenities along a safe pedestrian route. We look forward to continued partnership with the District Council and the community in providing a truly sustainable environment.” Councillor Swales said “This first phase of affordable housing looks excellent and has significantly improved this area. We at HDC are pleased to have once again played our part in making it happen. I am looking forward to seeing the completion of a further 14 much needed new homes.” The development, which is due to be completed in 2007, has been designed in such a way as to recreate the street frontage and provide a more pleasant and safe environment for the local community. New hope: derelict garages make way for homes

Development • Development • Development

Chan Abraham, Group Chief Executive of Luminus Group, Councillor Phillip Swales, Chairman of Huntingdonshire District Council (HDC), Jeff Dutton, Mayor of Huntingdon and other key people from both Luminus Group and HDC gathered on 2 October to launch formally the three phase development at the former garage sites on California Road, Huntingdon.

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Neighbourhood Officers • Letting Homes

Neighbourhood Officers

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Helen Sharp

Michelle Ringe

I have worked for Luminus for 18 months and I cover Huntingdon and the villages in the North of the District. I have been a Housing Officer for 11 years and I enjoy the range of responsibilities this role gives me.

I have recently joined the Neighbourhood Officer team and am covering the St Ives and Eaton Socon area. I have been with Luminus for 212 years now (previously as a Neighbourhood Warden) and am enjoying the challenges that this new role is bringing me. /

Lisa Bines

Natalie Murphy

I have worked for Luminus for two months now covering the St Neots, Godmanchester, Brampton and Buckden areas and have found staff friendly and helpful. I enjoy the diverse nature of the role and working with different people.

I have worked for Luminus for the past four years, working in both Revenues, and presently the Neighbourhood Services Team. Since joining Neighbourhood Services I have enjoyed the variety of the position which enables me to assist our tenants.

The role of a Neighbourhood Officer is to support the Neighbourhood Manager in delivering a high quality and responsive customer focused service to our tenants. They also work with our Lettings team to ensure that our homes are let swiftly, and our Neighbourhood Wardens to carry out regular estate/area inspections, identifying and resolving any problems that are likely to interfere with the residents enjoying their homes and surrounding environment. Neighbourhood Officers also carry out tenancy change visits, deal with standard complaints of anti-social behaviour and enforce tenancy conditions.

Letting Homes At the moment almost all our properties are let to people who are nominated to us by Huntingdonshire District Council from their Housing Register. We are setting up our own register so we can let some of our homes directly. If you have a housing need to move, for example for medical reasons or if your home is too big or too small for your needs, you can apply to go on our own register and be considered for re-housing. You can apply to join our Housing Register even if you are already on the Council’s list. If you would like more details and an application form please telephone us on 01480 428527. Applications must be with us by 31 January 2007

Unity in the Community The second Community Fun Day held by the Diversity Forum took place on Saturday 9 September at Huntingdonshire Regional College and all who attended agreed it was a great success. Around 500 people made the most of the sunshine and free activities. Visitors old and young enjoyed having a go

Be water-wise! ✔ Use a bowl to wash dishes and food ✔ Rinse your mouth with a cup of water when brushing your teeth - a running tap wastes over 6 litres per minute! ✔ Report dripping taps to repairs – getting the tap washer mended can save about £18 per year ✔ Have a shower instead of a bath – but not a power shower as these use more water than baths ✔ Wash clothes and dishes when you have a full load so you don’t use the washing machine or dishwasher more often than is necessary ✔ Check the weather forecast – if it is going to rain soon, wait for it to water your garden for you! ✔ Use a watering can in the garden ✔ Collect rain water in water butts or buckets, and re-use in the garden – enough rain falls to fill 450 water butts every year ✔ Clean the car with a bucket and sponge instead of hosepipe

There were several information stands such as Fire and Rescue, local Travellers, the Commission for Racial Equality and groups representing the interests of people with a disability, to name but a few. Once again Luminus was well represented - Community Services promoted a number of activities, such as Community Alarms and the Ferry Project; Neighbourhood Wardens were on hand to promote their great work; and Peter Smith, our Out and About Driver/Assistant Activities and Transport Coordinator, even brought along the Out and About bus to show. Highlights of the day were the Bangra Beat (Indian dancing and acrobatics), Belly dancing and of course, the food! This year we were pleased to see a really diverse mix of people and we hope to hold an even bigger and better event next year.

Community Fun Day • Be water-wise!

at a range of activities, from African drumming to salsa and having their hands painted in traditional henna to the more traditional face painting. While the younger guests were entertained by a juggler and tired themselves out on the bouncy castle, their parents and grandparents enjoyed a relaxing massage or food tasting from around the world.

✔ Have a water meter fitted Page 13

Ferry Project

Ferry Project

SOFA Shop Sells All Sorts! On 3 June Ferry Project opened a shop in Wisbech from which top quality donated furniture and other items are sold direct to members of the public; landlords; and even a local care home. Beds; book cases; bureaus; tables & chairs; wall units; wardrobes; all styles and tastes come and go with unimagined speed – a pair of IKEA chairs was sold just 2 minutes after being unloaded from our collection van – and Kat Bennett, Shop Manager, will sell anything that does not move! Kat has developed a ‘group’ of regular customers - and she is always looking for more people with a fondness for furniture. The shop also sells a wide range of books. Items are collected and delivered free to and from Wisbech. So if you have anything you are looking to get rid of or feel the need to change the colour of your SOFA why not pop in or give us a ring on 01945 580684.

How Green is My Grocer? The hardy boys of Ferry Farming are gearing up for the cold winter ahead as they ply the Ferry Project’s agricultural and horticultural wares on the market stalls of March and Wisbech. Home grown produce (supplemented by those items the climate has not yet quite warmed up enough – we still have no bananas in Wisbech) is available 4 days a week and comes individually wrapped in good old brown paper bags. We also box up and deliver produce to your door. Orders – customised to your individual taste - can be made, preferably via email to or by phone to 01945 585179. It is the intention to open a Green Grocer’s shop in Wisbech (and have a food delivery van) so the days of hard selling in the cold and the wet should hopefully be numbered. Page 14

What we do with Surveys We are confident that this work is normally completed to the highest level of quality, but we need to be sure. This is why we ask you to complete a short satisfaction survey every time a major piece of work is carried out in your home. Any comments or grievances made are brought to the attention of Linda Bevens, Tenant Liaison Officer, for immediate action. All compliments received are passed on to the tradespersons who carried out the work, and to their line manager. Monitoring performance in this way means we can continually shape and improve the services we provide. We would ask that you continue to complete and return these forms to us, as you will automatically be entered into our quarterly prize draw in which you could win a cash prize of £100.

Planned maintenance work

Positive satisfaction rating

Kitchen and/or bathroom replacement


New double glazed windows and/or doors


Boiler replacement and heating upgrade


The Disability Equality Duty A new Disability Equality Duty (DED) is being introduced by the government to make sure that services provided by all public bodies are shaped to meet the needs of people with a disability. The idea of the DED is to encourage organisations such as schools, hospitals, local councils and government departments to think about the needs of people when they develop a service, rather than try to deal with problems when they arise. From December 2006 organisations will be required to publish an action plan, telling people how they intend to make access to services easier and what steps will taken to prevent discrimination and promote equal opportunities for disabled people. The Housing Corporation, which regulates registered social landlords also has to comply with the DED and has stated that landlords will need to comply by the end of December 2007. We look forward to bringing you more news on our progress, so watch this space!

Managing surveys • Disability Equality Duty

Luminus carries out an extensive programme of planned maintenance work, examples of which include new kitchens and bathrooms, new double glazed windows and doors and boiler replacements.

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01480 428777 General Enquiries (Luminus Group Services)

01480 428333 Service Centre Emergencies: where a vital service has broken down and is likely to cause risk to you, your family or neighbours, your home or your belongings. This will be made safe within 24 hours.

01480 428588 Neighbourhood Services

01480 428522 Revenues

01480 428521 Benefits Advice - Sue Cargill

01480 428531 Tenant Liaison Officer - Linda Bevens

01480 428541 Tenant Involvement Officer - Tracey Stone

01945 467596 Luminus Ferry Project

Between 9.00 am - 5.00 pm Monday to Thursday 9.00 am - 5.00 pm and Fridays 9.00 am - 4.30 pm

For reporting all repairs. Emergency repairs include: • Gas & Central Heating problems (DO NOT ring the contractors direct) • Total loss of water supply • Major water leak (which is causing a flood) • Toilet blockage or toilet not flushing (where there is no alternative toilet in use) • Blocked flue to a boiler or open fire • Total loss of electric power

General tenancy enquiries concerning mutual exchanges, changes to tenancies, garden maintenance, service charges, lettings, boundaries, anti-social behaviour, tenancy disputes and Neighbourhood Wardens. Enquiries about your rent account.

Advice about housing benefit and other benefits.

Enquiries about improvement work being done in your home.

Information about how you can become involved with Luminus Group.

Providing services to the homeless in Fenland

For help to understand this newsletter please ring 01480 428721

Published by Luminus Group • Registered Office Brook House, Ouse Walk, Huntingdon, PE29 3QW Tel No: 01480 428777 • Fax No: 01480 428555 E-mail: • Website:

If you have any comments or would like Luminus News in large print or as an audio cassette, please contact Kelly Linay on 01480 428707 for more information. Designed by Prototype Design 01923 333888

Issue 27, November 2006  
Issue 27, November 2006  

I s s u e 4 - D e c e m b e r 2 0 0 6 B e s t Va l u e R e v i e w P 8 O u t & A b o u t P 1 0 C o m m u n i t y F u n D a y P 1 3 Carol...