plus dane group residentsâ€™ magazine
Issue four 2010
National Older Peopleâ€™s Day p5 Winter Events Snapshots p19
Fight Against Crime p4
Red Carpet Event p21 CDS Housing, Dane Housing, Hornby Homes & New Generation are members of plus dane group
plus dane UNiTY
Our customers really make a difference to the way we run plus dane group. Our staff Make A Difference teams, who look at ways we can improve our services to you, work closely with customers to find out what you think about our services. We now have four customer groups up and running and working with the Make A Difference team. They help us develop our services around lettings and allocations, tenancy and estate management, income management and repairs and asset management. These are just a few of our achievements so far. Many of these achievements would not have been possible without the support of our customer groups: ■ New tenant welcome pack developed and approved for new customers, by existing customers; ■ New void standard developed with customers; ■ Local lettings framework developed with customers; ■ We are redesigning our rent statements following feedback from customers to ensure readability. New statements will be ready from April 2010; ■ Direct debit frequency dates have been increased in Cheshire giving more choice on payment dates for customers; ■ Staff on site are now wearing high visibility jackets on estate walkabouts; ■ We have trained a member of our Support team to be an in-house Advanced Occupational Therapist assessor enabling customers to benefit from property adaptations without long delays; ■ We have begun to install carbon If you would monoxide like to know more alarms in about the work of our properties Make A Difference teams, with open or would like to find out flue fire more about becoming appliances involved in one of our to improve groups, contact customer Gaynor Nicoll on safety.
0151 330 3502.
Proposed amalgamation of CDS, New Gen and Hornby Homes If you are a tenant or leaseholder of one of the following housing associations CDS Housing Association Limited, (CDS) Greater Hornby Housing Association Limited (Hornby Homes) and New Generation Housing Association Limited (New Gen) you should by now have received a letter confirming the proposed joining together of the three individual organisations by amalgamation and asking for your views on this. We are keen to hear your views but need to do so by no later than Friday 26 March 2010 to be able to take these into consideration. A form was enclosed with your letter but you can also complete this on line at www.neighbourhoodinvestor.com If you would like more information there is a freephone number 0800 678 3795 or you can send your questions or comments by email to email@example.com
Dane Housing – Tenant Board Member Vacancy We have a vacancy on the Dane Housing Board for a tenant Board member. Dane Housing is a subsidiary of the Plus Dane Group and as such the Board members have an important role in ensuring the strategic direction of the Group is fully supported through the work of Dane in Cheshire. The Board consists of 7 members of which two are tenants. The tenant member role is vital in ensuring that the strategic decisions of Board fully reflect tenant views as well as monitoring the day to day performance of the organisation. If you are interested but require further information please contact Alison Carey, Company Secretary on 0151 708 4664 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Interested applicants will undergo an informal interview process prior to appointment to the Board.
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This is our first magazine of 2010 – so may I take this opportunity to wish you a belated happy new year. I hope it brings you happiness and good health. We are now entering Spring, which is a season of fresh beginnings and renewal. In the pages of UNiTY, we will be showing you the way that plus dane is working with you to bring a sense of renewal to the neighbourhoods we serve. You can read about our multi-million pound regeneration plans in Castlefields, and take a look at Heath View, our fantastic new extra-care facility for older people in Congleton. We also feature the Alsager neighbourhood, and the work that is ongoing there to try and help make life even better for communities such as the Radway Estate. Looking back to the cold snap earlier in the year I like to think that by all working together, we provided the very best service possible, I do hope that you agree.
As usual, there is also a lot of important information about our services, and the way you can get involved in our organisation. We are always glad to hear your views, and invite you to join us in a variety of ways to help shape the way plus dane works. We can also offer you training through our Residents’ Academy, to renew or develop new skills. I hope you enjoy reading our news, and if you have any comments at all, please contact us. With kind regards, Ken Perry Chief Executive plus dane group
Working with our customers, we have established a set of seven neighbourhood investor promises. These are: ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■
Increased investment in existing property Creating great places to live Increased community safety measures Further supporting vulnerable customers Further supporting resident involvement Increased creation of local jobs Increased supply and choice of homes
We hope that as you read the pages of this magazine, we will show you the many ways in which we are delivering those promises.
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Fight against crime Plus dane group’s EverybodyOnline project received £30,000 of funding to help in their work with young people, to prevent them becoming involved in gun, gang and knife crime. The funding will be made over a three year period, and we are one of more than 150 organisations nationwide that were awarded over £2.3 million to tackle knife crime and support victims. EverybodyOnline teamed up with Big Dave Gauder, former World Strong Man and Merseyside Police, to deliver “Beat Bullying Beat Crime” - an anti gang crime campaign with a twist! The team worked with the pupils of five Liverpool primary schools: St Patrick’s, Our Lady Mount Carmel, St Malachy’s, all based in Liverpool 8 and Lawrence Community and Heygreen Primary Schools in Wavertree- Liverpool 15. Big Dave and police constable Robby the Bobby Pritchard held an assembly about the dangers of bullying and peer pressure, and how this can lead to a life of gang crime. Big Dave discussed respect and mental strength as key themes and then demonstrated physical strength by pulling a vehicle in the playground! EverybodyOnline is conducting follow-up sessions relating to bullying and gang activity via digital media, such as text message
Awards for our Gardens A Healthy Living Garden run by Riverview Residents’ Association in Liverpool was named as Outstanding at the RHS North West in Bloom Awards. This is a great achievement for the group, who worked with our INES team to design the garden. Focusing on growing healthy foods, it also provides a community focus and offers a way to get gentle and enjoyable exercise. A merit was also awarded to the Sir Joseph Cleary Garden. Buglawton was also honoured at the same Awards ceremony in Southport. Following their involvement in Congleton in Bloom, they were awarded a Merit for their hard work ‘breathing life into their community.’ Well done to everybody involved.
abuse and inappropriate websites and emails. Merseyside Police will follow up the event by delivering hard-hitting sessions relating to knife crime, to run concurrently throughout the school term. The cash from the Community Fund and the Youth Sector Development Fund will help organisations who work with young people to prevent them becoming involved in gun, gang and knife crime. Home Secretary Alan Johnson said: “The organisations receiving funding work tirelessly with communities at the very frontline of the fight against knife crime and demonstrate how at every level we are tackling serious youth violence. “I am committed to making our streets safer by tackling the minority of young people who commit serious violence through enforcement, tougher sentencing, and also stronger prevention, sending out a very clear message that it will not be tolerated.”
The funding is part of the government’s one-year extension of its Tackling Knives Action Programme (TKAP). TKAP now works intensively in 15 areas affected by knife crime to reduce the number of knives on the streets, as well as with the British Transport Police.
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National Older Peopleâ€™s Day This special day was celebrated in style at an event organised by plus dane staff at the Union Street Hall in Sandbach. We used the theme of Live Life to the Full, and took the opportunity to celebrate later life and the huge contribution that older people make within their communities. Many of our residents, from the Congleton area and from the Hungerford Road facility for homeless young people, also helped us â€“ in both the planning stages and on the day as helpers. The day included refreshments, line dancing and yoga demonstrations, a show by talented young ukulele player Jordan Pointon-Harding, and much much more. Local police also took part and gave out information leaflets and small anti-theft devices that can be attached to handbags, and Age Concern were on hand with lots of useful information.
Internet goes live! Customers popping into the reception at our Shepherds Mill office in Congleton now have access to a new service - free internet use. Not everyone has a computer at home, so this pilot schemes aims to widen the availability of the internet to our residents. The internet can be used for many different reasons, such as job searches, homework, writing letters, using spreadsheets and for accessing details of available properties in the area. Work can also be printed off at no extra cost.
Princes Park is a winner The annual World in Princes Park event and carnival in Liverpool, which is delivered by plus dane group and its partner Brouhaha International, has scooped two prestigious awards. First it won the Arts and Media Award at the Merseyside Black History Month Awards, and later won the National Association of Neighbourhood Management Local Economy Award for the event that most strengthened the local economy.
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Making the most of y In autumn last year we launched the new Residents’ Academy to help improve the skills and knowledge of our customers. Since then we have delivered three courses which were all well received. They included a course on how to reduce fuel bills and make a positive contribution to the environment; and a day at the Can Cook Will Cook studios in Liverpool as part of an ongoing project. Later in the year, we will be introducing new courses including one to train ‘Tenant Auditors’ to help support us in delivering excellent customer service. People who have taken part in the courses so far have said they found them both enjoyable and useful. We also have some exciting courses coming up for you this spring. Here are some details: Course
Marvellous Meals in Minutes
Do you want to find out how you can cook a low-cost meal for you and your family? If yes, this is the course for you.
DIY Skills for Beginners
Delivered in partnership with B&Q and plus dane’s in house trades team, learn some DIY tips that will have you busy all spring.
Getting Your Views Across
Useful for residents who are involved in service improvement groups who want to build their confidence to contribute more effectively at meetings.
Getting that Money
Useful for community groups who are applying for grants and funding to deliver projects. Learn some simple tips from our experienced in-house team who have a track record of attracting money for community projects.
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our skills Booking your place If you are interested in any of the courses or would like to give us your ideas for new topics we should include in the programme, please contact Emma Sneyd on 01260 281 037 or email email@example.com
We look forward to hearing from you.
Get involved! Working with our disabled customers to shape and improve services Did you know that a significant number of our customers have a long term disability or illness? In July 2009 a Disability Forum was set up to look at how customers and their carers can improve services. We invited a number of residents with a wide range of disabilities and/or long term illnesses to attend. From the start residents were clear they wanted the Forum to bring about change and action and not just become a talking shop. They were keen for the Forum to promote and champion the views of disabled customers across the Group and bring about real outcomes that improve the quality of life. The Forum has been instrumental in shaping the Group’s new Accessible Homes Strategy and agreeing service standards. They provided much needed clarification about disabled adaptations and gave their opinions as to how best this should be presented to customers. Ted Norminton, a member of the group, said: “I have been severely disabled since the age of three but I live a full and interesting life in Cheshire. When I was asked if I would like to help organise this venture, I jumped at the chance. Jackie Perry, Neighbourhood Director and I then began the task of finding enough interested disabled people to help formulate a basic framework to work from. The main thinking behind this endeavour is to allow the disabled in our community to have a say in matters concerning themselves and their daily lives. We do
not expect any preferential treatment but would like to be involved in making our homes as suitable and comfortable as possible.” The Forum will shortly be contributing to the new Equality and Diversity Strategy and will be meeting Phil Pemberton, Director for Repairs and Asset Management, to give their opinions on these service areas. One of the Forum’s priorities is to explore in more detail delivering disability training to our teams so they can be more aware of customers needs when carrying out their day to day duties. The Forum is well supported by a team of staff who are dedicated to working to deliver change. Transport is always offered to members and the meetings are always fun. The Forum is very inclusive and is committed to making sure that everyone has the ability to contribute regardless of their disability. This includes, aids such as large print, information on tape, hearing loops and specific dietary requirements.
If you are interested in hearing more about the Forum, please contact Jackie Perry, Neighbourhood Director on 01260 281 037.
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Focus on allocations We are frequently asked about our allocations policies, and we understand that waiting for a new home, or a transfer, can be a difficult time. Here we look at some of the general guidelines about allocations, but please bear in mind that there will be specific criteria and applications procedures according to where you live. If you have any queries at all, please • Sabrina Sharif contact your local office for clarification. Who is eligible for one of our homes? Anybody can be considered for a property, unless they fall into certain categories. They could include the following:
■ People subject to immigration control ■ People with certain unspent criminal convictions that show they could be a danger to others ■ People who have had action taken against them for antisocial behaviour or a history of ASB within the last two years ■ Arrears, except in certain circumstances ■ People who have left a tenancy with another housing association without giving the correct notice, or knowingly misrepresented their circumstances to try and get a tenancy What criteria do you use for offering homes? To ensure that our homes are allocated fairly and to those in • Debra Lynch a level of housing need, everyone is assessed and given For further priority depending on their housing situation. The things we lookinformation at include: on the Level 2
CIH course, please contact ■ Homelessness, or being Jeff O’Carroll, plusmoved dane from your property ■ Health, welfare and mobility Neighbourhood Engagement ■ Specific need in circumstance such as suffering Officer on 01928 706821, domestic violence or harassment or e mail: ■ Overcrowding firstname.lastname@example.org ■ The condition of your current home
How long will I have to wait? The length of time that you will wait depends on your housing need and that of others on the list. Other factors may include what kind of property you want, and where you have said you want to live. In certain areas there is over-demand and undersupply, so your wait may be longer. You can find out more in our Where Our Homes Are leaflet. The more areas you are willing to consider living in, the more properties may be available to you. Can I get a transfer or swap homes? Yes. If you want to move from your current plus dane home you can request a transfer by contacting us, after set periods of time. Another way of moving is to exchange with another tenant. An exchange is where one tenant agrees to exchange with another, there are certain rules that you have to follow if you want to exchange. To find an exchange partner you can use a free national service called HomeSwapper – you can find details on www.homeswapper.co.uk, or contact us to register if you don’t have access to the internet. Hundreds of people swap homes all over the country each month using Homeswapper. How do I apply? That varies depending on where you live. Here are some general guidelines but please contact us direct with specific queries: Liverpool – use the Property Pool www.propertypool.org.uk After registering you can ‘bid’ on homes offered by a pool of housing providers Sefton – contact us, and Homesearch, on 0845 1401234 Wirral – contact Wirral Homes direct on 0151 691 8040 Cheshire – see opposite article on Cheshire Homechoice Halton – at the moment contact us, but also see article opposite All other areas – contact us direct • Lillian Hazell
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Halton standard for allocating homes Residents in Runcorn and Widnes have been asked how they think social housing should be allocated across the borough. Halton Housing Trust has teamed up with five other housing associations, including plus dane group, who together own the bulk of social rented homes in Halton, to develop a Halton Standard for social housing allocations. The standard, which will set out the landlords’ pledge to customers seeking social housing in the Borough, is being developed in collaboration with residents, statutory and voluntary agencies. The project is part of a scheme launched by the Tenant Services Authority, which regulates social housing in England, aimed at developing local arrangements between landlords and their customers. The draft Halton Allocations Standard can be found at www.haltonhousing.org. A final version of the Halton Allocations Standard document will be published in April. Once the draft standard is agreed, customers will have a simplified and
consistent process to apply for the majority of social rented housing across Halton. Cheshire Homechoice
Resident information pack
This is the name for the new choice-based lettings scheme in Cheshire East. It comes into effect in April, and means that you can apply for properties across the area as long as you are registered. Once registered you will be kept up to date with what properties become available, via the internet and weekly update sheets. You can then express an interest in any properties that are advertised. If you are already on our housing waiting list and have completed and returned the additional information for Cheshire Homechoice, your points will be converted into relevant bandings with Cheshire Homechoice. We have already asked people to fill in a letter providing us with the information we need. It is important that you take action and respond. If the information has not been returned to us you may not be immediately registered for the new scheme when it goes live. Please contact us if you have any issues with this, on 0500 026079.
We have worked with our Customer Communications Group over the past year to develop our new The leaflets and residents information pack. pack will be available in all our offices and This pack is made up of our sheltered schemes a range of leaflets which but if you would like a tell you about the services copy, please contact we provide as well as your us and we will send rights and responsibilities you one. as a tenant.
Heath View Open! Our fantastic new £6m+ extra care facility, Heath View, is now officially open. The ceremony was scheduled to be carried out by a celebrity guest. Heath View’s residents are now settling in to their new homes, and enjoying the facilities on offer. Margaret Barlow, one of the new residents, said: “They are very nice flats. Plus dane have been very helpful with the move along with my family. I am really looking forward to sitting outside in the lovely gardens in the summer.”
Spotlight on health, we Beat the Chill update Plus dane’s annual Beat the Chill campaign took place across Merseyside and Cheshire from November onwards. The campaign is one of the many ways we aim to tackle fuel poverty, by showing customers how they can save money on their energy bills through handy energy-saving tips and advice on fuel tariffs. All customers were sent a booklet packed with information, advice and
recipes, and a series of neighbourhood events were also held which were open to the wider public as well. All staff also made home visits to some customers, delivering goodie bags and checking they were ready for the onset of winter. The campaign was shortlisted for a Tenants Participation Advisory Service Awards 2010 for the northern region, in the Best Practice in Supporting People Award.
Act F.A.S.T We have been asked to remind residents of the signs of stroke, and the need to act quickly if you suspect a stroke has occurred. These are the signs to look out for:
F: Face – has their face fallen on one side? Can they smile? A: Arms – can they raise both arms and keep them there? S: Speech – is their speech slurred? T: Time – time to call 999 if you see any single one of these signs
Dogs – some guidance
We would just like to remind our customers of our policies on dogs. We know that most dogs are friendly, harmless pets, but sometimes, that is not the case. Under your Tenancy Agreement, all dogs must be kept under control at all times. We have a zero tolerance policy to dangerous dogs.
llbeing and safety C Difficile – what you need to know What is C difficile? Commonly known as C diff, it is a type of bacteria (germ) that can live in human gut. About 5% of the population have C diff in the gut and it causes them no harm. For others the infection causes diarrhoea, which can be mild to severe. C diff produces things called spores, which are resistant to heat, cold, dryness and moisture. Spores cause C diff infection in other people when items are touched and the spores are swallowed. To avoid this careful hand washing will remove spores. How does C diff cause an infection? When we take lots of antibiotics, especially those that are used to treat a wide variety of infections (known as ‘broad spectrum’ antibiotics) the protection of the ‘friendly’ bacteria of the gut is lost. The antibiotics can suppress the protection of the friendly bacteria and C diff then takes over. The C diff then produces a toxin that affects the bowel wall. The bowel wall becomes inflamed and diarrhoea results. However, it is important to remember that if you have an infection and have been prescribed antibiotics, it is safe to take them. What can I do to protect myself from C diff infection?
We’d also ask that you consider our staff when they are visiting you – not all of them may be dog lovers, and some may even be afraid. Others may be dealing with health issues such as asthma and allergies. Please be aware of these potential issues, and respect the needs of our staff when they are in your home.
■ Wash your hands frequently with soap and water – alcohol hand gel doesn’t work against C difficile! ■ Always wash your hands before preparing or eating food, having a drink or taking medication; ■ Always wash your hands after using the toilet and after doing jobs like cleaning; ■ Maintain a good standard of cleanliness in your home; ■ Avoid sharing personal care items such as towels and facecloths; ■ Use normal household products for cleaning and vacuum carpets so that your home is dust free. For more information contact your local Primary Care Trust (PCT).
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Work starts on
Village Square, Castlefields Work has started to build an exciting new local centre for Castlefields. The £11M Village Square development supports the wider regeneration of Castlefields – making it a great place to live, work, shop, learn and play. This major development will include: ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■
New shops A new community centre A new health centre 25 new apartments Improved transport facilities A new public square
Plus dane group is the lead developer for the new Village Square, working with Cruden Construction to build Halton Borough Council’s new community centre, new shops, 25 new apartments and more new homes next to Muncaster Court. Renova Developments Ltd will work with the local PCT and their contractor Galliford Try to build a new GP surgery and health centre, providing a wide range of health and well-being services.
Claire Griffiths, Interim Managing Director (Development) for plus dane group, said: “The Castlefields Regeneration partnership has already delivered significant results, hugely improving housing choice for residents. The Village Square development will provide excellent local facilities at the heart of the community, based on what residents have told us they want for their neighbourhood. This is a really exciting project for us as it brings together shops, new homes, a new public square and improved transport links.” This project is funded by Halton Borough Council, the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), plus dane group, WREN and Renova Developments Ltd. The £11M project has received Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) grant of over £3M. The new Village Square development is due to be completed in 2011.
Kirkby Update Plus dane group owns and manages a small number of properties in Kirkby, which would have been affected by the regeneration proposals for the area known as Destination Kirkby. The Destination Kirkby proposals were rejected by the Secretary of State in November 2009. Knowsley Borough Council, Tesco and its partners are now reviewing the reasons for this decision, looking to develop revised proposals. We are working with our customers and other partners in Kirkby to ensure residents benefit from any revised proposals. We will continue to consult with our local residents as these plans develop, and keep them fully updated on what is happening. In Kirkby, we have developed a specific Neighbourhood Investment and Influence Plan (NIIP) in conjunction with local people and partners. The plan is based on our seven neighbourhood promises and includes commitments to increase resident involvement, create job opportunities, and to bring all homes up to the government’s Decent Homes standard by 2012. For further information contact Nicola Andrews on 0151 522 1327 mobile: 07976 820 607 e mail: email@example.com
This edition we hear from Sandra Millett, one of our very active plus dane customers. Sandra has been a resident of ours for seven years, and her activities have involved sitting on our Hornby forum, the financial engagement group and providing support to UNiTY and our other publications through our editorial group. Sandra is also an essential member of our website project group, helping plus dane communicate effectively. “As well as all of my work with plus dane, I am also involved with a place called The Basement in Liverpool that works with homeless people. It supports people who sometimes struggle to get the help they need, like getting places at hostels, finding a GP, getting help from social services or housing, and help with addictions. There is a counselor and the staff also do work on things like confidence building, helping give people back their dignity and self-respect. They can also do practical things like cook a meal, have a shower and do some laundry. We get up to 50 homeless people there per evening. We don’t have places for them to sleep but they can call in just for a chat and a hot drink, and if we have any clothes or sleeping bags then we give them out. I first got involved with the centre when I was on a course I took part in through plus dane, by the Chartered Institute
of Housing. I found homeless people come from all types of backgrounds, doctors, solicitors, teachers you could go on. Some find themselves homeless because of marriage breakdowns and just go off the rails. It can happen to anyone. Many homeless people have a drink problem they would prefer to buy alcohol than food. I never realized that people lived like this in our city, I was in my own little bubble and went on my way as most people do, thinking that these people are on the streets because they are lazy no goods. But these homeless people are someone’s mother, father, brother, sister, it could happen to us all. I never walk past the homeless people anymore - they have just been unlucky. My Church St Cyprians help the Basement a lot. The Vicar Rev. Michael Coates likes to go down to the Basement to talk to them.The guys like to ask how their day went. So I hope people don’t just walk past in future.” You can find out more about The Basement at www.basementdropin.org.uk They are always looking for donations of blankets and warm clothes.
Would you lik e to Have Your S ay? If anythin g has made yo u mad, sad o r happy, made you cry or made you sm ile, and you’d like to share it – just let u s know. And d on’t worry a b out the writing p art – if you prefer, you c an just talk u s through you r ideas and w e will do the re st!
Eco-homes for Bootle residents A £2.7m development of eco-friendly homes for older people has begun in the Bootle area of Merseyside. The 24 new apartments are being developed in the Queens Bedford neighbourhood by plus dane group, a partner in Evolve Neighbourhood Regeneration.
The apartments should be ready for residents to move into later this year.
Oriel Road will also meet Level 3 of the government’s Code for Sustainable Homes – another first for this neighbourhood. This means that the homes are eco-friendly, cheaper to run and more sustainable for the long-term.
For further information about this development and the wider choice of homes in the Evolve neighbourhood, including Rentto-Buy and shared ownership options, contact Evolve on 0151 286 5555 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
We use our Green Pages to show you some of the ways we are working to make ourselves a cleaner, greener world. You can find stories about how we are tackling environmental issues in the way we work with residents. If you have any ideas, or anything you’d like to see here, let us know.
Jack Costello, Chair of the Evolve Residents Advisory The Oriel Road development Panel, told us: “I’m delighted will provide high quality, with this great news for older affordable rented residents. The new homes at accommodation for people Regency Park nearby have set a over the age of 55. Local people very high standard already and have said they want this type this development will further of housing, and this is the enhance our neighbourhood. I first such development for imagine people will be queuing the Queens Bedford up to live in this area.” neighbourhood. The apartments will be allocated Plus dane group has secured to people registered with Sefton more than £1.5m funding Homesearch. To register on from the Homes and Sefton Homesearch, call Communities Agency (HCA) 0845 140 1234 or e-mail to deliver this project. email@example.com
Garden In each edition of UNiTY, we will be featuring gardening tips - some from residents, some from staff, but all with an expert view to offer! This time round, many thanks to Alsager resident Hazel Kane, a keen gardener known by many for her green fingers. "Now that we are all recovering from the freezing weather we should look forward to a better spring and summer, so hopefully you have remembered to clean and tidy those greenhouses, read your seed and plant catalogues and sent your orders in so plants can arrive soon. Don't be in a rush to plant out, remember we could still get frosty nights. Keep them covered in the greenhouse or wherever with some fleece or even newspapers. We can now start some of the outside jobs, but remember there is more than one day to do them in, don't strain yourselves so you cannot enjoy your gardens or allotments. One of these outside jobs is with a spring tyne rake, begin to remove dead thatch
A warm welcome for Michael Michael Meakin of Sandbach recently said goodbye to his old coal fire – and hello to a brand new heating system. The new system installed into his 2-bedroomed terrace was a Mitsubishi Eco Dan air-sourced heat pump. The system not only provides a much warmer home, but so far has been cheaper to run.
ing tips and top rubbish from your lawn,spread it over a couple of days then if needed fork the ground and apply some sandy compost to it and work it in. If you have plenty of pots that are full of bulbs they can also be tidied up, loosen the soil top and water gently, then after another week or so apply a little fertiliser to the pots and water well. They are just like us, they need feeding and watering to get the best out of them. Early April if necessary you can repair bare patches in your lawns by applying some grass seed, remember you will need to protect it from hungry birds so put some criss-crossed cotton thread or string across the grass. Some of your shrubs will also need a bit of tidying and possibly pruning and again don't forget to feed them to get them going. After that you can sit and enjoy your labours knowing you've done a good job, enjoy your tea /coffee or even a beer. Enjoy your garden."
Mr Meakin said: “The old coal fire was very messy and also didn’t really warm the place up. The main difference I’ve noticed is how lovely and warm it is in the house. I also noticed from the first bill I had after it was installed that it was extremely economical, and also I don’t have to buy logs and coal any more. “Especially with the really cold weather we’ve had recently, I was delighted with it. I also can’t speak highly enough of the team from plus dane who installed the system for me – I was kept well informed all the way through, and the standard of workmanship was exceptional. It’s made a real difference to my life.” Energy efficiency and fighting fuel poverty are at the heart of plus dane’s work. We were treble finalists in 2009’s Sustainable Housing Awards, and our Eco Leaders Group continues to develop our green agenda.
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Customer Feedback We value your views and would like to hear what you think of the services we provide to you. We will use the feedback you give us to shape and improve the services that we provide. Here are some examples of how we have done this recently.
There was a delay with my repair because you had to get a specialist locking mechanism which is made in Sweden.
We are working closely with our Development team to make sure that for future new build schemes, we try and source local parts to make sure these delays donâ€™t happen in the future.
It took you too long to repair the intercom system at the scheme I live in.
We are looking to appoint a specialist contractor for all of our intercom systems. It is expected that this approach will ensure speedier resolution in the future.
When you carry out works to empty homes at weekend it can be really disruptive to neighbours.
We have asked our contractors and trades team to contact neighbours where works will be completed out of normal working hours to discuss any concerns.
I think that you could improve your anti social behaviour letters.
As part of our Make A Difference Team, we are reviewing our anti social behaviour letters with customers.
I waited for a contractor there was a knock but when I got to the door no one was there.
We have increased information on call logs to improve tradesperson access arrangements.
I was told I would receive central heating this year but do not have a gas supply, what is taking so long?
We have recently introduced a new procedure which provides us with the facility to apply for supplies on line with a response time from the supplier of 7 days.
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customer feedback received
We value your views and would like to hear what you think of the services we provide to you. There are a range of ways which you can give us feedback including:
■ Visiting one of our offices; ■ Calling our free phone number 0800 169 2988; ■ Emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org; ■ Completing the form at the back of our customer feedback leaflet; ■ Writing to us; ■ Speaking to a member of staff; ■ You can also choose to have someone else feedback on your behalf such as a councillors & MPs. Please ask if you need us to help you give feedback.
compliments “Thanked for our assistance with helping tenant switch energy suppliers and dealing with debts after the separation from partner along with the budgeting work.”
“I receive the Refugee Support Service and would like to thank the team for all the help my family and I have received.”
“My neighbour and I would like to say a big heartfelt thank you to Plus Dane for showing concern to their tenants during the recent bad weather, asking the tenants did they have plenty of heating and delivering small food parcels to those who could not go out. What great landlords we have.”
“From start to finish the service the Handyperson gave exceeded anything we had ever had from other housing associations and feel confident that this level of service would be so beneficial to maintaining the tenancy.”
Winter events snapshots It might seem like a long time ago now that the tree has gone and the decorations have been packed away for another year, but there were some fabulous Christmas and Winter events organized across plus dane neighbourhoods in Merseyside and Cheshire. Sampson our Neighbourhood Hero penguin – sponsored as part of the Go Penguins public art project in Liverpool – was out and about in the city through the winter, and has now taken up his new home at Shepherd’s Mill. Here we show you a selection of pictures which capture those magical moments, as you enjoyed parties, events, craft workshops and the delivery of Christmas trees from our construction partner Cruden.
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Young people from plus dane’s Hungerford Road facility took part in a DVD about homelessness – and also attended the premiere in style! The DVD was produced by Connexions - Cheshire and Warrington to tackle the issues of homelessness in Cheshire East. It was created as part of an ongoing project that involved a number of young people from the Crewe Area. The premiere took place at The Reel Cinema in Crewe. The DVD is part of a project that was designed as a preventative measure that would work to inform and educate young people about homelessness and arm them with the facts before they make the decision to leave home. This was developed after an increase in the number of young people who left home and believed that they would automatically receive alternative accommodation was noticed by staff at The HUB @ Connexions in Crewe. Re-education and prevention was the aim. The DVD was created entirely by the young people, from concept through to completion. They worked with a video company and began by creating a storyline using story boards, they chose people to interview and worked on the sound, lighting and filming as well as taking the roles of the characters. The DVD is a very powerful resource and will now sit as part of the teaching pack that can be used to educate hundreds of young people across Cheshire East. Lucinda Booth, 20, said: “It has been a great way for people to listen, to educate and to prevent homelessness.” Carla Luke, 19, said: “It gave me a great sense of worth helped me improve my confidence. Without the plus dane group providing Hungerford Road supported accommodation unit we may not have achieved what we have or would not be where we are today.” Latara Philips, 20, added: “Young people get bad press so it’s great to show that we are not all bad and no good! We are really proud to be able to help other young vulnerable people who may find them selves in need. We feel really proud of what we have achieved and amazed that all the schools will be using them as a tool to break down barriers and help them understand homelessness.” Also from Hungerford Road, 17-year-old Carissa Tossell was a special guest on Parliament TV down in London – another example of what our young people are capable of achieving.
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The Evolve RAP (Residents Advisory Panel) and the Evolve Youth Forum were jointly awarded a Sefton Community Champions Award in recognition of their intergenerational work. The award was in recognition of the recently produced Evolve DVD, which reflects the Evolve (Bootle) neighbourhood’s past, present & future – and really promotes the positive message of how neighbourhood management led by community members and groups has enhanced the area into a neighbourhood fit for the future and for future generations! Barbara Rouse, Vice Chair of the RAP and Chris Yates, long established member of the Youth Forum, received the award on behalf of Evolve and were delighted with the honour. The DVD features interviews with local residents of all ages, sharing their memories of the area, and also many interviews with local young people about what makes their neighbourhood somewhere to be proud of. Many of the interviews were conducted by members of the Youth Forum.
A tribute to Dorothy All at plus dane were saddened to hear of the recent death of Dorothy Barnett. Dorothy was a committed friend and supporter of the group, and well-respected within the wider Congleton community. She was a former Congleton Town Mayor, and was also honoured as a Town Burgess in 1996, which gave her the freedom of the borough. Mike Doran, Managing Director for Cheshire and Staffs, said: “We were very sad to hear the news of Dorothy’s passing. She has been a Board member and Chair of the Tenants’ Federation since stock transfer 11 years ago. Dorothy was very active on behalf of Dane and then plus dane tenants over many years and will be sadly missed. One of Dorothy’s passions was the development of our services to older people and she was immensely proud of the work we were doing to improve our sheltered accommodation.” John Pollard, Chairman of the plus dane group Board, added: “Dorothy and I were both Councillors and served together on Congleton Town Council for a number of years. She was also involved with what was then Dane Housing, and was always a great stalwart of the organisation. She always looked out for residents’ interests and was passionate and committed in everything she did. She will be sorely missed.”
News from you... In this section, we bring news from you, our customers. If you have anything you would like to share with your neighbours, friends and other members of the plus dane community, please let us know. We’d love to hear all about your birthdays, anniversaries, achievements or special events.
Childcare with a difference Plus dane resident Leesa Bradshaw has launched her own business – childcare with a twist! Leesa had noticed, from her own experience as a working mum, that it was difficult to find childcare when working unsociable hours such as evenings or weekends. Having already gained childcare qualifications and having worked as a teaching assistant in schools, she decided to give it a go and started Little Orange Lizards. She says: “Childcare is usually easy enough to find during normal working hours, but lots of mums and dads have jobs that aren’t in normal working hours – for example night shifts, or weekend working. Obviously it’s impossible to work if you can’t leave your
children in safe hands, and I’d found it really frustrating myself. “So now I offer a service where I will care for children in the daytime, or evenings, at weekends or even overnight if required. Once I’d had all the necessary checks done I started, and so far it’s going really well. I love spending time with children, and hopefully by offering this, it will allow other parents to expand their working lives or take up jobs they previously wouldn’t have been able to manage.”
Leesa, who lives in Widnes, can be contacted on 0151 424 2152 or 07527 418144. Her e-mail address is email@example.com
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Congratulations! Congratulations to Chris Harrison, Chairman of the Halton Neighbourhood Panel and Castlefields resident, and Board members Betty Dunderdale and Fatima Ali, for passing the Chartered Institute of Housing Level 3 qualification. This is a demanding course so well done to all of them.
Farewell to Frank Frank Peake, 90-year-old resident of St James Court in Congleton, sadly passed away in November last year. Frank was a well-loved character, who was known for riding his pushbike all over the area into his late 80s. His son, Gerald, said: “He used to have a 1957 Royal Enfield 150cc motorbike called Fred that took us all over the place. Dad had friends far and wide and one of the means of getting to them was on his bike. The last one was a shopper-type with small wheels, but he didn’t let that stop him. That bike went to places I’ve never even heard of!” Frank also wrote a poem for UNiTY about his experiences of living in St James Court, which we are reproducing here:
New worklessness pilots Plus dane group recently established two new worklessness pilots to support tenants and residents into education, training and employment in the Everton and Liverpool 8 areas. The latter scheme will run for 12 months and focus on the Windermere Green area of Princes Park Ward in Liverpool 8. Ian Brereton from the Liverpool City Council Streets Ahead Team is based in the Park Road office and can be contacted on 08001692988. Ian has specialist knowledge of the local labour market and of the employment sectors operating in the Liverpool 8 area. The Everton Ways to Work pilot is in conjunction with Job Centre Plus and will be providing named officers for all housing associations to work with. The officers will be based within the housing associations where possible, in addition to a range of community venues. Contact Paula Thompson on 01519554286 for details. Both services will provide a wide package of support for local people.
‘A’ for Older Persons Service Congratulations to the Older Persons Service in Cheshire, who were recently awarded an A grade after an inspection by Cheshire East’s Supporting People team. The Older Persons Team provides support to any older or vulnerable person before they become a resident and thereafter. The team identifies their needs and coordinates any services they may need, for example in health, care, adaptation or the use of a handyperson service. The aim is to keep residents as independent as possible in their home. The inspection gave the service As throughout, and said excellent feedback had been received from service users. Hilary Birks, Service Manager, also paid tribute to customers who have helped shape the service as part of the Older Persons Strategic Group.
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Gas checks – why they are important
Plus dane group operates a gas appliance safety check and service programme. In the interests of your own safety, it is important that we are allowed access to your property to check the gas supply, gas appliances and any associated chimney or flue systems within your home. We are concerned that some customers are not giving us the access we need and in some cases, the checks might be overdue. Plus dane customers can check this by looking at the yellow copy of the landlord’s gas safety certificate, which was issued to every customer at the time of the last check. Please note that this is a legal requirement – and vital for the safety of yourselves and others. If you think you smell gas or fumes, act immediately: ■ Turn off the gas supply at the valve adjacent to your meter, unless it is in a cellar or confined space where there is also a smell – in which case vacate the premises; ■ Turn off appliances suspected of having a gas escape or emitting fumes; ■ Open doors and windows; ■ Do not smoke or use a naked flame, mobile phone or any other potential means of ignition; ■ Do not turn electrical switches or appliances on or off ■ Do not use any door entry system, open manually. You can call the National Gas Emergency Freephone on 0800 111 999. The Gas Emergency Service will dispatch a trained operative, and you will not be charged for the visit. Do not re-open the gas supply again until action has been taken by a Gas Safe registered person. If the Gas Emergency Service disconnects or turns off your supply or any appliances, contact us and we will arrange for a member of our Gas Services Team to carry out and remedial work needed.
Always check the identity of anybody calling at your home, either for a gas service visit or an emergency visit – all registered operatives will carry clear identity cards.
Here are just a few of the services they aim to provide:
■ Working to prevent homelessness; ■ A range of support services which enable our customers to develop life skills to live independently; ■ We aim to improve access to health care and reduce hospital admissions; ■ Improving opportunities for independent living and community involvement for vulnerable people and their families. The teams do this in a variety of ways, working closely with their customers and other agencies to try and provide them with the support they need. We provide high-quality homeless accommodation, for single people and families, including facilities for children that have been praised by the national charity Action for Children. Hungerford Road in Crewe and Anne Conway House in Liverpool both offer fantastic support for young people facing homelessness, helping them to move on and live independently. We also offer accommodation and support services for high risk/high need people, including working with ex-offenders to give them a fresh start. Another way we help is to support our customers through a Tenancy Support Service – giving them the help they need to keep their tenancies and the security of their own homes in often difficult circumstances.
Sharon Smith, Supported Housing Manager in Cheshire, said: “We all feel we are making a difference in the communities we serve in so many ways. Our standards are excellent and are not matched in our area - we set the bar for other providers. The rigorous inspection in November 09 by our funders Supporting People endorsed this. We received straight As across all support & accommodation inspected areas for all of our services.” John Foster, Manager for Services to Older People and Families in Merseyside, said: “We offer support to the people who need it most – young people, people facing homelessness, people involved in anti-social behaviour, ex-offenders, and anybody in need. By supporting these people, either through services, accommodation or a package of both, we are not only helping them as individuals, but the neighbourhoods they live in. “The whole team here is incredibly committed to what they do. They always show resilience and compassion, even in sometimes very difficult situations, working together to achieve the best outcome for the people we are trying to help. We have been awarded two major new contracts this year, offering support to young people who are ex-offenders, and to people who need support to live independently in their own homes.”
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Meet the team... Supported Housing
Our Supported Housing teams across Merseyside and Cheshire play a vital role within our organisation.
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We told you in the last edition that we are currently reviewing our Equality and Diversity Strategy, and are looking for customers to get involved and tell us what they think about the services we deliver to different groups. We serve a diverse range of customers, neighbourhoods and staff who have different needs and aspirations. It is important that through the strategy we understand the needs of each group so we can deliver services appropriate to them. We also want to use it to promote equality of opportunity, community cohesion and eliminate unfair and unlawful discrimination. Our vision for diversity is one where our customers and staff have an equal chance to access our services regardless of their: ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■
Ethnicity; Disability; Gender; Transgender status; Age; Religion or faith; Sexuality.
If you are interested in telling us your views or becoming involved in shaping the strategy, why not contact us? For further information contact Claire Ryan on 0151 330 3497 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Security project in Kensington A joint project between plus dane group, Kensington New Deal police and contractors Crudens has promoted greater feelings of security for elderly and vulnerable residents in the area. Extra security devices such as locks, bolts and spyholes were provided by the police, and Crudens will be installing them free of charge. They have also offered to hold workshops for residents to help them with minor household maintenance issues. So far the project has received great feedback from local people.
In your neighbourhood....
Alsager Alsager is a market town in Congleton, and has seven distinct areas – Radway, Cedar Avenue, Town Centre, Linley, Lyname, Hall Drive and Cranberry Lane. It also incorporates the rural villages of Mow Cop, Scholar Green, Church Lawton, Rode Heath and Mount Pleasant. A Neighbourhood Influence and Investment Plan has been drawn up for Alsager which looks at some of the ways we plan to make Alsager a better place to live. The plan involves us delivering more than £2m of improvements in Alsager between 2009-11. The improvements can range from the physical – such as new bathrooms, rewiring and heating in our properties – to running a range of programmes designed to bring the community together and enhance neighbourhood spirit. A new neighbourhood office will also be opening in Alsager, at Grove Court on the Radway estate, which was initially built for workers in the nearby Radway Green munitions factory.
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Some of the activities and achievements in the Alsager area include: ■ Streetsafe projects with the police and other
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Lynda Doukanaris, Neighbourhood Housing Officer for Alsager, said: “I am really excited about opening the office and hope that it becomes the hub of the neighbourhood, where tenants and residents feel they can come and discuss issues, or indeed just to drop in for a chat to discuss ideas and share good news – or bad! It also means I am on hand to deal with things more quickly, and I can work on continuity of the partnership working I have with the police and social services. “Radway is a lovely place to work, there is a wide range of people and whilst it does have a few challenges, in the main people are friendly and helpful and hard working and always ready to share a joke. I am certainly looking forward to the challenges of 2010.” Lynda is also looking forward to working with local children, adults and the town council to develop a new play scheme in the area, which was recently given a grant. Another major project will be
partners, where we visit homes in the area carrying out checks on and fire alarms and other home issues; Delivering an expert patient programme for 15 residents, plus other residents who are not our tenants. This has now evolved into a healthy lifestyles group; A summer hog roast for isolated residents at Dennis Round Court, and supporting the court’s Social Committee to deliver more events; Setting up a walking group for elderly residents from Alsager in conjunction with Age Concern; Healthy taster sessions for elderly residents in Alsager; Family Sports Day for families delivered in the Radway area; Winter Carol Service for vulnerable residents who live on the Radway.
working on the back garden areas of the flats in the courts that have historically been a problem, and looking for creative solutions.
If you would like to contact Lynda at all, sh e is on 07795 395 433, or lynda.doukan aris @neighbourhoo dinvestor.com
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We have two competitions in this edition of UNiTY – one, the word search, is more suitable for young people. The other is open to all. In both cases you can win a £20 voucher – so get puzzling! Please send your entries in to us by Friday 23 April to be in with a chance of winning.
Photo-spot: can you spot the famous world landmark that we have pictured here? Parts of it are blocked out so it’s not too easy! Word search: see if you can find the following in our word search:
U B Y
This document is available in other languages, on audio format, in large print or in Braille by request.
Contact us! If you have any comments about UNiTY magazine, please let us know - if you like it, tell us why, if not, tell us how we can make it better. 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: Call our Communications Team on 0151 708 4653, or write to us via Debbie Johnson, Communications Team, plus dane group, Baltimore Buildings, 13-15 Rodney Street, Liverpool L1 9EF - this is also the address to send competition entries to.
Plus dane group Baltimore Buildings 13-15 Rodney Street Liverpool L1 9EF t: 0151 708 0674
Plus dane group Shepherds Mill Worrall Street Congleton Cheshire CW12 1DT t: 01260 281037
You can e-mail us at: email@example.com
www.neighbourhoodinvestor.com ©2010 - This publication has been written & designed by plus dane group’s Knowledge, Innovation & Performance Team working alongside the Customer Communications Focus Panel