IN THIS ISSUE: CHRISTMAS SHOPPING TIPS, SAVE ENERGY-SAVE MONEY. JOB OPPORTUNITIES, GETTING THE MOST OUT OF YOUR AREA, HOW WE’RE DOING, YOUR LOCAL NEWS, PRIZE COMPETITION AND MUCH MORE... Cover picture: Community cabin transformed. See page 17.
From the editor... Welcome to the Winter issue of Heartbeat This is the season when we have to put on the extra layers and turn up the heating. This year, with rocketing fuel costs and falling household incomes, it is getting more and more difficult to keep warm. Therefore we have devoted one of the features in this edition to heating your home and have come up with some useful tips about staying warm. Christmas is also on the way and so we have included some other hints about budgeting for the expenses of the festive season. There is an article about customer involvement and what we are doing to encourage more people to have their say about our work. We want more of you to play a part in managing your homes and neighbourhoods and making sure that our services meet your needs, so make sure you read this story and get in touch. Of course Heartbeat includes all the local news pages too so you can catch up with what is happening in your area. We wish you a happy Christmas and a peaceful 2012.
Claire Claire Wilson Heartbeat Editor
Midland Heart 20 Bath Row, Birmingham B15 1LZ tel 0345 60 20 540 email@example.com 2
Handing over the helm As Midland Heart celebrates its most successful year ever, Chief Executive Officer Tom Murtha has announced that he is to stand down in early summer 2012. Tom has headed up Midland Heart and its main legacy operations, Keynote and Midland Area, since 1996. He was instrumental in establishing it as one of the top ten organisations in the country and has an outstanding career history spanning 36 years within the housing industry.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed the privilege of leading Midland Heart” Speaking about his decision Tom said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed the privilege of leading Midland Heart and being part of a team which has delivered such exceptional results in the last few years. Now it is time for me to have a change in focus.” Lord Bill Morris, Chair of Midland Heart, added: “We will be very sorry to see Tom leave us. He has achieved a great deal and has inspired the team to aim high and deliver. “I know that he is departing at a time when we have never been in better shape, with exciting developments secured and many other plans in store. This makes it an exceptional and exciting challenge for his successor.” The search for a new CEO has begun and Tom will remain until 2012 to ensure a smooth transition of leadership.
Calling us? Just one number for you to remember
0345 60 20 540
Tis’ the season to be spending! For many of us the festive season is a financially stressful time of year. The temptation to keep hold of our cash for spoiling loved ones or treating ourselves can be overwhelming. Borrowing or avoiding paying rent and bills may seem like the short term answer but many people who do this will find themselves suffering a Christmas credit hangover. Dealing with soaring interest rates, bank charges or having your power cut off isn’t the nicest way to welcome the New Year. To help you combat the financial pressures of the festive season, our money advice team have put together 10 top spending tips. Remember if you have any money worries you can call and speak to one of our friendly advisors on 0345 60 20 540.
Top spending tips at Christmas: l Plan ahead. Work out how much you can realistically afford before you start spending. l The worst way to do your Christmas shopping is at the last minute, in a panic, with a pocket full of credit and store cards. l Don't overspend! Decide on a budget and stick to it. Set a limit on how much you are going to spend on each person. You'll regret it afterwards if you don't! l Try shopping with cash only - that way you can't spend more than your budget. l Remember that Christmas is an expensive time of year for everyone. With close friends and adults in the family you may be able to make a 'no presents' pact. Or agree to exchange only token gifts with a fixed limit on what you spend. l Try not to feel pressurised by children into buying expensive toys or other items you can't afford. Explain the situation to them and don't be tempted to buy toys from home catalogues unless you've no other option - they can often work out more expensive. l Don't go overdrawn without telling your bank in advance. You will be penalised quite heavily, often with an initial £20 fine and interest of up to around £5 a day.
l Whatever the deals, whatever the temptation, don’t buy from unofficial traders and don’t borrow from unauthorised lenders. The initial savings and convenience may prove to be a false economy. l If you do find yourself needing to borrow money, make sure you understand the terms and conditions, interest rates and what the final payback amount will be. We recommend using My Home Finance if you do find yourself in this position. www.myhomefinance.org.uk l Finally, if you do run into debt problems, don't ignore them and hope they'll go away - they won't. Get advice as early as possible. Contact the money advice team on 0345 60 20 540 or contact your nearest Citizens Advice Bureau for free, confidential, independent money advice.
Midland Heart: your one stop job shop! At Midland Heart our team of specialists are here to help you find full, part time or temporary employment, as well as training courses to enhance your skills and real work experience. We have a number of services on offer including:
SUPPLIER JOB OPPORTUNITIES
ARE YOU INTERESTED IN WORKING IN A CARE AND SUPPORT ENVIRONMENT? If the answer is YES, Pathways could help! Pathways manage a temporary staff bank for Midland Heart and are always looking for enthusiastic people who are interested in working within the following areas:
Homelessness Learning disabilities Mental health Youth services Multiple needs Older peopleâ€™s services The advantage of working through Pathways is that you will be able to work flexible hours, receive competitive rates of pay and there is the potential for temporary assignments/shifts to become permanent employment. Midland Heart operates all over the Midlands. To find out about the roles available in your area or for further details please call the Pathways Recruitment Team:
0121 666 5356/5363 0121 654 6694/6695 email: firstname.lastname@example.org 4
We've teamed up with contractors Glendon Property Services and Thomas Vale Construction to provide a range of newly created jobs across the Midlands as part of our on-going property improvement programme, which will run until 2014. The jobs cover many areas including kitchen and bathroom fitting, painting and decorating, electrical, plumbing and carpentry work, cleaning and warehouse management.
VOLUNTEERING Volunteering is a great way to gain real work experience. We have training vacancies in a number of locations in care and support, administration, our cupcake bakery and more. Volunteer Co-ordinator Chrissie Morris can help find the right opportunity for you.
ADVICE Our one-stop-shop in Coventry - Foleshill 396 - can help you develop or improve your CV, brush up on interview skills and increase your confidence through a range of programmes. To find out about current opportunities please visit our jobs and careers webpage www.midlandheart.org.uk/jobs-and-careers or contact one of our advisors.
For enquiries about volunteering call Chrissie Morris on 024 7668 0110. For enquiries about the one-stop-shop call Donna Jarrett 024 7670 8502.
New skills, new start l Do you want to learn new skills and gain confidence? l Do you want to gain learning credits that could later contribute to a qualification? At Midland Heart we’ve developed an accredited training programme to help customers who want to help improve services, understand how we work, how we are regulated and the challenges we face. Courses include; Tenant Involvement in Social Housing, Understanding Social Housing and Tenant Estate Inspectors.
The courses are held at the beautiful Fircroft College, an Edwardian stately home and formally the residence of the Cadbury family in Selly Oak, Birmingham. We run the courses over a weekend giving you the chance to get away, relax and focus on learning and achieving. The courses are FREE, include all meals and we offer a crèche onsite. If you would like to take part, please contact Shaun McCaulsky on 0845 850 1020 ext 6135 mobile: 07771 676 773 or email email@example.com Feedback from past courses: “The course was excellent, it has given me more insight into social housing and how it works” “Everything was great, well organised and tutors were excellent” “Well rounded, positive course with good objectives, well run… happy atmosphere” “The college was so friendly and the course was put in a way everyone could understand”
Reporting non-emergency crimes By the end of January 2012 the non-emergency contact number for police forces will change to ‘101’ nationally. This is the number you should call if you want to contact your local police with a problem that is not urgent and doesn’t warrant a 999 call. Circumstances when you should use ‘101’ include: l If your car has been stolen l If your property has been damaged
l If you suspect drug use or dealing in your local area l To report a minor traffic accident l To give information about crime in your area l To speak to the police about a general enquiry. The 101 service will automatically connect you to your local station and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To find out more information on the 101 changeover, please go to www.direct.gov.uk and click on ‘crime and justice’.
Save energy and money this winter With gas and electricity prices continuing to rise and income falling, the number of people living in ‘fuel poverty’ is on the increase. A household is said to be in fuel poverty when they cannot afford to keep adequately warm at reasonable cost. Government figures show that the proportion of people living this way rose by 22 per cent to 5.5 million last year – a fifth of all UK households. With this in mind, we’ve come up with 10 top energy saving tips to keep you warm and your purse happy.
Energy saving tips l Turn your thermostat down. Reducing your room temperature by 1°C could cut your heating bills by up to 10 percent and could save around £60 per year. Set your heating and hot water to come on only when required rather than all the time and your water cylinder thermostat should be set at 60°C/140°F. l Close your curtains at dusk to stop heat escaping through the windows and check for draughts around windows and doors. l Always turn off the lights when you leave a room. l Don't leave appliances on standby and remember not to leave laptops and mobile phones on charge unnecessarily. l If possible, fill up the washing machine, tumble dryer or dishwasher: one full load uses less energy than two half loads.
CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY CLOSING TIMES Our offices will be closed on the following days over the Christmas period If you need an emergency repair when our offices are closed please phone our customer service centre on 0345 60 20 540 where you will be able to access the out-of-hours repair service.
l Only boil as much water as you need in your kettle. l A dripping hot water tap wastes enough hot water to fill half a bath so fix leaking taps and make sure they're fully turned off. l Use energy-saving light bulbs which last up to 10 times longer and can save you around £55 over the lifetime of the bulb. l Shop around to find the cheapest energy provider. Using a comparison website won’t take long and could potentially save you pounds!
Warm Home Discount Scheme In response to soaring energy prices, the government launched the Warm Home Discount Scheme for winter 2011/2012 meaning that participating energy companies will provide a rebate of up to £120 for eligible customers. The government and participating suppliers will share some information about their customers which will allow them to give the energy rebate automatically to customers who qualify. The Warm Home Discount will not affect any Cold Weather Payment or Winter Fuel Payment you may receive. To find out more on the discount and which suppliers are involved please visit www.directgov.gov.uk
Friday 23rd December 2011 Monday 26th December 2011 Tuesday 27th December 2011 Friday 30th December 2011 Monday 2nd January 2012 Tuesday 3rd January 2012 7
Changes to Managem Neighbourhood ent will h A letter fro ave posit m Neil Wh ittenbury, ive impac Head of H ousing t (Midlands )
You may h ave notice d that the We are co Midland H mmitted to eart Neigh ensuring y bourhood changes w ou get the Managem ill improve best possib ent team communic le support has been ation and and servic restructure response ti e from ou d. So, what w mes. r te a m and fee ill the chan l the ges mean to you, the customer? • Neighb ourhood S ervices Off follows cu icers (NSO stomers’ c ) are now omments called Neig officer’. Th th a hbourhoo t NSO was c e word ne d Housing o n ig fu h bourhood sing, with tenancies. Officers (N most askin remains, a It’s about HO). This s the role g to creating g s • We hav p eak to the is about m reat neigh e significa ir ‘h o ousing re than m bourhood ntly increa anaging p s in which teams, an sed the nu ro to p d the avera e li rt m v ie e b . s and er of NHO ge numbe • NHOs w s from 39 r of home ill now con to 4 3 s , w e ach mana ho are div duct viewin out by Lett ided into e ges has fa gs and sig ings Office ll ight e n n in fr g o m u p a rs o p . f p B n ro y ew tenanc area and p ximately 5 doing this ie roperties, 5 th s 0 to 500. , e replacing NHO will h for examp a role prev ave or dev advice. Ne le h io o w the hea usly carrie elop bette w custome ting system d r local kno rs will also • Each of wledge of works or w get to kno the eight te th h w e e the face o re you can ams of NH with greate f who they go for mo Os has a te r levels of ney c a n a m s p le eak to for ader who support an • The eig help. will work c d quality c ht team le losely with hecks over aders are officers an and ensure services pro managed d custome by four op we work w v id ed. rs, erations m ith custom anagers w ers and ke h y o p artners mo will drive s If you wou ervice imp re closely. ld like to s rovement e e who will b page for d e working etails. In fu w here you li ture Heart some of o ve, please beats we w ur new fac go to your il l te es in Neig ll y o relevant re u m ore about hbourhoo gional the experi d Manage ence and ment. We hope th s k il ls of e changes have a po sitive impa ct on our s Regards ervice to y ou and th e area you live in.
Neil Whit tenbury
Getting the most out of your area Midland Heart’s customer involvement team are here to support you in getting the most out of living in your area.
How we invest in customer involvement Our customer involvement team has representatives across the Midlands and to show you what they spend money on see our pound coin below:
£131,500 Our customer involvement team: Anikah Miller Ryan, Gail Gavan, Mary Jane Gunn, Violet Williams, Zaheda Vaid, Judith Rowe, Martin Hall, Shaun McCaulsky, Cameron Whyld and Gareth Hopkins.
We offer help in many areas including: l Setting up and support for resident groups l Organising our annual Customer Carnivals l Support for Customer Panels in Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Leicester, Staffordshire and Coventry l Support for Service Improvement Groups for finance (rents and service charges), Customer Involvement (neighbourhoods and communities), Your Home (repairs and planned maintenance) and allocations and lettings.
This spend occurred between April 2010-March 2011 Carnivals: £40,450 Training for customers: £2,065 Reimbursement of customer expenses for attending meetings (eg. travel and childcare): £18,188 Refreshments for customer meetings: £6,071 Customer Involvement Activity: £64,726 (includes resources for meetings, events and activities held both centrally and locally).
A few facts and figures l Number of customers involved in the last 12 months: 2,636 l Number involved since April 2010: 2,992 l Numbers involved in Service Improvement Groups in the last 12 months: 57 l Numbers involved in Panels in the last 12 months: 89 l Numbers attending a residents group in the last 12 months: 411
Customer Panels Midland Heart needs you! Customer Panels are a great way of finding out what is happening at Midland Heart…whether good or bad and also give you a chance to voice your opinions and implement ideas for improvements. As a Panel member, Midland Heart’s customer involvement team will support you by providing: l Organised meetings l Refreshments l Expenses l Feedback on what you’ve achieved l Training opportunities l Good fun and a friendly atmosphere.
What do our involved customers think? “The Customer Panel has been really useful for finding out more about what Midland Heart are doing in my neighbourhood and across the organisation and also for scrutinising how they are performing. I help to ensure that the customer voice is heard at the very top of the organisation. Initially I was cynical and didn’t think this was my sort of thing but the staff are really supportive, expenses are reimbursed and training provided. Getting involved really can make a difference,” Sam Raddie, East Midlands customer. “I enjoy getting involved as I meet other people and I try to make a real difference in the community. The events have helped us get to know younger residents who used to have very little to do in our small village. The funding and support Midland Heart provides is crucial and has helped the group develop,” Albert Gibbons, of the Upper Sneyd Road, Kitchen Lane and High Hill Residents Association in Staffordshire which organises regular community events.
Midland Heart shortlisted for top housing award Midland Heart was shortlisted from more than 240 entries at the prestigious 2011 UK Housing Awards. The awards recognise outstanding work in housing which improves the lives of people in their communities. Midland Heart was one of six organisations poised to scoop an award in the Involving and Empowering Communities category, for an innovative project which engages customers and empowers them to regulate Midland Heart’s services. Despite not taking home the gong, Michelle Musgrave, Customer and Communities Director said: “We are absolutely delighted to be recognised at the awards ceremony for our innovative Tenant Involvement in Social Housing project. We are immensely proud and passionate about our customer focused approach to provide skills to customers, supporting them to get involved and shape our services. It’s very pleasing to gain recognition for the hard work of the team, partners and customers who have worked together on this.”
If this has inspired you to get involved please contact your local Midland Heart involvement officer. Contact details can be found on your area pages. 9
Care and support services celebrated “I’m proud of the difference our services make to the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in our communities”
A whole host of events was held as part of the National Housing Federation’s (NHF) ‘Supported Housing Month’ in October. Midland Heart joined in by arranging activities across its care and support schemes to raise awareness of the services on offer, from learning disabilities, older people, mental health, worklessness and inclusion services.
Chris Munday, Director for Care and Support at Midland Heart, said: “I’m proud of the difference our services make to the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in our communities and am pleased that so many people got involved to see for themselves what we offer.” Over 130,300 people rely on support services in the West Midlands alone. Supported Housing Month is a campaign aimed at showcasing the work of the sector and promoting the impact services are having throughout the East and West Midlands. To find out more about our care and support services visit our website www.midlandheart.org.uk or call us on 0345 60 20 540.
Events included breakfast at supported housing schemes such as St Eugene’s Court in Digbeth and evening soup at Helen Dixon House in Moseley, plus a ‘speed dating’ event for customers, staff and key stakeholders where they learnt about all service areas by spending a few minutes with each team. Around 200 people got involved by attending the events. Highlights were decorating the delicious Frost and Snow cupcakes, the social enterprise organisation supported by Midland Heart that helps former homeless people get back on their feet. 10
L-R Customer David, Chris Munday, Steve McCabe MP and Craig Finch
£39 million boost for affordable homes Midland Heart has been awarded £39 million to build 1,685 new affordable homes across the east and west midlands The £39m contract is part of the government’s Affordable Homes Programme through the Homes and Communities Agency and is its largest allocation in the midlands. Tom Murtha, Chief Executive Officer of Midland Heart, said: “This is a fantastic result for Midland Heart and for the region. We believe that every customer should be able to live in an environment that they can afford and we have a track record of developing award-winning homes. “What is significant is the investment that the programme will bring to the region - boosting the local economy by
Repairs procedure over the winter months This winter at Midland Heart we want to keep our customers better informed, so we have introduced a new procedure for our repairs service in the form of service escalation levels. The following levels will be used when you call.
around £200 million through inward investment and the creation of thousands of jobs and training opportunities. This really is good news for all.” The first exciting new development will be in Coventry, above. Work has already started and will provide 45 much-needed new affordable homes for the city. See the Coventry page of this Heartbeat for more information. This is one of many new schemes that will span across the whole of the east and west midlands, including Birmingham, Leicester, Stoke-on-Trent and Northampton.
Response Times - Responsive Repairs Responsive Repairs
5 working days
8 Working Days
14 Working Days
20 working days
25 Working Days Response Times - Gas Repairs
30 Working Days
Normal service and attendance within published service standards.
Due to events beyond our immediate control, or due to extreme weather forecast it is probable that our service will be affected.
Level 3: For more information on the repairs service please read the enclosed leaflet.
Exceptional events including severe weather causing major disruption. Our repair partners are suffering disruption with both the volume of repairs and reaching affected areas and attending to them. 11
How weâ€™re doing Every month we ask more than 1,000 customers what they think about our repairs, new lettings, environmental and complaints services.
Complaints performance: Percentage of customers that are very or fairly satisfied with how we handled their complaint:
Aug 2011 50%
Sept 2011 33.3%
At the end of August 2011: 50% At the end of September 2011: 33.3% Target: 60%
The average for other social housing providers is 63%
Repairs performance: Percentage of repairs completed during the first visit from our contractor:
Customer Service Centre performance: The total number of calls we answered:
Aug 2011 96.3%
Sept 2011 96.3%
At the end of August 2011: 96.3% At the end of September 2011: 96.3% Target: 95%
Aug 2011 78.4%
Sept 2011 76%
At the end of August 2011: 78.4% At the end of September 2011: 76% Target: 90%
The average for other social housing providers is 80% The percentage of customers very or fairly satisfied with the repairs and maintenance service:
The total number of calls we answered within 20 seconds:
Aug 2011 78.4%
Sept 2011 77.49%
At the end of August 2011: 78.4% At the end of September 2011: 77.49% Target: 80%
Aug 2011 89.8%
Sept 2011 86.4.%
At the end of August 2011: 89.8.% At the end of September 2011: 86.4% Target: 88%
The average for other social housing providers is 85% 12
Customer Involvement performance: Customers who are very or fairly satisfied with opportunities for participation:
You said...we did YOU SAID:
Aug 2011 77.2%
Sept 2011 77.3%
At the end of August 2011: 77.2% At the end of September 2011: 77.3% Target: 87%
Customers who are very or fairly satisfied with being kept informed:
Aug 2011 79.7%
Sept 2011 80.9%
At the end of August 2011: 79.7% At the end of September 2011: 80.9% Target: 85%
Overall satisfaction: Customers who are fairly or very satisfied with Midland Heartâ€™s overall service:
Aug 2011 76.1%
Sept 2011 77.4%
At the end of August 2011: 76.1% At the end of September 2011: 77.4% Target: 80%
you wanted to be involved in the recruitment of staff
WE DID: all interviews for staff now involve customers too, so far over 100 staff at all levels have been interviewed by around 50 customers.
YOU SAID: you wanted employment advice and opportunities
WE DID: our workless division helps customers to find work, training, education and volunteering posts. Find out more on page 4.
YOU SAID: you wanted more training as part of our customer involvment activities WE DID: we now provide accredited training courses in a wide range of activities to help you get the skills you need.
If you would like more information on how we are doing please contact us on 0345 60 20 540 13
Do you have a good neighbour? Do you want to see them get the recognition they deserve? If so, then why not nominate them for our roll of honour? We are looking to recognise and thank customers that have:
l Helped make their community a place where people get on with each other l Given up their time to volunteer and improve the lives of other people l Kept a neighbourhood clean and tidy l Been helpful to their neighbours. We know that many of our customers are great neighbours and we want to show our appreciation for their hard work. Weâ€™ll be awarding certificates to every nominee.
To nominate a neighbour fill in the form below and post it back to: Customer Involvement, FREEPOST RRAL-ZTXB-SJXT 20 Bath Row, Birmingham, B15 1LZ. No stamp required. Please send your nomination to us by 31 May 2012 and the person you have nominated will be recognised for their good work at the Midland Heart customer carnivals in summer 2012. You can also fill in this form online at our website: www.midlandheart.org.uk/good-neighbour If you would prefer to talk to us instead of filling in the form, please call 0345 60 20 540 and ask for a Customer Involvement Officer.
Good neighbourâ€™s name:
Your phone number:
Their phone number:
Why have you nominated your neighbour (in 150 words or less):
BIRMINGHAM BIRMINGHAM BIRMINGHAM
Celebrations as Crocodile Works opens its jaws! Community groups and partner organisations came together to celebrate the opening of Newtown’s flagship £25 million housing scheme, Crocodile Works. This flagship project is part of a £100 million regeneration master plan which is breathing new life into this area of the city. Midland Heart has worked with Birmingham City Council, the Homes and Communities Agency, Urban Living and contractor William Davis to transform the former factory site into affordable housing. A total of 126 apartments and 42 townhouses for rent, outright sale and rent to home buy have been developed. In addition, the project has provided 23 work placements to local people wanting to gain construction skills or take their first step into employment. Lord Bill Morris, Chair of Midland Heart, said: “Crocodile Works brings together the history, the present and future in a way that meets the needs of the local community. Developing and sustaining communities is essential to the regeneration of this area and we are delighted that our partners and local people, who have played such an integral role, are here to celebrate the opening with us.” Around 100 people attended the event and were invited to tour the scheme to see first hand the remarkable
redevelopment of the building. They were also treated to entertainment including a display from the local bhangra dance group.
WHO’S WHO IN YOUR AREA? To contact your local Customer Involvement officer or Housing Team Leader, please call 0345 6020 540 and ask to be put through to the relevant person.
Customer Involvement Officers Martin Hall - Inner Birmingham Judith Rowe - South Birmingham Violet Williams - North Birmingham Zaheda Vaid - West Birmingham Outer Housing Team Leaders Michael Wood - Inner Birmingham Christopher Luke - South Birmingham Pete Sandilands - North Birmingham Valerie Hamilton - West Birmingham Outer 15
BIRMINGHAM BIRMINGHAM BIRMINGHAM
An insight into home repair work Birmingham members of the Home Service Improvement Group have been given an insight into exactly how their home repairs are carried out. The group attended an away-day organised by Midland Heart and Mears - one of the contractors who help to maintain, repair and upgrade the homes of hundreds of customers. They were given a presentation about how the Mears business is run and were then paired up with an operative and went out on real repair jobs around the Midlands. The feedback from the event has been very positive and all customers thoroughly enjoyed the day. Ripton Gordon commented: "I was impressed with the tracking and operating systems that Mears use. The operative I was with was very courteous and professional when dealing with the customers. It was a good day." We hope to run a similar event in the future. If this is something you would be interested in attending please contact Judith Rowe by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0345 60 20 540.
Clean up time Residents at Centenary Drive have recently spent the day taking action against unruly bushes and trees in the area. The consensus was that residents wanted bushes cut back for security, and trees trimmed as they were blocking light. Everyone helped each other and appreciated an opportunity to get together and spend time together outside socially, some of the residents said it was a great opportunity to speak to their neighbours as well as to sit outside and enjoy the open space. Pinnacle donated the use of their operatives and tools for the whole day and worked very hard alongside residents to clear the area. Their tree surgeon also showed the residents how he worked using climbing skills. The day was a huge success and future plans are being discussed to make further improvements such as clearing overgrown bushes and helping each other to tidy their personal gardens and the sharing of gardening tools.
BIRMINGHAM BIRMINGHAM BIRMINGHAM
Community cabin transformed Local community groups and school children celebrated the opening of a newlyrefurbished community space at Harvills Hawthorn Primary School in West Bromwich.
Aquarius Birmingham and Solihull Gambling Service
Cutting the ribbon at the new community cabin are Mr H McNeil, Headteacher for Harvill Hawthorns School, Michelle Musgrave, Customer and Communities Director Midland Heart, Chris Thacker, Branch Manager for Mears.
The refurbishment of a cabin at the school was organised by Midland Heart, which is developing a former industrial site in nearby Bagnall Street into 106 affordable homes. School children, parents and teachers, along with housing contractor Mears who carried out the work, attended the unveiling of the new facility, named Heart of Harvills, which the school and local groups can use. “The cabin will provide a fantastic venue and much needed space for meetings and events,” said Michelle Musgrave, Midland Heart Customer and Communities Director. Mr McNeil, Headteacher of Harvills Hawthorn Primary School, added: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with Midland Heart - we both see ourselves at the centre of the community and by working together we can succeed in improving facilities for all.”
Do you need any support with problems caused by gambling? Are you worried or concerned about someone else’s gambling? Aquarius has recently launched a new gambling support service for people living within the Birmingham and Solihull area. We can offer you two appointments to discuss your gambling and practical steps you can take to reduce the amount of money or time you spend on gambling. There is also an option of a third session with Birmingham Law Centre to support you with any debt or arrears you may be struggling to cope with.
For free confidential advice, information and support for problems caused by gambling please call us directly on: 0121 622 2165 and ask to speak to Rosemary or Tracy, or visit our website www.aquarius.org.uk
Midland Heart has ensured strong local involvement with its Bagnell Street development by holding a health and safety masterclass and visit and a street naming competition. The development will provide a range of two-bedroom apartments and two, three and four bedroom houses.
Cover picture: Holding the plaque to mark the opening of the new community cabin are Clarissa Smith (9), Michelle Musgrave, Customer and Communities Director Midland Heart and Kira Cheatle (8)
Aquarius - overcoming the harms caused by alcohol, drugs and gambling. 17
BIRMINGHAM BIRMINGHAM BIRMINGHAM
Oh we do like to be beside the seaside It’s not often Brummies get a glimpse of the sea so when Midland Heart planned a day trip to Western Super Mare for some Northfield customers, they jumped at the chance for a day at the popular coastal town.
Residents wrote poems about the day, here are a few for you to enjoy! I’m off to the seaside Can’t wait for my donkey ride Looking forward to my ice cold Cornetto Sold by an Italian man called Japetto All the quizzes on the way Makes me enjoy my day Now I feel clever and smart I would like to thank Midland Heart. By Mark Greaves
The trip involved customers from Ley Hill and Chatham Grove who enjoyed ice creams, donkey rides and strolling along the new pier in the sunshine. The coach journey was just as much fun, being packed with competitions, games and prizes to keep everyone entertained. The day also gave residents the chance to speak to Midland Heart staff and provide feedback on a range of topics relating to their housing needs. Judith Rowe, Customer Involvement Officer at Midland Heart, said, “The day was a huge success and it was great to see two communities coming together and spending precious time with their families. 18
Go to Western Super Mare if you dare There is sun, sea and lots of land There is lots of space to run and to have fun So take our advice and go to Western Super Mare, if you dare! By Chelsea, aged 12 9 o’clock on the coach we shall be Going all the way to the sea Western Super Mare here we come All the way from Brum! By Brent
C OV E N T RY C OV E N T RY C OV E N T RY C OV E N T RY
Are you a Spot or a Stripe? In the run up to the Olympic Games, West Midlands charity Groundwork has joined with Cadbury to help bring their Spots v Stripes campaign to communities across the UK. The aim of the initiative is to create the largest and longest running game ever, involving as many people as possible. Cadbury are also giving away Olympics tickets every week in the run up to the games. Over the summer Midland Heart Coventry residents from Joe O’Brien’s Close, Willenhall; Morey Street, Kirby Close, Cash’s Lane and Iden Road Hillfields had an opportunity to get involved in this exciting programme.
e Cash’s Lan
Customers had great fun playing all sorts of games including sack races, egg and spoon races, skittles, hula hoop, giant jenga and ludo. Elaine Shirley, Regeneration Project Officer from Midland Heart, said: “The Spots v Stripes games days were a huge success with many residents taking part and having competitive fun with all the activities on offer.” Elaine is working with Gail Gavan on arranging more Spots v Stripes activities for customers in Coventry throughout 2012 in the lead up to the Olympics so look out for events in your area. To find out more information on Cadbury’s Spots v Stripes campaign and how you can enter the weekly draw for tickets, please visit www.spotsvstripes.com
Joe O’Brien ’s
WHO’S WHO IN YOUR AREA? To contact your local Customer Involvement officer or Housing Team Leader, please call 0345 60 20 540 and ask to be put through to the relevant person.
Customer Involvement Officer Gail Gavan Housing Team Leader Anita Kapdia 19
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Morey Street wins Piggy Bank funds A group of Coventry customers beat others from across the country to pick up a prize of £500 to help improve their neighbourhood. Morey Street Residents Association won the cash award from Midland Heart contractor Pinnacle PSG, who invited a range of residents groups to bid for the ‘Pinnacle Piggy Bank’ prizes at a housing conference this year. Two organisations went head to head each day of the conference with teams submitting presentations to highlight the merits of their scheme, with an audience of delegates voting for the one they liked the best.
The Coventry group showcased their communal gardening project, based in Edgwick, Foleshill. Residents have already raised funds to improve their estate by organising fun days and planting projects and by removing graffiti and fly tipped rubbish which has created a cleaner, happier street. The cheque was presented to the residents by Simon Gibson of Pinnacle and the £500 will ensure improvements will continue and make the estate one to be proud of.
New homes to be provided
Work has now started on a multi-million scheme which will provide much-needed affordable homes for Coventry people.
When complete in autumn 2012 the scheme will comprise of 45 new three and four bedroom houses and one and two bedroom apartments - all for rent.
Westleigh, who have a track record of building high quality properties, have been chosen to develop the former Midland Heart office site in Whitley Village.
Carl Larter, Director of New Business and Development at Midland Heart, pictured below with Ian Jones - of Westleigh, said: “We are delighted to have Westleigh on board as the contractor for this exciting project which will transform our old office site. Their appointment marks an important step in providing affordable homes for local people.”
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Gardening project grows with two awards It was given first prize in the Coventry ‘Community Cohesion Awards’ voluntary and large community organisations category for successfully bringing neighbourhoods together and was commended at the ‘Compact Awards’.
From left to right: Simon Lieberman – Orbit, Judith Harris – Groundwork Craig Galvin – Paradise resident, Elaine Shirley – Midland Heart, Dave Walton – Assistant Fire Officer for West Midlands & Chair of the Coventry Partnership, Sally Child – Paradise Resident, Andy Littlewood – Coventry City Council, Ravinder Kaur – Whitefriars
The green-fingered efforts of Coventry customers have been rewarded. The Growing Paradise project, which encourages residents to grow their own fruit and vegetables, has received two awards recently.
A Compact is an agreement between the government and independent voluntary organisations, charities and community groups and the awards raise awareness and celebrate partnerships working between sectors in the toughest of times. Growing Paradise was created two years ago with the charity Groundwork and local customers who are encouraged and trained to cultivate communal spaces. Elaine Shirley, Midland Heart’s Coventry Regeneration Project Officer, said: “We are delighted with the awards. Residents have worked really hard in the growing spaces and harvested some tasty fruit and veg! It’s a great way to bring the community together.”
Celebrating 25 years of Money Advice
Our expert money advice team offer free, unbiased and confidential advice and information about any debt or benefit problem you may have. We help you by: l Making sure you are receiving all the benefits to which you are entitled l Advising you on how to deal with financial problems and helping you to negotiate with the people you owe money to l Offering ongoing help and support.
Your Money Advisors are: Sarah Golding (Birmingham), John Doyle (Wolverhampton and Staffordshire) and John Jackson (Coventry, Leicester, Tamworth and South Midlands).
Call 0345 60 20 540 and ask to speak to a Money Advisor 21
EAST MIDLANDS EAST MIDLANDS EAST
Green-fingered volunteers wanted Could you help to make Leicester a greener, cleaner city?
The city council’s parks services team are recruiting an army of volunteers to undertake basic horticultural tasks, clean–ups and planting. They are looking for individuals or community groups to come forward for the big spruce-up. As well as helping maintain the appearance of the local parks, gardens and open spaces, the initiative will enable community groups to have a say in keeping their neighbourhoods cleaner, safer and greener. The council is also looking to recruit keen and interested people to become 'Green Hats’ who will lead other volunteers. Basic training on how to oversee teams, as well as on personal safety and horticulture, will be provided.
If you’d like more information please contact Victoria Hudson, Senior Park Officer at Leicester City Council, on 0116 229 3637 or Victoria.Hudson@leicester.gov.uk. Alternatively contact Cameron Whyld, Midland Heart’s Customer Involvement Officer for Leicester, at Cameron.email@example.com or call 0345 6020540. Pictures show Nelson Mandela Park following a ‘spruce up’ by volunteers. 22
GET BLOGGING East midlands customers now have a different way of having their say. Because Midland Heart’s Leicester office manages homes right across the region - including Milton Keynes, east Northamptonshire, Nottingham and Warwickshire - staff wanted to find a method of receiving feedback from as many people as possible. The blog page will enable customers to read reports on our performance, add their voice to debates and make suggestions about services. The customer panels continue to meet every two months to look at how we’ve been performing and help us to make improvements. You can find the blog at: http://midlandheartleicesterpanel.wordpress.com and can also subscribe to it to receive notifications when the site is updated.
WHO’S WHO IN YOUR AREA? To contact your local Customer Involvement officer or Housing Team Leader, please call 0345 6020 540 and ask to be put through to the relevant person. Customer Involvement Officer Cameron Whyld Housing Team Leader Leo Daniels
Customers go back to work in Burslem Plants and pots brighten up BirchTree Court Two green fingered Staffordshire customers have been working hard to brighten up their housing scheme this year. Keen gardeners Timothy Birch and Keith Lee, above, have created flower beds and vegetable patches within the communal grounds at Birch Tree Court in north Lichfield. Neighbours regularly help themselves to some of the produce - including apples. Earlier this year Midland Heart held a ‘Plants and Pots’day for customers at the scheme to make hanging baskets and get gardening tips. The baskets were later judged and the customers who created the best ones received gardening vouchers. Keith was very pleased to be a winner and said his voucher would go towards improving the communal garden area further. He added: “The area now has more colour and both myself and Timothy have enjoyed working on the garden and creating something for all residents to enjoy.” A compost bin was also donated and gardening contractors Pinnacle empty grass cuttings into it.
A new initiative which is helping customers to get back into work has been launched in Burslem. The Work Group was set up in September in response to the Government’s Job Centre Plus initiative to introduce a series of work clubs around the country. Midland Heart’s Stoke office joined forces with the local Workers’ Educational Association to establish the group, with the aim of supporting unemployed people to get back into paid work, training or volunteering. The group meets at Duncalf Street every Wednesday from 12.30pm for two hours in an informative, supportive and enjoyable atmosphere. It focuses on supporting members to overcome worries about interviews, personal confidence and application skills. John Webbe, Regeneration Manager at Midland Heart, right, says: “Although the Work Group is still new we’ve developed a strong core group of people attending each week who want to secure a job. Joining the group is a major step towards doing so - we have already helped people with getting both volunteering and paid employment positions.”
If you are interested in getting back in to work and would like more information please call John on 07831 590 806. 23
Nic’s big American adventure A Burslem customer who is one of the country’s most exciting young illustrators has just returned from an exhilarating week at a living museum and arts development project in America. Nicola Winstanley is based with other creative professionals at Midland Heart’s live-work units in Queen Street. She was invited to the US for a one-month residency at the museum centre in Greensboro, North Carolina, called ‘elsewhere’. “The experience was immersive - the people and the place itself lived and breathed creativity, but ran like a well oiled machine,” enthused Nic. The museum houses a collection of things that were original to a thrift store run by a woman called Sylvia and the items are treated like artefacts and precious objects despite in most cases being what might be called 'tat' or 'stuff for the car boot'. Nic continued: “It has got me thinking about how local artists and communities could seek out such spaces containing 'junk' materials to create an ‘elsewhere’ over here. My work at elsewhere was exhibited on 'First Friday’. “This is something that happens all over America where on the first Friday of the month shops, galleries and restaurants open up their spaces and put on events and the whole community comes out to experience it. 24
“We must have had 300 people come through the museum on this evening. It was a great opportunity for the community to come out and meet their local business owners and each other in a party atmosphere in their town. This is a practice I'd like to see more of in this country.” Nic is a professional freelance designer and illustrator who trained at Hereford College of Art and Design. Since 2008 she has worked for national and international clients, producing artwork for branding, advertising campaigns, promotional materials, books and magazines. Her particular passion is conceptual illustration, which relies on everyday themes to create fresh and vibrant imagery. Her clients include Stoke on Trent Sixth Form College, Newcastle Borough Council and the British Ceramics Biennial, as well as architects and creative agencies.
You can read Nic’s blog at http://niciselsewhere.wordpress.com
WHO’S WHO IN YOUR AREA? To contact your local Customer Involvement officer or Housing Team Leader, please call 0345 6020 540 and ask to be put through to the relevant person. Customer Involvement Officer Gareth Hopkins Housing Team Leader Sue Caley
Facelift planned for Dimbles Lane
How Dimbles Lane looks at present
Around £80,000 has been secured by Midland Heart and The North Lichfield Initiative to improve the shopping area on Dimbles Lane which has suffered from years of under investment.
A plan of
what Dim bles
Lane will look
Current problems have been identified by the local community as: l Poorly maintained car parking facilities which discourage residents and shoppers to use the shopping area l Inadequate lighting l Lack of greenery l Inadequate seating l General feeling that the shopping area is not safe. An event was held at JIGSAW, the community hub and home to the North Lichfield Initiative where face painters and balloon artists encouraged a continuous flow of people to comment on the draft plans on how the money will be spent. Volunteers at the centre, as well as staff from Midland Heart, Bromford Living, Lichfield District Council and Staffordshire Police, spoke to local people about their thoughts, ideas and concerns regarding the project. Ms Sharon Salt, who lives above the shops, said: “The improvements are long overdue and will really help to make the area more pleasant and safer. I am looking forward to seeing the final work completed.” For further information please contact Gareth Hopkins on 07824481760. For more details on the North Lichfield Initiative please contact Jigsaw on 01543 253666 or email NLI1@mail.com
A huge thank you goes to the Abelia Resident Action Group, Tamworth and Upper Sneyd Road and Kitchen Lane Resident Action Group, Essington for arranging ‘Spooktacular’ Halloween events for their communities. These informal get-togethers were a big success and allowed us to get to know a variety of customers who would not usually attend more formal activities. Denise James, chair of the Upper Sneyd Road and Kitchen Lane Group, said “The Halloween events were facilitated through the hard work of committee members and other residents. Each year they bring residents of all ages together in a fun and friendly environment.” Sue Smith, committee member of the Abelia Action Group, commented: “This was our first Halloween evening which was a real success. The group were able to showcase the new community wildlife garden in a very interesting and scary way!” The events also raised valuable funds which will be used to provide Christmas parties for their local communities.
Time for tea at Langton Court Customers of Langton Court in Lichfield enjoyed getting together at a tea party recently. The event was arranged by the Residents Association which works with Midland Heart to improve the local area. Residents at Langton Court admiring the communal area
The tea party was an opportunity for residents many of whom live on their own - to have a chat and admire the communal area which the group has improved with a new lawn and plants. Group members have successfully campaigned for a variety of improvements over the past couple of
years, including new windows and heating system which have been installed. Chair Audrey Owen said: “It was a great afternoon which brought people together - everyone enjoyed themselves and we hope to organise similar events in the future.”
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Can you DIY? The first of Midland Heart’s ‘Helping Hands’ workshops has taken place in Wolverhampton.
At the event experts explained how to deal with simple plumbing tasks such as how to deal with blockages and fitting tap washers. Future workshops will deal with wallpapering, putting up shelves/curtains and how to assemble flat pack furniture. From left to right those holding a certificate are Rod Phillips, Jenny Phillips, Tracey Leatherland and Marcia Martin with Mears & Midland Heart staff who also attended the day.
The workshops are being jointly run with Mears, one of the contractors who help to maintain, repair and upgrade the homes of hundreds of customers. 26
Customer Jenny Philips from Dudley said: “It was a fantastic workshop and I really enjoyed the day.”
For information on future events please contact Joan Gooden, Regeneration Officer, firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0345 60 20 540.
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Royal family fans rewarded Wolverhampton customers Mr and Mrs Read have been rewarded for their devotion to the royal family.
Help with managing your money
The Read’s became great fans of the monarchy in the run up to the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton in April. They kindly sent a card and lucky horseshoe to the couple congratulating them on their big day and were delighted to receive a letter of thanks back from Buckingham Palace.
The important issues of money and managing finances were discussed when Wolverhampton customers came together for a one-off focus group meeting. The group was jointly led by Regeneration Project Officer Joan Gooden and the Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) who are bidding for Big Lottery funding aimed at helping social housing customers.
“I really like Prince William and Kate - they will always be my favourites and I was so pleased I got to see them get married,” said Mrs Read
If the bid is successful it will fund a new initiative to: l improve access to financial services l improve skills and confidence to use financial products and services l engage customers most in need.
Since the wedding she has continued to send birthday cards to other members of the family including the Queen, Prince Harry and the Duke of Edinburgh and now has quite a collection of thank you letters from the royal household.
Anikah Miller-Ryan, Midland Heart’s Customer Involvement Officer who attended the event, said: “It was a good opportunity for Wolverhampton customers to get involved in a discussion around finances as this is always a matter close to most people’s hearts. It was nice to hear the different ways customers would improve financial services within the region.”
She has also started a collection of royal memorabilia which she proudly displays in her home.
Joan commented: “This is the second consultation I have organised on money and it’s interesting to note that the views of our mature customers are very similar to those of our younger customers. Both have asked that services around money advice are provided on a one-to-one basis and at a neighbourhood level. I will feed back this information to the CAB who are bidding for resources in Wolverhampton.” .
WHO’S WHO IN YOUR AREA? To contact your local Customer Involvement officer or Housing Team Leader, please call 0345 6020 540 and ask to be put through to the relevant person. Customer Involvement Officer Anikah Miller-Ryan Housing Team Leader Dawn Finnan 27
Spot the Difference
Can you spot 12 differences between these cartoons? Circle the differences on the right hand cartoon, fill in your details and send to the address below.
Send your entries to: Communications Team, Midland Heart, 20 Bath Row, Birmingham, B15 1LZ by January 31st 2012. The competition winner from the last Heartbeat is Mrs S.Kausar of Balsall Heath, Birmingham.
5 2 ÂŁ n Wi et Voucher!
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