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MELINNEWS Spring 2015


Celebrating arbed’s wor k at Malpas

Inside Court Prima ry School

What Unive rsal Credit m eans for Looking afte r your


garden 110315_001

Melin news

Welcome to your latest issue of Melin News Welcome to the first Melin News of 2015. It’s already shaping up to be quite a year. We always try to make sure Melin News is full of information for you. We are launching our new energy initiative, Little by Little, read about it on page 3. Universal Credit is going to be a huge change to the way some of you pay your rent, on page 6 we give you the information you need about it. Melin Works has now helped over 1,500 people, on page 8 we highlight one of those people helped. On page 10 you can read about a milestone for our Income and Inclusion team; a million pounds back in residents’ pocket in a year! As spring approaches, your gardens need extra care to look their best so that you can enjoy them during the warmer months. Get some helpful hints on pages 15 and 16. I hope you enjoy reading all your Melin News


Chief Executive

Contents 03. Introducing Little by Little 05. Energy boost in Malpas 06. What Universal Credit means for you 07.

Is it time to check your boiler?

08. Melin Works 10. Money Box 11.

Royal British Legion

12. Roderick Court Open Day 13. Get connected with the Melin Digital Offer 14. Tidy Towns project 16.

Rights and responsibilities: Your garden

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 745910.

If you need this newsletter in large print, Braille, CD or explained in a different language, please email the Communications team at

Yes Minister! Ty Cae Nant official opening

We had an official opening of our extra care scheme, Ty Cae Nant, recently. Ty Cae Nant is part of our larger Cae Nant development which was built on the former Brookfield School site in central Cwmbran. The building was officially opened by Welsh Government Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty, Lesley Griffiths, alongside Torfaen Council Leader Bob Wellington and our Chief Executive Mark Gardner. The Minister and attendees of the opening were given a guided tour around the development and a chance to meet with residents to see how they are settling in. Guests were also treated to a performance from Our Lady’s RC School Choir. We invested £9,745 into the community through work with the school and have offered a donation of fruit trees and bedding plants for the children to plant at the school. We had some excellent feedback from the Minister, who said; “The project not only provides high quality affordable housing for residents, but also supports the local economy by boosting jobs and growth. “This development is an excellent example of partnership working between Melin Homes and Torfaen County Borough Council, which is helping to deliver our vision for housing in Wales. It has been a pleasure to open Ty Cae Nant and I wish all of the tenants every happiness in their new homes.”


Melin news

Introducing a new little energy initiative

We have a new team at Melin. Little by Little is hosted by our Being Greener Team and works in partnership with Rhondda Cynon Taff, Blaenau Gwent, Cardiff, Merthyr and Torfaen. The creation of this team means our energy efficiency work will reach another 1,500 homes across south Wales. The team will be helping householders to cut their fuel bills by giving them top tips on how to make small changes in their day-to-day lives that will also save energy. Team members have a vast amount of experience and will be able to talk residents through changing their energy providers. They can provide a whole home health check helping residents to save energy, but also offer help in other areas, from training to education. Thanks to a great relationship with partner organisations the team will also be able to help with financial advice, help residents to boost their skills and find training or employment opportunities and will be able to help people get online. There will soon be a website full of helpful information launched at

Being social is as easy as ABC Residents at Aneurin Bevan Court have been busy planning their social calendar. They have day trips planned to Weston and St Fagan’s. They will be heading to the theatre for several shows and they also have three holidays planned. Have fun everyone! 3

Kind-hearted cook wins recognition

The Residents’ Panel’s Blooming Good Neighbour Award has found another worthy recipient. Residents living at Tredegar Court in Newport nominated Tomas Smith for the award, as his kindness has touched so many of them. Tomas, known to everyone as Jacko has lived at the sheltered scheme for over 10 years and often cooks for his neighbours, particularly those who may be more vulnerable. The former steel erector often pops into his flat after chats with his neighbours only to return with a home-cooked meal. Jacko¹s former neighbour Tommy Taylor said:”Jacko’s always cooking for others. In fact when I moved out, I left a nil by mouth sign on my door.” Jacko was presented with the £25 vouchers by Melin Residents’ Panel Treasurer Janet Harris. She said: “The Blooming Good Neighbour Award is a nice way of recognising people who go the extra mile for their neighbours. The Residents’ Panel are very happy to have the opportunity to show their appreciation”.


Melin news

Energy boost in Malpas The Being Greener Team has been busy and recently celebrated their arbed 2 ERDF work in Malpas. Pupils at Malpas Court Primary School got a new classroom and a bike rack following a major investment of £1.5 million in providing 287 homes in the Malpas area free energy efficiency measures. The Welsh Government’s arbed 2 project in south Wales is run by our Being Greener Team and is investing over £40m across south Wales to tackle fuel poverty.

WHY DON’T YOU GET MEL IN? From assembling your flat-pack furniture, to putting up a fence or shed, laying some patio slabs, cutting your lawn or even painting one of your rooms. Sometimes you might just need a spare pair of hands. Mel’s are the team that you need. As Mel’s Handy People is a community service that is backed by Melin Homes, it gives you the peace of mind that your jobs will be done to the highest standards by a team you can trust. 5


What Universal Credit means for you

Universal Credit (UC) is going to mean big changes in the way residents will pay rent to us. Since February it has come to Torfaen and will be rolled out to Newport (May), Blaenau Gwent and Monmouthshire (September) and Powys (December). 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 payment will be made to you and it will be your responsibility to pay us your rent. If you have any questions about Universal Credit then the Income and Inclusion Team is on hand. You can call the team on 01495 745910. The team can also be contacted on social media via Facebook and Twitter. They can help with benefits, budgeting, debt, grant applications and even food parcels and food bank vouchers. Head over to our social media or YouTube channel to see team member Bethan explaining a little bit about Universal Credit and what it means for you.


Melin news


Is it time to check your boiler? Thanks to all of you who have let us into your homes to carry out gas safety checks. By keeping your appointments you’ve helped us to help you stay gas safe. If you already have a gas safety check booked please try and keep the appointment and make sure there is someone at home to let us in. Don’t forget that the service time clocks, which we have fitted to most boilers now, will automatically disable your heating system if your gas safety check is overdue. Don’t be without heating this year, if you haven’t already booked your gas safety check, get in touch and make an appointment. Remember – keeping gas safety appointments with us is an important part of your tenancy agreement. Stay Gas Safe, call 01495 745910 or 08453 101102 or email

Free chips for your dogs The Dogs Trust is offering neutering operations for dogs (male and female) belonging to owners who receive means tested benefits, including tax credits – for just £30. Most vets in Wales take part so ask your local vet about the £30 Dogs Trust neutering scheme or call Fran from the Dogs Trust on 07932 115750. It is soon going to be a legal requirement in Wales to have your dog chipped. It’s important you make sure you get your dog chipped sooner rather than later. Speak to our Income & Inclusion team for information. 7


Melin Works Melin Works Melin Works Melin Works Melin

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Success for Melin Works Melin Works, has now helped 1000 people into work since it began in 2011. The team has reached a milestone this year and continues to find work placements, jobs and training for Melin residents and non-residents alike. One of our residents, Amy Williams, 24, from Blaenavon, was one of the people helped by Melin Works. She started her Jobs Growth Wales placement with Y Prentis in September 2014. Today she is a valued member of the Y Prentis team based at Melin and is enjoying getting to grips with her new role. “My confidence and office skills have improved massively since starting the placement. I am better off financially and what is really important is that I am able to have a work routine to fit around my young daughter and my childcare needs.” said Amy. Amy was initially referred to the Melin Works team via our Digital Inclusion officer. From this initial contact, Amy was registered to Melin’s ‘Drive to Thrive’ project; which supported her to pass her driving test, which is often a barrier to work opportunities. “Having the financial help and support to pass my driving test was so important to me as not having a licence was often a big reason I couldn’t take up job opportunities” said Amy. Are you looking for work placements, training and job opportunities? Then get in touch with our Melin Works team on 01495 745910. Alongside learning to drive, Melin Works was able to pay and guide Amy through her level 1 and 2 Sage Accounts qualification. In September she was awarded the Melin Education Bursary which paid for Childcare vouchers. Her hard work finally paid off when she became a member of the staff team. 8

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Melin news

Staff boost charity total Staff have been busy during their free time raising money for good causes. This is where the money went: Aaron’s ambition Macmillan Cancer Support Stand up for Cancer Coppafeel Humbug Save the Children Carol Singing – MS Society Carol Singing – Air Ambulance British Heart Foundation Air Ambulance Comic Relief Mufty Days Melin Quiz Melin Golf Day

£1,877.70 £635.89 £202.54 £202.54 £518.16 £13.50 £53.26 £53.26 £47.00 £155.95 £73.60 £363.01 £579.00 £2,700



A shed load of help Two green fingered residents dedicated to keeping the communal gardens in blooming good shape have been given an extra boost thanks to a grant from the Residents’ Panel.


Anne Haggerty and Pat Ireland spend a good deal of time and a lot of effort to make sure the gardens at their Wainfelin home are always kept well. Previously though, they had nowhere to store their gardening equipment, so the Residents’ Panel stepped in and funded a £460 shed. Mel’s Handy People’s service was also on hand to build a base for the shed. A big thanks to all involved.

MON£Y BOX Melin news

Make the most of your money!

For money advice contact the Income & Inclusion team by calling 01495 745910, or email

£1 million back in your pocket Our Income & Inclusion Team reached a pretty big milestone this year when they put £1 million back into the pockets of you – our residents. The £1 million was made up of the team getting access to benefits including extra housing benefits. Added to this the team helped people with Personal Independence Payment, Discretionary Housing Payment, Welsh Water bills, fuel debt, tax credits and other working benefits. Our Income and Inclusion team is on hand to help you with grant applications, help with benefits, rent arrears, debt advice and lots of other ways to put money back into your pocket. Speak to our team today by calling 01495 745910, or emailing

An Ebbw Vale resident taking advantage of free advice at our pilot money advice surgery. If you would like us to visit your street, home or sheltered scheme give us a call on the number or email above.


Melin news

Pop in for help from the Royal British Legion The Royal British Legion’s work is summed up within its motto, ‘Live On – to the memory of the fallen and the future of the living’. The Legion is the nation’s biggest Armed Forces charity providing care and support to all members of the British Armed Forces past and present and their families. The Legion locally In Wales, the Legion has recently opened a ‘pop in’ advice and information centre, on High Street in Cardiff, to bring the charity’s services closer to its beneficiaries. Here members of the Armed Forces and the general public can pop in, as easily as going to the shops, for advice and information on the charity’s support and community services. Who they help The Legion helps serving members of the Armed Forces, ex-service men and women and their families, now and for the rest of their lives. Over 7,000 requests for help and information were handled by the team in Wales from October 2013 to October 2014. Through the pop in centre, online support and freephone number the Legion can provide help and advice on: • Financial problems • Compensation claims • Inquests and bereavement • Returning to civilian life • Care homes • Providing breaks for carers, families and children • Help around the house


For more information on The Royal British Legion visit 0808 802 8080, visit their website at or pop in to discuss with our volunteers at 13/14 High Street, Cardiff CF10 1PT.

Roderick Hill Court Open Day Zest! Will be running a wellness event at Roderick Hill Court’s Open Day on April 17th from 2pm– 4.30pm. Everyone is welcome to come along and try some healthy treats, maybe even get a taste of reflexology, or advice on heart health and keeping your BMI in check. Our Income & Inclusion Team will also be there with some handy money advice.

On the day you will also have the chance to look at our show flat and see for yourselves the benefits of Melin’s accommodation for over 55s. Roderick Hill Court provides an independent living option with the added support of a scheme manager who is on hand during office hours. The homes are on a main bus route in Tredegar and offer a great community feel with a communal garden, lounge and laundry. A similar event was held at the Melin offices Residents’ Zone recently. Office cleaner Angie Tutton said: “It was a really good event I even got a quick head and shoulder massage as well as trying a vegetable juice and getting some tips for living a healthy lifestyle.” If you or someone you know could benefit from independent living with support, then this may be an ideal opportunity to look around.


Melin news

Simplify noise reporting with an app Our ASB team are taking advantage of new technology to change the way they deal with noise nuisance. Using the new Noise App ( residents will now be able to record nuisance noise and send their recording direct to Housing Officers. The App which has been developed by a team of Environmental Health Professionals is available for free download and will allow officers to more effectively target noise nuisance cases. Speak our Melin ASB team for further information.

Help to get connected We offer our residents advice on affordable broadband, TV packages, through the phone line or using mobile internet. Through our digital inclusion work we can help you choose the right equipment to get online and provide support for basic skills. If you feel you can benefit from this, get in touch with our Digital Inclusion Officer Louise Kingdon on 01495 745910. Our offer includes: • Advice on affordable broadband/connection, from TV packages, through the phone line or using mobile internet; • Advice on affordable equipment from refurbished laptops, to tablets, and the latest smart phones; • Advice on viruses and when things go wrong; • A scheme to help people study via e-learning at home; • Advice on local WiFi hotspots; • Advice on training for employment;


• Support for basic skills.

Tidy Towns project goes over and above Our Brighter Cleaner Communities, “Tidy Towns” project proved to be an overwhelming success. Many of you have given us positive feedback and have taken advantage of our help to clear your gardens and properties. Our teams have met lots of you while we have been out and about and have been really thrilled with the community spirit we have seen. Many of you were going over and above to help out your neighbours by taking out other people’s items as well as your own. The initiative has also allowed us to purchase fruit trees at our partnership schools and the beginning of March saw our Melin Taskforce visiting various schools to help the young pupils with the planting. Staff and children at Durand Primary School in Caldicot (pictured), one of our partnership schools, were delighted to accept a kit of Litter Picking equipment sponsored by Tidy Towns and our Brighter Cleaner Communities Project. Head teacher Mrs Waters and her young pupils were thrilled to also receive four fruit trees for their new orchard in the school grounds.


Melin news

Green gardens The gardens in your Melin homes are very much part of the place you live in. They need to be kept in good condition much like the rest of the house. When our Direct Work Force are out working in our homes and sites, they are expected to keep an eye out for messy gardens that are not being kept neat. If we do see a garden in a mess or not kept up to the standards we expect, we will be knocking on doors to address this with the residents concerned. Please make sure you keep your garden in order and make it something to be really proud of. See the next page for our handy guide on how to keep your lawn in tip top condition.

Superfast way to get online Residents of Aneurin Bevan Court and Ty George attended the BT Superfast Cymru event at Big Pit in Blaenavon. After being given a session on their tablets by our Digital Inclusion Officer Louise, the residents met with First Minister Carwyn Jones and Alun Cairns MP, Deputy Minister in the Welsh Office. The Ministers were shown how many of you are now using tablets and the internet for the first time. The event was held by BT to celebrate the millionth building in Wales having access to fibre broadband. The event celebrated Superfast Cymru which will see high-speed fibre broadband being brought to areas of Wales which would otherwise not receive it. The Welsh Government aims to make fibre available to 96% of premises in Wales by spring 2016.


Rights and responsibilities: Your garden When you signed your tenancy agreement you made a promise to look after your garden and any lawn you may have. Legally we are not responsible for maintaining your garden, although we are always on hand to give you advice on how best for you to do it. By following the tips on how to look after your lawn and garden, we hope you can have a garden to enjoy and be proud of. • Spiking – with a garden fork can improve the drainage and helps roots to grow • Raking – Moss and dead grass can be raked away and allow light, water and nutrients to reach the roots of the lawn. Think about using a moss killer to work alongside your raking. • Watering – It’s perfectly normal for your lawn to have some brown patches after a dry spell. Unless it’s a new lawn, it will soon be back green with a little rain. If you are going to water your lawn, do it either early morning or late evening to stop the grass scorching. • Try not to waste water – most lawns can survive dry summers without any problems, but make sure you are careful with the water you use if you are using it on your lawn. Water butts are handy to catch rain water and can be used on your lawns. • Feeding your lawn – fertiliser is important to keep your lawns green, aim to feed once in spring and once in autumn. To help kill weeds, consider using a combined fertiliser/ weed killer feed. • Mowing and edging – be sure to change your mowing pattern from time to time to not compact certain parts of the lawn too much. While edging can be tricky, edging shears or a power trimmer are really helpful in trimming the edges of your lawn.

March Repair edges, roll the turf and apply moss killer if the ground isn’t frozen or waterlogged. Start mowing as soon as the grass begins to grow. April/May You can put down more seed in bare patches, apply fertiliser and weed killer during this time. June/July/August Keep mowing regularly and raise the mover blades in dry weather. Don’t feed your lawn or apply weed killer in dry conditions, as this will burn the grass. September/October This is a time to prepare your lawn for winter; spike the lawn


Melin news

Care & Repair – help at home Our two Care and Repair Agencies in Torfaen and Monmouthshire will be merging to become a single agency. The merger takes place on April 1st and the team will continue to provide excellent services to older people across Monmouthshire and Torfaen. Care and Repair Torfaen and Monmouthshire can help you if you have trouble getting around in your own home, or are at risk of falling. 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 keep older people safe in their own homes.

The RRAP initiative could provide you with:

Grab rails Half steps Keysafes Ramps


The service recently received praise from Ruth Jones, Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for Monmouth. She said: “It’s a good example of the health, housing and social services in Torfaen and Monmouthshire working together.” Other Care and Repair Agencies are available in Newport, Blaenau Gwent and Powys.


A new chapter for Paige The Residents’ Panel recently helped Paige Webb, 22. They covered the cost of childcare for nine months of the academic year so she could attend college. “I can’t thank the Residents’ Panel enough. Without their help I just wouldn’t have been able to do my course and I am now on my way to working in the beauty industry thanks to their help” Paige said.

Working for you at home and away Your Residents’ Panel has had a very busy time since December. The nine volunteers recently held their Away Day at The Parkway, Cwmbran with members of the Customer Service Group and Community Representatives. During the day they discussed their work programme for the future and the best way they can represent your views. Panel members have been working with Dr Debbie Hay, an experienced Community Development Consultant. They have received training on Performance Monitoring, Service Standards and Communication, Methodology and Anti-Social Behaviour. Panel members have also been instrumental in developing Melin’s new Customer Services Group, who will shortly be working for the Panel looking at Melin’s services to residents. In February they awarded over £500 worth of grants to Melin Communities to support community associations and planting projects. If you would like to get involved with the Panel, or if you think the Panel can help you, please contact Caroline Morgan on 01495 745910 or email


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 25  

The Spring 2015 issue Inside we feature: • Celebrating Arbed's work • What Universal Credit means for you • Tips for looking after your gar...

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