MELINNEWS Autumn 2015 www.melinhomes.co.uk
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Welcome to your latest issue of Melin News Despite the mixed summer weather, we always try to look on the bright side here at Melin; making sure the information in Melin News is valuable to you. Building new houses for residents to live in and be proud of is in our DNA, and I am happy to say we have a good deal of new developments fast approaching completion. We always put residents at the heart of what we do, and the Customer Services Group is another chance for you to shape the services we offer you.Find out how you can join this new group on Page 11. On Page 16 we are asking local businesses to consider taking on a resident work placement volunteer. As ever, I hope you find all the information in this edition helpful, and remember our new website at www.melinhomes.co.uk has gone live with lots of new features. Chief Executive 1
Contents 04. Community News 06. It’s the Melin News Quiz! 07.
A view to writing a book
08. Saving money with Little by Little 09. A view to writing a book 11.
Join the Customer Services Group
12. Summer seating for Tredegar Court 13. Money Box – The Benefit Cap 14. Help with your Universal Credit claim 16.
Melin Works appeal for placements
Care & Repair merger
18. Residents’ Panel news
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
Under construction… Our Development team has had a busy few months buying land, building new affordable homes, and welcoming new residents. Here is a quick look at what they have been up to; If you have been on Llantarnam Road in Cwmbran recently you may have noticed that the hotel that used to be at the end of the road has gone. Replacing it will be 16 one bed apartments that will benefit residents with a range of difficulties. We have worked closely with Torfaen Council’s Housing and Social Care teams to provide much needed specialist homes. We recently extended a warm welcome to some new residents at Clos Castell in Llangynidr, Powys. The new residents moved into the six three bedroom homes which were built as part of our ongoing commitment to provide affordable homes in rural locations. In addition, four homes were sold through the Homebuy scheme to local buyers. Building in places like Llangynidr enables people to stay in their own countryside communities, where house prices are often out of reach of local people. We have recently been granted planning permission by Monmouthshire County Council to build 19 new homes on land next to Rogiet School, and work on this site will start soon. The team has also been busy in Chepstow, buying land on Garden City Way in the centre of the town. Building nine affordable, energy efficient apartments on the site will improve the look of the site and the street.
Building success Did you know that we built 12% of all new affordable homes in Wales, according to Welsh government statistics? The stats show that during 2014/15 a total of 837 homes were built for the social sector by 66 Welsh Housing Associations, and we built 98 of those. Lesley Griffiths, the Welsh Government Minister with responsibility for housing welcomed the figures, saying they “show a continuing positive trend in house building activity in Wales; confidence is returning to the market, creating the right conditions for the sector to succeed.”
Turn up the Volume! Our group of young volunteers, known as The Volume, has recently welcomed some new members. Communities Officer Alan Hughes hosted a get-to-know-you event at the Bowlplex in Cwmbran. Some of our former volunteers have now moved on to employment or further training having gained some valuable skills. Others are staying on to act as mentors for our new members. Volunteers in The Volume give Melin a first-hand account of what young people expect of our services.
If you are aged between 13 and 20 and fancy getting involved please contact Alan or Georgina for more information on the exciting things the group has planned. Give them a ring on 01495 745910 or email Georgina at email@example.com or find our updates on Facebook at www.facebook.com/melin.volume
Community News • Community News • Community News • Community New
Thank you from Garnteg
As part of our Communities Team’s ongoing partnership with Garnteg Primary we were invited to attend their school fete on 10th July. The school invited us as they like the way we deliver our outreach community activities and the great information we give out. Louise from the ‘Friends of Garnteg’ group said: “Myself and all the members of friends of Garnteg would like to thank you for all your help in making this year’s summer fete brilliant and enjoyed by all. We are very grateful and happy you were part of it and hope you will be part of many more to come.”
Garndiffaith Communities Festival Recently the Communities Team supported Garndiffaith Community Festival. We joined our partners from Communities First, Torfaen County Borough Council and other agencies. Our bus was used for two days to drive the Mayor and other judges around the homes in north Pontypool to choose the winners of the Scarecrow Festival, which received over 80 entries.
Clos Y Goedlyn As part of our engagement programme some of you at Clos Y Goedlyn got the chance to chat to housing officers and residents’ panel members when our bus stopped by. The Communities Team also brought some Melin magic to the event with some games and entertainment for the youngsters. 4
A party for peace Recent news reports of atrocities in Tunisia inspired a Chepstow resident to try and spread some positivity in her own street by organising what she called a peace party. Anouska Wheeler said: “I didn’t know anyone personally affected by the tragedy, but I was shocked to the core that people could do this to each other. I felt compelled to send a message to the world expressing the love that I have for so many people in my life, and for my community, my town and country.” So she decorated her front fence in brightly coloured bunting, held a barbecue and turned her music on, inviting all her neighbours to get together for a party. Residents who joined in wrote positive messages on the strips of fabric as a show of good will. That left us at Melin News with the feel-good factor too!
You Said We Did As a result of the STAR (Satisfaction of Tenants and Residents) survey results that we completed last year we will be reviewing and refreshing the way we manage and investigate complaints. We want to make sure that we learn more and ensure you feel that you have your views listened to and acted upon. We will be carrying out this work over the next few months and will let you know about the changes. Some residents told us we could improve the way we handle anti-social behaviour cases and how we keep you up to date with progress. In response, we will be ensuring that everyone who reports ASB to our Community Safety Team will be offered a tailored action plan setting out how their case will be dealt with.
Some of you told us we could improve the way we provide cleaning services. We have started looking at this and would welcome any comments you have. Please send them via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Let’s get quizical Want your chance to win this prize? 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. 1. In snooker what is the value of the blue ball? 2. In which British town was Lewis Hamilton born? 3. What was the first UK group to have a number one hit in the US? 4. Which planet is nearest the sun? 5. How many Oscars did Vivien Leigh win? 6. What was the capital city of England before London? 7. Where was Catherine of Aragon buried? 8. What is the medical name for the shin bone?
You could win £25 in high stree t vouchers!
9. What is the collective name for: a. A .............. of crows; b. An .............. of ravens 10. Who said “I can resist anything except temptation”? 11. What is the name of the longest river in Ireland? 12. In what year did the Newport Transporter Bridge open? 13. In the Michael Jackson song ‘Ben’, what animal is he singing about? 14. How many times has London hosted the summer Olympics? 15. Who was the Queen of England for nine days?
You can post your answers to Melin News Quiz, Ty Felin, Lower Mill Field, Pontypool, Torfaen NP4 0XJ or email them to email@example.com We’ll announce the winner in the next issue. Last month’s winner was Miss JM Benden from Monmouth you can see last month’s answers on the website in the News section www.melinhomes.co.uk/news 1
A view to writing a book Our Residents’ Panel has donated money towards new technology that will help one visually impaired woman make her dreams of writing a book come true. Elaine Greenhill of Factory Close, Brynmawr has been working with our Digital Inclusion Officer Louise Kingdon and a Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) representative to learn more about how an iPad can help in her day-to-day life as she deals with Multiple Sclerosis and sight loss. Residents’ Panel Treasurer Jan Harris visited Elaine with Louise Kingdon and Darren Williams from RNIB and saw first-hand how iPad applications are helping Elaine deal with sight loss. Elaine said: “I feel very, very emotional. I would like to thank Louise, the Residents’ Panel and Darren for this iPad which will make my life so much better. I really hope I can now fulfil my ambition to write a book.” The iPad has many functions that can help people with sensory loss, such as voiceover that reads what the camera is focusing on, or magnification to blow up text or images. “Elaine is a great example of how someone living with sensory loss can get online and access digital services” added Darren. “With the support of Melin Homes and the training from RNIB Cymru’s Online Today project, Elaine has done extremely well and should be very proud of herself. Knowing where to start isn’t always easy, but the Online Today team can provide information and knowledge to realise and enjoy the benefits of being online.”
If you have sight or hearing loss the RNIB’s Online Today project can help. Contact our Digital Inclusion Officer on firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
New energy advice initiative saves money in Torfaen A new initiative to help people change the way they use energy in their homes has already saved residents hundreds of pounds. Little by Little is an advice service which has had a big impact on Torfaen resident Kate Rowland. After a visit and home energy health check from Little by Little Project Officer Georgina James, Kate has been able to make changes and save £535 as well as giving other areas of her life a boost. The joint visit with Communities First also resulted in Kate gaining £250 of funding to enable her to go on a training course and consequently expand her Holistic Therapy business. Kate was also given help to access the internet and set up emails. Georgina helped Kate to switch energy supplier saving £285 a year as well as helping her son Ciron find a place on a volunteer group to build his confidence and skills. The work has saved the household £535. Kate Rowland said: “Little by Little and Communities First have given me the confidence to move forward with my business Kate Marie Beauty and Holistic Therapies, and they have helped me save energy and money.” Torfaen AM Lynn Neagle said: “This is a fantastic example of collaboration between agencies that has resulted in a family saving money and furthering their opportunities in life. Little by Little should be congratulated for their great work.” Little by Little is hosted by our Being Greener Team and funded by Welsh Government. It works in partnership with local authorities Rhondda Cynon Taff, Blaenau Gwent, Cardiff, Merthyr and Torfaen. You can find out more information at www.little-by-little.co.uk or follow them on Twitter for regular updates and news @LbL_Wales 8
Gas safety hero! Our Direct Work Force was thanked by a Monmouth resident whose recent annual gas safety service possibly saved her life. Gas Engineer Nathan was carrying out an annual gas service appointment at Zoe Lewis’ home when he discovered a problem, which he traced back to the resident’s gas cooker. Luckily Zoe and her partner rarely used the grill but mentioned that occasionally the sensor went off when they grilled bacon. Our engineer checked the grill and immediately condemned the cooker. Thankfully Ms Lewis kept to her appointment as any delay in letting us carry out the annual gas service could have had serious consequences. We hope this highlights the importance of keeping gas service appointments. This is a stark reminder of the importance of gas safety checks and Ms Lewis was extremely grateful. She said: “The old cooker is now gone and we have a brand new shiny one in its place. We are very grateful to your team and Melin as whole.” Please call our team on 01495 745910 for more information.
Raising awareness We are proud to be supporting Gas Safety Week 2015, taking place 14th– 20th September.
Gas Safety Week is an annual safety week to raise awareness of gas safety and the importance of taking care of your gas appliances. It is co-ordinated by Gas Safe Register, the official list of gas engineers who are legally allowed to work on gas. Badly fitted and poorly serviced gas appliances can cause gas leaks, fires, explosions and carbon monoxide poisoning. Every year thousands of people across the UK are diagnosed with carbon monoxide poisoning. It is a highly poisonous gas. You can’t see it, taste it or smell it, but it can kill quickly with no warning. All of our DWF are signed up to the Gas Safe Register. Please call our team on 01495 745910 to make sure you are getting your service carried out.
Action on ASB We joined officers and young cadets from Gwent Police to help Newport residents learn more about dealing with anti-social behaviour. The Action on Anti-social behaviour event brought together a number of other agencies including Waste Savers, Street Scene, South Wales Fire and Rescue Service, Communities First, and other housing associations. The aim was to tackle local concerns and issues. Residents of Somerton and Lliswerry learned more about how the relevant agencies can help them deal with anti-social behaviour and arson, how to report it and who to. Some of you at Lime Crescent came out to speak to Caroline and Alan from our Communities Team about various issues. Working closely with Gwent Police, South Wales Fire and Rescue and Newport City Council several of those issues are now being resolved. We will be back soon to bring a bouncy castle for the youngsters and some litter picking equipment so that we can all get involved in boosting the community spirit.
Closure order Thanks to the hard work of our Community Safety Team we were able to assist Gwent Police with a closure order on one of our properties at Windmill Square in Pill, Newport. In a recent South Wales Argus article Gwent Police said the application for the closure order came as a result of “extreme” anti-social behaviour, drug dealing and drug use, as well as evidence of prostitution. We fully supported the Police’s work and the closure order itself and are hopeful that other residents will no longer suffer distress caused by the anti-social behaviour. In an interview our Chief Executive Mark Gardner told the South Wales Argus; “We are reassured that Gwent Police pursued this line of action in a bid to safeguard our residents from any further distress or danger as Melin has a zero tolerance approach to anti-social behaviour.” If you have any have any issues with anti-social behaviour please contact our Community Safety Team on 01495 745910, or fill in the feedback form on our website, selecting ‘Report anti-social behaviour’ from the drop-down menu.
Jodie’s taste of office life A Torfaen resident is getting a taste of office life and building her skills thanks to Melin Works and Care & Repair. Jodie Jones from Garndiffaith was given a work placement with Care & Repair’s admin team, gaining valuable experience, which she hopes will help her find her dream office job in the future. Previously, Jodie has worked in supermarkets and as a care and support worker but wants to work in an office environment and build a new career. She has been a Melin resident for just over a year and got in touch with Principal Employment Officer Paula when she saw a Melin job advert. Jodie said: “I’ve really enjoyed my time at Melin.”
Join the CSG Our Customer Services Group was set up for us to improve the services we offer you. Members of the group look at the services we provide, such as repairs, and test us; they carry out inspections and mystery shopping to tell us how we can improve what we do.
The group needs two new members for an exciting project starting in September. If you are generally curious about how we do things, then this is your chance to get involved. We aren’t asking for loads of your time, a few hours a week can really make a difference. We will give you all the training and support you need to really make an impression. Get in touch with us to have a chat if you are interested. Email email@example.com or call us on 01495 745910.
Summer seating for Tredegar Court Residents at Tredegar Court have been given a cash boost to help them make the most of the summer sun. The Residents’ Panel awarded them £350 to spend on making their garden blossom. The money funded £150 worth of plants and £200 worth of garden furniture. As part of the Adopt a Community initiative, Technology Manager Dave Evans and Digital Inclusion Officer Louise Kingdon took time out from their computer screens and went along to the Newport scheme to help assemble the garden table and chairs.
Residents on song at Ty Cae Nant Residents were joined in a rousing sing-along by our Communities Officer Alan Hughes and Corporate Services Team members Karen Jones and Nicky Thorley. Everyone enjoyed the event, which was an ideal way of promoting the feel-good factor in our newest scheme and introducing some of you to staff. 12
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Make the most of your money!
For money advice contact the Money Advice team by calling 01495 745910 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Budget Changes – Benefit cap reduced to £20k per year The Benefit Cap sets a limit on the total amount of benefits that most workingage households can claim. From April 2016 the Benefit Cap will be reduced from £26k pa to £20k pa or £385 pw. It applies to benefits received by you, your partner and any dependent children who live with you. They include: • Housing Benefit; • Income Support; • Jobseekers Allowance; • Incapacity Benefit; • Child Benefit and Child Tax Credits; • Universal Credit. Households with three or more children may be more likely to have their benefits reduced after April 2016, including housing benefit. Families who receive working tax credits or who work enough hours to claim tax credits are exempt. You are also exempt if you or your family receive: • Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or the Personal Independence Payment (PIP); • Attendance Allowance; • Support Component of Employment and Support Allowance; • Industrial Injuries Benefits. Additionally, the cap will not apply if you are a pensioner or you receive war widows’ or war widowers’ pension.
If you think you may be affected by the Benefit Cap our Money Advice team may be able to help so please contact us on 01495 745910 or emailing email@example.com
Help with your Universal Credit claim Universal Credit (UC) is a type of benefit designed to support people who are on a low income or out of work. It will replace six existing benefits and is currently being rolled out across our areas. If you think you could be affected by UC, speak to our Money Advice team as soon as possible. The team can help you with UC and all types of different money advice. If you need to make a new UC claim, you will need to provide the Department of Work and Pensions with an up to date rent statement from us. In order to make a claim online, you will need to provide contact details, bank account details and a National Insurance number. You need to make a claim online and provide contact details, bank or building society account details and a National Insurance number. For further information visit www.gov.uk/universal-credit. Claire Pearce-Crawford, Income & Inclusion Manager said: â€œUniversal Credit is already in some areas and I ask you to get in touch with us so we can help. We have a whole range of services available to help and the earlier we get involved, the more we can do. Our team can help you with your claim, or anything else to do with money advice, so please call us on 01495 745910 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.â€?
Coffee and a chat
Residents from our Cwmbran Extra Care Scheme, Ty Cae Nant are forging great friendships with people living at Llys Ebwy and Ty Penry Thomas, after the Ebbw Vale scheme hosted a coffee morning. All agreed it was a great success and plans are afoot for the next get together already. ^
Customer Service Excellence We have been accredited with the Customer Service Excellence Award for the fifth year running. The UK Government standard is given to organisations who demonstrate excellent customer service. The standard consists of five main criteria with 57 elements in total. Mark Gardner, Chief Executive at Melin said; â€œWe see this award as a health check, allowing us to continue to improve and build on our customer service. It goes without saying I am pleased at yet again being awarded this standard when it comes to customer service, but also we see our service to residents as a process that never stops and one which we always want to keep improving.â€?
Abusive conversations will be recorded All members of our Direct Workforce and housing staff have been issued with Peoplesafe Lone Worker devices. They are an effective way of making sure staff are safe while they are out and about. The devices enable them to be in contact with a 24/7 monitoring station. By using GPS and satellite signals, the monitoring station knows where they are working.
Staff can record conversations if they feel they are being threatened or are in danger. Those conversations will also be monitored live by a call handler and if the situation is escalating Police may be called. Please be aware that the recordings from these devices are admissible in any resulting court cases.
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Do you know a business that could take on work placement volunteers? Our Melin Works team is on the lookout for businesses to work with us to provide placements for our residents. Work placements are usually between two to eight weeks and can give valuable work experience to someone looking to get back into work. Every business that provides a work placement will have the full support of experienced Melin Employment Officers. There is no cost to the business except staff time and a willingness to help local unemployed people. We even pay for equipment needed and travel expenses to take up the placement. Paula Skyrme, Principal Employment Officer at Melin Works said; â€œWe have had great success so far with over 1,600 people helped with jobs, training and placement opportunities. However we are always looking for new local business partners to work with and help provide more opportunities. â€œBusinesses get volunteers keen to learn and work hard and we are on hand to make sure you and the volunteers get all the support and training needed.â€? For more information contact Paula Skyrme, Principal Employment Officer on 01495 745910 or email email@example.com
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Care & Repair merger We held an event to officially launch the start of the newly-merged Care & Repair Monmouthshire and Torfaen agency with the help of Older Persons Commissioner Sarah Rochira. The merger marks the start of a new chapter of helping people to remain safe and secure in their own homes. Care & Repair Monmouthshire and Torfaen are building on a history of successfully ensuring older people receive high quality, bespoke housing services to enhance their quality of life. The agencies became a single entity on the 1st of April and were one of the first agencies in Wales to merge. Clients, officials and staff attended the event, which was held at Ty George Lansbury, Cwmbran. The event highlighted how many older people had been helped by Care & Repair and heard from clients how the home repairs or adaptations had made a positive difference to their lives. Mr Holley got in touch with Care & Repair as he had become less mobile. He said: “The new bathroom has made a great difference to my life. I no longer fall over getting into the bath. Don’t hesitate to have your bathroom done by Care & Repair,” he recommended adding, “I am a very happy customer”. Older Persons Commissioner Sarah Rochira said: “I was delighted to attend the launch event for the merger of Care and Repair Monmouthshire and Care & Repair Torfaen.
“Care & Repair services across Wales provide essential support to help older people live safely and independently, and this merger will mean that Care & Repair can make a real difference to the lives of even more older people in Monmouthshire and Torfaen.”
The Panel visit Heol Siloam The Residents’ Panel took a tour of Blaenau Gwent this summer. They went to Heol Siloam in Ebbw Vale where they met with residents who successfully bid for a grant from the Panel to improve the look of their neighbourhood. Local residents spent several hours refreshing the tired old landscaped grounds and replanted them, giving the whole neighbourhood a facelift. As well as getting financial help from the Panel, our Communities Team asked our partners at Glanmor and Morris of Usk to help residents. They both obliged, helping with some of the heavy groundworks and donating topsoil. Lee Larkin has lived on the street for 14 years and with some of his neighbours has been helping to transform the area. He told us: “The money has made a vast difference, everyone is commenting on how beautiful it is now. People appreciate the help we have been given and lots of people on the street have helped out, either by giving their time or donating plants. Now that the entrance to the street has been done too, it really is a bit of a statement. We would like to thank the Residents’ Panel, Glanmor and Morris of Usk for all their help.” The Panel also visited Llys Ebwy and Ty Penry Thomas in Ebbw Vale to meet with the Residents Group. The Group has recently benefited from a £500 boost from the Panel to buy a new pool table. Finally they called in at Roderick Hill Court where the Panel had previously given residents grant funding of £250 to purchase plants and compost for the scheme. They were shown the newly planted hanging baskets that were going to be hung up around the Court to give the area colour in the coming months. The Residents’ Panel have a new Terms of Reference which will be ratified at our AGM on 23rd September. If you wish to see it beforehand contact Caroline Morgan on 01495 745910 ext 1215 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Panel AGM The Melin Residentsâ€™ will star t at 5.30pm. gan by 5.00pm RSVP to Caroline Mor ember. on Monday 14th Sept t: 01495 745910 melinhomes.co.uk e: caroline.morgan@ M The Melin Homes AG will star t at 6.00pm. by 5.00pm RSVP to Karen Jones ember. on Monday 14th Sept t: 01495 745910 homes.co.uk e: karen.jones@melin available. Refreshments will be Glen-yr-Afon Hotel 5 1SY , Monmouthshire NP1 sk U , ad Ro l oo yp nt Po