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Issue 17 Autumn 2013

Plus Dane Group residents’ magazine


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Our new storytelling website Fireside, is a new way in which we are sharing our Neighbourhood investor stories - learn more inside.

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hello This edition is packed full of news and stories about how Plus Dane is delivering our seven promises.

Share your stories Stories have been with us since the beginning of human existence. Stories, myths, legends and folktales have been used to pass on wisdom, knowledge and culture for thousands of years. Stories inspire, influence, reveal, connect and motivate us to act.

With winter fast approaching and the weather turning colder it’s important that we all take steps to stay warm and healthy. This issue has lots of tips and advice on how to cope during the cold winter months and some simple steps that you can take to save energy and reduce your heating costs to help you keep fit and well during the winter.

Did you know that stories are more powerful than other forms of communication? We are hard wired to think in story form - research into what happens to our brains when we hear stories has shown that it better ignites our imaginations, and encourages us to anticipate what is coming next.

Fireside is a place where we can all share our stories and achievements and we’d really love you to get involved. If you think you or someone you know has a great story to tell, let us know and we’ll do the rest!

You’ll also find some useful advice on gas and fire safety checking which are vital all year round but particularly important during the winter. If you are experiencing any problems and need any help or support contact us on the numbers included on the back page of UNiTY and we’ll do our best to help.

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In this issue of UNiTY you’ll see lots of articles telling you that you can read or hear more from the people involved at our new storytelling website Fireside, which is a new way in which we are sharing our Neighbourhood investor stories.




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Contact the communications team on 0151 703 2064, email us at or visit and click on ‘tell us your story’.

This issue also includes lots of signposts to our new storytelling website, Fireside, which we launched earlier this year. We want Fireside to be a place where we can

follow us

watch us /plusdanegroup

and welcome to the Autumn issue of UNiTY magazine.

share all the fantastic stories about the achievements, experiences and success of the tenants and residents we serve and the neighbourhoods in which they live. Many of the residents featured in this issue have stories to share on Fireside at where you can find out more, and we want lots more! So if you have a story you think should be told we’d love you to share it with us by contacting our Communications Team.

Ken Perry Chief Executive Plus Dane Group

Des Finlay Chair Tenants Together Forum

Inside this issue...



Bromley Farm Inquiry


The Big Benefit Shake Up


Winter Warmth


Fire Safety in your home


Helping Hand


Best Garden Competition 2013


Black History Month Gala


Community Safety


Youth Shadow Board


Alsager Lifestyle Project



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“What is wellbeing and how can it be improved in Bromley Farm?” The Bromley Farm wellbeing inquiry was set up earlier this year, to answer this question and find out more about the issues affecting the community.

These include the desire to create a hub for residents incorporating a café and community shop, offering cheaper sports facilities for tenants, finding funding for a youth worker to be based on the estate, increased access to computers and the planning of more social activities for younger and older people. Bromley Farm in Congleton has a diverse population and has been identified as a priority neighbourhood by both Cheshire East Council and Plus Dane Group.

The group then devised its own recommendations for change which they presented at a special event in July and say they will continue to meet even now the inquiry is finished.

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Hear residen from ts and s taff involve d in the Bromle y Farm Inquiry

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Join the Florrie Runners

The group meets at:

If you’re looking for a new fitness challenge in Liverpool the Florrie Runners is looking for members.

(the Florrie)

And thanks to support from Sport England the group is currently able to offer six weeks’ worth of FREE sessions to newcomers.

Every Thursday 6.30pm - 7.30pm

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PIP replaced DLA for new claimants in June this year and from October 2013, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has begun contacting DLA recipients and asking them to make a claim for PIP. As of 28 October 2013, the following DLA recipients will have to claim PIP: • People reporting a change in their circumstances which might affect their rate of payment, such as an improvement or deterioration in their

• People that have reached the end of an existing award of Disability Living Allowance and haven’t already received a DLA renewal letter. • Anyone approaching the age of 16, unless they are terminally ill. Your Personal Independence Payment will be assessed individually. The assessment will look at your personal circumstances and any barriers you face for daily living and mobility, rather than at your specific health condition or disability.

For further information you can download our Disability Living Allowance leaflet on our website Alternatively, if you would like us to send a copy of this leaflet or any others, please contact us or for further information visit

From October 2015, the DWP will start to contact everyone else receiving DLA inviting them to claim PIP and expects to have contacted everyone who needs to claim PIP by late 2017. Claimants will be selected randomly rather than by area or age, although the Department for Work and Pensions say that they will invite claims as early as possible from recipients who have turned 65 after 8 April 2013 when PIP was first introduced.

Have a look at our Big Benefit Shake Up movie on N iTV at om

/plusdanegrou p or www.neighbo urhoodinvesto

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Through the weekly sessions, the panel compiled a list of tenants’ problems with the area. The biggest issue discussed was the lack of local jobs; other things that came up included the scarcity of activities for children and young people and community events as a whole.

Emma Sneyd, Engagement Manager at Plus Dane said: “This has been a huge project for Bromley Farm that will really bring positive changes to the community in the long term. The enthusiasm and hard work put in by our tenants’ panel has been brilliant and I would like to thank them for making such a valuable contribution to the report.”


There are 1,260 homes in Bromley Farm and all residents were invited to join the

inquiry panel. From that, 47 people applied; 22 tenants aged 16 to 60 made it through an interview stage to become regular attendees of the project. The inquiry ran for nine weeks, from April to June, in sessions held at Bromley Farm Community Centre. Efforts were made to encourage tenants who normally felt excluded from the decision making process to take part.

condition, but not issues like going into a care home or hospital or changing address.

One of the big changes being introduced by the Government is the replacement of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to the Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

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The inquiry wanted to begin a conversation about how we can work together to improve wellbeing outcomes and make a real difference.

Personal Independence Payment

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The report into what it revealed is now complete, and recommendations made by the residents themselves are being taken forward.


The Florence Institute Mill Street, Dingle and Saturday 9am - 10am

Group leader Gary White said: ‘‘The group is very friendly and welcoming to new participants. The emphasis is very much on the fitness and social side of running and we cater for all standards. We adapt the routes and the running pace to different levels of fitness and can accommodate people who can initially only manage quite short runs.’’

The sessions are led by fully qualified Run England Leaders and are suitable for anyone over 16. The group was set up a year ago and Gary says the members have made excellent progress, with six runners taking part in the recent Knowsley 5K.. The Florence Institute

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Our services during severe weather

Winter Warmth

Plus Dane tenants should be aware that service response times can be affected by severe weather in the winter months. For example, high winds may mean we have to reschedule work on roofs; and the kind of cold snap that can bring the region to a standstill may mean in the worst case scenario, we will have to prioritise emergency repairs only, and offer advice over the telephone.

With winter fast approaching, it’s the time of year to make sure that you’re prepared for any cold spells and bad weather that may come our way to ensure that you stay warm and healthy during the cold winter months.

Top 10 tips to keep snug, warm and well this winter 1. Don’t let the cold catch you out - check the forecast and be ready for cold weather. 2. Hot meals will keep you warm so make sure you have food in the house. Tinned, dried and frozen foods are handy as they will keep. 3. Have plenty of hot drinks like tea, coffee or hot water as this will help to keep you warm. 4. Make sure you have enough of your prescription medicines. If the weather turns bad you may not be able to collect or have them delivered, so have enough in stock. 5. Flu is much more serious than a cold; Keep yourself safe and make sure you have your flu jab. People over 65 and people with existing medical conditions get this for free. 6. Make sure you can check the temperature in your living room and bedroom. Ask someone for help if you cannot work your heating controls properly. As a minimum to keep warm and healthy, sitting rooms should be 21C and bedrooms 18C. 7. Wear layers of thin clothing; this will trap the heat better to keep you warm. Socks and hats are a good idea to keep you warm in bed. 8. Cover yourself with a blanket or shawl if you are sitting for long periods and put your feet up if you can; air is colder near the floor. 9. Tuck curtains behind radiators to keep heat in the room. 10. Keep moving if you can. Try not to sit for more than an hour - get up and walk around, make a hot drink and spread housework throughout the day. If walking is a problem try moving your arms and legs whilst sitting or wiggling your fingers and toes.


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There are also some simple steps you can take to ensure that you save energy to keep your fuel costs down while also keeping warm: • Check whether you can save money by changing your energy supplier. Websites such and offer price comparisons to show you who can offer you the best deal as well as advice on easy ways to switch. • Set your heating to switch on just before you get up and switch off after you have gone to bed. If it is very cold, set your heating to come on earlier and go off later, rather than turning the heating up. • Set your hot water to a temperature between 43C and 60C. • Reduce draughts by keeping doors closed and only heat rooms that you are using. Consider putting a draught excluder, such as cushions, next to drafty doors. • Use energy saving lightbulbs where possible. Remember to turn lights off when you are not in the room. • At night, close your curtains or blinds as this helps to keep the heat inside your home. • When using your kettle, only boil the water that you need to use and when cooking, select the correct saucepan size. Only use the water that you need and use the pan lid. • Switch off appliances when not in use rather than leaving them on standby. There may also be benefits you can claim to help you through the winter months. If you need help with your fuel bills or are struggling and would like advice on how to manage your finances or how to get a better deal on your energy supplier, contact us as we may be able to help.

To find out more about getting the flu jab, talk to your doctor

Getting the flu jab

Flu is a highly infectious illness that spreads rapidly through the coughs and sneezes of people who are carrying the virus. For most people, flu is an unpleasant illness, but it’s not serious. However, certain people are more at risk of developing potentially serious complications of flu such as bronchitis and pneumonia and these people should have a flu jab each year. If you are in an “at-risk” group, you are eligible for a flu jab free of charge on the NHS. This includes you if: • you’re aged 65 or over • you’re pregnant • you have a serious medical condition • you live in a residential or nursing home • you’re the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if you fall ill • your child is in an at-risk group and is aged six months to two years.

Plus Dane will always be contactable during these times so if we can help call us on 0800 169 2988 (FREE from landlines), 0300 123 4560 (local rate from mobiles), or email Finally, don’t forget to look out for friends and neighbours and check they’re safe and well through the winter.

Fire Safety in Your Home Did you know?

• Over half of home fires are caused by cooking accidents. • Three fires a day are started by candles. • Every three days someone dies from a fire caused by a cigarette. Plus Dane Group takes your safety extremely seriously and we work to promote fire safety to ensure you are safe in your home. Most fires in the home can be prevented by taking some basic and common sense precautions:

Smoke Alarms

Most of our properties now have smoke alarms. If your home doesn’t please let us know by contacting us and we will arrange for an alarm to be fitted.


Ensure that all rings and flames are turned off after cooking, keep your grill clean and make sure that ovens are regularly checked for stored pots and pans before switching on. Don’t be tempted to leave cookers on low overnight and be sure not to leave utensils in them.


It is a good idea to regularly check all plugs and wiring connections to appliances, make sure the plugs and flexes are in good condition and you have the correct fuses in place.

Naked flames

Candles, tea lights and fragrant oil burners can be especially dangerous. If you are using these, please make sure that you don’t place them on or near anything which can catch fire. As we approach Christmas, please remember Christmas decorations can be flammable and are often implicated in fires at this time of year. Please switch off Christmas lights, extinguish candles and check your living room carefully before going to bed or going out.


Remember to use a proper ashtray never a wastepaper basket and make sure your ashtray can’t tip over and is made of a material that won’t burn.

Don’t tackle FIRE yourself - get out, stay out and call 999

If you have a tumble dyer, it is very important to make sure these are emptied at the end of their cycles and that the filters are cleaned out regularly. Don’t leave hot, dry clothes in the dryer.


• Tour your home last thing at night and close all doors. • Do the press button test on your smoke alarm weekly. • Keep a supply of batteries if needed for your alarm. • Don’t leave battery chargers on for long periods of time.

What to do if there is a fire?

• Keep calm and act quickly, get everyone out as soon as possible. • If there is smoke, keep low where the air is clearer. • Before you open a door check if it’s warm. If it is, don’t open it - fire could be on the other side.


Don’t leave tea towels or clothes to dry over cookers, cooker handles or pipes near your boiler, as there’s a chance these can catch fire.

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The Moving On fund is a small bursary available to tenants who are looking to make a difference to their lives, whether that is returning to work or advancing in their careers. Money can go towards anything from a suit and haircut to make a good impression at a meeting or job interview, to equipment needed for a college course or to pay for additional training. Tina Davies is one of those who has benefitted from the fund. After being accepted onto a course to take a catering qualification, she realised the kit required would be an expense she wouldn’t be able to cover - and risked losing out altogether.

This year alone so far the team has delivered over 10,000 gas services in Merseyside and Cheshire and 86 solid fuel services, and nearly 6,600 gas services and 10 solid fuel services in Ellesmere Port and Neston.

Tina Davies

Here, M&E Manager Andy Mason tells us more about the team and the work they do.

“I love the course - every day is different,” she says. “I was lucky to get the fund and I really appreciate it.

“Our team is responsible for gas, electrical testing and solid fuel servicing for Plus Dane homes and so we’re extremely busy!

“Before I got my job at the care home I had been unemployed for a while. It is hard because there are no jobs out there - you have to keep plugging away even if it gets you down at times, which is what I tell my friends who are still looking for work.

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“I always wanted my own flat and a job by the time I was 30 and, looking back, I’m so pleased I achieved my targets. Plus Dane has been so supportive, from getting me out and involved in tenants groups when I was unemployed to making it possible for me to do this course.”


“When I was accepted onto the course I was thrilled, but then I realised I would have to fund my own uniform and equipment and I didn’t know how I was going to afford that. I would not have been able to save up in time,” she said.

The Move On fund provided Tina with £130 to cover the cost of her uniform and the set of kitchen knives that she would need to get started. She started the Level 2 training in September, and is looking forward to taking on more morning shifts and greater responsibility at work.

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Congleton-based Tina has worked in a care home for two years and, when her boss asked her to take on more responsibility, she found she needed an ‘adults into catering’ qualification behind her to progress.

Plus Dane’s Gas Servicing Team is part of our Property Management Team and is responsible for undertaking gas and electrical testing for all the 18,000 homes owned and managed by the Group.

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Helping Hand

Introducing…Plus Dane’s Gas Servicing Team

Plus Dane tenants needing a helping hand to achieve their ambitions are invited to apply for funding to assist with that next step.

Tina has been actively involved in a number of Plus Dane tenants groups over the years. Currently a member of the Tenants Together Forum (TTF), she knew of the funding scheme because it was something the TTF itself ter area? hire West and Ches es Ch had approved and recommended the in e liv u Do yo that will lead to a to be put in place. d are now in training an d ye plo em un en urs per week? Have you be that job at least 16 ho Is er? off job a ve ha job, or already le for either a then you may be eligib S YE is ns tio es qu If the answer to these £200 for the If you’re interested in t could save you up to tha rd ca l ve tra d se idi subs a scooter. applying for the fund, lp towards the hire of next 6 months, or he contact Plus Dane’s Local secured through the Engagement Team by Resources have been ct to Jobs’ to Fund (LSTF) ‘Conne calling our customer Sustainable Transport tting back into work. contact numbers, who help support those ge can give you more like be eligible and would information and help you If you think you may ase contact fill in the application form. further information ple 0151 337 6302. Caroline Thomas on

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“Similarly electrical testing is a legal requirement for us and we are currently doing a five year programme across the Group to check the electrics of every home.

Gas safety tips • NEVER use a gas appliance if you think it is not working properly. Signs to look out for include yellow or orange flames (except for live fuel-effect fires, which display this colour flame), soot or stains around appliances • NEVER cover an appliance or block the convection air vents

“We’re a team of 21 that works across all areas, with support from our Administration Team which does a fantastic job assisting all teams within the overall department.

• NEVER block or obstruct any fixed ventilation grilles or airbricks

“We’re heading into one of our busier times now that winter is on its way, as it’s an important time of year for ensuring that gas safety checks are up to date. We do a lot of work as well to raise awareness of the importance of these checks as we have a legal obligation to service all our gas appliances each year.

• NEVER fit draught exclusion strips to doors of a room that contains a gas appliance

“This is so important to ensure customer safety, and it’s vital that residents allow us access to their homes so that we can

checked for safe operation, prior to using any new ceiling or extractor fans

• NEVER block or cover outside flues

• NEVER allow anyone to carry out work on a gas appliance unless they are a fully qualified, “Gas Safe Register” registered installer • ALWAYS have your gas appliances

Facelift for Churchill Court Residents of Churchill Court in Neston are celebrating the complete refurbishment of their community centre lounge. The final phase of the much needed work has been completed providing a new and improved, bright and comfortable communal space. Everything needed to spruce up the room, including paint, brushes and the necessary know-how, was provided by Novus Solutions as part of Plus Dane working in partnership.

Connect to Jobs


ensure their appliances are safe. We’re very proud of our track record in gas servicing and our gas engineers do a great job.

Staff from the sheltered housing team, the scheme’s caretaker John Price and contractors from Novus Solutions spent two days painting the lounge; this was followed by the laying of a new carpet and fitting of new window blinds, all chosen by the residents.

In addition, the yard at the back of Churchill Court was cleared of overgrown weeds ready for new plants to be grown, including a generous donation from B&Q of £60 worth of flowers and shrubs.

Each inspection takes 2-3 hours, but we always aim to keep any disruption to a minimum and it’s really important that residents allow us access to their homes to enable us to carry out these checks. “Most customers do, but we do encounter the odd instance where people don’t want to let us in. “Solid fuel servicing is the other area that we look after. We have 80 homes in Cheshire and 10 in Merseyside where we need to carry out a twice yearly sweep of the chimney, and again we have a responsibility to do so. “If any customers would like more information about the work of the team or the services we carry out please do get in touch as we’re happy to help.”

Do you live in Ellesmere Port or Neston? Need a garage?

We have garages available for rent on various sites throughout the area, please contact Maria Lynn on 0151 373 2583 between 10am - 2pm Monday - Friday for further details.

Residents celebrated the new improved community lounge with a tea party. Thanks go to Karen Traynor, Ian Walker, Novus Solutions and B&Q for helping to make the project possible.

Plus Dane UNiTY


Best Garden Competition 2013 This year’s winners are:

We had a great response to our Green Fingers competition and there were some impressive gardens to judge.

Best garden

Best hanging basket/pot

The winner of Best Garden this year is Mrs Ogilvie of William Johnson Gardens in Ellesmere Port.

Winner in this category is Mr Worrall of Ringway, Ellesmere Port.

A wonderful effort and a deserving winner - well done!

A BIG thank you to everyone tha t entered this year!

Best communal garden The garden at Heath View in Congleton is choc full of shrubs planted around a lovely lawned area. A great team effort - well done!

Outstanding hanging baskets - well done!

Through the summer months the gaps are crammed full of colour with surfinias, lobelia, geraniums, marigolds and begonias. Tubs are dotted around the patio area with ornaments and garden benches set out around the lawn. The middle of the lawn has a lovely water feature with oval bowls pouring into one another.

At 93 years young Mrs Ogilvie does an absolutely amazing job with her garden. Many of her plants are grown from seeds and cuttings so she truly does have ‘green fingers’.

This is a perfect garden for the residents of the block to be able to sit out and enjoy their beautiful surroundings. A magnificent effort.

The front garden is laid to lawn with a formal arrangement of topiary, bedding plants and a background of interesting and colourful shrubs. The walls at the front of her bungalow are covered with hanging baskets teeming with colour. Her back garden, complete with pond, is full of acers, ferns, daturas, palms and astilbes. There is a clematis archway and a selection of tomatoes, strawberries and citrus fruits grown in pots.

Our winners! The front and side of his house is covered in hanging baskets. These are dripping with healthy surfinias, lobelia, geraniums and marigolds. With the glorious summer this year it has been really difficult to keep baskets looking their best but Mr Worrall has managed to produce a superb display. / pot Mr Worrall - Best hanging basket hers vouc g enin gard £50 of Winner


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Mrs Ogilvie - Best garde n Winner of £100 gardenin g vouchers

Heath View Residents - Best communal garden Winner of £50 gardening vouchers

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Plus Dane Group | Black History Month

building hope Fundraising Gala a huge success!

Plus Dane’s fourth annual Fundraising Gala Dinner took place on Friday 11 October and was a huge success, raising over £17,000 so far!

A big thank you to everyone that provided their support, and especially to our event sponsors:

Premier Sponsor

Established in 1972, Frank Rogers is a family operation at the forefront of contracting in the North West. During the past forty years, Frank Rogers has developed the skills and expertise to undertake a diverse range of construction projects, employing highly skilled local tradesmen. Working in partnership with housing associations across Merseyside, Frank Rogers continues to support local communities as part of a range of measures including training, employment, one off and long term initiatives.

balla and live show by Carol Hasa ip, rsh so on sp g mme Corry, rin Through secu entertainment by Re ce at the pla a k ng too sti ho ich ker Roger d wh ea an t, sp ts en The ev selling ticke as well as guest , the fle e and was raf On d l an oo neral on erp Ge t cti Liv tan au at n sis Hilto fundraising McKenzie, As 00. 0 people, was 7,0 20 £1 er er r charity ov ov Ou d by n. se d iso rai de s Un en att event ha Secretary of ry sto Hi ge ck ran Bla de ’s wi ide a £3,500 alone as part of Merseys This will be used in auction raised over are g ich un wh yo t s, or ion pp range of prizes Month celebrat of ways to help su guests bid for a wide omoting pr ies nit of rtu ar ye po th op Plus Dane 26 for by ir now in the people looking all donated for free black or ing t rat en leb ym ce businesses, plo d al em an o loc ge d knowled to progress int ff, partners an sta . ge ’s rita ne he s Da d in Berlin, a history, culture and training, including Plu including a weeken , nd Fu e nc de epen Liverpool and Young Person’s Ind helicopter ride over d an d ar me ye t the s las wa d ! This year’s Gala which was establishe much more besides fitting tribute to g people with un yo ted or pp ‘Building Hope’, in a su s ha of Martin Luther g smart clothes gest fundraising the 50th anniversary erything from buyin ev The night was our big d an ch rms ee ifo sp un rk m’ ea wo g dr penny will go a yin ery ve bu ev King’s ‘I ha t to date and for interview to en ev of l . iva ies arr nit rtu the of g people to ng oppo the 65th anniversary and paying for traini ards supporting youn tow a en se s ha ich Empire Windrush wh fulfil their potential. tastic le pave the way for fan op a pe o of als s ion wa rat t ne en ge The ev event aims ents of local the young people the showcase of the tal ing a fashion tur to support. young people, fea

Gold Sponsors:

At Lovell we build, refurbish, regenerate, maintain and repair homes and communities across the UK. We have become the nation’s complete housing business, providing our partners with the most comprehensive service in the industry. We are committed to leaving a positive legacy wherever we work, and each and every one of us wants to play their part in changing people’s lives for the better.

Penny Lane Builders is a family owned company with over 20 years’ experience of working in partnership with social housing providers to regenerate homes and communities. We are passionate about creating employment and training opportunities for local people and maximising the socio-economic benefit of the communities we work in.

Smiths SD Limited are at the forefront of service provision, operating exclusively in the North West public housing sector. We specialise in reactive and planned building maintenance, grounds maintenance and professional cleaning services. The company was established in 1935, and has developed to focus entirely on working with housing associations. With 40 years experience in this area Smiths SD have built up long standing relationships based upon a commitment to service delivery as well as excellent client and customer satisfaction.

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Recently we have entered Liverpool’s leisure market with the Newz Bar, the Sir Thomas Hotel and The Park Hotel. We are committed to the sustained growth of Liverpool, through local recruitment policies and apprenticeship schemes.

Established in 1971 as an independent company, Lacy Roofing is primarily involved in flat roofing, slating, tiling and external refurbishment contracts for local authorities, housing associations, major contractors and private clients.

Silver Sponsors:

Flanagan Group are a multilateral Liverpool based group of companies serving public and private sector interests. We provide high quality


construction, building maintenance, refurbishment, property development and leisure services.

Liverpool UNISON represents almost 6,000 members employed by Liverpool City Council and many voluntary and private sector organisations. We campaign, negotiate and lobby for improvements to workplaces, pay and benefits, and support members facing discrimination, bullying and injustice.

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Frank Rogers to deliver planned maintenance contract Frank Rogers has been appointed to deliver Plus Dane’s kitchen replacement programme for homes in Liverpool and Ellesmere Port and will be creating new local jobs in the process. With a commitment to recruit locally, the Liverpool-based contractor is now keen to take on a number of tradesmen from the Ellesmere Port area who will be appointed to carry out works in the town as part of Plus Dane’s housing management contract with Cheshire West and Chester Council.

La st Ye ar’s Su cc es s St ories

and, as a result, we raised a total of The generosity shown was overwhelming of ways, including establishing the £4,200 which has been used in a variety Young Person’s Independence Fund. , Penny Lane Builders were so Following the success of last year’s Gala night that they pledged to do impressed with the young people on the donating iPads to Anne Conway dy something a bit different and after alrea decided that the company should voy McE rd Gera House, Operations Director would directly benefit one of the create a practical, lasting opportunity that year apprenticeship opportunity young people. They set up a unique three to NVQ Level 3 standard while orted supp fully that would see a young person ess before deciding what career path gaining experience from across the busin to pursue in the long term. Penny Lane Builders has its roots Gerard said: “I grew up in Liverpool 8 and very passionate and aware of the firmly placed within the community, so I’m I was looking to do something that le. issues and barriers faced by young peop an opportunity that was of value and would show our commitment in creating made a real difference.”

Nineteen-year-old Khalile We aver has lived in Anne Conway Hou se for just over a year. When the apprenticeship opportunity with Penny Lane Builders was offe red, Khalile was one of four young people who applied for the position and, after one of the toughest dec isions the interview panel had to ma ke due to the outstanding candidates , he was offered the position. “I was very eager to do work experience and this has bee na fantastic opportunity for me,” he said. “At the moment I can’t tell wha t area of the business I would like to go into in the future becaus e I am still learning about the trad e but I am enjoying every aspect of the job, and working has ma de me more confident, respons ible and disciplined.”

“I would honestly say that I hav e received excellent support from Anne Conway House and gre at support from Penny Lane Bui lders,” he added. “It has been a brill iant experience and I would encour age others to do the same.”

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firesid i n . Hear more about Khal ile’s Journey

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He added: “We are delighted to have been appointed by Plus Dane. Long term framework agreements such as this offer piece of mind and long term security whilst reflecting the confidence our customers have in us.”


Through some of the funds rais ed at last year’s Charity Gala, Kha lile has also been able to access add itional

financial support to enable him to take Khalile Weaver up this opportunity while he’s still living at Anne Conway House, which has ma de all the difference to him.

Dean Rogers, Managing Director of Frank Rogers said: “Frank Rogers support local labour and are keen to attract Wirral-based skilled tradesmen to join

We’ll use this approach in Ellesmere Port where we are set to establish a satellite office from which we can manage the Wirral operation.”

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prepare the young people for Plus Dane’s Anne Lundon, who helped to “It was a privilege to work with Gerard interview with Penny Lane Builders, said: House. We were all impressed by and the young people from Anne Conway that all staff at Plus Dane were know I and their maturity and professionalism extremely proud of all of them.”

A Pro u d A ch ie v em en t

We have a wealth of experience in planned maintenance and have fine-tuned the model through previous contracts across the North West and Liverpool.


al talent we have in Liverpool but The event showcased not only the exception le looking for opportunities to progress also the positive attitudes of young peop into employment or training.

w ww

our Gala Auction last year, which was This year’s event built on the success of living at Anne Conway House - the only all about raising funds for young people me specifically for Black and Minority sche n supported housing accommodatio Ethnic young people on Merseyside.

our team and help deliver this fantastic programme.

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Community safety UPDATE

Operation Everpine

Plus Dane continues to work hard to tackle issues such as antisocial behaviour to keep neighbourhoods safe for everyone. We take all reports of antisocial behaviour seriously and investigate all complaints thoroughly to ensure that, where needed, action is taken.

annoyance to neighbours after persistent partying at their property was causing noise nuisance.

Recent cases have included a resident of a sheltered housing scheme in Liverpool causing a nuisance to other residents by having groups of friends around, drinking alcohol and shouting into the early hours, as well as causing a noise nuisance from their loud television.

These are just some examples of how Plus Dane works with partners from other agencies to tackle issues of antisocial behaviour when they arise and ensure that action is taken.

After attempts to curb this behaviour by issuing warnings failed and the tenant refused to accept help from support services, Plus Dane’s community safety team applied for an injunction barring the tenant from having overnight visitors without prior consent, and prohibiting them from having two or more visitors in the flat at any one time.

The injunction, granted in September, was not contested. Our community safety team are continuing to meet with residents and will take further action if needed.

At Liverpool Civil and Family Courts in September the resident offered no defence and was sentenced to six weeks in prison, suspended until next July. They were also given a further two week suspended sentence in relation to earlier breaches.

If you are aware of any issues with antisocial behaviour in your neighbourhood, you can help us make your community safer by reporting this to us so that we can investigate and deal with the problem.

A similar case in Liverpool saw a resident issued with an injunction not to cause nuisance and


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It is being funded by Plus Dane for the second year running and, through strong partnership working between the Group and the local neighbourhood police teams, has been a huge success. Sergeant Dave Whalley tells us more about the project and how it’s making a difference: “Operation Everpine began on Friday

You can report issues to us by calling us on 0800 169 2988 (free from most UK landlines) or 0300 123 4560 (local rate from a mobile) or by using the online reporting form on our website at or email us at

19th July 2013 and finished on Saturday 21st September. “The project funded two officers on a Friday and Saturday evening to provide a high visibility presence in two key areas, working during the peak times when instances of antisocial behaviour are more likely to occur. “During this period the officers working on Operation Everpine have submitted, what has now turned into vital intelligence on those operating in a particular area, which was gathered through numerous stop checks by police officers.

“This intelligence also led to warrants being issued in three streets and resulted in an arrest for possession of drugs and suspicion of burglary, issuing a penalty notice and seizing a vehicle for no insurance. This operation has helped Plus Dane’s neighbourhood team to compile evidence for antisocial behaviour orders for the core offenders in the area. “The operation has led to a 22% reduction in antisocial behaviour on one estate in Anfield, compared to the same period last year, and a 44% reduction on an estate targeted in Everton.”

Healthiness grows in Merseyside with help from Making Business Work In our last issue we looked at the Making Business Work scheme, a consortium of organisations led by Alt Valley Community Trust and including Plus Dane that have joined forces to provide free advice and support to businesses and social enterprises across Merseyside. One business to have benefitted and grown through the European Regional Development Funded scheme is Healthiness, a health promotion company that works with older people and adults tackling mental health problems.

This injunction was granted in September and was not contested. The tenant is currently adhering to the terms of the order and working with our floating support service and resident feedback has been positive. Another case involved a resident who was subject to an injunction not to cause a nuisance and annoyance to neighbours. This injunction was breached and the resident’s behaviour continued to cause a nuisance which included playing loud music that was offensive to others in the area.

Operation Everpine is a project to help tackle antisocial behaviour and promote community safety in neighbourhoods in Anfield and Everton during the summer months and in particular, the school holidays.

Healthiness works across Liverpool, providing classes that are a combination of low intensity exercise for improving aerobic fitness, strength training, memory training, balance and co-ordination. It uses multiple exercise levels throughout its classes to ensure optimum participation, regardless of participants’ fitness levels. Healthiness director Susannah Arrowsmith said: “For those who cannot stand for long periods of time, we offer chair based exercises to accommodate varying physical abilities. “We will also use a collection of people’s favourite music and old

For more informatio n visit

time classics to keep them motivated whilst having lots of fun.” Speaking about ‘Making Business Work’ Susannah said: “The initiative has been efficient in providing our organisation with useful contacts to enable its growth. “The business advisors have a keen interest in growth and the expansion of Healthiness and their knowledge of the city’s infrastructure and communication networks is invaluable to our business. “They go above and beyond to ensure our needs are met.”

Plus Dane UNiTY


New beginning for Kirkby

Youth Shadow Board


Welcomes new members

Plus Dane Group’s youth shadow board is welcoming new members as it goes from strength to strength. The shadow board has only been in place for one year, but has made huge strides in engaging its members and bringing young people together to learn about board membership, develop skills and experience and have input into and influence decisions of the Plus Dane Group. It was set up so that its members could help Plus Dane better understand the views and wants of the young people it engages with and serves. Tenants aged between 18 to 25 are eligible to join.

Look out for our Youth Shadow Board film NiTV at

Built using green materials including solar panels and smart meters, this has resulted in significantly lower fuel bills for all homes in the scheme. or

Along with the board and the Tenants Together Forum, the youth shadow board took part in a group-wide internal review, helping Plus Dane to begin to identify a number of areas that require further attention and development. The skills gained from their participation in the youth shadow board have helped members advance in their education and careers outside of the organisation as well.

Plus Dane’s Youth Forum meets Prince Edward Members of Plus Dane’s Youth Forum have been working hard over the summer to gain their bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award, which involved a number of challenges including taking part in two residential trips, and developing skills such as map reading, first aid and voluntary work.

Among them is chair Shellesa Coke, who has just started a course in social work. She says: “The youth shadow board allows young people to have an influence in housing but also within communities. It’s also a good opportunity to further yourself.” Youth engagement officer Lesley Dixon says: “Our aim is to train and develop the shadow board members, giving them the skills to be effective members and to ensure the views of the wider community are represented within Plus Dane Group.

As a result of their achievements the group were invited to represent the youth forum at the official reopening of Liverpool Central Library by Prince Edward in September.

Shellesa Coke

Rachel Teare, Emma Teare, Grace Edwards, Marnie Reanney and Lydia Rae-Sibley were the first group from a housing association in the North West to participate in the Duke of Edinburgh programme and enjoyed the challenge so much that they plan to begin work on their Silver award in the new year. If you would like to get involved with Plus Dane’s Youth Forum contact Lesley Dixon on 0151 703 2014.

Lesley Dixon

s ifire ide re Find out mo uth about our Yo d Shadow Boar Members

m .co

For more information about the Youth Shadow Board, contact Lesley Dixon Youth Engagement Officer 0151 703 2014


“The shadow board has a real chance to make decisions and be advocates for other young people’s thoughts.”

lo v


pe st the o p o rie s a b o ut w e le a s n d pla c e


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Work is also underway on the new Quarry Brook development in Kirkby, which will provide eight bungalows and 58 two and three bedroom homes. Expected to be completed by autumn next year, ten of the homes will be available for shared ownership, while the remainder will be on offer for affordable rent.

The site neighbours the 25 home development that kick-started the whole Kirkby project, Plus Dane’s award-winning Quarryside Drive (named housing scheme of the year at the 2012 Knowsley Business and Regeneration Awards).

Some of the activities the shadow board have been able to get involved in include representing Plus Dane at Black History Month events, appraising funding applications, appointing staff as members of the recruitment and selection panels, inspecting neighbourhoods along with partner agencies, and attending the full board away day to review the 2014 business plan.

Several shadow board members started university this year with practical and financial support from Plus Dane, after successfully applying for bursary funding.

Quarry Brook

Since 2008, we have been working alongside Knowsley Borough Council, as well as other major partners, to secure the massive £200m investment required to ensure the significant regeneration of the town centre. Work is now underway to deliver more than 160 new homes in the area, and in many cases Plus Dane Group is involved in in-depth consultations with tenants to ensure the schemes are fit for their needs.

Ann Seary is one of the people moving into a new three bedroom home on St Kevin’s Drive. She said: “I didn’t want to move - I have been in my home for a long time and it is going to be sad to have to leave.

This is true of the ongoing development at St Kevin’s Drive, which will see more than 40 tenants moved into brand new houses and bungalows.

“But I’m happy the new houses are being built after so many years of disappointment and uncertainty for us all. In the new house I’ll only be three doors away from my daughter and grandchildren and be next to the same neighbours I am now, so that will be a good thing.”

They are moving as part of the Destination Kirkby scheme, which aims to transform the town centre for current and future generations, bringing new shops, improved facilities, houses and local jobs to the area. Work on the £7.1m development at St Kevin’s Drive began in April and is on schedule for the first set of new residents to move into their new homes in spring 2014. Their existing properties will be cleared to make way for a flagship Tesco store. When you’re settled and happy in a property it can be distressing to have to move if you had no plans to do so - even more if your home has been earmarked for demolition. This is why Plus Dane has worked with residents to ensure the new houses at St Kevin’s Drive meet peoples’ needs and aspirations as much as possible.

Tenants have been attending a number of sessions allowing them to choose the number of bedrooms and type of property they require - even down to picking the bathroom and kitchen fittings - to make sure they are happy with their new homes-to-be. This way, Plus Dane has also been able to help people affected by the government’s benefits changes by modifying the new builds for each family to make sure they remain affordable. In addition, the energy efficient photovoltaic cells installed on the roofs of the new homes will not only provide electricity for each household but any excess generated will be fed back into the grid, with suppliers paying each tenant for the contribution under the Feed-in Tariff (FIT).

If you are interested in a shared ownership property please apply online at or contact Homeshub for more details on 0151 708 4696 or and look out for the show home coming in January 2014. Plus Dane Project Manager, Mark Hooper, said: “This has been a really challenging project for us and the residents affected. “However we now have a clear vision and timescale for fantastic new homes that we believe will be a great place to live. This is in no small part down to the perseverance of residents who have worked tirelessly to bring about a positive change.” Neighbourhood Investment Manager Nicola Andrews added: “Kirkby town centre really needs this regeneration. We would never have chosen to demolish these houses and move tenants who were settled in their homes, but we needed to look at the bigger picture. “It has been a very difficult situation for us to manage - understandably, many people did not want to leave their homes - and we have worked hard to keep residents on board and make sure that there needs were being met.”

Plus Dane UNiTY



This is part of our commitment to strengthening our boards, building on our new approach to governance to ensure we are well placed to tackle future challenges.

Tom Murtha, financial services specialist Gerard Lane and experienced finance professional from the commercial sector, Anthony Barwise.

Robin, who formally stood down as CIH President earlier this year, will lead the Cheshire Subsidiary Board, where the Group owns and manages over 4,600 homes.

Plus Dane Chief Executive Ken Perry, said: “Plus Dane recognises that strong governance is crucial, which is why we have worked to strengthen our boards through the appointment of Linda as Chair and two new Board members last year.

Robin commented: “I am looking forward to working with the Board and staff of Plus Dane Cheshire and hope to help the Group build upon the great work they do across Cheshire.” Supporting Robin’s appointment, four new members have joined our Parent Board including housing and regeneration sector leaders Mervyn Jones and

“Our new appointments will build on this commitment and help to ensure that not only are we well-placed to tackle the challenges ahead for the sector, but that our work continues to make a real difference for the tenants and residents we serve.”

Tom Murtha

“Plus Dane is an excellent organisation with a great track record of making a real difference in neighbourhoods and creating new opportunities through its Neighbourhood investor approach and I am happy to be able to play a part in taking this to the next level.”

“I’m excited and delighted to join Plus Dane’s Board because Plus Dane has always shown that they are an association that mixes the traditional values of the sector with innovation and great work, which are both very close to my heart.”

“I am looking forward to being able to contribute to the future of Plus Dane, building on the Group’s heritage of delivering high quality affordable homes and Neighbourhood investment for tenants and residents across Merseyside and Cheshire.”

Halewood Road, Liverpool L25 3SL Plus Dane is currently building an apartment block at St Gregory’s of 20 one and two bedroom apartments specifically designed for the over 55’s on Halewood Road in Gateacre Village, Liverpool.

Five of these properties will be for sale through older persons shared ownership. This is a government backed scheme supported by the Homes and Communities Agency. The aim of the scheme is to reduce living costs for people approaching retirement, below the costs of owning a home outright, so that

If you are interested please call Homeshub on 0151 708 4696 you have more income to spend on other things. This means you can buy between 25%-75% share, but if you buy 75% you don’t pay any rent on the 25% you don’t own. The apartments will be handed over early next year with a show home opening early in December. If you or a family member are interested in this scheme then please contact Plus Dane’s HomesHub Team on 0151 708 4696 or or visit the HomesHub website

Marshall Fields Twemlow

Mervyn Jones

Gerard Lane

St Gregory’s

Anthony Barwise “I am delighted to join Plus Dane’s Board. I can see the passion in the organisation to go beyond providing affordable housing by positively impacting neighbourhoods, and that has motivated me to get involved. With my background in the commercial sector I am looking forward to bringing new experience to Plus Dane and sharing best practice.”

Marshall Fields, off Twemlow Lane, in Cheshire’s Twemlow, is a rural exception, affordable housing development, delivered in partnership with the Homes and Communities Agency, Cheshire East Council and MCI Developments. The new build homes include eight homes for rent and five for shared ownership. All of the two and three bedroom homes are for local people that have family or work connections to Twemlow and surrounding villages, and all achieve the Code for Sustainable Homes

Level 3 rating, ensuring residents running costs are as low as possible. The development will be complete in early December 2013 with an open day for the sales units on Saturday 23 November*. It’s a great affordable option for residents wishing to buy their first home. Prices start from just £45,000 for a 25% share.

If you are interested please call Homeshub on 01260 288 260

For more information call Homeshub on 01260 288 260

*Date correct at time of publication.

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visit for more information or to apply online.


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Healthy Lifestyle

The Alsager Lifestyle Project was so successful earlier in the year that it is up and running again. The weekly group began in March with a series of money-saving healthy eating sessions. Now, it has been extended and will be running into the New Year covering more health and wellbeing topics including help and advice about keeping warm over the winter. Neighbourhood housing officer Lynda Doukanaris ran the first classes, demonstrating recipes and offering hints and tips for healthy eating, avoiding food waste and food shopping on a budget. There was also the chance for attendees to win handy kitchen items like slow cookers. Plus Dane tenant Charmaine Thacker initially went along to accompany her daughter who had just left home for the first time, and enjoyed the Thursday afternoon class so much she went on to attend them all. “Even though I know how to budget and how to cook, I thought the sessions were fantastic because they showed you different ways of making things, using different ingredients and making your money go further,” she said. “It was also nice to get out and meet other residents there and do something social - we all got something out of it.” Lynda added: “We found that people spend roughly £30 a week on food and so we wanted to deliver something fun and engaging to help people learn about improving their health and eating well on a budget.” The continuation of the cookery course has been made possible by the help of extra funding from Cheshire East Council. Anyone interested in taking part can drop in at the sessions at 12pm every Thursday at Wesley Place Church in Alsager.


Plus Dane UNiTY

Tuscan Bean soup One example of a healthy recipe made during the sessions which is also cheap and easy to make is Tuscan Bean soup, why not give it a try?!

You will need: 1 packet of good quality sausages cut into bite size pieces 2 large potatoes cut up into cubes 1 large onion 1 can of butter beans Handful of spinach 2 good quality chicken stock cubes dissolved in hot water Grated nutmeg/salt and pepper Small amount of cream

Method: • Fry the sausages in a little butter with the chopped onion. • Then add the potatoes and fry all together. • Add the stock cubes with the water and the salt and pepper. • Cook until potatoes have started to soften. • Add the butterbeans and spinach and cook for a further 10 minutes. • Finally add a little cream and a generous grating of nutmeg. • Serve with crusty bread.

Getting to know our neighbourhoods… Docker’s Umbrella This time, our look at local areas turns to Liverpool. We go back in time to the Liverpool Overhead Railway, otherwise known as “the Docker’s Umbrella”. A railway raised above the roadway was first suggested in 1852 but Jesse Hartley the dock’s engineer was not in favour. In 1877 ship owner Alfred Holt suggested an overhead tramway, similar to the New York Elevated Railroad. In 1888 a group of local businessman formed the Liverpool Overhead Railway Company, and the “Docker’s Umbrella” was officially opened on 4th February 1893. It cost nearly £3.5 million (£311 million in today’s money), stood 16 feet (4.9m) above the road, six miles long, dual track and the first electrically powered overhead railway in the world. There were 11 stations originally and in 1894 and 1896 respectively, extensions to Seaforth and Dingle were completed therefore reaching more residential areas. By 1897 the system was making a profit, having reached eight million passenger

journeys. These peaked in 1919 to 19 million passenger journeys. Refurbishment took place just after the First World War with the carriages being upgraded and bomb damage during the Second World War was quickly repaired. By the 1950’s the tide was turning. The way the docks conducted business was changing, therefore passenger figures dropped for the railway. Telephones were used more so there was less use for travelling messengers. The Liverpool Corporation had subsidised fares on trams, therefore the fares were cheaper. The Liverpool Overhead Railway was not included in the nationalisation of the British Railways in 1948. Another big problem was corrosion of the iron viaducts. A survey revealed it would cost more than £2 million to repair which

the company could not afford. They looked to the Liverpool Corporation, but they could not help. The company went into voluntary liquidation and closed on 30th December 1956, with demolition starting on 23rd September 1957. Although the overhead railway was only here for 63 years, it made a big impact on the docks and Liverpool. Did you travel on the railway? What are your memories? We’d love to hear from you, contact details are on the back page.

Plus Dane UNiTY


Competition This time our wordsearch is based on things associated with autumn. Find the words in the grid. They can appear backwards, forwards, up, down or across. One of our words appears twice. Let us know which one and you could win a prize! Send your entry to Caron Hunt, Plus Dane Group, 7-9 Civic Way, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire CH65 0AX.

Send your entries in to us for your chance to win a prize

Our winners last time were Mrs D M Potts (wordsearch) from Crewe and Ms J. Brickell-Bowers (wordwheel) from Congleton.







Find the nine letter word in the wheel grid and then find as many words as possible using the letters. Clue - something you may need once you switch the heater on!




! Good l u ck

Contact Us

If you have any comments about UNiTY magazine please let us know. We also welcome any ideas for stories that you might have and would love to talk to people who would like to take part in our regular columns or have news to share. You can contact us in the following ways:

If you are a Cheshire West & Chester Council tenant living in Ellesmere Port & Neston contact 0151 373 2520.

Call our Communications Team on 0151 703 2064, or write to Sarah Moston, Plus Dane Group, Communications Team, Rialto Buildings, 90-94 Upper Parliament Street, Liverpool L8 7SY. You can also e-mail us at

For general information and repairs email: Write to us: Merseyside 172 Park Road Liverpool L8 6SJ

Cheshire Shepherds Mill Worrall Street Congleton CW12 1DT

Ellesmere Port & Neston 7-9 Civic Way Ellesmere Port Cheshire CH65 0AX

Visit our websites at or and follow us on Twitter and Facebook. A range of Neighbourhood investor films can also be viewed on our NiTV Youtube channel.


Working with customers, we have established a set of seven Neighbourhood investor promises these are:

Increased investment in existing property

Working in partnership with residents

Ensure neighbourhoods enjoy good well being

Increased creation of local jobs

Increased community safety measures

Increased supply and choice of homes

Further supporting vulnerable customers

Š2013 this publication has been written & designed by Plus Dane Communications Team working alongside the Tenants Communications Group. Printed on environmentally friendly paper.


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