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A year on life in Gretton p18

Competition winner

The benefits of online banking

Meet the 8 year old winner of our Winter Wonderland competition

p16

p24

Win a ÂŁ20 shopping voucher p28

NEWS

welfare reform

NEW homes

repairs

community spirit

get involved

FOCUS ON

competitions


welcome

Welcome to 24/Severn It’s not known for certain how April got its name. Some believe it comes from the Latin word ‘aperie’ meaning ‘to open’. Makes sense, as it is the time of year when trees and flowers begin to open and bloom. What doors have you opened this year? Perhaps your new skills following our Skills 4 U training programme have opened new opportunities for work, or re-lighted an old hobby? Or you’ve opened an email account and now communicate with your friends and family online at our free computer café sessions? Whatever you have been busy doing, it is never too late to learn new tricks.

Win £20 shopping voucher Turn to the back cover and check out our competitions to win some fantastic prizes, including a £20 high street voucher.

Tel: 01684 272727 Email: info@svhs.org.uk Web: www.svhs.org.uk

8.30am – 5.00pm Monday to Thursday 8.30am – 4.30pm Friday

Follow us on Facebook:

www.facebook.com/severnvalehousing 2

How will your garden grow? With silver bells, and cockle shells? It’s that time of year again to open up your packets of seeds. However you choose to display your flora be sure to enter our gardening competition.

Opening times

Shannon Way, Ashchurch, Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, GL20 8ND

PAY YOUR RENT ONline www.svhs.org.uk

We were really excited to open a letter saying we’d been shortlisted to win an award for our Annual Report last year. Remember it? It’s the one with all the infographic images. This is thanks to our customers who were involved in producing and designing the report.

We’ve been busy calling you to talk about the benefit changes starting this month. Don’t be an April fool and get caught out. If you’re being affected, talk to us. By preparing early you can plan ahead to prevent being stung by the benefit bee. You can read more about how one of our customers, Christine (page 6) has moved house to reduce the impact of bedroom tax.

Get in touch

Out of hours Report an emergency repair on 0800 783 4348 Pay your rent on the AllPay automated payment line on 0844 557 8321

There are some new categories this year, meaning you have even more chances of winning. Check out page 22 for details on how to enter. Or if you’re more of a crop than flowers person, head down to the Edible Garden in Tewkesbury, and learn how to grow your own veg and adopt some growing space. I’ll be heading down there myself as I really want to start my own vegetable patch.

We’ll be back in the summer with some fun ideas on things to get up to. Our doors are always open, so if you would like to get involved or have an idea for your community then pop in. And don’t forget when you close one door another one always opens…

Kate Calladene Community Involvement Manager Tel: 01684 272727 Email: editorial.panel@svhs.org.uk

Large print or audio version If you or anyone you know would like this publication translated into another language, in large type or audio format please contact us on 01684 272727.


NEWS roundup

Get online at home for a price you can afford! SVHS has teamed up with Stone Computers to create a special offer for SVHS customers. By using the code STONESVHS you can now buy your own desktop computer from as little as £100, or laptop for £175.* Professionally refurbished and internet ready, this offer also includes a 12 month warranty, Windows 7 and all the basic software you need to get started, as well as after sales support. Customers in receipt of certain benefits can also

Phone results You may remember reading in the last issue of 24/Severn we’ve recently updated our phone system, ensuring you get to the right person in the shortest time possible. We’re pleased to announce the new system has proved a success with a reduction in abandon rate (number of callers hanging up). In January 2013 the abandon rate was 6.9%, the lowest it’s ever been, compared with 25% in 2010! So next time you call SVHS make sure you use the menu options to reduce your queuing time. Let us know what you think of the telephone service by emailing editorial.panel@svhs.org.uk or call 01684 272727.

Focus group feedback Back in autumn last year we held four customer focus groups to gather feedback and discuss issues that affect specific groups (disability, homeowners and BME). It was great to meet over 50 customers and discuss the repairs service and ways in which we can improve communication. The next focus groups will take place during the summer so get in touch with the Community Involvement Team on 01684 272726 if you’d like to attend.

have Microsoft Office Basic software pre-installed on their computer, for no additional cost. Worried about getting the computer set-up for the first time? For an extra £50 Stone Computers will install the equipment so it’s ready to go! Interested? Call Stone Computers on 08448 22 11 22, ext 2129. *Prices shown for customers in receipt of certain benefits. Offer for those not on benefits - desktop £135 or laptop £190.

TPAS award Severn Vale Housing has cause to celebrate this month, having been shortlisted for the TPAS (Tenant Participation Advisory Service) award for Excellence in Annual Reports. Due to increased customer involvement and creative thinking, our annual report looked very different last year. The design took complex information and turned it into an appealing, customer friendly performance review. The cost saving also allowed for an

extra issue of 24/Severn, providing more opportunities for customers to get involved. The TPAS Southern Awards Final took place in March and although we didn’t win the award we’re extremely proud to be shortlisted. A big thank you to those customers who assisted with the annual report, by providing valuable feedback.

Affordable warmth In the autumn issue of 24/Severn we asked for volunteers to take part in a project to help make energy bills more affordable. We’re pleased to say that 15 households have now been contacted by the Planned Maintenance Team and are currently in discussions regarding their trial products, and methods of monitoring changes in energy usage. To find out more, contact the Community Involvement Team on 01684 272726.

Art attack Congratulations to residents from Pullar Court and Spring Gardens who were recognised by the Elderly Accommodation Counsel for their entries to the Art Awards 2013. Residents were highly commended for their efforts, in particular Anita Harrison who entered a painting of Donnie, one of the SVHS repairs team (see right).

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NEWS roundup

complaints

Mystery shoppers spy on SVHS To ensure we are keeping to our service standards and delivering services in line with SVHS policies and procedures, we’ve trained 10 customers who act as mystery shoppers.

If you’re affected by our services we encourage you to let us know how we’re doing. Good, bad or indifferent, your feedback helps us to improve.

Each shopper carries out a number of shops per quarter on members of staff covering areas such as repairs, tenancy issues, rents and data protection, carried out by email, phone, letter or in person.

Between April and December 2012 we received 122 complaints. 73 (60%) were responded to within our target time of 5 days and 72 (59%) complaints the panel partially or fully agreed with the complainant, providing feedback on how we deal with complaints in the future. Over the coming months we will be focusing on improving our response time and learning from feedback gained from the panel. We’re also working with customers to improve the information we provide regarding our complaints performance.

Here are the results from August 2012 to January 2013 (21 shops):

100%

of shoppers found the staff dealing with their query to be polite

100% 100%

93%

were either very satisfied (33%) or satisfied (67%) with the level of customer care they received

of shoppers found the information they were provided with to be clear and easy to understand

92%

of website shops received a response within our five working day service standard & were given a full response

of shoppers felt that the member of staff gave them confidence in the information they provided

35%

of shoppers felt that staff exceeded their expectations

Earlier this year we became the first housing association in Gloucestershire to join the Chartered Institute of Housing Complaints Charter. The Charter sets out commitments for landlords to produce effective complaint handling and allows us to benchmark against others.

Areas OF improvement: 1) Calls need to be answered quicker

2) Response to voicemail

Telephone workgroups have now been created which help customers to go straight through to the relevant team, by-passing the switchboard. We’re currently meeting our target to answer 85% of calls within 10 seconds.

Voicemails are now escalated to line managers if they are not listened to within 12 hours.

3) Confidence in staff response to query Staff are reminded to ensure they have the correct information before informing customers.

How are we doing?

February 2013

Repairs

4

97%

of you were satisfied with us overall

Lettings

1012 jobs 100% 75% 94%

If you have a complaint, or would like to join the complaints focus group, get in touch with Darren Knight on 01684 272727 or email darren.knight@svhs.org.uk

were completed, 927 of these by the in-house repairs team and 85 by contractors.

of emergency jobs were completed on time (Target = 100%) of urgent jobs were completed on time (Target = 96%) of routine jobs were completed on time (Target = 96%)

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20 days

to re-let a home (Target = 25 days)

Anti-social behaviour

83% 67%

of you were satisfied with the way anti-social behaviour complaints were dealt with (Target = 80%) of you were satisfied with the outcome of the antisocial behaviour case (Target = 80%)


meet the team

Andy and Dave, members of the Void team

Tell us which member of our team you’d like to meet in the next issue by calling 01684 272727 or email editorial.panel@svhs.org.uk

“I’m a methodical person so I quite enjoy working by myself and planning out the tasks, although some days it would be great to have an extra pair of hands!”

As a Void Supervisor Rob is responsible for properties as they become vacant ensuring they are at a good standard before the next tenants move in. These empty properties are known as voids. The void process begins and ends with an inspection which is essential to assess the condition of the property. A schedule of work is then created followed by a final check that everything has been completed. “Work will be scheduled and given a target date depending on the state in which the property is left, which can vary greatly.” explains Rob. “If the condition is good then only a safety check and clean will be required, however if there has been damage, or following a flood for example, major work will be needed to ensure it’s suitable to re-let to another customer.”

READY, STEADY, GO! “The clock starts ticking from the moment the keys are handed over to me, and stops when I hand them back to lettings. “We very rarely know the state of the inside of the property inside before our visit so it’s anyone’s guess what we’ll be walking into!

Meet the team Rob Freeman: Void Supervisor One property that sticks out amongst the many actually looked like someone was still living there. It was full of furniture, food in the cupboards, clothes in the wardrobe and even a cup of tea on the side!”

“It’s always disappointing to see the state that some of our properties are left in.” HALF A MILLION POUNDS “It’s always disappointing to see the state that some of our properties are left in. Smashed doors, broken floor boards, filthy dirty bathrooms…it all takes money to repair. We document the state of the property with photographs as evidence and recharge work where possible.” It costs an average of £1,700 to bring a property back to re-letting standard, so with over 300 void properties a year that’s half a million pounds!

Rob started at SVHS over 14 years ago, initially as part of the repairs team, progressing to Inspector and Repairs Supervisor, before moving to his current position. He manages a team of seven multi-skilled workmen who are responsible for the work carried out in void properties. Dan, one of the void team, has recently been working in Northway to prepare a void property. He’s the newest member of the team, joining SVHS two years ago from a similar job at Bromford Homes. Due to the condition this property was left in I’ve been here for three weeks, carrying out a variety of tasks to ensure it’s a good standard for the next tenant. I’ve fitted five new doors, retiled the bathroom, replaced the fireplace and decorated throughout,” explains Dan. “I’m a methodical person so I quite enjoy working by myself and planning out the tasks, although some days it would be great to have an extra pair of hands!” “It’s great to see the transformation from an unhabitable property into a family home again”, explains Andy, another member of the Void Team. report a repair ONline www.svhs.org.uk

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welfare reform

Benefit changes - will you be affected? The benefit changes are here. If you have a spare room in you home you may have noticed your housing benefits have been cut. This is because the Government has introduced a bedroom tax, meaning you could lose up to 25% of your benefits.

Know the facts: bedroom tax If you’re being affected by the changes, we can help you understand your options. You will not be forced to move house, but you should consider all options to ensure you don’t get into debt.

increase your income

Are you receiving all the benefits you’re entitled to? Finding work or increasing your hours at work will help.

Reduce your outgoings

Plan ahead and budget carefully, seek debt advice if you are struggling to pay your bills.

Transfer to a smaller property

Contact the Lettings team if you are considering downsizing.

Additional household members

Take in a lodger, though you must get permission first. Contact the Lettings team for advice.

Read about Christine, a SVHS customer and how she’s moved house to deal with her benefit changes.

christine’s story Christine and her family moved to their home twenty years ago. Her children have now grown up and left home so Christine would have to pay £25 per week in bedroom tax, for her two spare bedrooms. “I first heard about the bedroom tax through the workmen whilst fixing a repair. I didn’t think much more about it until I got a phone call from SVHS telling me I would be affected and would have to pay £25 a week. They invited me to a meeting, Financial Thinking, where I could discuss my options with staff.”

What did Christine do next? Christine contacted our Lettings Team

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to join the transfer list. The next day she received a phone call to say a suitable one bed property had come available. “In the end I decided to downsize as I can’t afford the additional £25 a week. I don’t get on with computers so found HomeSwapper difficult to use as it’s online. I received the bulletin newsletter through the door but nothing came up in my area. Joining the transfer list was much easier. I just had to make that first phone call. I felt sad and it’s a shame that I have to do this – but now that I’ve made my mind up and have made the decision I am happy about it.

My advice to others would be to get as much information as possible and learn your options. I felt much clearer about it all after attending the Financial Thinking meeting; I was surprised there weren’t more people there!”

Struggling to pay? Contact the Income Management Team on 01684 272722. Or visit www.svhs. org.uk/welfare for information and useful tools such as a benefit calculator. Thank you Christine for taking the time to share your story and meeting with us, hope you’re settling into your new home.


money matters

Get peace of mind from £1.85 a fortnight Home contents insurance In the last issue of 24/Severn we announced Zurich have withdrawn their social housing contents insurance. We’ve shopped around to find you the most affordable option. And, ta-da, we’ve found My Home, a contents insurance scheme provided by the National Housing Federation, in partnership with Jardine Lloyd Thompson Tenant Risks and Allianz Insurance.

Win

s If you take out a My Home content 3 201 e Jun 30 re befo insurance policy w. dra e priz a into red ente you will be ce 1st prize: 12 months free insuran rs che vou et 2nd prize: £25 of High Stre (Sponsored by Jardine Lloyd Thompson Tenant Risks).

It’s affordable, easy to set-up and there is no excess to pay if you do have to make a claim. You can apply for cover from as little as £1.85 a fortnight (if aged under 60 for the value of £9,000) and you can even pay by cash using a swipe card at your local Post Office or Payzone point. Or if you’d prefer you could set-up a direct debit or pay annually.

My Home Contents Insurance Scheme is a product name arranged and administered on behalf of the National Housing Federation by Jardine Lloyd Thompson Tenant Risks.

Interested? Call 01628 586 189 or download an information pack from our website www.svhs.org.uk/contents

Take a break, take up a Direct Debit Don’t spend time queuing at a PayPoint store, or use the last of your phone credit to pay your bills. Pay the smart way and set-up a Direct Debit. Paying by Direct Debit is safe, quick and easy. If you switch today you’ll be entered into the Big Break nationwide prize draw to have your bills paid for (up to £12,000). Plus for every customer who switches to Direct Debit, we’ll donate 50p to Midlands Air Ambulance, who work to save lives in Gloucestershire. If you’re an existing Direct Debit customer you will also be entered into the prize draw.

Enjoy the easy life. • Your rent will be paid on time every time, with no missed payment or hassle • It is the safest way to pay as the Direct Debit Guarantee protects you

From October 2013 you will receive all your benefits in one single monthly payment, part of the changes the Government are making to benefits, known as Universal Credit. You will be responsible for managing your money and paying your rent on time. How will you choose to pay your rent?

Download a Direct Debit form from our website www.svhs.org.uk/directdebit today or call 01684 272727 if you need help setting this up.

Don’t have a bank account? It couldn’t be easier to open a basic bank account. Choose a provider and go in store, or online to open the account. You will need to show two types of identification, usually a passport, driving licence or recent bill will do. If you don’t have these documents they should accept a letter from your GP, teacher, social worker or probation officer.

report a repair ONline www.svhs.org.uk

7


new homes

Development news It’s been another busy couple of months for the Development Team who have been working with partners to prepare new properties for SVHS customers. Here’s a round-up of their recent work, and proposed development sites in the region.

Northway

Proposed Styles Close Work has continued on this site building 11 homes for market rent, which will be ready in June 2013.

Through the development at this site we have agreed with Tewkesbury Borough Council to make contributions to the following local amenities: Gould Field, Northway - changes facilities, playing pitches and pitch provision. Cascades Leisure Centre - improving leisure facilities.

Tewkesbury Sport Centre - improving Astroturf pitches. Tewkesbury Borough Council - improving local play provision near the development. Interested? Contact Charles Leather Residential, who manages our market rental portfolio on 01386 751876.

Lanes Court Tewkesbury

Kings Copse Quedgeley

Work has started on two 2 bed semi-detached bungalows alongside our retirement scheme in Tewkesbury. These properties, developed by Aqua Construction will be available for affordable rent in autumn 2013.

We have been working with Taylor Wimpey through a Section 106 agreement to develop 6 two-bed flats over three storeys, for general needs rent.

St Barbaras Ashchurch Local developer Aqua Construction has started work on this site to develop two 3 bedroom semi-detached homes. These homes will be ready in autumn 2013 for affordable rent. 8

Ray Shill/Tewkesbury Sports Centre improving facilities.

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These properties in Quedgeley will be ready in May/June.


two bungalows ready for general needs rent.

Coopers Edge Brockworth

We’ve been working with Barratt Homes, through a Section 106 agreement, at their Oaks development at Coopers Edge to develop 2 detached three-bed bungalows on this site. Section 106 is a way in which the local authority ensures that affordable housing is provided on larger development sites. These homes are now available for general needs rent.

Northway We’re close to completing 14 properties on this site which will include one 4 bed bungalow, seven houses (oneon 6 bed, four Image of similar development this site

3 bed and two 2 bed) and six 1 bed flats. These homes will be ready in June for affordable rent.

Proposed Davies Row report a repair ONline www.svhs.org.uk

9


repairs & maintenance

Important notice - fire safety in your home Would you know what to do if you were woken by your fire alarm going off? You only have minutes to escape from a house fire – every second counts. Did you know there are over 59,000 house fires a year in the UK! Most caused by electrical equipment such as cooking appliances.

What you need to know about fire Smoke is dark Smoke is the biggest killer in domestic fires as it makes it difficult to find your way to

safety. You can’t see your own hand during a fire! Smoke is fast Your home can be consumed by flames in less than four minutes – you must act fast. Closing doors can delay the spread of a fire – but don’t investigate, just get out fast. Smoke is hot The difference between the temperature at head height and floor level can mean the difference between life and death. Temperatures five feet from the floor can be 315°c whilst at floor level temperatures may only be 32°c.

The 10 commandments of fire safety There’s often a simple solution to make sure tragedy doesn’t happen in your home.

1 2 3

Teach your household about the danger of fires and practice your fire escape plan. Test your smoke alarm. Don’t leave candles unattended and make sure you keep them away from flammable materials.

Energy switch Why pay more? Shopping on the internet and switching energy supplier can save you up to £200 per year. The way you pay your bills also impacts the amount it costs. Here are some tips to save you money: • Buy gas and electricity from the same supplier - it can cost less. • Pay by monthly direct debit rather than quarterly payments. • Switch to paperless bills - some suppliers offer benefits such as money off future bills. • Using a pre-payment meter can be more expensive. • Some energy companies offer you the chance to fix your energy prices over a certain period of time. This means your bills will not go up if the price of 10

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4 5

Don’t leave appliances on standby as they are a source of fire.

Unplug all electrical appliances before going to bed and keep them correctly maintained.

6 7

Extinguish all cigarettes carefully in ashtrays and never smoke in bed.

Be aware of fire risks in the kitchen. 59% of household fires are caused by cooking. Never leave chip pans unattended.

electricity or gas goes up – but remember they’ll still go up if you use more energy. Stay with your existing supplier but change the plan you are on.

For energy switching advice go to www.myhomeenergyswitch.org.uk or call 0800 0014 706. If you need help using the online comparison site pop along to our Computer Café, every Thursday 10am-1pm. The café venue alternates each week between SVHS Offices, Shannon Way, Tewkesbury and ITRA Hut, Rookery Road, Innsworth.

Smoke alarms save lives They are affordable, simple to install and easy to maintain. Evidence shows if you have a working smoke alarm your chances of surviving a house fire are increased. Most Severn Vale Housing properties have a hard wired smoke alarm, which means they are connected to the mains. Whenever we carry out a gas or electrical inspection we will test your alarm. If you are a homeowner it’s your responsibility to test and maintain your smoke alarm.

8

Never leave clothes or any other materials near a heater or bedside light as they may catch fire.

9

Always ensure that your smoke alarms are kept dust free. Test the alarm once a week and undertake regular maintenance.

10

In the event of a fire, get out of the house, shut all the doors and call 999.

New windows Work has now started on replacing the windows on 28 properties in Churchdown. The 25 year old rotting timber frames have been ripped out and replaced with new PVC windows. The cladding around the window frames has also been updated to a new material that has thick insulation. Customers should notice a significant difference and reduction in their energy bills. “I am very happy with my new windows. The workmen were very pleasant and efficient and during the work they cleared up leaving no mess.” Mrs. Reeks, resident of Yew Tree Way.


Get INVOLVED

WAYS TO GET INVOLVED One of our most important assets at Severn Vale Housing is our customers. We rely on customer involvement to ensure we do things correctly, keep our promises and put things right when we go wrong. There are lots of ways as a SVHS customer you can get involved, making a difference to the service you receive from us.

SVHS BOARD Containing four customers who are involved with making decisions about SVHS finances, policy agreement and monitoring the performance of the organisation.

“The best thing about being involved as a mystery shopper is meeting other people, being able to use my brain a little and feeling like I’m doing something useful. It’s also a great way to catch-up on what’s happening at SVHS too. As a mystery shopper you’ll need a couple of hours every few months to do the ‘shops’ and attend meetings. Joining this group has definitely helped to rebuild my confidence.” Customer mystery shopper.

“I decided to get involved as I wanted to know how my rent money was spent, and how decisions were made at Severn Vale Housing. As an involved customer you are given training, and although I’ve only been a customer board member for six months I’ve learnt lots of new skills.” Jane, Customer board member.

Resident inspectors

Complaints Audit Panel

This forum consists of representatives from each retirement scheme, meeting to discuss wide issues such as the supporting people fund.

This consists of three customers who monitor the customer feedback database, review complaints and check case management to ensure staff are fair and consistent.

Customer Consultative Group Customers involved in this group help in the development of policies and strategies. This ensures customers have a choice in the way things are done and how services are delivered.

The Editorial Panel This panel assists the Marketing and Communications team to review, edit and proof publications such as 24/Severn magazine, leaflets, surveys and letters. “I’ve found it really interesting to be part of the editorial panel. We meet quarterly to discuss 24/Severn and have recently started visits to places of interest, such as the Tri-service emergency centre (see page 14). It’s good to be involved with making a difference to how customers are communicated to.”

Trained to monitor our planned maintenance work, resident inspectors independently visit customers homes, and assess recent work, discuss any issues or concerns and report back to SVHS.

Retirement Forum Scrutiny panel This group help to independently monitor the performance of the organisation, reviewing service areas and putting forward recommendations for improvements. “I find being involved with the panel really interesting as I’m able to go below the surface of SVHS and help to improve the service. Anyone who is interested in getting involved should contact the team and they’ll take it from there.” Pippa, Scrutiny panel member.

If you’re interested in getting involved with any of our customer groups, contact Community Involvement on 01684 272726.

Mystery shoppers These customers carry out mystery shops on members of SVHS staff to ensure we are delivering service in line with SVHS’s policies and procedures.

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COMMUNITY SPIRIT

Young residents take centre stage It’s great to see SVHS residents taking up the offer of supported places at The Roses youth dance and theatre groups. Led by professional dance choreographers and theatre staff, 10 young SVHS residents have been

developing their fitness, co-ordination and rhythm and are currently working toward an annual professionally produced show - Wind in the Willows. If you know of a young person who’d like to get involved contact the Community Involvement Team on 01684 272726 or email editorialpanel@svhs.org.uk.

“Tai Chi suits me well as it exercises every part of my body without sapping my energy!”

Out of the woodwork Artist Natasha Houseago has been working with Brockworth residents to create a bench and a wooden sculpture for the new improved Horsbere Brook area. Sessions ran throughout February and March and offered residents the chance to carve memories and ideas into the

local resident philomena

sculpture using oak saved from the Mill Lane housing development. Young residents also took part in a two day creative workshop where they learnt how to weave willow and create their own dome shelter.

Skate park makes tracks in Northway A local skate park, which had fallen into disrepair with broken glass and flaking paint, has been brought back to life by a group of young local residents. The two day project, which was funded by the Tewkesbury Borough Community Safety Partnership, worked with local organisations including Severn Vale Housing, Gloucestershire Police, Fire and Rescue and Tewkesbury Fair Shares to

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remove rust, grime and broken glass to bring new life to the once well used play equipment. 19 students from Tewkesbury School have also designed and painted a new mural for the skate ramp on the Gould Playing Field. As a thank you to those who took part in the scheme, the group took a visit to a skate park on the outskirts of Bristol. See how the youngsters transformed the ramp in the photos right.


Get in shape Keeping physically active improves your health and quality of life and can also help you to live longer. Rachel Howell, Healthy Lifestyle Consultant at Tewkesbury Borough Council, has been developing the balance and flexibility of SVHS residents through regular gentle exercise classes.

One local resident, Philomena, who has been attending the class at Barton Court since it began two years ago, tells us why she enjoys it so much, “Tai chi suits me well as it exercises every part of my body without sapping my energy! It’s greatly improved my balance and gives me a weekly boost.”

Rachel delivers five tai chi classes and one chair based exercise class each week, at SVHS retirement properties. Tai chi is low impact and puts minimal stress on muscles and joints, making it generally safe for all ages and fitness levels. In fact, because tai chi is low impact, it’s especially suitable if you’re an older adult who otherwise may not exercise.

Classes are open to all SVHS residents and are charged at £2 per session.

Days of action Local residents in Brockworth and Northway, came together in the spring to make a difference in their local communities at two different Community Days of Action. Over 40 residents took part each day in a range of activities which included litter picking and wildlife walks.

Interested? To find out more contact Rachel on 07887 831878 or email: activeandable@tewkesbury.gov.uk

Location

day

time

class

Lanes Court Priors Park Tewkesbury

Weds

11.00am - Tai chi 11.30am

Atherton Close Shurdington

Weds

12.30pm - Tai chi 1.00pm

Pullar Court Weds Bishops Cleeve

1.30pm 2.00pm

Chair based exercise

Pullar Court Weds Bishops Cleeve

2.00pm 2.30pm

Tai chi

Shipway Court Friday 11.00am - Tai chi Bishops Cleeve 11.30am Barton Court Tewkesbury

Friday 12.00pm - Tai chi 12.30pm

Classes are pay as you go so why not pop along to give it a try.

One lump or two? Pupils from Tewkesbury School have been taking time out to spend time with residents at four of our retirement schemes. Barton Court, Lanes Court, Virginia Close and Spring Gardens have all welcomed pupils, who took along home baked cakes and spent time to share stories together. It’s hoped this will become a regular visit.

It was also great to see SVHS resident Rosemary Clark formally open the new brook information boards at the Brockworth day.

report a repair ONline www.svhs.org.uk

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COMMUNITY 24 severn SPIRIT visit

The Editorial panel visit the Tri-Service Emergency Centre Opened in 2003 on the outskirts of Gloucester, the Tri-Service Emergency Centre brings the three emergency services together into one building. The Editorial Panel took time out from their usual activities to visit the Police Contact Centre to see how emergency calls are dealt with in our region. The centre deals with both 999 and 101 calls for Gloucestershire. The 101 service was set up in 2012 and deals with nonemergency calls; incidents such as a minor traffic collision, or to report a stolen car. The majority of calls, either 999 or 101 are answered at this centre, ensuring that staff with local knowledge can answer and deal with the calls and respond appropriately. “In an average 24 hours we’ll take one 101 call every 90 seconds, and one 999 call every 8 minutes”, explains Inspector Tony Fisk. “During January 2013 the centre took 23,500 calls (both 101 and 999)!” “We aim to answer 90% of 999 calls within 10 seconds, and if that call is urgent we aim to have an officer out within 10 minutes in urban areas, and 20 minutes for the more rural areas such as the Forest of Dean.” The Tri-Service Emergency Team never know when they pick up the phone what situation they will be dealing with. Sometimes they have to deal with traumatic incidents, keeping the caller calm and focused on reporting the issue. Following a serious incident the team will hold a de-brief, and counselling is always available if required. All control room operators have access to maps of the area, and GPS tracking of officers and vehicles which help when allocating calls. 14

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“As you can expect bad weather can affect the number of calls we receive. When heavy snow is forecast our planning team ensure 4x4 vehicles are deployed in remote areas to ensure we can cover as much of the county as possible,” explains the inspector. Each call is logged as an incident which will then be allocated a grade between 1 and 4, depending on the potential impact of the issue. A Grade 1 incident is where there is danger to life, immediate threat of violence or serious injury to a person. Grade 2 incidents are ones that don’t need an emergency response, but a visit is required sooner rather than later (where people are vulnerable or there’s concern for their safety). Grade 3 is allocated to incidents where response time is not critical such as reports of historic anti-social behaviour. Grade 4 is where there can be a resolution without a visit. The control team will then dispatch officers to incidents as required.

“In an average 24 hours we’ll take one 101 call every 90 seconds, and one 999 call every 8 minutes” gloucestershire constabulary police inspector. The centre also contains a Silver Control Room which is set-up ready for any major incidents that may occur, such as the 2007 floods. The room contains all the equipment necessary to monitor the situation including CCTV streaming of the region and the police helicopter, if deployed. Thank you to Editorial Panel members Jean and Rosemary who visited the Tri-Service Emergency Centre and helped to write this article. Where would you like to see the Editorial Panel visit next? Let us know by emailing editorial.panel@svhs.org.uk


Where would you like to see the Editorial Panel visit next? Let us know by emailing editorial.panel@svhs.org.uk

“I really enjoy the variety of my work and knowing that we are making a difference to people’s lives is a real motivator”, gloucestershire constabulary police inspector. report a repair ONline www.svhs.org.uk

15


get online

Online banking What are the three greatest things about the internet? E-mail, music, and online banking! Online banking is great • • •

1 2

View your balances: You can look at your balance and past transactions.

Pay bills: You can pay your bills. You just need to add the names of the companies you wish to pay.

You have access to your accounts 24/7. You can look at your balance whenever you want, from wherever you are, not just when you get a statement. You no longer need to wait in a queue.

3

Transfer funds:

Banking through the internet has made bill payment easier than ever before. You can pay your credit card, electric, water, phone, and other bills by just logging into your bank web portal.

4

Set up recurring bill payments:

There are some hidden benefits too. Online banking allows you to watch your money on a daily basis. By keeping a close eye on your funds, you’ll always be aware of what’s happening, helping you to budget.

You can transfer money to other accounts, if you have more than one, or to your friends and family. You can even make payments across countries and continents.

5

Paperless save the planet:

6

Loan applications:

Internet banking allows all transactions to be done without using paper.

You can apply for a loan without even having to visit your local branch, open a new account and even close an existing account, all with very little effort on your part.

If you make a regular payment every month you can set up a Direct Debit or a Standing Order. This is when you agree to a set amount of money to be deducted from your account each month or fortnightly (see page 7 to learn more about Direct Debit and how you could win £12,000).

The smart way to pay Did you know you can now pay your rent on your smart phone by simply downloading the free app? Visit your app store to download today. The app gives you the freedom to pay your rent wherever you are, at the touch of a button. It even remembers who you are, saving you time. Hear more about how Mr Richards got on using the Allpay App. “I find the app really useful. It’s easy and convenient to use as it links all my accounts and remembers my

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PAY YOUR RENT ONline www.svhs.org.uk

details. I just log, click a few buttons and it’s done. Downloading the app was a piece of cake; I’ve put it on my iPhone and tablet so I can pay my rent wherever I am.” Mr Richards, SVHS customer

payment amounts so they don’t have to enter them each time.” Nick Peplow, Business Development Director.

“The allpay payment App is making it easier for people to pay their rent from the comfort of their own homes or on the go. It is free of charge for residents to download and, once logged in, they can store all their payment reference numbers, bank card details and

Have you used the new app? Let us know what you think by emailing editorial.panel@svhs.org.uk


reviews

Money, money, money... Is your money tree looking a little bare this spring? Give these money making ideas a go to help bring in a little more cash.

Auction it We’re all guilty of hoarding items that “could come in handy one day.” But one man’s rubbish could be another man’s dream, which is why online auction websites such as eBay.co.uk are doing so well in today’s climate.

eBay estimate the average British house has about £450 worth of unwanted items that could be sold on the site. So why not have a clear out and see how much you can make. eBid and CQout are other auction sites that can be used.

The do’s and don’ts of eBay DO

DOn’t

Choose your key words and title carefully and always use a spell checker

Bid on your own item to boost prices This is known as shill bidding and it’s illegal.

“New Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 for PS3” is going to get more interest than “driving video game, not had it long.”

Sell the job lot

Forget PayPal charges

If you’ve got little time and lots of similar small items, sell them as a bundle.

PayPal charges sellers a fee of 3.4% plus 20p for each transaction. On an £100 sale, you’d pay £3.60.

Keep an eye out for free listing weekends

Post your adverts during the night

ebay holds ‘free listing weekends’ which means buyers do not have to pay an insertion fee, saving you more money.

Avoid ending auctions at 4am, when nobody’s about. The best time is between 7- 9pm, Sundays to Thursdays.

Add a photo

Forget postage costs

eBay lets you upload your first photo for free, but charges 12p for each extra shot.

Use Royal Mail price finder, as if the price given is too low, you’ll have to make up the difference. If it’s too high, the buyer may leave bad feedback.

Turn your old phone into cash Whether you’ve recently upgraded or found your old Nokia, mobile phones can be worth serious cash. eBay usually pays best; but if you need speed and ease, several websites let you enter details, offer a price, and send a jiffy bag to mail your old phone in. Visit www.mobilevaluer.com to find out how much your phone is worth. An iPhone 3G, for example, could fetch around £70.

Car booty If you’d prefer money in your palm instantly, a car boot sale is the place to go. Thousands of people flock to car boot sales every weekend, with pitches costing about £10 a day. See the table (right) for a list of the next car boot sales in your local area or for a full list of nationwide car boot sales visit www.carbootjunction.com

location

date

time fee

Cheltenham Race course

Sun

7am £6

Hempstead Meadows - Gloucester

Weds & Sun

7am £6

Monster, Wotton Under Edge

Sun

7am £6

Tewkesbury Table top sale, Oldbury Road

Wed & 8am £3 Sat

report a repair ONline www.svhs.org.uk

17


focus on...

A year on

...Life in Gretton

This time last year we welcomed four new families into their brand new homes in the rural countryside of Gretton. These picturesque new builds were completed to provide affordable homes for the needs of the village, a demand identified from the parish survey. These homes were built under the Code for Sustainable Homes (Code 3) and are part of the rural exception scheme, which means they could be built outside the village development boundary. Let’s check in and see what life in Gretton is all about.

Laura’s story Laura and her husband were delighted when they were told they’d been allocated one of the houses at Gretton. For them it was like coming back home, as they both grew up in the area and have many fond childhood memories. “I love living here it is fantastic. I think growing up in a small village means I will always be a country girl at heart. I did try the city life, and moved to Derby for a year, but it made me realise how much I had taken my Gretton life for granted and I missed it.”

The simple life Gretton really does appear to be the simple life. It is relaxingly peaceful and surrounded by rolling green countryside. The village has a village hall, play park, school, pub, and generous amounts of public foot paths. “There’s not loads to do here but that’s part of the appeal. The most exciting thing is probably Zumba at the village hall once a week. But there are lots of things in the surrounding areas such as Cheltenham Play Farm, the Wacky Wharehouse in Evesham, and the swimming pool in Tewkesbury. If you didn’t drive you would feel very isolated here. There is a bus but I believe it only goes once a day and I wouldn’t like to think how much it costs. There are lots of new faces in Gretton, it’s not quite the same as when I was younger. People didn’t have cars and it was just a given that you went to the local school and shopped at the local store. It was sad to see the post office close down but you have to move with the times.”

Home from home Four energy saving homes were built in total, two 2 bed and two 3 bed. Laura lives in the end terrace with her husband and two sons, Jake and Oscar and their dog Archie.

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PAY YOUR RENT ONline www.svhs.org.uk

“The house is brilliant for a new build and the garden is fantastic for the children. Through the fence is a farmer’s field which is often filled with sheep, although they have managed to stick their head through the gap and eat my hedges leaving me with twigs! I am a little concerned whether one day they will build more houses on that land. I am supportive of new developments but think it is very important to get the right balance and the countryside keeps its attractive appeal. Moving in at the same time as the neighbours meant we were all in the same boat and as we all have a connection to Gretton, part of the requirements of getting the house, we have something in common. The local people have been welcoming, they know my family as my parents and grandparents grew up here. I am really grateful for affordable housing as I would not be able to afford to live here otherwise. Being back here close to all my family makes me very happy.”

Slow down Laura seemed really settled in Gretton and enjoying the country life. Her only bug bear was the speed limit on the main road outside her home. “The sign informing drivers to slow down and enter the village at 30mph isn’t displayed until cars reach my house. I worry when the children are older, cars could still be travelling at fast speeds. I’m considering contacting the council to see if the slow down sign can be moved to give cars an earlier warning.” Thank you to Laura for sharing a part of her life in Gretton. It was lovely to meet you and hope you and your family continue to enjoy your home for many years to come. If you would like us to focus on your area get in touch t: 01684 272727 e: editorial.panel@svhs.org.uk


“The local people have been welcoming. I am really grateful for affordable housing as I would not be able to afford to live here otherwise.� laura, gretton resident

report a repair ONline www.svhs.org.uk

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homeowners

What is a home owner? Tenants, leaseholders, shared owners, right to buy - it can all become a little confusing with all the different terminology in housing. Below is a jargon buster breakdown. Shared owner - is someone who has bought a share of a property. They pay rent on the part of the property they don’t own, and a mortgage on the part they do. If they decide to buy 100% of the property they then become a homeowner, or if the property is a flat, a leaseholder. If the shared ownership property is in a rural area they may not be able to buy the whole of their property due to planning conditions.

Leaseholder - is someone who has the right to hold or use a property, usually a flat, for a fixed period of time at a given price, without transfer of ownership, on the basis of a lease contract. A lease usually lasts for 99 or 125 years. The building containing the flat is owned by the Landlord and the maintenance and management of the building and communal areas, such as stairwells, is funded by the

leaseholders through the service charge. Major works such as roof replacement is charged back to the leaseholder at the time those works are carried out following a legal consultation process. The lease states the rights and responsibilities of both the leaseholder and the landlord. Tenant - is a person who pays rent to occupy a property based on the terms and condition of their tenancy agreement.

Repairs and maintenance - know your responsibilities House If you are a shared owner living in a house you are responsible for your property. SVHS have no responsibilities for the building or fittings but will retain responsibilities for communal areas, such as garden, parking areas, play area and paths for which you will pay a service charge. Flat If you are a shared owner and live in a flat you are responsible for the internal structure of the property but SVHS retain responsibility to maintain the fabric of the building and communal areas. This is covered by the cost of your service charge. We have an insurance policy with Zurich, which provides protection to the building against events such as fire, lightning, explosions, floods, and collapse of aerials.

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PAY YOUR RENT ONline www.svhs.org.uk

If you are carrying out work on your property such as changes to doorways, kitchen cupboards, layout of bathrooms, you must let us know and use regulated contractors otherwise the work done could void your insurance cover.

In summary Items that you are typically responsible for include all aspects of the repair and maintenance of your home, such as: l Fabric of the building ie external walls and roofing (if a house) l Decoration l Garden maintenance l Internal fittings including kitchen, sanitary ware etc l Doors and windows – if you’re a shared owner or leaseholder of a flat this may vary. Refer to your lease. l Annual service of your gas boiler. This is not a full list; if you are in doubt, or

have any questions please contact us on 01684 272727 or email info@svhs.org.uk Check out the next issue of 24/Severn for advice on what information to seek when considering purchasing a leasehold property and how to find a good solicitor.

Building and contents insurance Regardless of whether you are a leaseholder, shared owner or a tenant, it is your responsibility to insure your contents. Consider how you would replace or repair your TV, computer or carpets if the worst happened. See page 7 for more information about a new, affordable, insurance policy called My Home.


gloucestershire

Free fitness for all The customer editors of 24/Severn have been busy getting fit for free! Brendon and Will, aged 17 and 15 from Tewkesbury, reached for their trainers and headed to their local outdoor gym, adiZone, to work up a sweat. Going for gold

Are you in the zone? Get fit, lose weight – is this one of your New Year resolutions? AdiZone is perfect to help you achieve your goal. These outdoor gyms, in the shape of the Olympic logo, first started popping up in the UK in 2008 and after a successful trial run, the nation was hooked. We’re lucky to have not one but two adiZone’s in Tewkesbury Vineyards and Gould Field Park.

I work out

If an adiZone and an indoor gym competed for gold, the adizone would come out on top. The benefits are endless; it’s free, open 24/7, brings the community together, fun, full of fresh air and there’s not a grunting mirror watching weightlifter in sight!

It’s always a good idea to warm up before starting any work out you could run around the nearby fields or jog from home. And remember you are responsible for your own safety, so use the equipment as instructed on the information boards.

All the equipment is easy to use and has instructions displayed so no need to arrange a gym induction.

Burn off those Easter egg chocolates and try the suggested work out plans below.

There are three colour coded areas yellow cardio, pink strength and blue core. With equipment from bicycles to a climbing wall, to cross trainers to weight press there’s something for everyone. Transfer handles, lowered access points, easy to read signs, and bright coloured equipment means it can be enjoyed by all.

pink zone Kit

SETS

repetitions

Chest press

2

8

Leg press

2

12

Seated row

2

8

yellow zone Kit

Sports that can be practiced on an adiZone: Basketball Football Tennis Climbing Judo Gymnastics Aerobics

Dance Tai chi To name but a few!

Around the adizone: Athletics Cycling

An app for smart phones is currently being developed so that you can record your fitness regime and have access to a personal trainer from your pocket.

TIMe

PACE

Treadmill 5 mins

Steady walk

Cross trainer

5 mins

80 turns a minute

Cycle

5 mins

40 turns a minute

Hand cycle

2 ½ mins forward then backwards

50 turns a minute

blue zone Kit

SETS

repetitions

Core twists

2

200 slow pace

Pull ups

1

1

Sit ups

2

5

Dips

1

1

This article was written with the help of Brendon, who is a member of our Editorial Panel. If you would like to get involved in the magazine, or would like to share your reviews please call 01684 272727 or email editorial.panel@svhs.org.uk report a repair ONline www.svhs.org.uk

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garden time

How does your

garden grow?

Despite the poor weather and heavy rain last year, the judges were wowed with entrants from across the area taking part in the annual gardening competition. If you enjoy gardening and are proud of your blooms, why not enter the 2013 gardening competition? The 2012 Best in Show prize was awarded to Helen of Crouch Court, Tewkesbury, who displayed exceptional talent in transforming the communal area of her estate into an oasis of colour. “Helen demonstrated great skill producing displays using a wide variety of recycled containers to grow her plants, including using a pair of old boots!” explained the judges, “It looked fantastic!” Nearly a year on we caught up with Helen to see what she’s planning for this year. “I’m planning on continuing the theme of up-cycling throughout the garden. I’ve been saving cava bottles since Christmas, which will help me to create a new border. As for plants, I’ve always got my eye on the gardening section in Morrison’s and Aldi, as you can pick up some real bargains there. It was a real honour to win the award last year, and great to have some vouchers to spend on plants! I’ve used my prize

to buy trellis, bark and lots of compost. I’d definitely encourage others to enter. Gardening has really helped me to take some time away from the craziness of everyday life and focus on relaxing and enjoying the outdoors.” We also caught up with Sue who won an award for her tranquil space at Graham Court retirement scheme. “Now it’s a bit warmer it’s good to get out into the garden again. I’ve only got a small outside space so I like to keep similar colours together, and always try to plant in odd numbers. It’s something that I picked up years ago when I used to help out in larger gardens. Arranging in irregular clusters helps them to look more natural.” “Tewkesbury market is a great place to pick up some bargain plants. It’s handy for me, being round the corner, plus there’s a good selection with a couple of nurseries running stalls. Gardening can be trial and error, but my advice would be not to be afraid to have a go!” explains Sue. With three months until the deadline in June there’s plenty of time to get creative. Judging will take place in July with a prearranged visit by SVHS staff. We have some new categories this year too (see box right) so why not give it a go.

PAY YOUR RENT ONline www.svhs.org.uk

l Wildlife friendly l Communal areas l Small spaces l Your garden l Young growers

Check out our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/severnvalehousing for photos from 2012 entries.

To find out more, contact the Community Involvement Team on 01684 272726 or email community.involvement@svhs.org.uk or visit www.svhs.org.uk/gardens 22

Categories


“Gardening can be trial and error, but my advice would be not to be afraid to have a go!� sue, 2012 winner

Got the gardening bug? Would you like to learn how to make your garden more wildlife friendly? Why not become a wildlife gardening mentor. Severn Vale Housing and Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust are offering free wildlife training and support to help you to improve your garden, and to support others in improving their gardens for wildlife. Places are limited, so for a chance to take part contact Jo-WorthyJones on 01452 383333, email jo.worthy-jones@gloucestershirewildlifetrust.co.uk report a repair ONline www.svhs.org.uk

23


competition time

Flower power! Find 10 hidden words and return your entry to us by 1 June for a chance to win a £20 Love to Shop voucher. Words may read up, down, diagonal or even backwards. Good luck! Send your entry to: 24/Severn competition, Severn Vale Housing, Shannon Way, Ashchurch, Tewkesbury, GL20 8ND

Win a shopping v £20 oucher!

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Name: Address: Postcode: Telephone number:

Or email your answers to competitions@svhs.org.uk and you will be entered into the prize draw.

Do you have an eye for a good photo? Send us your favourite snap of your neighbourhood. You don’t have to be an experienced photographer, even if you’ve never used a camera before why not give it a try. We want you to look around you and capture what you see in a photograph. There are some great prizes up for grabs, plus you’ll also have your photo printed in a future issue of 24/Severn.

Winter edition winners

How to enter Email photo@svhs.org.uk or post to Photo Competition, Severn Vale Housing, Shannon Way, Ashchurch, Tewkesbury, GL20 8ND. Don’t forget to include your name, address and if any people feature in your photo please ensure you have their permission first.

Well done to Bradley from Shurdington who correctly completed the Winter Wonderland word search, winning £20 shopping voucher. He had asked his mum everyday if the closing date had passed and whether he’d won. So he was over the moon when we turned up with his prize. Enjoy getting your new football game!

You can see photos of the winners on our facebook page at www.facebook.com/severnvalehousing


24/Severn Issue 3