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Painting the Edible Garden Mural Queens Road, Priors Park p22

Get ready for Universal Credit p6

Summer fun activities for the family p20

Win a ÂŁ20 shopping voucher p24

NEWS

welfare reform

NEW homes

repairs

community spirit

get involved

MONEY MATTERS

competitions


welcome

Welcome to 24/Severn With the wettest summer on record last year and the coldest May in 50 years this year, we can only be hopeful for some sunshine. However, there is so much on offer this summer in Gloucestershire from Lakefest to Land Rover safaris at Slimbridge, we can’t complain, can we!? Well, you can.

We welcome your feedback, good, bad or indifferent as it helps us to know where we are going wrong and improve our services. You can read more on page 4 about a complaints drop in day I am holding. So why not come in and see me. Get in touch online or call.

As the Complaints Manager I expect good customer service. Whenever I am not happy I let the company or person know. Recently my car insurance provider sent me a renewal quote which was more expensive than a new member. As a loyal customer, who has been with them for over five years, I thought this was unfair. So I complained. They agreed with my grumbles and offered me a lower quote as well as looking to amend the policy. Therefore, complaining can not only save you money, but it can also help others. A good deed done for the day!

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.

Get in touch

Opening times

Tel: 01684 272727 Email: info@svhs.org.uk Web: www.svhs.org.uk Shannon Way, Ashchurch, Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, GL20 8ND

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

Follow us:

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The same applies to services from Severn Vale Housing. Don’t live under a cloud of darkness. If something is wrong, get in touch.

www.facebook.com/severnvalehousing

@SVHousing PAY YOUR RENT ONline www.svhs.org.uk

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

I was excited to see the new feedback forms going out to customers who have had work carried out on their home. Have you seen them? They are colourful, easy to follow and free to post back so I hope they improve the amount of feedback I receive. Our next issue will be out in October, full of some interesting figures, as it’s that time of year again where we look back over how we have performed, publishing a selection of statistics known as our annual report. Have a fantastic summer, and I hope you get to enjoy a meaty BBQ or two in the sunshine.

Darren Knight Complaints Manager Tel: 01684 272727 Email: customer.feedback@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

Once upon a time… Telling Tales is back. Five years have passed since our customers, living in our retirement schemes, got together and published a book called Telling Tales. Following its success the Retirement Forum decided to sponsor a second edition, and it’s out now! Telling Tales is a collection of beautifully written memories and stories of times gone by. The stories were recorded, transcribed and complied by Reminiscence Author Mike Swadding. The tales have been relayed in a way that they sound like the person is speaking to you directly. People often forget that lives have been lived, and experiences gained all over the world and over so many decades. Thanks to Telling Tales, these can be shared and enjoyed by new generations to come.

in about 1947/48, as an ammunitions expert – well, a fellow who blows things up. In Oldham at that time there was plenty of work in textiles, so I went into cotton spinning. It was great fun, but by 1956, when I was about 30, a lot of Lancashire factories were closing, so I decided I could do one of two things – change my career or go somewhere else where there were factories. So I got a job in Nairobi where I stayed for three years spinning sisal (a fibre traditionally used for making twine).

It was a lousy job, I didn’t like it, but I realised that I had stumbled into a good old colonial world which I liked. I went to Uganda where I stayed for twelve years and ended up in production engineering,” said Brian. Want to read more? Order your own copy of Telling Tales for £5 by calling 01684 272727 or email info@svhs.org.uk

“I rarely talk about what’s happened in my life, because no one believes me.” extract from telling tales

With imaginative tales of Zimbabwe, petrol shortages, and the war it’s a book that is difficult to put down. To give you a peek inside the cover, here is a short paragraph taken from one of the stories… “I rarely talk about what’s happened in my life, because no one believes me. For a start, I used to live in Mecca. I come from Oldham, and at 18 I was called up by ordinary conscription, and I ended up,

Author of Telling Tales Mike Swadding celebrating the book launch with residents.

How are we doing? Repairs

981 jobs 100% 70% 92%

93%

May 2013

of you were satisfied with us overall

Lettings were completed, 841 of these by the in-house repairs team and 140 by contractors. of emergency jobs were completed on time (Target = 99%) of urgent jobs were completed on time (Target = 85%) of routine jobs were completed on time (Target = 90%)

23 days

to re-let a home (Target = 35 days)

Anti-social behaviour

83% 80%

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%)

report a repair ONline www.svhs.org.uk

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NEWS roundup a new food distribution centre has opened in tewkesbury to provide emergency food to local people in a crisis.

A bank with a difference Kate Callendene and Helen Robinson, Severn Vale Housing, handing over 100 items to the Tewkesbury Foodbank to celebrate a landmark of reaching 100 ‘likes’ on Facebook.

Got a complaint? Drop in or get online On Wednesday 7 August our complaints expert, Darren Knight, Customer Service Manager, is holding an open surgery to discuss a topic he’s passionate about, complaints. If you have a new complaint, existing complaint or want to learn more about how we handle complaints, then get in touch. No need to book, just come along on the day. Darren will also be joined by Debbie Midwinter, Customer Board Member and Chair of the Complaints Audit Panel. So if you have any issues that you’d like to discuss come along and have a chat.

Got Facebook? Join Darren and Debbie for a live chat on our Severn Vale Housing Facebook page www.facebook.com/severnvalehousing on 7 August. They’ll be there ready and eager to answer your questions, when not dealing with customers or eating all of the Murray Mints!

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PAY YOUR RENT ONline www.svhs.org.uk

Rather talk on the phone? Why not call Darren on 01684 272727 or email darren.knight@svhs.org.uk

A new food distribution centre has opened in Tewkesbury to provide emergency food and short term support to local people in a crisis. It’s run by the Christian charity Trussell Trust, who last year fed over 346,992 people nationwide. There are already Foodbanks in Cheltenham, Gloucester, Stroud, Cirencester and Naunton, as well as bases in Gloucester and Stroud. How does it work? Each food box contains a minimum of three days worth of essential, nutritionallybalanced, non-perishable food. This will be given to people who have been identified by their family doctor, social worker or other statutory agencies as in need. Only three vouchers can be issued per person, per year. Opening times Saturday, 12-2pm at Holy Trinity Church, Oldbury Road, Tewkesbury. Give a tin The Foodbank relies on food donated by generous individuals, businesses and community groups. If you would like to help by donating food, the bank is open on Tuesdays and Fridays between 9am-10am for collections. For more information get in touch 01684 272727 or email info@svhs.org.uk or check out www.tewkesbury.foodbank.org.uk


Inspector Morse The Repairs Team have been busy training a handful of you, our customers, to become inspectors of our empty properties. They’ve been learning the trade, taking meter readings, photographing evidence and noting what repairs need to be done to bring the property back to life. This means our properties are no longer just signed off by us, they will also be customer approved too. It costs an average of £1,700 to bring

a property back to re-letting standard, so with over 300 void (empty) properties a year that’s half a million pounds of repairs!

read the meters and turn off the gas. Just knowing what to take up and leave, and what should get repaired. I’ve really enjoyed it as otherwise I would just be at home.”

24/Severn caught up with one of the inspectors, Shelia from Crowfield, Woodmancote. “It’s interesting seeing the transformation. Some of the houses are left in a poor state, and afterwards I get to see the difference it all makes. I’ve been learning where everything is, how to

We’ve had a lot of interest in customers wanting to be trained as inspectors so we’ve started a waiting list. But if you are interested, or want more information get in touch by calling 01684 272727 or email info@svhs.org.uk

BUSINESS Licence REPLY SERVIC E No. SWC 2056

how clean is your communal? Severn Va Shannon le Housing W Tewkesb ay ur Glouces y te GL20 8N rshire D

Win £2 shoppi 5 voucherSng !

You may have already received our new communal cleaning feedback form. We’ve done away with the old long winded surveys to replace them with a quick and easy to follow feedback card. Plus they are free to post back, no envelope required just moisten, seal and post. Let us know what you think of the communal cleaning service, good, bad or indifferent. Knowing what you think helps us to improve and monitor our services. Send your completed feedback form back to us and you’ll be entered into a prize draw to win £25 shopping vouchers.

Win £25 shopping voucherS! How d o measu we re up? Commun al Cl eaning fe

edback

www.svh

s.org.uk

More than a field To celebrate National Rural Housing Week, 10-16 June, customers from Meadow Court, Gretton, opened their doors and welcomed Parish Councillors, Development Officers and Housing Officials into their home. The day-long event was held to raise awareness of the urgent need for affordable rural housing, and its role in keeping England’s villages alive. The four homes in Gretton were built as a need for housing had been identified by the Parish survey. Showcasing the development to key decision makers, such as local councillors, will help towards supporting the national campaign, ‘Yes to Homes’. “The last time I was here it was just an empty field, now it is the home for four families. It really is great to see and learn more about the development process,” said Martin Hutchings, Rural Housing Enabler, Gloucestershire Rural Community Council. report a repair ONline www.svhs.org.uk

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welfare reform

Get ready for Universal Credit As part of the benefit changes that the Government is introducing, a new payment system called Universal Credit is on its way. It will bring changes to how your benefits are paid. Universal Credit replaces a number of income benefits including Housing Benefit, with one single monthly payment. It will replace the following payments:

Is it too early to plan now?

• • • • • •

No, it’s never too early to plan. This will be a major change for many people, so it’s important to fully understand how it will affect you and your family.

Child Tax Credit Housing Benefit Income Support Income-based Jobseekers Allowance Income-related Employment and Support Allowance Working Tax Credit

The following benefits are not included within Universal Credit payments: • Bereavement Benefit • Carers Allowance • Child Benefit • Contribution-based Jobseekers Allowance • Contributory Employment and Support Allowance • Council Tax Benefit • Disability Living Allowance • Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit • Maternity Allowance • Statutory Sick Pay • Statutory Maternity Pay

When does it start? Universal Credit starts for some new claimants from October 2013. Existing claimants will be moved to the new payment over a four-year period.

How will it affect YOU? Your Housing Benefit will be paid directly to you and not to us. You may need to open a bank/building society account, if you don’t already have one, as you will be paid monthly in arrears direct into an account.

• Ensure you have a bank/building society account Universal Credit will be paid directly into your account. The Money Advice Service can offer free, unbiased and independent advice on the best type of account for you. Visit www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk or call 0300 500 5000. •

Consider your budget How much do you need to cover your rent, council tax and other bills each month? Contact us if you need help to work out your finances.

Set-up a Direct Debit This will help ensure your rent is paid promptly on receipt of your Universal Credit. If you are unsure how much to pay, contact the Income Management Team on 01684 272722.

Internet access You’ll be expected to manage your account online. But don’t worry if you don’t have access at home, we offer weekly Computer Café sessions in Brockworth and Tewkesbury, and can give you advice on some great computer and Internet deals.

To find out more contact Community Involvement on 01684 272726.

If you’re worried how these changes will affect you, or if you need any further advice contact us on 01684 272722 or email info@svhs.org.uk 6

PAY YOUR RENT ONline www.svhs.org.uk

UNIVERSAL

CREDIT


money matters

Paying your rent There are lots of different ways you can pay your rent, so choose one which is best for you, and make sure your payments are made on time.

derek PAYS by DIRECT DEBIT

steve pays by standing order

Take the worry out of paying for your rent by setting up a Direct Debit. It’s the easiest, quickest and most secure way to pay your rent.

Call 01684 272727 and ask for a standing order form. Take the completed form to your bank to arrange regular payments.

Download a Direct Debit form from our website www.svhs.org.uk/ directdebit or call 01684 272722. Payments are taken on the 1st of each month or fortnightly on Thursdays.

Or if you have internet banking set it up online.

tina pays by telephone

Call the 24 hour AllPay automated payment line on 0844 557 8321, or, if you prefer to speak to a member of the team, call 01684 272727. Don’t forget to have your rent payment card and debit card at the ready. If you need a replacement card get in touch.

olivia pays online Debit card payments can be made online at: www.svhs.org.uk/rent or through internet banking. Contact us for our bank details for one-off payments, or setting up a standing order.

pete pays in person

poppy pays by post

Come along to the SVHS offices in Tewkesbury with your rent payment card, cheque or debit card and we’ll help you make a payment.

Send cheques, with your address written on the back, to our office. Do not send cash through the post.

Or simply take your payment and rent card to your nearest PayPoint store or Post Office and the retailer will do the rest. For a list of local stores offering this service visit: www.paypoint.co.uk or call 01684 272727.

mo pays by mobile Do you have a smart phone? Why not download the payment app. It’s free to use and you can now make one-time payments, without having to store payment details.

What happens if you struggle to pay? If you start to struggle making your rent payments you should contact us as soon as possible. Rent arrears soon mount up, and you may be evicted for non payment of your rent. Contact the SVHS Income Management Team on 01684 272722 who will help you to understand your situation, what you can do and make sure you get all the help available.

The new version, launched in May, also contains a barcode reader, allowing you to scan-in your card, making it even easier to pay.

report a repair ONline www.svhs.org.uk

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new homes

Development news The Development Team have been busy over the last couple of months, working with partners across Gloucestershire to build new SVHS homes. Here’s a round-up of their recent work, and proposed development sites.

Kings Copse

Quedgeley

Through a Section 106 agreement we’ve been working with Taylor Wimpey to develop 6 two bed flats over three storeys. Section 106 is a way in which the local authority ensures that affordable housing is provided on larger development sites. These properties in Quedgeley have now been let for general needs rent.

Raglin Way, Uley (GRHA)

St Barbaras Ashchurch

Working with Aqua Construction, we are currently at the planning stage of developing seven affordable rent homes on this site. They will comprise of four 1 bed flats, two 2 bed houses and one 3 bed house. These homes have a proposed completion date of June 2014.

We are now nearing completion in developing two 3 bedroom semi-detached homes on this site. Working with local house builder, Aqua Construction, these homes will be ready in August 2013 for affordable rent.

Keep up to date with all development sites on our Facebook page www.facebook.com/severnvalehousing 8

PAY YOUR RENT ONline www.svhs.org.uk


Lanes Court

Tewkesbury

We are continuing to develop 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 September 2013.

Gwen Davies Row Northway

14 properties have been completed on the former garage site, which include one 4 bed bungalow, seven houses (one 6 bed, four 3 bed and two 2 bed) and six 1 bed flats. The first of these homes became available for affordable rent in June.

Manor Farm

Through a Section 106 agreement, which ensures that affordable housing is provided on larger development sites, we are developing 35 homes on this site in Quedgeley. 26 general needs and nine shared ownership homes were completed in May with the remainder due between August – December 2013.

Quedgeley

Styles Close Northway

11 homes (four 1 bed flats, six 2 bed houses and one 2 bed bungalow) have been developed on this former youth club site for market rent. Interested? Contact Charles Leather Residential, who manages our market rental portfolio on 01386 751876 or visit www.charlesleather.co.uk

report a repair ONline www.svhs.org.uk

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repairs & maintenance

Home safety - increase in burglary We were told at the last police meeting in Bishop’s Cleeve the number of burglaries in the area has gone up since the last quarter, particular shed and distraction burglaries. Is your home protected from crime? There are plenty of ways that you can prevent your home from being targeted for theft. Here are some of our tips.

Always lock the door and close windows when you go out, even if you’ll only be out for a short time. In 3 out of 10 burglaries, thieves do not have to use force. They get in through an open door or window. Use deadlocks if you have them - they make it more difficult for thieves to get out again. Don’t leave spare keys outside or in a garage or shed. Keep garden sheds and garages locked and think about using a battery operated alarm.

Keep car and garage keys out of sight in the house.

Don’t leave window and door keys in their locks.

Always draw your curtains at night and make sure valuable items cannot be easily seen from outside.

Make sure that garden tools or ladders that could be used to force entry into your home, are not left lying around. Keep them stored in a shed, garage or locked away out of sight.

New repairs handbook out now! We have listened to your comments and feedback and have replaced our repairs handbook with a new, easy to follow edition. You may have already received your copy of the new booklet, but if not do not worry they are on their way, or pick up one when you next pop into the office. The repairs handbook helps you to understand what you are responsible for in your home, your rights, and how to report a repair. We’ve included some helpful advice 10

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and tips to help avoid having costly repairs such as, condensation, blockages and how to reset your trip switch. You’ll also find a section with our service standards and code of conduct. We hope you enjoy the new handbook, and find it useful for maintaining your home. If you have any questions or feedback do get in touch, call 01684 272727 or email info@svhs.org.uk

58% of burglaries take place in the evening or night, and 34% occur at the weekend. Use timers for a light and radio if you will be out of the house overnight. They create the impression that someone is at home (it’s not recommended to use TVs for this purpose).

Mark your belongings with a property marking product.

Neighbourhood Watch and other ‘watch’ schemes are excellent ways for communities to fight burglary.


Safe at home The Safe at Home service can help older people, or those living with a disability, to remain living independently in their own home. Appointed by the local authority, Mears will work with you to assess how they can help with home improvements, handyperson or advice and information.

They will also help you in securing any funding or grants you may be entitled to so that the cost of work to you is kept to a minimum. Otherwise work will be charged at a competitive hourly rate plus the cost of materials.

To find out more, contact Mears on freephone 0800 032 3139 or visit www.mearsgroup.co.uk

Rewires and electrical check ups As your landlord we have an obligation to ensure that electrical wiring within your home is safe. Periodic electrical inspections are carried out and full rewires are undertaken where necessary. These are essential and access must be allowed into the property (as stated in your tenancy agreement). We’ll write to you to confirm the work and give you details of the contractor who will contact you to book an appointment.

Mender that render Work has now been completed on two properties on Abott’s Road, Priors Park. These homes were identified as being hard to insulate, with large amounts of heat being lost through the walls. Covering the walls in a 50mm board and coating with a self-colour render, has helped make the property waterproof, and keep the heat in.

Smell Gas?

If you’re unable to make your allocated time please contact us immediately. If you miss several appointments we may be forced to take legal action.

shut off the gas supply immediately at the meter. open all windows, extinguish all flames and do not use electrical switches or appliances.

If you’re considering decorating don’t forget to contact the Planned Maintenance Team on 01684 272727 or email info@svhs.org.uk to find out if any planned work is due, to ensure it doesn’t affect your plans.

Cooking on gas Every year we carry out safety checks to ensure that all gas appliances, fittings and flues provided are safe. This includes items such as central heating, boilers and gas fires. Our gas engineers will visit your home to carry out visual checks and tests. When your property is due for a safety check we will contact you by letter asking you to make an appointment. Once the checks are complete you will be given a

copy of the landlord’s gas safety certificate. Please ensure you keep this in a safe place. If you think there’s a gas leak in your home, shut off the gas supply immediately at the meter. Open all windows, extinguish all flames and do not use electrical switches or appliances. Call the emergency gas number on 0800 111 999 and then give us a call on 01684 272727 to report the problem.

report a repair ONline www.svhs.org.uk

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COMMUNITY SPIRIT

“It’s fantastic! this project has brought lots of people together. Everyone has worked tremendously hard and we are delighted with the final result.” louise Forey, community development officer

Brook makeover After 18 months of hard work, the project to transform Horsbere Brook in Brockworth has been completed. To mark the end of the work, SVHS resident Rosemary Clark unveiled an information board telling people about the waterway. Two more boards have also been installed along the brook to encourage people to explore the area. They detail the history of the brook and local wildlife and plants that can be seen, which include wild garlic, elders and shrews. 12

PAY YOUR RENT ONline www.svhs.org.uk

Rosemary has been instrumental in helping the community to apply for funding from SVHS to improve the brook and reduce the risk of flooding. Over 290 local residents have been involved with the project, clearing areas and replanting trees. Brockworth Parish Council Chairman Jim Hunt said; “Thanks to everyone who helped, as they’ve made an excellent job. We hope people will feel proud of it now and help to maintain it’s beauty.”


Edible Garden Mural Two giant murals have been created to welcome local residents and volunteers to the Edible Garden site in Priors Park. Over two sunny days in May local residents and volunteers came together to create the wildlife themed walls.

The community allotment has transformed a disused area in Priors Park from overgrown weeds to edible produce galore. The site is located behind the Queens Road flats, with the new mural wall forming the back of the flats brick sheds.

Louise Forey, Community Development Officer said; “It’s fantastic! This project has brought lots of people together. Everyone has worked tremendously hard and we are delighted with the final result.”

“The allotment has really improved the area and the new mural is the icing on the cake! We’re really proud of the site and encourage others to come and join us growing,” said a local Priors Park resident.

Project Manager, Erin from charity Vision 21, is on site every week and holds regular food growing workshops to get your green fingers going. She’d love to hear from more local residents who’d like to take part. So if growing your own vegetables appeals to you, but you don’t know where to start, why not join in the fun. To find out more, contact the Community Involvement Team on 01684 272726.

CCG AGM A big thank you to those who attended the Customer Consultative Group (CCG) AGM in April. Over 20 residents reviewed 2012/13 activities, discussing all projects they’d been involved with, such as policy reviews and assisting with operational discussions. The group also examined the CCG project fund, which is available to support customers to enhance their community. Last year’s projects included the Horsbere Brook Project, security fencing for Queens Road flats, and laptops for the Computer Café. If you have a project idea that needs support, get in touch with the Community Involvement Team on 01684 272726 to find out more. report a repair ONline www.svhs.org.uk

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COMMUNITY SPIRIT

Playtime in Brockworth It’s been great to watch the transformation of the play areas at Mill Lane and Abbotswood over the past few months. The project, which involved local residents and community partners, has developed wonderful natural playful landscapes for everyone to enjoy. Working with local artists and wood, saved from a local housing development, beautiful benches and sculptures have been created. See more photos on our Facebook page www.facebook.com/severnvalehousing

Energy training Back in April SVHS worked with Severn Wye Energy Agency (SWEA) to provide energy awareness training for customers, giving advice and guidance on how to save energy at home, and how to support others in doing the same. During the day customers tested various items, such as a kettle, hair dryer and computer console to understand how much energy they use. We also handed out energy 14

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monitors to help customers analyse their energy use at home. Six resident inspectors also attended the training, and will be building their learning into the inspection process. If you’re interested in having a visit from a customer energy advisor, or interested in becoming an advisor yourself, get in touch with the Community Involvement Team on 01684 272726.


get involved

Making an impact on your community Customer involvement is an essential part of SVHS’s business, and is at the heart of everything we do. It’s about working with customers so they can take part in, and influence, decisions that affect homes and neighbourhoods. Here’s a summary of our customer involvement over the past year. If you’d like to read the full report, contact us on 01684 272726, email community.involvement@svhs.org.uk or visit www.svhs.org.uk

Who’s been having a say?

How have customers helped?

It’s been great to see a diverse range of customers getting involved this year. Ranging from 17 – 86 year olds, you’ve been involved with shaping the way things are done at SVHS. Here’s a summary of how customers have been making their voices heard:

During 2012/13 customers have been involved with many projects which range from publication design, policy reviews and service scrutiny. Here’s a taste of the ways in which customers have been involved:

• 138 attended formal involvement activities, such as focus groups and meetings

• assisted with the design of the self service portal • wrote and proof read articles for 24/Severn magazine

• 1,728 returned the STAR survey • 1,590 telephone satisfaction surveys were completed • 4 customer board members and 4 customers are on the Complaints Audit Panel • 238 compliments and 179 complaints were received.

• discussed the new anti-social behaviour policy with the housing team • provided feedback on new phone scripts for the contact centre • discussed the new rent statement design and layout

What’s happened in your area? It’s been a busy year working with lots of residents and local groups improving the communities where you live. This included: • Horsbere Brook Project - a local volunteer group worked with SVHS and other local partners to improve an overgrown area (see page 12). • Priors Park Edible Garden - this ongoing project has helped residents to transform a disused area from over grown weeds to edible produce galore. • Olympic torch and Jubilee - residents took to the streets to celebrate the Olympic torch coming through our region, and SVHS retirement schemes got together to enjoy a sing-a-long, to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

• reviewed repairs priority times for the new repairs handbook.

• Roses Theatre and Dance - offered subsidised places for SVHS residents in Tewkesbury to develop their fitness, co-ordination and rhythm.

• Affordable warmth - providing training to customers and trialling energy saving products in customer’s homes.

• Financial - helping customers to manage finances or deal with financial hardship. New contents insurance provider sourced.

• Benefit changes - providing guidance and support to customers affected by the recent Government welfare reform changes.

• Skills 4 U - helped customers build on their skills, SVHS provided a training programme to increase knowledge, build confidence and meet new people. 160 workshops were held with 90 different customers attending and courses including photography, knitting, DIY and IT.

Advice and support From Internet training to advice on how to cut your energy bills, the team have been on hand to offer guidance to many customers over the last year. • Get Online - since autumn 2012 we’ve been providing informal and relaxed computer training, helping people to get online. The Computer Café is a real hit with residents using the free Internet to shop and pay bills.

• Garden support - working with local partners to help customers who are struggling with their gardens.

If you’d like to get involved, contact the Community Involvement Team on 01684 272726 or email commuity.involvement@svhs.org.uk report a repair ONline www.svhs.org.uk

15


a focus on...

A Royal Celebration! The Royal family and our residents share one thing in common – they love to throw a good party! After a busy 2012, with the royal wedding and the Jubilee, this summer the Royal Family invited you to join in the celebrations to mark the 60th anniversary of The Queen’s Coronation. The Retirement Forum gave each one of our retirement schemes funds to throw a party in honour of the Queen’s anniversary. We sent out our special reporters (the Editorial Panel and the newly trained Customer Photography group) to some of these parties to find out more. Here are some of our favourite snaps of the celebrations.

Coronation facts Her Majesty’s Coronation took place at Westminster Abbey back in 1953 on the 2 June, nearly eighteen months after she succeeded her father, King George VI.

The banquet, served in Westminster Hall, comprised five courses: soup, salmon, grilled steak with cocotte potatoes and truffle salad, Coronation chicken and soufflé.

The weather on Coronation Day failed to match the celebratory mood struggling to reach 12ºC – not dissimilar to that on the Queen’s wedding day six years before.

A total of 8,251 guests attended the ceremony at Westminster Abbey. One hundred and twenty nine nations and territories were officially represented.

Not too late If you haven’t yet joined in the celebrations it’s not too late. There’s a unique festival taking place from 11-14 July at Buckingham Palace where the gardens are open to the public and music from Katherine Jenkins. To find out more, visit www.coronationfestival.com

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the retirement forum gave each one of our retirement schemes funds to throw a party in honour of the queen’s anniversary.


report a repair ONline www.svhs.org.uk

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memory lane

Grandma’s house When Mary’s grandchildren drive past 41 Gloucester Road in Tewkesbury it’s more than just a three bed house to them, its Grandma’s house. “I can still smell the sweet baking aroma and hear children playing in the garden. They always knew where the toys were kept,” explained, Mary Moore’s daughterin-law. The memories in the minds of the Moore family and the walls of 41 Gloucester Road are plentiful, after all it has been Mary’s home for over 81 years. 24/Severn went to meet Mary, our longest standing tenant on record, to hear more about her time in Gloucester Road. “Since 1924 I grew up in the house with my two brothers. I always remember the hedge out the front as it was sparse when I was a child, but then it bloomed and now it’s very big,” explains Mary. 18

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“In 1958, after my parents had passed, my husband and I took over the tenancy, and we happily raised our four children Sue, Colin, Jill and Neil there. Back then the weekly rent was £1 8s 6d (that’s equivalent to about £1.42).” “Many things have changed over the time I lived there, for example the coal cupboard became the home for my freezer! Neighbours came and went, along with the big open fields where my brothers and I used to play and climb trees. You could see for miles across the fields, before Warners garage opened on Gloucester Road. We were lucky to have a big garden though, and I often grew things like apples and gooseberries and made my own jam.” “I loved to bake too. When I recently moved out, the only items that one of my granddaughters wanted was my rolling pin and wooden spoons!”

“I grew up in the house with my two brothers since 1924. I always remember the hedge out the front as it was sparse when I was a child but then it bloomed and now it’s very big.”

Mary told us how her dad, Montague, was a well-known barber in Tewkesbury. “He would always give sweets away to the local children and was a highly valued member of the community.” 24/Severn visited Mary in her new home, where she seemed settled and happy. Though she was very sad to wave goodbye to Gloucester Road, Mary explained the time was right and the house was becoming too much for her to maintain. “It was sad to leave, but you know I have all the happy memories with me. That house is all I ever knew, I learnt everything I know in that house,” explains Mary. Thank you to the Moore family who openly shared their stories with 24/Severn, it was really lovely to meet you. Do you have a story you’d like to share with us? Contact the Editorial Panel on 01684 272774 or email editorial.panel@svhs.org.uk


get online

Reach for the Skype! A 93-year old man is using the latest video calling technology to see and speak to his family over 10,000 miles away. Severn Vale Housing has started to install video conferencing technology into retirement schemes, where requested, to help residents stay in touch with their loved ones more easily. Grandfather Les, who has lived at SVHS retirement scheme, Parklands for 18 years, is the first resident in the scheme to use Skype to chat to relatives overseas. However the scheme is now helping other residents to use video conferencing technology to stay in touch. “It’s marvellous to see my daughter on screen and talk to her every week,” explains Les. “I can’t believe it sometimes. It’s lovely to be able to see each other when we talk. My daughter and son-in-law moved to Australia in the late seventies. The distance means I’ve only seen them a handful of times since

then, so Skype is the next best thing. It’s wonderful to press a few buttons and then see her face on screen!” explains Les. “I’ve also recently video called my grandson in Bangkok. I haven’t seen him since he was three years old and now he’s in his late twenties! I’ve also used the Internet to search for the hotel that he manages. It makes me very proud to see how well he’s done.” David Woolley, Elderly Services Manager, said; “Face-to-face contact with relatives isn’t always possible which is why we decided to start using Skype in our retirement schemes. It means that residents whose families or friends live further afield can still stay in touch at the click of a button.” If you don’t live in one of our retirement schemes, and need help with Skype, contact Community Involvement on 01684 272726.

“face-to-face contact with relatives isn’t always possible which is why we decided to start using skype in our retirement schemes.” david woolley, elderly services manager

Webwise A computer used to be a specialist purchase – now you can even pick one up with your groceries at the supermarket! There are lots of options out there, but before you make your purchase don’t forget to call the Community Involvement Team to check out the latest offers. That’s exactly what Simon Brown from Tewkesbury did. “I’ve been reliant on computers in Tewkesbury Library for the last two years. It’s been great for job searching, but it was definitely time to get my own,” explains Simon. “With the help of Kate from the

Community Involvement Team I’ve just ordered a great refurbished laptop for £74!” Simon, who’s about to get back to studying when he starts a postgraduate teaching degree in September, also took out a new Internet package. “By using some savings, and with the help from my family, I’ll soon be online at home. It’ll be vital for my studies, so I can’t wait!” To find out more about computer, broadband and other Internet deals, contact Community Involvement on 01684 272726. report a repair ONline www.svhs.org.uk

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gloucestershire

Summer time fun The sun has finally arrived in the Cotswolds, so get your picnic blanket out and head for your favourite spot. Or maybe you’d prefer to stroll around the countryside and take in the views? If you’re in need of inspiration, here are some ideas for walks, picnics and days out on a budget in the region.

Walks The Devil’s Chimney on Leckhampton Hill With views across Cheltenham and Gloucester this walk is perfect for those who want to stretch their legs and get some fresh air. Don’t forget your camera to capture the views from the top. The Severn Way Take a walk from Tewkesbury along the Severn Way towards Odda’s Chapel. There are lots of spots along the way to take a rest and put your picnic blanket down. The Sculpture Trail, Forest of Dean Stroll through 17 permanent artworks, including a 5 metre stained glass window suspended from a tree. Free access to all in a wonderful woodland environment. There are some great walks, cycle paths and Go Ape tree adventure park in the Forest too.

Picnics Gloucester Park A great place for picnics, sun bathing, football, Frisbees and other outdoor activities. There’s also a play area containing swings, climbing frames, slides and roundabouts. Pitville Park, Cheltenham Enjoy your picnic with views of the lake and pump rooms. Popular with families of all ages due to the children’s play area, pitch and putt, skate ramp, scenic walks by the lake and rabbits and birds to entertain the little ones.

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Robinswood Hill Park 250 acres of open countryside with fabulous views of the Severn Bridge, Malvern Hills and the Black Mountains. A great place to picnic, take in the views and enjoy the great outdoors.

Places of interest Over Farm, Gloucester Pigs, donkeys, chickens, ducks and even ostriches are on show at the farm. Food for the animals can be bought in the shop and provides much entertainment for children, big and small. Sandford Park Lido, Cheltenham Take the plunge and splash around at the outdoor pool in Cheltenham. Open May until September it’s a great day out for the family with slides and paddling pool. Most days there are two lanes of the 50m pool reserved for more serious swimmers too. www.sandfordparkslido.org.uk Gloucester Cathedral This magnificent cathedral is in the heart of Gloucester. As one of the filming locations for Harry Potter films, the cathedral is popular with all ages. Tewkesbury Abbey Built in 1102 to house monks, the Abbey is the second largest Parish Church in the country. It houses a collection of medieval tombs and many stained glass windows, including the 14th century choir windows and stunning modern glass.


meet meetthe theboard team

Get on board Severn Vale Housing Board is our governing body and all members are volunteers except the Chair. The Board is made up of customers, Tewkesbury Borough Councillors and independent representatives. We caught up with two members of the board Debbie and Claire to find out why they got involved. Making a difference All SVHS customers have the opportunity to sit on the board, and in January 2011 that’s exactly what Debbie Midwinter from Innsworth Lane did. Sitting alongside Councillors, independent representatives and members of SVHS staff, the board oversee strategic decisions, ensure accountability and support the SVHS Executive Team. “I really enjoy being part of the board. The topics we discuss vary from customer complaints and benefit changes, to the finances of the business. It’s great to get involved with making decisions which will affect us all,” explains Debbie.

Privileged to be involved Being mayor is a major responsibility, so too is being a board member for a housing association; however Councillor Claire Wright relishes the opportunity to take on both challenges. Claire has just stepped up from Deputy Mayor to replace Councillor Philip Surman in the hot seat as mayor of Tewkesbury Borough, and has been a board member at Severn Vale Housing for the past six years. “I look forward to representing the Borough of Tewkesbury in the coming year,” she said. “It will undoubtedly be a busy year with many important issues on the agenda, but I will do my very best in fulfilling my duties.”

Mother of two, Debbie moved into her current home in Churchdown in 2011 and couldn’t be happier in the area. “There’s a great village feel here with lots of shops and amenities close by. On a sunny day I enjoy getting outside with my children, and living in Gloucestershire there’s so many places to visit,” said Debbie. And when the weather is not so great, the techno loving Midwinters love nothing more than surfing the net. “Whether it’s for the latest cupcake recipe for my daughter, watching magic tricks on YouTube with my son, or catching up with friends on Facebook, we all love technology! I bank online, sometimes pay “I really enjoy my rent through the AllPay being part of the app and we’ve just started to do our grocery shop SVHS board. The topics we online too.” discuss vary from customer

complaints and benefit

Thanks to Debbie for changes, to the finances sharing her insights. of the business.” If you’re interested in getting involved, contact the Community Involvement Team on 01684 272726 or email community.involvement@svhs.org.uk

Councillor Claire Wright already has a plan of action after taking over the position at the start of May. “The promotion of Tewkesbury Borough as a place to live, work and visit will be at the heart of my mayoral year, and to welcome the completion of the new Tewkesbury Hospital,” she said.

“There are many challenges that face the housing sector and tenants over the coming months, the introduction of Universal Credit in October will hit many people’s pockets. There’s a real concern about the financial management and debt of some families in the Borough.

Every four years councillors have the opportunity to be nominated onto the board at Severn Vale Housing (SVHS), and in June 2007 that’s exactly what Claire did.

“It’s good to see how SVHS are supporting those affected by the welfare reform changes, providing support and guidance to those in need.”

“I feel privileged to be involved with SVHS and I’m sure the two roles will work well together. During my six years as a board member I’ve gained a real understanding on how housing associations work, it’s also been interesting to see behind the scenes.

In her spare time, Claire has a passion for poetry, enjoys amateur theatre and when times allows, she enjoys nothing more than a visit to London to see her daughter Lauren. Everyone at SVHS wishes Claire well in her new role and would like to thank her for continuous commitment to the board.

report a repair ONline www.svhs.org.uk

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garden time

How wildlife friendly is your garden? Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust wants to create the county’s biggest nature reserve by asking all garden owners to encourage wildlife into their own gardens. The Living Gardens project will provide help and advice to residents on how to attract more wildlife into the garden. Simple changes in your garden can make a real difference. Such as planting nectar rich plants to attract butterflies and bees, making a small pond to create a wildlife haven and putting up bird boxes to provide nesting sites. To find out more, contact Jo Worthy-Jones on 01452 383333 or email jo.worthy-jones@ gloucestershirewildlifetrust.org.uk

Got the gardening bug? Are you a keen gardener and happy to pass on tips to your neighbours? Severn Vale Housing and Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust are looking to recruit gardening mentors to help make gardening easier for those who are struggling to maintain their garden. In return we’ll offer free wildlife gardening training. “The project allows people to share their skills and knowledge with others in their area, improving the environment we live in. We’re looking to recruit volunteer gardening mentors who will help people in their neighbourhood to maintain their garden, making it more wildlife friendly and 22

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share tips with others,” said Louise Forey, Community Development Officer at Severn Vale Housing. “Gardening mentors can give whatever time they have available, and in return we’ll provide access to gardening tools and equipment and expert wildlife training from the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust.” Are you interested in helping others in your area to look after their outside space? To find out more, get in touch with Louise Forey on 01684 272726 or email louise.forey@svhs.org.uk

“The project allows people to share their skills and knowledge with others in their area, improving the environment we live in.”


Free conservation course The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) are offering a free Diploma in Environmental Conservation and Land-based Operations to young residents and those on job seekers. This two day a week certified course worth £280, takes place in Gloucester and surrounding areas, covering many of the skills needed to work within the environmental conservation sector. To find out if you’re eligible call the Community Involvement Team on 01684 272726, email community.involvement@svhs.org.uk or visit www.svhs.org.uk Images © Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust

Green fingers Congratulations to everyone who entered the SVHS Annual Gardening Competition this year. It’s been great to see such a fabulous display of gardens, hanging baskets, pots and patios entered across all categories. The competition recognises the effort of customers who keep their garden looking good, and encourages more people to have a go at gardening. Judging is currently taking place so watch out for photographs in the next issue of 24/Severn, on our Facebook page and website www.svhs.org.uk

Check out our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/severnvalehousing for photos from 2013 entries. report a repair ONline www.svhs.org.uk

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competition time Win a £20 s hopping vouche

Find 10 hidden words with a summer theme and return your entry to us by 1 September for a chance to win £20 Love to Shop voucher.

It’s Summertime!

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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

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SPOT THE DIFFERENCE Study the two pictures shown left of the new mural at Priors Park. There are 10 differences between the top one and the bottom one. Can you spot them all? Circle the changes on the bottom image and send to 24/Severn competition, Severn Vale Housing, Shannon Way, Ashchurch, Tewkesbury, GL20 8ND by 1 September for the chance to win a top secret prize!

Name: Address:

Postcode: Telephone number:

Address:

Postcode: Telephone number:

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

SPRING edition WINNER Well done to Mavis Howells from Winchcombe who correctly completed the Flower Power word search, winning £20 worth of shopping vouchers.


24/Severn Issue 4