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MELINNEWS Winter 2014


Inside ergy Expo En e th t a p U g in er w Po winter months e th r fo lp he l ia nc a fin How to access and wellbeing lth a he l ta en m er ft a Looking 261114_002

Melin news

Welcome to your latest issue of Melin News Welcome to the winter issue of Melin News. As ever, we have packed it full of useful information for you. On pages 3 and 4 we have information on Melin Works and the work and training opportunities they offer. As winter is coming, we know condensation sometimes causes problems, so on page 5 we have some advice on how you can prevent and deal with it. There is also a chance to meet our Customer Contact Team on page 10. Recently our extra care scheme at Ty Cae Nant has opened its doors to residents, you can learn more about it on page 14. As ever, if you have something to say, if you are concerned and need advice, our staff are here to help. There are lots of ways to connect with us – through Facebook, Twitter, phone, email or chat to our Direct Work Force or Neighbourhood Officers when you see them. All you need to do is ask.


Chief Executive

Contents 03. Melin Works 05. Avoiding condensation 06. Universal Credit 07.

Money Box

08. Our Annual Report 09. Community Trigger 10. Meet the Customer Contact Team 12. Zest in Melin News 13. Community Corner 14. Powering Up at the Energy Expo 17.

Care & Repair

18. Residents’ Panel

Let us know! Is there something happening in your community that you would like to see covered in a future edition of Melin News? If so send your stories to or call 01495 745 907.

If you need this newsletter in large print, Braille, CD or explained in a different language, please email Mike Watkins at

Small changes make a big difference We welcomed a new team to Melin recently. Let us introduce…

We know that energy efficient homes are not just good for the environment, but they can also help to put pounds in your pocket. We have always had energy efficiency high on the agenda: • We were the first housing association in Wales to self-fund Solar PV panels on residents’ homes, reducing electricity costs. • We were chosen to run the Welsh Government’s £67 million arbed 2 ERDF project across south and west Wales, providing energy efficiency improvements in some of the poorest areas of Wales. • We hosted the Powering Up Communities First project which created a certified qualification in Understanding Home Energy Efficiency. The team signed up an army of over 500 green energy champions to help family and friends change the ways they use energy at home to save money. Their work will continue to help you cut energy costs by making changes in how you use energy, and helping you to switch energy provider. With the range of expertise we have built up over the last few years it was time to create a team dedicated to making homes greener and cheaper to run. That’s why we have created Being Greener.

So what’s in it for you? The Being Greener team takes a ‘whole house’ approach, encouraging small changes in behaviour at home to help you save money on your bills. Small changes can make a big difference and the team can help with tips from switching off lights to switching suppliers. If you think you could benefit from their help email or give them a call on 01495 745910.


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Work placements – A help back to work readiness Meet Sarah Norman, she has been on a recent work placement with our Customer Contact Team. Sarah had a placement for six weeks to gain confidence, learn skills and get experience as she looks to get back to full time employment. “Melin has allowed me to get back in to the working environment and helped support me and regain my confidence” she said. Are you interested in a work placement? The aim is to offer a much more structured working experience that will allow work readiness, and give a taster back in to the employment market. The placements are 6 weeks in length; this is the maximum length due to it affecting your benefits. Whether the placements are within Melin or with one of our partners, there will be structured support and learning through a job description and regular meetings with the Melin Works team. How to apply Placements will be advertised on our website and social media, to apply fill in the form under ‘Work placements’. 3

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A Melin Works case study Someone who has worked with Melin Works is Michaela Thompson, 24, from Torfaen. She had been unemployed for over a year and had found that although she remained relatively motivated and confident she was finding it difficult to find work. Michaela has two young children and needed work that would allow her to still pick her children up from school and afford childcare. Melin Works was able to provide her with a chance to work as a Carer. After a successful interview with ISS Healthcare, some training was arranged. Michaela gained qualifications in; All Wales manual handling passport, ISS Healthcare induction training, Prevention of abuse, Health and Safety, Basic First Aid, Infection Control, Administering medication, food preparation and hygiene and nutrition and understanding diet. After her training Michaela was offered a full time job with ISS Healthcare. Michaela said that her help from Melin Works “was the difference between me being stuck without a job and little prospects to someone with a career and prospects. The help I received from the staff at Melin was excellent and I am now in full time employment that suits my needs with my children.�

Are you unemployed and looking for work? Are you looking to improve your skills and get training? Are you a Melin Resident? Then Melin Works can help. Get in touch with Employment Officer Paula Skyrme for further information. Email or call 01495 745906.

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Melin news

Our top tips for avoiding condensation and mould this winter Condensation can cause damp and mould in your home. This can not only look unpleasant but it can also increase the risk of respiratory illness. Condensation starts as moisture in the air, usually produced by everyday activities such as cooking, washing or drying clothes indoors on radiators. When it hits cool surfaces such as walls, mirrors, wall tiles and windows it condenses and forms water droplets. The moist air rises when it is warm and often ends up on ceilings and in upstairs rooms and then can form mould or damp. To avoid the problems it can cause, here are our top tips; • Wipe down the windows and sills every morning. Wring out the cloth rather than drying it on a radiator. • Cover pans and do not leave kettles boiling to produce less moisture. • Do not use paraffin and portable heaters: These heaters put a lot of moisture into the air and are also a health and safety risk. • Try and dry your clothes outdoors (not always possible in the Winter we know). Or put them in the bathroom with the door closed, window open and fan on. • Close kitchen and bathroom doors to prevent steam going into colder rooms. • When cooking or washing, let the steam escape by opening a window or using a extractor fan if you have one fitted. Leave the window open or the extractor fan on for up to 20 minutes after you have finished washing or cooking. • Open some windows in other rooms for a while each day and open any trickle vents in window frames. • Do not block air vents and allow air to circulate around furniture and cupboards. Try not to put them directly up against the wall. • Cover fish tanks. • If you have a tumble dryer or washing machine ensure that is vented in accordable with the manufacturer’s instructions.


Such problems in a Melin Home are very rare as the homes are built to a good standard of construction and checked regularly. However, if you think your home is damp from a structural problem, it is best to contact your housing officer or surveyor.

An introduction to Universal Credit The Government is introducing Universal Credit (UC) from early next year. It will give both in and out of work support for working-age claimants. UC will replace Income Support, Income Based Job Seekers Allowance/Employment and Support Allowance, Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit. This means that only one claim will need to be made and only one payment will be made.

When is this happening? There has been a roll out across the UK since the beginning of 2014 and this will continue until the end of 2017. Torfaen will be one of the areas where UC will be brought in during early 2015.

How is Universal Credit paid? Jobcentre Plus normally pays Universal Credit (UC) into your bank account or other type of account, for example, a building society account. If you can’t use an account, Jobcentre Plus can use the Simple Payment Service to pay your UC. This means that you receive the credit in your account and have to set up a way to pay your rent to us.

Melin residents – help is at hand If you have any questions about Universal Credit then the Melin Money Advice team is on hand. You can call the Money Advice Team on 01495 745927.

Your rent, your responsibility What to do if you fall behind with your rent If your rent is not paid, the money owed is called ‘rent arrears’. The money owed should be one of your priority debts, which means not paying them back could mean you will be at risk of eviction. We have the right to seek a court order to evict you for the money you owe us. In certain circumstances we may be able to evict you without the need to obtain a court order first. If you can’t pay your rent, you have missed rent payments or you’re worried your payments are not being made, ring us as soon as you can. Even if you have other debts, make sure you prioritise rent arrears. Remember, we are here to help.


MON£Y BOX Melin news

Make the most of your money!

Financial help to keep warm this winter Winter Fuel Payment (WFP)

Cold Weather Payment

This tax-free annual benefit for people over 60 is usually paid from November. The amount varies depending on age and personal circumstances but may be up to £400 for couples. If you are 60 or over by September 21st 2008 and getting a state pension or qualifying benefit WFP should be paid automatically. Otherwise, you will need to claim.

If the temperature drops to or below freezing (0ºC) for seven consecutive days, you may be eligible for a Cold Weather Payment of £25 for each qualifying week.

Helpline: 08459 151 515 or text-phone 0845 601 5613 (Mon–Fri, 8.30am–4.30pm) winterfuel

Our annual report round up The House That Melin Built 7

Annual Report 2013/14

You may be eligible if you or your partner are aged 60 or over, or disabled, and receive: • Pension Credit • Income Support or income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance • Unemployed families with children under five may also be eligible for the payment.

10 or 08453 101102, Contact the Money Advice Team by calling 01495 7459 or email

The Home Energy Efficiency Scheme (HEES) The Welsh Government-funded scheme provides grants of up to £3,600 for eligible householders. There are two levels of the grant: • HEES (grant of up to £2,000) is for householders who are pregnant and in receipt of a MAT B1 certification or families with children under 16 • HEES Plus (grant of up to £3,600) is for householders who are 60 and over; lone parents with children under 16 and people receiving certain sickness or disability-related benefits. Qualifying households may be eligible for loft insulation, cavity wall insulation, draught-proofing, hot water tank jackets, central heating and repairs to existing heating systems. HEES also offers a benefits entitlement check. Telephone free on 0800 316 2815 or apply online at

Help from utility companies If you are over 60, have a disability, or are spending 10% of your income on your energy bills, you may be eligible for additional help from your energy company. Contact the telephone number on your bill for more information.

Benefit entitlement check Many people are missing out on Government money that is rightfully theirs because they are unaware of their benefits entitlement. The Pension Service now provides you with a full benefit entitlement check in your own home. Please telephone The Pension Service on 0845 60 60 265.

Here’s a quick look at what we have been up to over the last year. • Invested £8million in building 198 new homes, • Helped 62 people onto the property ladder, • The Melin Works team has helped 740 people back into work or training, • Care and Repair Monmouthshire and Torfaen have facilitated home repairs and maintenance worth £95,631, • Invested £2.1m in planned improvements, • Gave 138 homeless families a home, saving local authorities £220,800 by avoiding the use of B&Bs, • We carried out 12,440 repairs, • Our Income & Inclusion Team has put an extra £379,122 in residents’ pockets. To see the full Annual Report go to


Melin news

Tackling anti-social behaviour What is the Community Trigger? The Community Trigger was introduced in the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. The Community Trigger does not replace our complaints procedures. In the first instance anti-social behaviour should be reported to the Landlord (Housing Providers), the Local Authority or the police. It is to give an opportunity for victims of persistent anti-social behaviour to request a review of actions taken by agencies when they feel these actions have not been adequate to resolve the problem.

Who can activate the Community Trigger? • Victims of anti-social behaviour, • the victim’s representative, on their behalf (e.g. family member, friend, carer, councillor, MP or other professional person, all with victims consent only), • Businesses or community groups. You can activate the Community Trigger if you have complained to a Local Authority, Police and/or your Landlord three times about separate anti-social behaviour incidents in the last six months and believe that the action taken has been inadequate.

Your Community Trigger contacts Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council Helena Hunt Tel: 01495 356147 or email: Monmouthshire County Council Andrew Mason Tel: 01633 644210 or email: Newport City Council Chris Norman Tel: 01633 851764 or email:


Torfaen County Borough Council Karen Kerslake Tel: 01633 628971 or email:

Meet the Customer Contact Team Our Customer Contact Team (CCT) are the people who help you with your questions when you get in touch with us. The team on average answer over 6000 phone calls a month, as well as emails, social media messages on our Facebook and Twitter pages and at the reception in our offices. The team work together to make sure over 75% of calls are dealt with at the ‘first point of contact’. One of the team is Customer Contact Assistant, Chris Morgan. He says that the best part of his job is being able to make sure residents get the help they need and questions answered. “When a resident comes to us with a problem that needs sorting, there is nothing better than ending the call with getting the right Melin team involved to help and the resident happy with how we have dealt with their call.” According to Chris, the busiest time can often be Monday mornings, Friday afternoons and in-between 12–2pm each day. “A big part of what we do is making sure our workmen have jobs booked in and repairs are being carried out for residents. What I find is that residents just want clear information and an honest sense of how long a job will take. That is always a priority for us.” Don’t forget you can contact us in the following ways; • Residents’ Portal

Residents’ Portal

• Email: • Facebook/Twitter • Phone: 01495 745910


Melin news

Jump to it! Our community fund the JUMP Fund has recently given out almost £2000 to boost the coffers of local clubs or societies. The girls of Abergavenny Town Girls’ Football benefited from £250 and the team can now train in pride with brand new hoodies to keep them warm. Other groups who benefited from the latest round of funding were; North Gwent Cardiac Rehabilitation, Shelite Fitness in Pontnewynydd, RTB’s U11s Rugby in Ebbw Vale and Crickhowell FC.

Service to help older people launched in Torfaen

Be Independent One Number, One Call

Byddwch yn Annibynnol Un Rhif, Un Alwad

If you live in Torfaen, then you can now call a single phone number to find out about services for older people. The Local Service Board (LSB) has worked together to launch the ‘Be Independent’ phone service on 01495 742700. The new service was launched at our Extra Care scheme Ty George Lansbury in Cwmbran. Our Chief Executive Mark Gardner, is chair of the Be Independent project group. He said: “The internet is brilliant but it can be confusing to find exactly what you want if the results from a search are overwhelming. “Some people just want to talk to someone who can answer their questions or point them in the right direction for services in Torfaen like local clubs, social activities, handyperson services plus care, health and money advice. “The new telephone line is available to anyone but is mainly for older and frail people along with their families and carers.”


The LSB is made up of Torfaen Council, Melin Homes, Gwent Police, South Wales Fire and Rescue Service, Bron Afon, Torfaen Voluntary Alliance, Gwent Probation Service, and Aneurin Bevan University Health Board.

Welcome to Zest in Melin News! As you know we take health and wellbeing very seriously at Melin and aim to help you lead an active and healthy lifestyle. Coming up to Christmas can be a very stressful time and so looking after your mental health as well as your physical health is even more important. In October 2014, Melin signed the ‘Time to Change Wales’ mental health pledge which aims to end mental health discrimination and raise awareness about this very important issue. If you would like more information about ‘Time to Change Wales’ please visit or follow their updates on Facebook ( or Twitter ( As part of our work supporting this, we will be running a five month mental health campaign based around the ‘Gwent Five Ways to Wellbeing’. This will be aimed at encouraging our staff and residents to talk and be more open and also to challenge them to improve their mental health.

The Gwent Five Ways To Wellbeing is based around five different areas to help you improve your everyday wellbeing. They are promoted by Public Health Wales and are a wellbeing equivalent of ‘five fruit and vegetables a day’. The Five Ways to Wellbeing are as follows: Connect Be Active Take Notice Keep Learning Give

Talk to your neighbours, look up an old friend, just talk to someone! Walk where you would normally drive, take up a new form of exercise, take the stairs rather than the lift. Take time to be aware of how you breathing (meditate), listen to some great music, reflect on what’s great in your life and take time for you! Learn a language, challenge yourself to try something new, learn with your children. Give someone a compliment (see how it makes you and them feel), give blood (save a life!), help out at a local community group.


Melin news

Community Corner We regularly do our Tidy Towns Community Clean Ups out in the community, you may have seen us out and about. Our latest clean-up was in Barracksfield, Newport. Staff volunteer their time to clean up the area and a skip was provided for residents to use. We are always looking for places for the next clean up, if you know of somewhere that could do with a tidy up, get in touch with Alan Hughes on 01495 755910.

Back of the net We sponsored the Newport County Gwent Primary Schools Girls Football Tournament and presented the winning trophy to Monmouth Primary School. The tournament was held on the 3G pitch at the Velodrome in Newport and the players from Newport County AFC were in attendance to provide coaching and support.

Education bursary Every year we award our education bursary to deserving applicants. This year saw a record number of applications, with a total of 11 people being granted help to further their career goals. This year’s winners came to a celebration dinner at Melin HQ. The lucky recipients were given awards from lap tops and printers to cheques to help them pay for equipment and travel to their college courses.

Waterside Court resident will be missed by all Sadly we say a fond farewell to a long-time resident, Miss Claire Jones, of our Waterside Court scheme in Cwmbran who at the age of 93 has moved out to live with her brother. Miss Jones has lived at Waterside Court for many years and was hugely popular with other residents. She had been heavily involved with the Congress Theatre in Cwmbran and even wrote and produced plays of her own recently. After not wanting a proper send-off as she would get too upset, she sent a cheque in to Waterside Court to cover a fish ’n’ chip lunch, a hugely generous thing to do for her fellow residents. The staff and residents all said she will be hugely missed at Waterside Court and all of us at Melin wish Miss Jones the best in her new home. 13

Help us give someone a merry Melin Christmas

Do you know someone who deserves to be treated this festive season? Someone who is always there to help others even though they are busy or have a lot going on? If so, we could help you put the magic of Christmas into their family home. To nominate that special someone either send us a message via our Facebook or Twitter pages, email us at or phone us on 01495 745 907. Just let us know who they are and why they deserve a treat, and our Melin elves will bring the winner a beautiful Christmas tree. They will be on hand to help the lucky family decorate it and as if that wasn’t enough they will be leaving a hamper containing a festive feast for four. Remember to get your nominations in by 15th December.

Cae Nant opens Ty Cae Nant has started to open the doors to residents. The first residents are moving in this month. Ty Cae Nant, our extra care scheme is part of our ÂŁ11.1 million development on the former Brookfield School site close to Cwmbran Town centre. The development has 40 flats and one respite care unit, with communal features and services which will give residents the freedom they want and the care and support they need. Ty Cae Nant is alongside houses and flat comprising of a total of 111 properties. In the new year the scheme will be officially opened by Welsh Government Minister Lesley Griffiths AM.


Melin news

In One Place We are part of a groundbreaking new initiative which aims to boost the provision of high quality care and housing to people in need throughout Gwent. The joint health, housing and social care pledge known as In One Place has been drafted by us, eight other housing associations, five local authorities and Aneurin Bevan University Health Board to provide a high quality health and housing service. We have been able to offer the first homes to clients of In One Place. Some of our homes in Blaenavon are about to welcome two people who had previously had to live out of the area in order to get the care they needed. Now, thanks to In One Place and Melin Homes they will be able to move closer to their families and live independently with the support they need.

White ribbon for Melin men Plumbers, electricians and painters working at Melin wore white ribbons throughout November as a sign of their support for a national campaign to end violence against women. The men at Melin Homes signed up to the White Ribbon campaign’s pledge never to commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women. They wore the white ribbon to raise awareness amongst residents and are armed with information about where people can go to get help, or pledge support. The campaign has received over 17,000 pledges of support and Melin staff have all been given information about where residents can go for help in dealing with violence against women.


According to the White Ribbon website on average two women a week in England and Wales are killed by a violent partner or ex-partner. This constitutes nearly 40% of all female murder victims.

Powering Up at the Energy Expo Our Powering Up Communities First (PUCF) project has teamed up with Big Pit National Coal Museum to stage an exhibition following the journey being made by many householders from traditional fossil fuels to renewables. The exhibition features a wealth of information about how to change the way we use energy to make homes better for the environment and cheaper to run. Local school children from Blaenavon Heritage VC School were on hand to launch the exhibition with a special song they have wrote all about saving energy. The PUCF project signed up an army of over 500 Energy Champions young and old, all of whom volunteered to spread the green message to friends and family. They have also created an energy saving qualification and many who have worked with them have now gained an OCN Level 1 in Understanding Home Energy Efficiency. Melin Homes hosts the PUCF project on behalf of Torfaen County Borough Council and works with other Local Service Board partners. 16

Melin news

Care & Repair Are you having trouble getting around in your own home? Are you at risk of falling? Our Care & Repair team may be able to help. Through our Rapid Response Adaptation Programme (RRAP) we can provide free falls prevention measures in a matter of days. Thanks to additional funding from Welsh Government our Care & Repair teams can now provide anyone over 60 years old with minor adaptations such as grab rails to help keep older people safe in their own homes.

So, who is it for? If you are at risk of falling in your own home, or need modifications to be made to your home before they leave hospital. The work can be done quickly and free of charge.

What can I get? Through the Rapid Response Adaptation Programme (RRAP) we could provide you with;

Grab rails Half steps Keysafes Ramps


If you or someone you know can benefit, why not contact Care & Repair on 0300 111 3333.


Residents’ Panel election results The Residents’ Panel is an independent committee of 10 volunteers who review and comment on all of our policies and procedures to shape the services we provide you.


Carol Wheeler

94 votes


Ian McLaughlan

90 votes


Rose Matthews

89 votes


Toula Pearson

88 votes

Following a recent election the voting results are as follows;


Mark Gibbons

87 votes


Janet Harris

87 votes


Michael Browne

85 votes


Stephen Price

84 votes


Phillip Paul Davies

82 votes

Dated 17th September 2014 Valid votes cast – 118 Spoiled votes – 4 Votes received after closing date – 3

10 Edna Lewis

75 votes

10 John Reynolds 75 votes ----------------------------

Bloomin Good Neighbour Award Do you know someone who goes out of their way to help others? Do you have a neighbour who deserves recognition? We have introduced a Blooming Good Neighbour award to recognise those people in our communities who really care. If you want to nominate a neighbour who has gone the extra mile, drop us a line with your reason for nominating. Send your nominations to or call Caroline Morgan on 01495 745910.

12 Lyndon May

64 votes

13 Clive Rees

63 votes

14 David John Skipp

51 votes

In the Panel meeting of September 30 the following officer roles were voted in; Chair – Toula Pearson Vice Chair – Mark Gibbons Secretary – Stephen Price Treasurer – Janet Harris The panel is often out and about in the community talking with residents. They meet every fortnight at Melin’s Pontypool offices to discuss and resolve issues, and are responsible for a budget of around £35,000 a year that they use to award residents grants for landscaping projects and small works.


Be Independent One Number, One Call

Byddwch yn Annibynnol Un Rhif, Un Alwad



If you live in Torfaen you can now call one number to find out the information you need to enjoy an independent life.

Nawr, os ydych yn byw yn Nhorfaen, gallwch ffonio un rhif i ddod o hyd i’r wybodaeth sydd ei hangen arnoch i fwynhau bywyd annibynnol.

Be Independent is brought to you by the Local Service Board who want to make this number the only one older people will need to find out local information on services.

Call the Bee on 01495 742700 One Number, One Call

Mae Byddwch yn Annibynnol yn cael ei gyflwyno i chi gan y Bwrdd Gwasanaethau Lleol, sydd eisiau gwneud y rhif hwn yr unig un y bydd pobl hŷn ei angen i ddod o hyd i wybodaeth am wasanaethau lleol.

Galwch Y Wenynen at 01495 742700 Un Rhif, Un Alwad

Melin News 24  

This is a test issue of Melin News Issue 24

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