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A magazine for NPT Homes’ Tenants SUMMER 2015 ISSUE 18

WHQS Survey

Tell us about your Welsh Housing Quality Standard (WHQS) works. Page 4-5

Gas Safety Keeping you safe in your home. Page 20

Our 2015 AGM

Have your say and make a difference. Page 11


In this issue... Competition Time


And The Winners Are


WHQS Survey


Universal Credit


Money Matters


Big Lunch


Spring Online


On the Board




Community Challenge


Meet the Tenant Empowerment Team p13 Shared Lettings Policy Task and Finish Group


Coming up! Garden Competition


Handy Person to Help You!


Help Reduce the Number of House Burglaries


Electronic Cigarettes information


Contact Us


Recipe, Sudoku and Picture Puzzles


Gas Safety


This publication can be made available in large print, braille or audio versions by contacting 0300 777 0000.


Competition Time...

Bag yourself ÂŁ25 worth of cinema tickets for the Gwyn Hall, Neath. To be in with a chance of winning, all you have to do is answer the following question:

Our Welsh Housing Quality Standard (WHQS) improvements programme has been running since which year?




Contact the Communications Team with your name, address, contact number and answer by: Calling: 01639 506040 Texting: 07772 912064 Emailing: Deadline for entries is Monday 20th July, 2015.


And The Winners Are... Direct Debit and Up To Date Accounts All tenants who sign up and continue to pay their rent by Direct Debit are entered into a monthly draw to win a Dulux Paint Pack. Pictured here is Ms Morgan, Dahlia Close, Sandfields – one of the lucky winners.

Ms Morgan

, Dahlia Clo

se, Sandfield


Congratulations to our Gas Safety Check Winners

Carrying out an annual gas safety check is extremely important and can save your life. Find out more about the importance of gas safety on the back page of this magazine. All tenants who keep to their first gas safety check appointment are entered into the monthly prize draw to win a £50 gift card, courtesy of our contractor, Colin Laver. Each month, one winner is chosen at random. Pictured left is one of the most recent winners Mr Goldup, Hodgsons Road, Ystalyfera.

oad, Ystalyfera

sR Mr Goldup, Hodgson



What Difference Have The Made to Your Home? Our Welsh Housing Quality Standard (WHQS) improvements programme has been up and running since October 2011. Work is ongoing but we’ve already made a lot of progress with the improvements to your homes. More than 5,000 new kitchens are complete, along with new bathrooms, re-wiring, re-roofing, new windows and doors, external wall insulation and upgraded heating systems. We know that the money we’ve spent so far has also helped the local economy and provided a lot of job opportunities but we’d also like to know if you’ve spent more money on your home which will have made a difference to local businesses. For every £1 we’ve spent we know that the Welsh economy has benefited by almost twice this amount. To get a better picture, we would love to hear from you and as a thank you, you will have the chance of winning a Dulux paint pack. Please contact us with your answers to the questions on the page opposite and your name, telephone number, email address and postal address by Friday 31st July, 2015. Phone: 01639 508478 ^ Gwyn, Brunel Way, Baglan Energy Park, Neath, SA11 2FP. Post to: NPT Homes, Ty

Email: Or you can pop your answers into one of our satellite offices: • NPT Homes, Pontardawe One Stop Shop, Holly Street, Pontardawe, Swansea, SA8 4ET • NPT Homes, 23 Windsor Road, Neath, SA11 1NB • NPT Homes, 6 Forge Road, Port Talbot, SA13 1NU.

WHQS Improvements Programme – Progress So Far (Figures are correct up to April 1st, 2015). As part of our Welsh Housing Quality Standard improvements, we have completed:

Bathrooms 4,627 Completed 55% complete

Kitchens 5,088 Completed

70% complete


58% complete


Completed 68% complete Window and Door Installations 1,884 Completed

75% complete 4

Heating Systems 4,156 Completed

Render 253 Completed 23% complete

External Wall Insulation 937 Completed

Roof Replacements 1,132 Completed

49% complete

43% complete


WHQS Improvements have had u o y if rt a p e k ta Please ements any WHQS improv Name.............................................................................. Telephone number........................................................... Email............................................................................... Address .........................................................................

3. How much, approximately, have you spent on further home improvements since having the WHQS improvement works done? £1–£50 ❑ £51–£100 ❑ £0 ❑ £251–£500 ❑ £501–£1,000 ❑ £101–£250 ❑ £1,000+ (please state) ..................................................

....................................................................................... ....................................................................................... 1. What WHQS improvement works have been carried out to your property so far (please tick): ❑ New kitchen New bathroom ❑ Re-wiring ❑ Re-roofing ❑ New windows ❑ New doors ❑ External wall insulation ❑ Upgraded heating system ❑ 2. Following the WHQS improvement works to your property, have you made any further home improvements such as: • re-decoration • new carpets • furniture • Other (If so, please tell us what you have done in the box below) ..................................................................................... ..................................................................................... ..................................................................................... ..................................................................................... ..................................................................................... ..................................................................................... ..................................................................................... .....................................................................................

4. If you bought new items for your home where did you buy them? (Please circle your responses or let us know which is most relevant to you). • From a shop in Neath Port Talbot: About 3/4 of the items

All items About 1/2 of the items

About 1/4 of the items

Not much at all • From a shop outside of Neath Port Talbot All items

About 3/4 of the items

About 1/2 of the items

About 1/4 of the items

Not much at all • Online All items

About 3/4 of the items

About 1/2 of the items

About 1/4 of the items

Not much at alll If you’ve got a particularly good story about the difference WHQS has made to your home then please let us know. We would also love to see the photos of your home and the improvements you have made. Please send your pictures to The results will be published in a future edition of The Grapevine and we’ll repeat the survey when we’ve completed the WHQS programme in 2017. Thank you for your time.



Universal Credit

is Here!

What is Universal Credit? Universal Credit was introduced to Neath Port Talbot on the 13th April 2015. It is expected that the number of NPT Homes tenants affected will be low in the first year. It is a new benefit for some tenants who meet the following criteria:

• Single • Living alone

• Recently unemployed • Under the age of 601/2

NPT Homes have also supported tenants who have had to claim Universal Credit because they’ve missed appointments at the Jobcentre or have not challenged a decision to stop their benefit. Universal Credit combines six benefits and tax credits into one monthly payment. You will also be responsible for paying your rent direct to NPT Homes.

What will I need to do? Don’t panic! We have a team of staff working to support new Universal Credit claimants, and we will do all we can to support you. If you are told to make a claim for Universal Credit, make sure to let the Universal Credit team know, as we have information that you will need in order to complete your claim. Our team will be available to help and support you if required, throughout your claim. We can be on hand to help you:

• Understand what you can claim • Apply for Universal Credit online • ( • Support you to manage your rent payments • Work with you to improve your budgeting skills • Help you to access other support you may benefit from

If you are currently claiming Universal Credit, or would like to speak to us about how it could affect you, please get in touch with us on 01639 315000. 6


Universal Credit is Here! Universal Credit is Coming…

If you need help or assistance, call Are you single • our Universal Credit Team on • Losing your job 315000 01639 • Living alone • Under 60 and 6 months

Money Matters!

Then you are likely to 36be affected byat benefit appeals tenants were represented with a 91% success rate. Universal Credit from Monday 13th April 2015!

Our Financial Inclusion Team is able to provide benefit advice to tenants and their families. In the last year we have given face-to-face advice to tenants at: • 479 surgery appointments • 1682 home visits

The advice our advisers have given has resulted in 507 successful benefit claims, raising more than £2 million in benefits for tenants. More than 500 tenants have also been able to claim Housing Payment for help with benefitDiscretionary that combines certain benefits bedroom tax.

What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is a new and tax credits into one monthly payment. You will also be responsible NPT Homes.

What do I do now?

If you are experiencing financial difficulties, we help with: forcan paying your rent direct to • Benefit advice • Income maximisation • Preparing a household budget • Foodbank vouchers

Contact NPT Homes on 01639 506667 as we can help get you If you would like help from the Financial Inclusion Team please call on ready for Universal Credit! 01639 506623 or contact your Community Housing Officer. NPT HOMES - TO REPORT A REPAIR CALL 0300 777 3000


Big Lunch Tenants from across our 18 sheltered schemes got together in April, for the 10th ‘Big Sunday Lunch’ event at Bar Gallois in Aberavon. The event was kindly sponsored by Eos Architects Limited. Residents who attended could simply relax and enjoy a two-course meal for just £8, with entertainment provided by Bar Gallois.

Spring Online Spring Online Week is an annual event to help people with using a computer and getting online. This year, we held events between April 20th and April 26th. A Spring Online drop-in session, at Neath Library, was a big hit! Tenants learned about the different equipment you can use to get online, online shopping and looking for jobs online. Lynne Selby attended and carried out a job search. She said: “I enjoyed

the IT session and would attend further sessions if possible. There is always something new to learn with computers.” Another session took place in Sandfields Library. Tenant Empowerment Team Leader, Sian Roach, said:

“Our Big Sunday Lunch events have proved so successful and this one was no exception! More than 50 tenants came along and had a brilliant time together. The events are important for the community as they give residents the chance to meet new people and spend time with those who live in other schemes across the Borough. It was another fun-filled event so we hope as many residents as possible will join us again next time.” Big Sunday Lunch events are organised by our Sheltered Social Group, Tenant Empowerment Team and Neath Port Talbot Council for Voluntary Service (NPTCVS) Community Links project. The Sheltered Social Group aims to empower sheltered tenants who are able and willing to volunteer, to assist those who are less fortunate and vulnerable.

The Big Summer Trip to Tenby is on Saturday 18th July. Contact 01639 506662 for further information. 8


Gareth Matthews, one of NPT Homes’ tenant Digital Champions, helped with the basics of using a computer as some of those attending worried about being able to claim benefits online in the future. At both events, tenants expressed an interest in future sessions being run in libraries. A price comparison session was held at Hafan Brynheulog to discuss online sites which can be used to save money on utility bills. All of the sessions were well received and tenants enjoyed spending time with each other while learning new things. The Digital Champions will continue working in the community and also within our sheltered schemes to promote the use of digital technology. For further information on getting online or using a computer, please call the Tenant Empowerment Team on 01639 508455 or email

Digital Champions Digital Champions are a tenant-led group which supports other tenants (particularly tenants living in sheltered housing) to understand the benefits of being digitally aware and enhancing their skills. They: • attend coffee mornings, events and meetings to find out what support tenants would like and raise awareness of the benefits of being digitally included • provide basic, informal guidance and support on how to use digital technology, such as getting online and doing basic internet searches. This support follows on from the ‘Get NPT online’ project. Digital Champions aim to increase the confidence and self-esteem of tenants, increase involvement in sheltered housing activities and reduce the feeling of isolation. If you would like to become a Digital Champion or you would like to receive advice or basic computer training please contact Kath Cook on 01639 505904 or email



On the

Come on Board


We had a great turn-out to our Come on Board recruitment events, which we held recently across Neath Port Talbot. The events were held to share information with potential Tenant Board Members who were interested in making a contribution to the strategic running and development of NPT Homes. Following the successful recruitment events, pre-Board training took place. In this edition of the Grapevine, you can vote to select your Tenant Board Members. Then look out for your new Tenant Board Members in the next edition of the Grapevine.

Universal Credit Universal Credit started in Neath Port Talbot on Monday 13th April, 2015. If you need help or assistance, then you can call NPT Homes’ Universal Credit Team on 01639 315000. The Board is keeping up-to-date with how Universal Credit may affect our tenants, but to find out more about how it may affect you, please see the ‘Your Benefits are Changing’ website at

AGM I am looking forward to our AGM, which is on Tuesday 28th July at NPT Homes’ Head Office, in Baglan Energy Park. I hope all of our members come along and get involved in this fun and informative event. This year’s event is a little different with a fun vintage theme, so I look forward to seeing you there!

Roger Williams, Chair on behalf of the NPT Homes’ Board.




2015 AGM

and Fun Event This year’s AGM has a fun, vintage theme and members should look out for their special AGM Save the Date cards.

n o i s s i dm


E T T I C KNPT Homes’

for join us ent Please Fun Ev d n a AGM y, runel Wa . Gwyn, B FP y 2 T 1 , s 1 e m ath, SA NPT Ho Park, Ne y rg e n E Baglan

et for Keep youtor wtiinck a prize! the chance


pm m – 7.30

This year’s AGM is taking place on Tuesday 28th July, 2015. If you would like to attend, you need to be a member. If you haven’t joined yet but would like to attend, please contact Jordannah Britton on 01639 505857 or email by Tuesday 14th July. Alternatively, you can pick up a membership form from any NPT Homes office. It only costs £1 and a few minutes of your time to apply. Becoming a member helps us understand our tenants’ needs as fully as possible. By working together, we can deliver the services that matter to you and become the landlord of choice.



2 0 1 5

The full p


to follow! It will incl ude: Tenant Aw ards Communit y Challenge update Learn more about how M embers have made a difference Find out h ow you ca in a way th n get involved at suits you Buffet and refreshmen ts



Our Community Challenge Winners The lucky winners have now been announced, after we launched the third Community Challenge Project in December 2014. The project aims to give community groups or organisations the opportunity to apply for a day of free building or maintenance work. The work will be delivered by NPT Homes and its contractors Spotless Recruitment, Mi-space, Jistcourt and Warmplan. The five projects to benefit this year are • St Mary’s Church Hall in Briton Ferry • Alltycham and Rhyd-y-Fro Community Hall in Pontardawe • Alltwen and Tai’rgwaith Primary Schools in Pontardawe • Neath Abbey Infants School in Neath. Warmplan will be installing a new heating system at St Mary’s Church Hall while Mi-space will be carrying out much needed internal decoration at Alltycham and Rhyd-y-Fro Community Hall. Spotless Recruitment will be working with both Alltwen Primary and Neath Abbey Infants School to transform their school yards. Alltwen Primary will have its playground repainted and work carried out on its flower beds, wendy house, sandpit, gates and shed. Neath Abbey Infants School will receive new planters, a new canopy and its wood chipped areas will be renewed. Finally, Jistcourt will give Tai’rgwaith Primary School a make-over by painting the school wall and playground with various games and adding new planters to brighten up the area. The schools will be able to make the most of their transformed outdoor areas before the summer holidays. Sarah Davies, Chair of St Mary’s Hall Committee, said:

“We’re so pleased to have been chosen to benefit from NPT Homes’ Community Challenge. Our hall is the only one in the west area of Briton Ferry and is used regularly not only by the parish but also many other members of the local community. It is in real need of some love and attention. The work will really make a difference to those who use the hall, providing a clean and inviting space for those in Briton Ferry and the surrounding areas. We can’t wait to see the final result.” Look out for pictures of the finished Community Challenge projects in the next issue of the Grapevine.



Tenant Empowerment – Meet the Team

The Tenant Empowerment Team work with tenants on a range of projects aimed at improving the services we provide.

Why Get Involved? As a result of your involvement you can: • Help identify where improvements are required in the services we deliver • Help to improve homes and communities • Develop new skills • Meet new people We are always looking for new people to volunteer so contact the team on 01639

508455 or email

Read on to see what the team has been up to and how you can get involved.



Shared Lettings Policy Task and Finish Group The Shared Lettings task and finish group, made up of tenants and applicants of NPT Homes, was set up to review the joint shared lettings (allocation) policy of NPT Homes and Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council. Various workshops took place to agree: • Move from points based allocation scheme to a banding scheme • Agree the criteria for each band • Develop the easy read guide This highly successful project resulted in the revised Shared Lettings Policy being developed, taking customer views into account throughout and demonstrated how well different teams within the organisation could work with our customers to create a template for future projects. The group are now working on developing the easy read guide for people wanting to live in one of our properties, as they felt the Shared Lettings Policy was difficult to understand. The group have identified the main areas to be included and drafted the content, making sure it is clear and easy to read. This will be available later this summer.

Coming up!

Garden Competition This year we will hold our first competition to find the best garden. Categories include:

• Best overall garden • Best communal garden • Best tubs and shrubs • Best young tenant garden


Our competition is free and easy to enter – just complete the nomination form available on our website or from the satellite Each offices. Or call 01639 508455 category with your nominations. winner will The winners will be announced at this year’s AGM.

receive a first prize of £50 in gardening vouchers.


Handy Person to Help You! Did you know that we a have a Handy Person Service to help you with odd jobs around the house? Our Handy Person is Mel and he is ready to help you! Since October 2014, Mel has helped more than 100 tenants. This is a chargeable service and cash payment must be made on the day work is completed.

Handy Person Mel has helped more than 100 tenants already!

Mel can help you with:

Gardening: • • • • • • • •

Lawn cutting Bush cutting Planting/pruning Weeding/weed spraying Hedge cutting Rubbish clearance Flower bed maintenance Pressure washing

Extra Handy Person services: • • • • • • • • •

Putting up curtain rails/poles etc Changing light bulbs and strip lights Furniture assembly/moving furniture Re-fitting carpets, tiles and flooring Taking down/hanging curtains and blinds Fixing pictures/mirrors to walls Easing and planing doors Installing doorbells and changing batteries Fitting shelves

How do I book/ask about the Handy Person service? If you would like a free quote for one of the jobs listed or you have any other reasonable request, please call Mel on 01639 508463. Please note the following: • Materials will need to be purchased by the tenant and ready for the Handy Person • Internal painting and decorating is not included in the service Handy Person Mel said:

“The Handy Person service has already brought significant benefits to many tenants who may not have the time or are unable to complete this type of work themselves. Feedback from tenants has been really positive.”

Tenants Mr and Mrs Lane used the service and said:

“We are very satisfied with the friendly, excellent service. This scheme is much needed for people as outside companies can charge a fortune.”



Pictured are Detective Inspectors Trudi Meyrick and Mark Kavanagh who are calling on the public to take steps to beat the burglar.

Help Reduce the Number of House Burglaries Residents are being called to support a campaign launched by the Police to reduce the number of house burglaries across Neath Port Talbot. As part of Operation Red Rock, officers are patrolling the streets with crime prevention flyers targeting houses with windows or doors which have been left open. Insecure windows or doors are now the number one way for a burglar to enter a house – topping more traditional modes of entry such as forcing a door or smashing a window. Officers are appealing for people to take simple crime prevention measures to avoid becoming the next victim such as ensuring all windows and doors are closed when the property is empty – please remember this even during good weather. 16

Detective Inspector Trudi Meyrick of Neath Port Talbot CID said:

“Many people aren’t in the habit or are so busy that they forget to ensure their house is left secure when they go somewhere. There are things you can do to make sure you aren’t an easy target, such a locking doors and windows of properties, sheds and garages, and not leaving expensive items like car keys or laptops on show. As well we raising awareness of crime prevention, we are also asking the communities to report suspicious behaviour. Burglars are literally walking the streets, looking out for open windows and trying door handles in the hope of gaining entry.”

Always Ask For ID! Did you know that NPT Homes’ staff always carry ID? If anyone knocks your door claiming they are from NPT Homes always ask to see their ID before letting them into your home.


Electronic Cigarettes information The use of Electronic Cigarettes (e-cigarettes) has grown rapidly over the last few years and we are seeing an increasing number of incidents involving e-cigarettes that have either exploded or ignited causing a fire. Most incidents seem to have been involving the charging of these cigarettes. There are various recharging methods for these devices which include connection to a mains charger unit, computer USB port and car cigarette lighter accessory socket.

Mid and west Wales Fire and Rescue Service would urge people to follow safety advice including: • This type of device should not be charged for long periods or left to charge unattended • When charging, the device should be placed on a non-flammable surface and away from flammable materials • Turn off and unplug electronic cigarette battery cells that are charging before you go to bed • It is important that only the charger unit supplied with the e-cigarette is used to charge the device. • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and guidance when charging and using e-cigarettes • Contact Trading Standards over any e-cigarette safety concerns.



Contact Us Reporting a Repair 0300 777 3000 For non-urgent repairs or to enquire about an existing repair, please call the repairs telephone number between: 8am-6pm Monday-Friday


Emergency Repairs 0300 777 3000

Call 24 hours a day. If your call is not an emergency, please wait until the following day to report your repair as it may prevent real emergencies from being dealt with. If you state that your repair is an emergency and a tradesman comes out to deal with it and finds that it isn’t, you may be charged for the call out.


Recipe: Mixed Vegetable Curry (

Enjoy this healthier and tasty alternative to your usual takeaway! Why not add some Greek yoghurt at the end if you prefer a richer tasting curry. You could serve it with basmati rice. Serves: 4 Prep time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 35 minutes

Method: 1. Cook the potatoes/sweet potatoes in boiling water for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Ingredients: • 450g potatoes/sweet potatoes • 225g vegetables such as carrots, sweetcorn and French beans • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil • 1 onion, peeled and chopped • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped • 50g creamed coconut, grated • 400g can chopped tomatoes • 1 teaspoon of salt • 4 handfuls of spinach • Coriander to garnish • 4 tablespoons of curry paste

2. Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables. 3. Heat the oil in a pan, add the onion and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the coconut and curry paste and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook until the mixture resembles a thick paste. 4. Add the vegetables, salt and 150ml of water. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, then add the spinach. Cook for a further 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Season with salt and pepper and add the coriander before serving.

Sudoku Picture Puzzles 2

5 6

Can you put the pictures together to come up with the right answer?

4 1

8 4 6

1. Film


7 9

6 5

3 2 4


9 5 2 8 4 8 7 1

2. Pop band


3. Comedy TV programme 1. Spiderman. 2. Arctic Monkeys. 3. Two and a half men.



Keep Yourself Gas Safe!

Throughout the year it’s important to make sure that your gas appliances, such as a gas fire, cooker and boiler are working safely and correctly. NPT Homes is not responsible for servicing your gas cooker but may isolate it if it is unsafe. Did you know the Gas Safe Register is the only official list of engineers who are legally allowed to do work on gas and the gas appliances in your home? By law, all gas engineers must be on the Gas Safe Register. This replaced the CORGI register and is here to help protect you from unsafe gas work. In the right hands, gas is safe, but badly fitted and poorly maintained appliances can cause gas leaks, fires, explosions and carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is a highly poisonous gas. You can’t see it, taste it or smell it, but it can kill quickly with no warning. Every year thousands of people across the UK are diagnosed with carbon monoxide poisoning. As your landlord, we are responsible for carrying out checks on appliances we have fitted every 12 months. Our Gas Safe registered contractor Colin Laver Heating Ltd will contact you by post 4 weeks before your annual service. Please keep your appointments – they are made to protect you and can save lives! Did you know that 1 in 5 homes inspected by Gas Safe registered engineers in Wales had unsafe gas appliances? If you have a pre-payment meter, please remember you must be in credit on your meter for the gas appliances to be serviced. Your gas supply may be capped-off for safety until you are in credit otherwise – for your own safety. All Gas Safe registered engineers carry a Gas Safe Register ID card. Before any gas work is carried out always check the card and make sure the engineer is qualified for the work you need doing. For gas safety advice, please see or call the free helpline on 0800 408 5500. The National Gas Emergency Service number is 20

0800 111 999.


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The Grapevine - Summer 2015  

The Grapevine - Summer 2015  

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