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MELINNEWS Winter 2015 www.melinhomes.co.uk

EDITION 28

Inside this issue‌ Money advice for keeping your home warm this winter 301115_002

A massive thank you to those who help improve our communities


Melin news

Welcome to your latest issue of Melin News We hope you are looking forward to the festive period as much as we are. Our Customer Contact Team receives over 5,000 calls a month now. While we will always be on the phone, we have many other ways that you can contact us, read about this on this page. We recently published our Annual Report – you can read about some of our achievements on page 4. On page 5 we say a fond farewell to two board members who have helped us become the Melin we are so proud of; Barry and Doiran. Christmas can be a time when finances can be stretched, so our money advisors have some great tips on page 14. We hope every page has information you find interesting but most importantly useful. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.

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Chief Executive

Better ways to stay in touch Our friendly Customer Contact Team receives more than 5000 calls a month. Reasons for those calls include paying rent, booking repairs, reporting anti-social behaviour and asking for help from our Independent Living team. As the phones are often busy, here are some other ways to get in touch: • Make the most of our new chat facility on our website. A member of staff will be on hand to answer your questions during office hours. Go to www.melinhomes.co.uk • Email us enquiries@melinhomes.co.uk • Speak to us on Facebook, or just have a look at what we have been up to. Find us at www.facebook.com/melinhomes • Join us on Twitter @melinhomes

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 news@melinhomes.co.uk or call 01495 745910.

facebook.com/melinhomes twitter.com/melinhomes

If you need this newsletter in large print, Braille, on CD or explained in a different language, please email us at news@melinhomes.co.uk


Winter 2015

Development round-up

Residents recently moved into our latest £1.4m development in the heart of Pontypool. Built by R&M Williams, the development comprises of 20 one and two-bed apartments on the former Dancers’ Club on Forge Lane. One of the residents, Alison Evans said of moving into the flats; “It’s made such a difference to me and my daughter, we’ve been through a lot and this is a new start for us. The flat is absolutely beautiful, and I can’t thank Melin enough.” We also opened Phase 2 of our Bakery Close development recently. Phase 2 of Bakery Close is 13 homes comprising eight one-bed flats, four two-bed houses and one two-bed bungalow. The site was officially opened by Torfaen MP Nick Symonds-Thomas and Mayor of Torfaen Giles Davies.

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Melin news

Digging up the past We met Waterside Court treasure hunter Thomas Smith recently to learn about how his passion for history and a metal detector are set to feature in a new book. Mr Smith, 83, first picked up a metal detector 44 years ago and has struck lucky finding at least three hordes of treasure which had laid undiscovered for hundreds of years. 10 years ago Mr Smith donated 200 ancient coins and military equipment to Hereford Museum. Some of those finds came after he was invited by the land owner to bring his metal detector to a site in the city, which was the second largest smelting works in Britain. In 1985 Mr Smith uncovered 19 gold Victorian sovereigns in Newport and four years later he found 2,600 year old axes in Usk. Mr Smith said: “I love it and I still go out regularly. I like the stories behind the objects.� Mr Smith published his biography called Snakes and Ladders in 1999. The book covered his early years, evacuation from London and a torturous battle with tuberculosis that almost killed him. Now he has written up a new book which is set to feature many of his finds and is set to document the memoirs of this treasure hunter. 3

If you want to read either of his books please email us at news@melinhomes.co.uk and we will pass your request on to Mr Smith.


Winter 2015

Annual Report round-up Here’s a quick look at what we have been up to over the last year: • We carried out 17,078 repairs from April 2014 to the end of March 2015. Of those 12,173 were non-urgent and 4,905 were urgent and emergency repairs; • This year we invested £26m in building 216 new homes. We’ve sold a few too, 98 people are now on the property ladder; • Through Melin Works we’ve helped 361 people get back into work and training which takes us up to 1,900 since Melin Works began; • Our Money Advice team has had 902 referrals and put an extra £1,177,218 in your pockets; • 92% of people were happy with the service provided by our Community Safety team; • The Residents’ Panel has spent £6,091 on residents and residents’ groups this year. £1,500 was given to our sheltered schemes to help with their Christmas festivities. To see our complete Annual Report figures and find out how our staff members are changing lives visit www.melinhomes.co.uk/annualreport

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Melin news

From left to right: Margaret Spencer, Doiran Jones, Barry Holroyd and Mark Gardner.

A fond farewell to Board Members Barry and Doiran We bid a fond farewell to two Board Members, who between them have given over 50 years’ service. Due to new governance regulations Barry Holroyd and Doiran Jones OBE had to stand down at our Annual General Meeting (AGM) this year. They have helped to steer the organisation through many challenges over the years, including the creation of the National Assembly for Wales, the GENuS Consortium and the merger which created Melin as we know it. Our Chief Executive Mark Gardner said: “It has been a privilege to work with them and their contributions were second to none. We have grown to become seven business units, gone from just a handful to 250 staff, we host a very successful Care & Repair agency, and have created businesses such as Y Prentis and NowYourHome and have almost 4,000 homes. “None of this would have been possible without the guts and determination of our Board. So we have a lot to thank them for” he added. Both were presented with commemorative crystal glassware to thank them for their service. Barry said: “Apart from my marriage, this has been the most worthwhile relationship I’ve had.”

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Doiran has been on the Board for more than 30 years. “It’s been a fantastic journey. It’s been a real pleasure and I’m very sad that I won’t be able to make any further contribution,” he told us.


It’s the winter quiz

Winter 2015

You could bag yourself £25 worth of high street vouchers. Have a look at our quiz kindly written by Newport resident Bill Fouweather. Good luck. If there are a number of correct answers the winner will be drawn out of a hat.

You could win £25 in high stree t vouchers!

1. What is the capital city of Portugal?

9. Which country won the first Rugby Union World Cup in 1987?

2. Who wrote the novel Black Beauty?

10. Which former British Prime Minister’s hobby was flower arranging?

3. How many children did Queen Victoria have? 4. What is a baby hare called? 5. What alcoholic drink is made from pomegranates? 6. In terms of the most Oscars won, what is the most successful musical of all time?

11. What is the collective name for: An .............. of larks A .............. of rhinos 12. What is the square root of 121? 13. Who holds the record for the most appearances at the London Palladium?

7. What is Elton John’s middle name? 14. What was the original name of ‘Arsenal’ underground station? 8. In what year did Cardiff City become the capital city of Wales? 15. Joyeux Noel means Merry Christmas in which language? You can post your answers to Melin News Quiz, Ty Felin, Lower Mill Field, Pontypool, Torfaen NP4 0XJ or email them to news@melinhomes.co.uk We’ll announce the winner in the next issue. Last issue’s winner was Mrs E Anne Tomas from Roderick Hill Court, Tredegar. You can see last issue’s answers on the website in the News section www.melinhomes.co.uk/news

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Melin news

News from around the schemes Popularity grows for the Men’s Den Residents living at Llys Ebwy in Ebbw Vale have been hosting and taking part in a new social initiative in partnership with Blaenau Gwent Community Connectors service. They hosted their first ‘Men’s Den’ back in September and have since held three more. Although predominately aimed at men, women are also welcome to attend the events, which are an opportunity to socialise and play board games in a welcoming environment. The Men’s Den events have proved to be very popular and now non-residents are also coming along.

Learning sign language at Ty George People living at Ty George Lansbury in Cwmbran have been learning sign language with a bit of help from neighbour Rosa Rees and scheme manager Lianne. Rosa is profoundly deaf and her first language is sign language, so when Lianne started work at the scheme and Rosa discovered that she also knew sign language she finally had someone she could chat to with ease. While she had previously relied on lip reading when speaking to her neighbours, between them Rosa and Lianne offered others the chance to learn a new language. The signing lessons are a social affair and have been going on for months now, with people learning more and enjoying their new skill. 7

“I’m happy that people are keen to learn sign language.” Rosa told us.


Winter Winter2015 2015

Life line in action Scheme manager Norma Andrews and our Communities Team organised a trip for residents of Waterside Court in Cwmbran to visit the HQ of Merthyr Lifeline. The ‘peace of mind’ service provides telecare to older people giving them added security and support to live an independent life. The group was given a tour of the control room. Communities Officer Helen said: “It was really interesting to meet the people who take the calls and see first-hand how the system works.” Waterside Court residents have also set up a new group recently. They visited our HQ in Pontypool and worked with the Communities Team to set up their constitution.

Happy 100th Birthday! Friends and family of Victoria Court resident Irene Harris gathered at the scheme to mark her 100th birthday. Five generations of her family were at the party including the newest addition, two-week old baby girl, Lexi. Mrs Harris has been a Melin resident for 31 years since moving to Abergavenny from Taff’s Well in Cardiff. Her daughter Lorna also lives at Victoria Court. The Abergavenny scheme now boasts two centenarians, as resident and former police forensic photographer Betty Jones turned 100 back in January. Both were at the party on Monday, along with other residents and friends and Melin staff. Laura Denyer, Scheme Manager has been helping to organise the party with Mrs Harris’ family. Our Communities Team were on hand to provide the music and make sure that their party went with a swing. Our Independent Living Team presented Mrs Harris with a bouquet of flowers and Victoria Court Cleaner Gill Smith worked hard to make an amazing buffet for all to enjoy.

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Melin news

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A new playground for Clos Cae Nant We helped youngsters at Clos Cae Nant in Cwmbran get their summer swinging with the opening of the children’s playground. We hosted a range of competitions for the youngsters and everyone enjoyed free ice creams. As usual Alf the balloon man drew a big crowd of spectators to his show. While the youngsters revelled in all the entertainment, grown-ups got the chance to meet staff and ask questions about their homes. Residents now have somewhere their children can play safely. Thanks to the hard work of contractors R&M Williams for installing the park.

Turning up The Volume on heritage

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Members of our Youth Forum took part in UNESCO’s UK Youth Heritage Summit in Blaenavon in October. Five members of the forum, better known as The Volume, spent two days at the summit with young people from across the country in a bid to celebrate and learn about World Heritage and how culture can change the world. Their mentor was Customer Contact Team member Christopher Morgan, who was previously a member of the Youth Forum. He was on hand to guide Alys Evans, 17; Jack Lockwood, 13; Courtney Watkins, 14; Katie Hoddinott, 14; and Bethan Durbin, 17 through the event. They took part in outdoor activities and learnt about the past and how it can inform the future. Katie Hoddinott said: “Even though I live nearby, I learned a lot about the area. We also got the chance to do some activities and go to new places.” Christopher said: “It was great for the Youth Forum members to have the opportunity to get to know each other and for them to have the chance to meet and take part in activities with other groups; I could see how each of them gained confidence as time went on.”

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Melin Works Melin Works Melin Works Melin Works Melin

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Helping Kieran improve his skills Having been out of work since June, Kieran Davies, 21, from Pontypool was keen to improve his skills and get back into work. Working with Paula in our Melin Works team, an action plan was agreed and a priority was making sure Kieran could learn to drive and attend interviews. Added to this he wanted help with his interview and presentation skills. Melin Works paid for his driving licence and loaned him a DVD on the Highway Code so he can practice for his theory test. If he continues to work with the Employment team we can fund his theory and practical driving tests and help him pay for the driving lessons to achieve this. Since we started working with Kieran we have enrolled him into English and Maths classes at his local adult education centre and taken him to Dress2Impress to get some clothes for an interview he had. Kieran said; “Melin have been a massive help. I knew not being able to drive is a big reason I am finding it hard to get a job so help with this has been great. The biggest thing is that I am much more confident because of the support the team have given me, but also their faith in me that I can improve my skills and get a job.� At the same time he has just been offered a new flat in Penygarn and should he need it he will be given help and advice about budgeting and paying his bills from our Money Advice team.

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Are you a Melin resident who is unemployed and looking for work experience? If so, we have a variety of work placements in the Torfaen, Monmouthshire and Newport areas. You can get work experience in office work, retail or on building sites. We’ll even pay out-of-pocket expenses for the time you are there. Interested? Get in touch with the Melin Works team on 01495 745910 or email melinworks@melinhomes.co.uk

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Melin news

Raising money for Macmillan

Following our fundraising efforts for Macmillan we have received a thank you from the charity and featured on their Facebook page. Residents at Waterside Court raised £250, Tredegar Court residents raised £170 and the good people at Llys Ebwy raised £173. Julie Williams’ marathon effort at the Cardiff Half also raised £200 for the cause. At the offices we boosted the coffers by over £235, taking the total to an amazing £1,028. Well done everyone!

Could you use a helping hand to boost your career? On 8th September we hosted a celebratory tea for the successful education bursary applicants. This year saw eight people awarded with a total of £2,075 to further their careers or help them get training. Some of this year’s recipients will be using the money for degrees in mental health nursing and food and nutrition, others are using their bursary to assist with childcare costs, or paying for laptops or books needed to complete their studies. 11

If you are interested in applying for an education bursary please get in touch. Email communities@melinhomes.co.uk


Winter 2015

A massive thank you

Our Communities Team recently hosted a ‘Thank You’ event to show their gratitude to all their partners they work with. Almost 100 guests attended the celebratory event at Rodney Parade in Newport, to see how they help make a huge difference to people’s lives. Representatives from Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, tweeted on the night: “Inspiring evening with @melinhomes plans to do many more engagement events with their amazing Communities Team.” Guests watched a film which demonstrated the team’s headline figures and featured a number of residents who have benefitted from the team’s touch of Melin magic. Norman from Newport County talked about how we have helped them boost female participation at the club. He said: “We now have 12 high school teams playing in their girls’ cup – around 100 young girls with the possibility of winning the opportunity to play in Wembley. Alan from the team has been absolutely vital – often in partnerships it’s all emails and very often you don’t see anybody in person, but with Alan, we’ll go for a cup of tea and that has been great for us so well done to you pal for the way you work.” The team also used the event as a platform to launch a new communities’ fund, which will be dubbed Jump2 and will amalgamate the Jump Fund, Communities Fund and the Education Bursary. Keep an eye out for more information on that soon.

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MON£Y BOX

Melin news Melin news

Make the most of your money!

For financial help contact the Money Advice team by calling 01495 745910 or email moneyadvice@melinhomes.co.uk

Advice for Amber Amber Jones is a great example of how our Money Advice team has helped a resident in need. The team were able to: • Help her with grant applications for essential household goods like a washing machine and freezer; • Get £200 from Vicars’ Relief Fund to help her with money towards rent arrears and the Discretionary Assistance Fund agreed to pay £60 for curtains and £20 for a safety gate for her child; • A Food Bank voucher which gave her a three-day supply of nutritionally balanced food for her family. Our help didn’t just end there, we are now refering her to Melin Works to see if they can help her learn to drive and enable her to secure employment. “I can’t thank the Melin Money Advice team enough for their help. I was in a desperate situation, but their support and help turned mine and my daughter’s life around. Any residents in need of help should get in touch with the team as they can be a massive help.” said Ms Jones.

Welfare reform news – benefit cap The benefit cap is a limit on the total amount of certain benefits you can get if you are working age. The benefit cap will only affect you if you’re getting Housing Benefit or Universal Credit. The benefit cap is to be reduced from April 2016, with single people being able to claim a maximum of £257.69 per week and couples and families £384.62 per week. For example: A family of one parent with five children will receive no help with housing costs. This means no housing benefit to help pay the rent!

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There are exclusions to the benefit cap, but if we don’t know your circumstances, we can’t help. Get in touch with our team if you are affected by the benefit cap.


Winter 2015

Where to get extra help this winter • Winter Fuel Payment (WFP) – Tax free annual benefit for people over 60, it’s usually paid from November, depending on age and personal circumstance it’s worth up to £400 for couples! • Cold Weather Payment – if the temperature drops below freezing for seven consecutive days, you may be eligible for a cold weather payment of £25 for each week! • Help from your utility company – Warm Home discount – you could get £140 off your electricity bill. For more information, visit www.gov.uk/the-warm-home-discount-scheme/what-youll-get • Free school meals – call your local authority to apply, they can be worth up to £370 per year, per child. Visit www.gov.uk/apply-free-school-meals • If you are a student you could be entitled to an education maintenance allowance. This can be up to £30pw to help you with the costs of further education. For further information visit www.studentfinancewales.co.uk • Benefit entitlement check – many people miss out on government money that is rightfully theirs as they aren’t sure what they are entitled to. Our money advice team can give you advice, over the phone, and in your home. Top tips for keeping costs low in winter • Find out if you’re eligible for a grant; • Use timers to switch your heating on just before you get up, and off just before you go to bed; • Close your curtains when it gets dark to help keep the heat in; • Keep your rooms heated to between 18 and 21ºC; • Don’t leave appliances on standby; • Keep fridges and freezers away from cookers/ovens; • If you’re struggling to pay your heating bill, ring us or your energy provider as soon as possible; • Get electric blankets tested every three years. Never use one with a hot water bottle; • Switch light bulbs to LED; • Have a shower, not a bath • Wash clothes at 30ºC.

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Melin news

Keeping your home in tip-top shape Repairs can sometimes be needed in your home. Here is the low-down on reporting repairs. How you can get in touch with us and what is classed as an emergency. Keeping your home in tip top shape is really important, so if things do go wrong please let us know. That way our trained surveyors can assess the problem and find the best solution for you and your home. There are a few ways you can report a repair: • Log in to your account on our website www.melinhomes.co.uk and use our live chat service; • By email – repairs@melinhomes.co.uk • By phone – call us on 01495 745910 (Monday to Friday, 9am–5pm) • By text: Send us a text including your house number, post code and a brief description of the problem to 07781 472210 • Out of hours, emergency only: 01495 325333 (You will be charged for any call out which is not a genuine emergency.) • You can also send us a message via Facebook or Twitter. It’s important you know about how we define an emergency and give you an expectation of how urgently it will be dealt with. What are the different types of repairs? • Emergency: An emergency repair is a problem that is likely to cause danger to health or serious damage to your home, eg flooding, electrical failure or full central heating breakdown in severe weather (October to March). We will make it safe the same day, and carry out any further work during normal working hours. • Urgent: An urgent repair would be something like a leaking toilet or a lack of hot water. We will complete urgent repairs within seven calendar days.

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• Routine: A routine repair is something that is not likely to cause any damage to your home or affect your health, eg blocked gutters or kitchen repairs. We will complete routine repairs within 28 days.


Winter 2015

How to report anti-social behaviour While most of us live peacefully alongside our neighbours, we understand that we can’t get on with everyone and occasionally problems can escalate. Anti-social behaviour (ASB) often involves harassment, distress or damage and can relate to people or property. We take any report of ASB seriously, here are some quick tips that may help you nip any problems in the bud: 1. Try talking – do this calmly, explain things properly and do your best to avoid causing bad feeling; 2. Speak to the team – they are there to provide you with advice and support If talking doesn’t work and you need to get in touch. You can report ASB in the following ways: • Online at www.melinhomes.co.uk/anti-social-behaviour Fill in the form on the right and select ‘Report anti-social behaviour’ in the drop-down options • Email us at asb@melinhomes.co.uk • Call us on 01495 745910 In the second quarter of this year we dealt with: • 22 cases of noise nuisance; • Nine cases of verbal abuse, harassment, intimidation or threatening behaviour; • Seven cases of domestic abuse; • Six cases of drug or substance misuse; • One hate-related incident.

Our ASB policy is due for renewal and we would like to hear your thoughts. You can have your say by filling in and returning the questionnaire sent with your rent statement or completing it online at our website. Just visit www.melinhomes.co.uk/asbconsultation

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Melin news

Care & Repair talk to Pontypool Men’s Retirement Group Our Care & Repair Case Worker Helen James was invited to speak about Care & Repair’s services to Pontypool Men’s Retirement Group recently. More than 50 men attended to hear all about how Care & Repair may be able to help them remain safe and independent in their own homes. The group has more than 75 people on the membership list and 15 waiting to sign on to the group. Helen’s talk was well received and many members of the audience are keen to get some help from Care & Repair soon. The group meets every Tuesday between 10am and 12 noon at The Settlement in Pontypool.

Physical adaptation grants We can help you to remain in your home with increased safety and independence thanks to Physical Adaptation Grants provided by Welsh Government. This can help to fund bathroom adaptations, stairlifts, ramps and rails etc. To be eligible for the grant we require a written referral from an Occupational Therapist (OT) stating the necessary adaptations. You can register your details for an OT assessment by calling one of the following numbers depending on where you live: Newport – 01633 656656

Monmouthshire – 01873 735885

Torfaen – 01495 762200

Blaenau Gwent – 01495 354658

Powys – 01597 827633 When we receive the recommendations from your OT, Michelle Howells will administer the grant and either Gareth Rees or Stuart Pitt will carry out the technical assessment. Some larger adaptations will require additional Welsh Government approval and this will lengthen the timescale for completion. 17


Winter 2015

Residents’ Panel AGM announcements At the Panel’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) in September the new committee members were announced. The Panel now comprises nine volunteers chosen by residents. At their first meeting, Jan Harris was elected as Chair and Mark Gibbons as Vice Chair.

From left: Jan Harris elected as Chair and Mark Gibbons as Vice Chair

The roles of secretary and treasurer are currently vacant until the new Panel has had time to settle in, and will be elected soon. The Panel looks forward to continuing to represent people living in all our communities, as well as working with groups such as the Youth Forum and the Customer Service Group. At their AGM the Panel played a video made with residents from Heol Siloam which highlights how together they have changed the face of the Ebbw Vale street and brought the community together. You can watch the video on our YouTube channel. To contact the panel for advice or to get involved you can either email us at residentspanel@melinhomes.co.uk, by phone on 01495 745910 or you can write to us at: Melin Homes, Ty Felin, Lower Mill Field, Pontypool, Torfaen NP4 0XJ.

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Don’t let money troubles loom over you, we’re always here help. Our Money Advice team are always available to talk. Give us a call on 01495 745910 or email moneyadvice@melinhomes.co.uk

www.melinhomes.co.uk/we-dont-bite

Melin news 28  

Inside this issue… • Money advice for keeping your home warm this winter • A massive thank you to those who help improve our communities • W...

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