MELINNEWS Summer 2015 www.melinhomes.co.uk
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Welcome to your latest issue of Melin News It’s hard to believe we are already half way through another year and it sometimes feels we don’t stop here at Melin. We always make sure the information in Melin News is valuable to you – our residents. This issue features something new and a bit of fun – a quiz! So we look forward to your answers. On page 7 we are introducing you to the Melin Offer which is our promise to you so you know what to expect and what we expect in return. On page 12 you can learn more about our new Customer Services Group, which exists to listen to your views and act on them. On page 14 we will tell you about the new repairs contractor we are working in partnership with for at least the next five years: Glanmor Developments. We hope you enjoy your summer and let’s all hope for some lovely weather to go alongside it.
Contents 03. Wow! That’s tidy! 05. Community Corner 06. Melin Works – Dreams come true 07.
The Melin Offer
08. Test your knowledge in our quiz! 09. Around the schemes 10. The Melin Digital Offer 12. Customer Services Group 13. Rights, advice and information service 14. Introducing Glanmor Developments 15. What the General Election means for UC 17.
Care & Repair
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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
A new look for the Melin website We will be launching our brand new website soon. The site boasts a refreshed and modern design. It will be easier to read and you should be able to find what you are looking for quickly. The new website can be found at www.melinhomes.co.uk and it will be more accessible. This is thanks to a feature called BrowseAloud, which may already be familiar to people with dyslexia, people with visual impairments or people whose first language is not English. BrowseAloud helps users by converting text to speech, creating spoken and written translation, magnifying text and it can generate MP3s that will read the text out loud. www.melinhomes.co.uk
The new website is responsive, which means it works on all devices from PC to mobiles. The site will feature different types of media including video. It will also be in Welsh. You will still be able to check your account on line and pay your rent or report a repair. When itâ€™s live we will continue to make improvements so if you have any comments please let us know. Email us at email@example.com
Wow! That’s tidy! Thanks to so many of you who helped us spend the Tidy Towns ‘Brighter, Cleaner Communities’ funding so effectively. Our Communities Team recently wrapped up the £24,000 Tidy Towns project grant which was awarded in May 2014. The money was spent on helping our streets stay clean, tidy and free from fly tipping and rubbish. The grant gave the benefit of having the work done without the costs being recouped through residents service charge. The average skip costs £400 and labour would have cost more. Melin staff gave 272 hours of their time to assist residents with the clean ups. In all, over 29.5 tonnes of rubbish was removed in the skips. Although the funding from our Tidy Towns ‘Brighter Cleaner Communities’ project is coming to an end, the initiative will continue. So much time, financial investment and bucket loads of feel good factor has been invested we will do whatever it takes to carry on all the good work and help you to live in brighter cleaner communities.
So many of you joined us over the last few months we would like to say a huge thank you for your enthusiasm. The funding has enabled us to buy litter picking equipment, and helped you and local schools in your community with some planting. You have really made the difference and made this funding really count and the best thing is, as a result of working together, we really have built stronger communities. One parent said: “I’ve lost my job and simply cannot afford the council charges to take my old bed and fridge freezer away, so today is massively helpful for my family and we are really grateful to Melin.” Another person said: “I cannot believe how helpful you all are today I would have never managed to move all the rubbish from my garden without you.”
Community Corner Want to meet your sporting hero? Fancy getting active and having fun with your friends this summer?
Our partners Newport Gwent Dragons and Newport County Football Club can help. Events we organise with these clubs are a great chance to introduce youngsters to sport and even offer the opportunity to meet their heroes. If you have any ideas for these sport days, or for more info call Alan Hughes on 01496 745910. Fancy organising a Community Social event yourself this summer? We can help. Call Alan Hughes or Helen Seymour on 01495 745910. There’s lots planned already this summer, so keep an eye on our website and Facebook page to find out what’s happening near you.
Adopt a community Our Adopt a Community Initiative was set up to give all our staff the chance to visit your streets and meet you, your families and your neighbours and work with you to improve and enhance areas. With your help: • We delivered 109 Community Event Initiatives this year (including 18 Community Clean Up Days) across the five local authorities that Melin covers; • 3,278 of you, the wider community and partners joined us during our ‘Adopt a Community’ engagement event days; 5
• Staff contributed 1,439 hours to the initiative this past year.
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Dreams come true Melin resident Fatoumata Camara, 31, studied for a BA (Hons) in Business and Accounting and passed with a 2.2 in 2013. Since graduating she had struggled to find work and has only been able to find short term and temporary positions. She contacted her Melin Works advisor having been out of work for one year and three months. As a single parent of a teenage daughter and not able to drive, opportunities to work further afield were limited. “When I signed up to Melin Works I was desperate to find long term work, but struggled because employers seemed to be looking for experience and the qualifications” said Fatoumata. After meeting with her Melin Works advisor Paula, Fatoumata was given a clear action plan with activities designed to get her job ready. “Having an action plan gave me a real sense of the help available and how my advisor had a clear plan for me.” After arranging an interview with Monmouthshire County Council (MCC), Fatoumata was able to start a work placement. “The placement with MCC was the first step to me getting that crucial experience to go alongside the skills I gained during my degree. Melin Works even paid for my travel expenses, saving me close to £100 during the eight week placement.” At the end of the placement a vacancy came up with the Finance Team at Melin. Paula suggested Fatoumata apply and after going through a competitive recruitment process, she got the job.. “I was delighted and couldn’t thank Paula enough for all her help. To secure long term work at a place like Melin Homes was a dream come true for me. I never thought when I first got in touch with Melin Works this would have happened and I would recommend them to anyone looking for work.”
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Coming soon, the Melin Offer Very soon we will be launching our Melin Offer. The Melin Offer is our promise to you as your housing association and what we expect from you as residents. We all want you to live in homes you can be proud of and communities you enjoy living in.
This is very much a two way street and the Melin Offer will show how we can work together to give you a home you can be proud of and we can continue to have an excellent relationship with our current and new residents. Keep an eye out for posters, videos and social media posts to launch the Melin Offer and a chance for you to get involved in your community.
Test your knowledge in our quiz! Are you a budding egghead? Think you really know your stuff? Newport resident Bill Fouweather has prepared a quiz for you. Send in your answers and you could win £25 worth of high street vouchers. If there are a number of correct answers the winner will be drawn out of a hat. Good luck and here goes… 1. How many in a baker’s dozen? 2. What is the capital of Peru? 3. Who wrote the novel Jane Eyre? 4. Which football club has appeared in four FA cup finals and lost them all? 5. What’s the Queen’s favourite perfume? 6. What’s a female cat called? 7. In what city was Olivia Newton John born? 8. What part of your body has a coating of enamel
You could win £25 in high stree t vouchers!
9. What was the first ever record to reach number one in the charts? 10. What is the German word for three? 11. What was Winston Churchill’s wife’s name? 12. Which children’s rhyme is linked to the Black Death? 13. What was Princess Margaret’s middle name? 14. Which king’s body was recently found in a car park? 15. Which female tennis player holds the record for the most Grand Slam singles tennis titles?
You can post your answers to Melin News Quiz, Ty Felin, Lower Mill Field, Pontypool, Torfaen NP4 0XJ or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org We’ll announce the winner in the next issue. 1
Around the schemes The roles of your scheme managers have changed. You will still see them around but they will now take on more of the housing management jobs, such as dealing with rents and repairs, as well as welcoming new residents. We have done this in a bid to make the services we provide you as efficient as possible. We have been working closely with the Supporting People teams across Monmouthshire, Newport, Blaenau Gwent and Torfaen and have created our Floating Support service. This means we will be able to provide a flexible and responsive service and be there for you when you need us. We have recruited three new Independent Living Assistants to provide this service. Here are your Independent Living Assistants:
Emily Davies will be covering the Monmouthshire area, Allison James will be covering the Torfaen area. They will be providing support to residents in sheltered housing. Your scheme managers will be handing over existing support plans to Emily and Allison. Bella Gregoire-Jones has been appointed as the third Independent Living Assistant and will be covering the Newport and Blaenau Gwent areas. You can contact Bella on 01495 745910 or email email@example.com. You can contact Emily Davies on 01495 745910 or email firstname.lastname@example.org 9
Allison James covers the Torfaen area. If you think that she can help you, get in touch on 01495 745910 or email email@example.com
The Melin Digital Offer We offer a wide range of services to you to help you get online. The Melin Digital 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; • A laptop loan scheme for people who are studying at home; • Advice on viruses when things go wrong; • Advice on local WiFi hotspots; • Advice on training for employment; • Support for basic skills. If you would like some tech know-how, get in touch with our Digital Inclusion Officer, Louise Kingdon on 01495 745910
Day trippers Residents of Llys Ebwy and Ty Penry Thomas enjoyed a trip to Porthcawl early in May for some sea air. They were escorted by Alan Hughes and Julie Williams and despite the rain they enjoyed lunch and a walk along the beach. 10
We’ve got the buzz and are backing bees Following news that our bee population is under threat we have backed a Torfaen Council initiative to build new bee hives. Mel’s Bees is a community enterprise set up with support from Torfaen County Borough Council. Our Communities Team sponsored the initiative to help them develop their site and build new hives. The group will be teaching local schools and disability groups about sustainability.
The great news for you is that they will also be providing honey to the local community and if you have a wasp or bees’ nest Mel’s Bees can remove them in an environmentally friendly way.
A letter of thanks from Bakery Close We are proud and touched by this lovely letter we were sent by long term Melin residents, Mr and Mrs Nash, moved into one of our new bungalows in Bakery Close, Talywain. This very much makes our work feel worthwhile when we receive such messages from you, the people who matter most to us â€“ our residents. Our housing team works extremely hard to find suitable properties for new and current residents and make sure they settle into their new homes and live in communities to be proud of. We would like to offer our heartfelt thanks and gratitude by allowing us the chance to live in this beautiful bungalow. You have altered our lives in so many ways and we will never be able to thank you enough. You have given us the chance to live our lives in peace. Thanks from the bottom of our hearts. Mr and Mrs Nash We wish Mr and Mrs Nash and all the new residents in Bakery Close the best in their new homes.
Research, reviews & recommendations The Customer Services Group is being launched to look into the services that we provide to you. The small group, made up of residents, will be carrying out reviews based on feedback from our surveys, consultation exercises and other ways we communicate with you. The group will be involved in writing reports with recommendations, researching best practice, carrying out mystery shopping and reality check services amongst many other things. We will publish their initial Maintaining and improving standards project findings shortly.
Customer Services Group
Gas Safety certificate changes There will be a slight change to how your gas safety check will be carried out by our engineers. Our staff now use a tablet called TotalMobile which means that you will be asked to sign on the tablet. Instead of being given the certificate there and then, the certificate will be posted to you that evening from our head office. If you have any questions about this please get in touch on 01495 745910.
Rights, advice and information service RNIB Cymru is working with Action on Hearing Loss Cymru, Deafblind Cymru and Sense Cymru to provide information, advice and support to people with sensory loss in Wales. How can they help? They can check that you are getting the benefits and concessions that you are entitled to and let you know about other services and support that is available to you in your area. They will arrange for any benefit application forms to be completed for you and provide support through the claim process. They also have a team of specialist case workers who will be able to support you in challenging the most complex of benefit decisions if your decision is wrong. How to contact them Please use their online form to refer yourself, or someone else, to the team. Find it at www.rnib.org.uk/rights-advice-and-information-service Tel: 0333 323 0227 | Fax: 01248 353350 | E-mail: RAISE@rnib.org.uk 13
Text relay: 1800103333230227 | SMS: 07860 031200
Introducing Glanmor Developmentsâ€Ś
You may have seen our new branded vans around with Glanmor Developments. We are now in a new partnership with the Cwmbran based contractor to manage our repairs in your homes. We always try to provide the best possible service to you, the residents, when it comes to repairs and we are confident that this will continue with Glanmor. You should have received a letter from us talking you through the changes, but if you do have any other questions please get in touch. Dave Cook, Director of Customer Services at Melin said; â€œResidents tell us that repairs is one of the most important services that we provide. We are delighted to have chosen Glanmor to deliver this vital service and secure the minimum of 25 jobs in the local area.â€?
The General Election – what it means for Universal Credit The recent General Election has returned a Conservative majority Government, so what does this mean for Welfare Reform and particularly Universal Credit (UC)? The Conservative manifesto had stated the pre-election roll out of UC will continue should they win the election. So this means that all new single claimants in Torfaen and Newport are already able to claim UC, and it will be available in Blaenau Gwent and Monmouthshire in September and Powys in December. Universal Credit rolls six benefits into one, including Income Support, Income Based Job Seekers Allowance/Employment and Support Allowance, Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit. This means that any benefits will be paid together in one payment, and it will be your responsibility to pay us your rent. If you have any questions about Universal Credit then the Income & Inclusion team is on hand. You can call the team on 01496 745910. You can also contact them on social media via the Melin Homes pages. Head over to our social media or YouTube channel to see Bethan from our Income team explaining a little bit about Universal Credit and what it means for our residents. www.youtube.com/melinhomes www.twitter.com/melinhomes www.facebook.com/melinhomes You may be able get an advance on your first Universal Credit payment if you’ve recently been receiving another benefit or you’re in urgent financial need. Check with your work coach. Contact the helpline if you have any questions or if your circumstances change and you’re already getting Universal Credit. Universal Credit helpline: 0345 600 0723 | Textphone: 0345 600 0743 Welsh language (make a claim): 0800 012 1888 15
Welsh language (report changes): 0345 600 3018
STAR survey winners Congratulations to Mr and Mrs Humphreys of Lime Crescent, Newport. After completing our STAR Survey they won £150 of shopping vouchers in our prize draw. “We are really surprised and over the moon at winning the vouchers; we never win anything. Completing the survey was really easy and it was a chance to have our say about what Melin does well and can improve on. We are going to use the vouchers to get ourselves something for the garden.” Mr Humphreys told us. In addition to this Gavin Payne in the Income & Inclusion Team was able to help the couple claim extra pension credit, and this enabled Mr Humphreys to take retirement from work. This all came about after the couple called into the team and booked an appointment to see how we could help. Mrs Humphreys said: “We both want to thank Gavin so much for his help. When we met with him we never expected how much he could help us with pension credit. My husband now can retire and tend to his fruit and veg allotment thanks to Gavin’s help.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Budget for the summer holidays The summer holidays are a great time for the kids to have off school, but it’s important that you don’t take a rent holiday. Plan your budget for the kids being home for six weeks and make sure your rent and household bills are paid first. Rents for our properties are paid weekly, one week in advance. If you are planning on renting from us a week’s rent will be needed up front when signing the tenancy, even if you are on housing benefit. Other tips to help you save money: • Supermarkets such as Tesco offer club card holder tickets for free entry to many attractions; • Contact your local council to see what free play schemes are available and many cinemas offer deals for kids to watch films at discount prices; • Welsh Water Assist Scheme – Get in touch with our Income & Inclusion team to find out more and apply; • Home Heat Helpline – Visit www.homeheathelpline.org.uk to see how you can save money on your energy bills or call our Income & Inclusion team; • Food parcels – don’t go hungry. Get in touch with us to see how we can help; • Debt advice – do not suffer in silence! We can help. The earlier you get in touch with us, the more we can do to help you with debt, budgeting and saving money. Your Income & Inclusion Team is here to help – call us on 01496 745910 or email email@example.com 17
Want to join The Panel? We are looking for candidates to stand for election to the Residents’ Panel. If you are interested you can register your interest by Facebook, email, by phone or in writing. Everyone who has expressed an interest will be sent a Registration of Interest application which will need to be completed and returned to us by 31st July. If more than 10 residents express an interest to sit on the Panel an election will need to be held. The results of this election will be announced at the Panel AGM in September. If you would like more information about the Panel please contact Caroline Morgan on 01495 745910 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Panel donation on cue Recently the Communities Team worked closely with residents living at Llys Ebwy and Ty Penry Thomas to establish their League of Friends. Residents within the League of Friends mentioned that their pool table in the communal lounge had been there a long time and the years and wear had taken its toll. The League then made an application for grant funding to the Residents’ Panel to buy a new table and were awarded £500. The Panel visited the Scheme on 26th May to meet with residents who expressed their appreciation for the grant and told them how it is boosting community spirit at the Scheme.
Our Care and Repair agencies have merged. As of 1st April this year, the newly formed Care & Repair Monmouthshire and Torfaen became a single entity. The successful merger came about following a Welsh Government drive to reduce the 22 agencies across Wales to 13. The team will continue to provide excellent customer service to older people throughout both counties. Take a look below to see how they have already helped so many.