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www.svhs.org.uk

No more hassle! Pay by Direct Debit

Moving into your new home?

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Tell us all about your Severn Vale experience in our new surveys p5

Join the SVHS Scrutiny Panel p13

Save water, Save energy, Save money p14

NEWS

housing

get involved

money matters

community spirit

energy wise

garden time

competitions


welcome

Welcome to 24/Severn As we move into spring we hopefully wave goodbye to the cold weather and welcome increased sunshine and warmth to the region. Spring time also brings a long-awaited burst of colour in the garden as daffodils, primroses and tulips brighten up our outside space.

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

However you choose to display your garden, whether it is a window box or well-kept lawn and garden, be sure to enter our gardening competition. There are some new categories this year, meaning you have even more chances to win. Check out page 19 for more details. Spring time is often time for a clear out and de-clutter, getting rid of old clothes, toys and other household items. But before you load the car and head to the tip, take a look at the charitable services on page 4, which could offer a new home for your unwanted items. As the weather brightens up, it’s a great opportunity to explore the region and some of the more wacky events that take place in Gloucestershire.

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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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.

Turn to page 17 to read all about a gnome hunt in Eastcombe, dragon boat race in Gloucester and cheese rolling near Cheltenham. We’ll be back in the summer with more updates and useful information. Don’t forget our doors are always open, so if you would like to get involved or have an idea for the next issue of the magazine, get in touch.

Helen Robinson Marketing and Communications Officer 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

Tenant Participation Advisory Service Award Tenant of the Year A customer Board member since 2011, Debbie Midwinter is also the Chair of Complaints Panel, Chair of Customer Complaints Audit Panel and a social media champion. Debbie’s shortlisting is recognition for her commitment to making a difference and adding value as an involved customer. Darren Knight, Customer Services Manager would like to thank Debbie for her continuous commitment to SVHS, “Debbie is a great example of how involved customers can really make a positive impact on an organisation. A big thank you for all your support.”

Severn Vale Housing has cause to celebrate this month, having been shortlisted for two TPAS (Tenant Participation Advisory Service) awards, one for Tenant of the Year and the other for Excellence in Digital Engagement Award.

Digital Engagement Award In 2012 just 49% of SVHS customers had internet access. In response to this we’ve been working hard to improve our digital services. At the start of the year we opened a new internet café in Priors Park (see page 5 for more details). The weekly web training and annual ‘Get Online Week’ events all help to provide our customers with internet access. The TPAS Central Regional Final took place in March and although we didn’t win the awards we’re extremely proud to have been shortlisted. Well done to everyone involved.

Are you covered? SVHS provide building insurance for the structure of your home but it’s your responsibility to insure your contents. We know around 39% of you don’t have contents insurance (Summer Survey 2012). We urge you to consider how you would replace or repair your TV, computer or carpets if the worst happened. Even a small flood caused by a broken washing machine can cause expensive damage.

Plus there’s no excess to pay if you do have to make a claim.

My Home, a contents insurance scheme provided by the National Housing Federation, offers affordable, easy to set-up cover.

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

You can apply for cover from as little as £1.85 a fortnight (if aged under 60 for the value of £9,000) and can even pay by cash using a swipe card at your local Post Office or Payzone point. Or if you prefer you could set-up a direct debit or pay annually for the cover.

Housing site scoops industry award A recent SVHS development in Tewkesbury has recently received a prestigious award, being highly commended in the Social Housing Development of the Year category in the Premier Guarantee Excellence Awards. Premier Guarantee is the warranty provider for over a quarter of a million housing units across the UK and Europe. The annual awards, now in their seventh year, recognise

the very best of these developments, showing the importance of quality construction. Working with Aqua Construction and achieving the Code for Sustainable Homes Level 3, the homes were built on the former council owned garage site in Northway. The Gwen Davies Row properties are traditionally constructed and clad with red cedar. They provide 14 much needed affordable homes for the area.

“It’s great to receive an award for this project. It’s been a technically interesting development owing to its closeness to the railway line. Features include triple glazed windows, whole house ventilation and acoustic quilting to provide an extra layer of sound reduction,” (Mark Ramdehal, Development Manager at Severn Vale Housing.)

report a repair ONline www.svhs.org.uk

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news roundup

WORKING 9 to 5 Over the past 18 months SVHS have taken on 8 new apprentices and trainees, giving local people the chance to kick start their careers. The new batch of recruits have also begun working towards their qualifications in ICT, repairs, asset and property management and income management. Amongst them are Paul Harrington (ICT), Aaron Mock (Responsive Repairs), Will Hartland (Asset and Property Management) and Anna Wykurz (Income Management). “Finding a job was really difficult, so I decided to apply for work experience with Severn Vale Housing. At the end of my week I found out there were some apprenticeship opportunities available in their ICT department and I haven’t looked back since!” explains Paul.

“Every day I’m learning something new, and knowing that I am working towards an ICT Level 2 qualification is very motivating. I looked at doing a course at college but as I am over 18 I couldn’t afford the fees.” SVHS HR Manager Corry Ravenscroft said: “Apprenticeships are a fantastic opportunity for people to work towards a nationally recognised qualification, and the chance to earn whilst training on the job.” Good luck to all our apprentices and trainees at SVHS.

Paul Harrington, ICT Apprentice

“Every day I’m learning something new, and knowing that I am working towards an ICT Level 2 qualification is very motivating.”

Free to a good home

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choose to reuse

As spring is now upon us, many of you may be having a good spring clean, clearing out old clothes, furniture and other items. Did you know there are many charitable services in Gloucestershire who will often collect these items?

• • •

Some also offer second hand items such as bikes, fridges, cookers and paint to buy at discounted rates.

Here’s a summary of services available, for more details visit www.recycleforgloucestershire.com

Save energy and raw materials Raise funds for local charities Make good quality items available at affordable prices

Items

Location

Contact

Bikes

Gloucestershire Bike Project, Gloucester

01452 690979

Foil and cans

The Butterfly Project, Dundry Nursuries

01452 713124

Electrical items, beds, bikes and tools

Reclaim, Landsdown Industrial Estate, Cheltenham

01242 228823

Ennaus, Chequers Road, Gloucester

01452 413095

Furniture Recycling Project, Station Road, Gloucester

01452 302303

British Heart Foundation, locations in Gloucester and Cheltenham

0844 2489133

PAY YOUR RENT ONline www.svhs.org.uk


Tick in the box

Bogus Callers

We’ve recently undertaken a review of our customer satisfaction surveys, and you’ll be pleased to know this has led to a reduction in the number of questions being asked! The data collected from these surveys is really important as it helps us to improve processes and the service we provide to you, and benchmark ourselves against other housing associations.

Continuously monitoring performance and making improvements ensures we are providing the best possible service to you. The new look surveys will be used from April so let us know what you think.

Computer Café Success Following the launch of the Central Park Computer Café last year, we’re pleased to report it’s proving to be a great success! So much so we have decided to open it twice a week to ensure everyone gets a chance to get online. The Computer Café in Tewkesbury is now open every Tuesday and Thursday between 10am – 1pm and free to anyone to come and surf the net. One of the Community Team will also be on hand to help with any technical issues or if you need some help getting started.

Please be careful and remember to only let people into your home if they have a proper identification badge.

Interested? Get in touch with the Community Involvement Team on 01684 272726 or email info@svhs.org.uk

If you have urgent concerns about your safety call the Police on 999.

March 2014

Repairs

100% 80% 90%

All Severn Vale Housing staff, and any contractors who work on our behalf, carry an ID badge and should produce this on arrival at your home.

It’s conveniently located opposite the shops on Queens Road Priors Park in Tewkesbury. So next time you’re picking up your groceries why not pop in? We are also looking for people, or groups, who would like to run their own activities from the building.

How are we doing?

1042 jobs

We’ve recently received information that unauthorised companies are cold calling customers, particularly in the Innsworth area, to clean out guttering and pathways.

If you have any doubts or are worried, do not let them in. Call us straight away on 01684 272727.

88%

of you were satisfied with us overall

Lettings were completed, 896 of these by the in-house repairs team and 146 by contractors. of emergency jobs were completed on time (Target = 100%) of urgent jobs were completed on time (Target = 75%) of routine jobs were completed on time (Target = 96%)

14 days

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

Anti-social behaviour

90%

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

70%

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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MONEY MATTERS

The smart way to pay Did you know you can pay your rent on your smart phone? All you need is your phone, AllPay app and debit card! It is free to use and can be downloaded from the app store or Google Play. The app will allow you to pay your rent wherever you are, at the touch of a button. What’s more, once you’ve logged into your account via the app, you can store your details saving time for your next payment.

The AllPay app is just one of the ways you can pay your rent. Did you know we now have an automated payment line which allows you to pay over the phone, even out of office hours? Call 0844 557 8321 and follow the simple instructions or see below about how Direct Debit can help save you time, and ensure you pay your rent on time!

Follow us on Facebook Back in 2012 we launched the SVHS Facebook page. We’re pleased to announce the page has been going well with over 150 ‘likes’ from customers and local community groups. If you haven’t done so already, check us out at:

We also post money and energy saving tips and details of the latest workshops and training available for SVHS customers. So next time you’re online, click the ‘like’ button and we’ll keep you posted.

www.facebook.com/severnvalehousing

Do you tweet? We’re also on Twitter. Search for Severn Vale Housing or use our Twitter name: @SVHousing

The aim of the page is to help keep customers up-to-date with the latest news and events at Severn Vale Housing.

Whatever the reason, we’d love to hear from you on either of our social media network channels!

Be direct, pay by Direct Debit We’ve all forgotten someone’s birthday or appointment. It’s easily done, just as it is easy to forget our bills. When are they due? How much? It’s understandable, we’re so busy, juggling work, kids, and spending time with our friends, who has time to write cheques or wait on the phone to pay for things?

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PAY YOUR RENT ONline www.svhs.org.uk

If you sign up to pay your rent by Direct Debit your bills will be paid on time, every time without you having to do a thing. Plus, sign-up before 30 June 2014 and you will also be entered into a national prize draw to win £12,000! You choose which day your payments come out, making it even easier to manage your money.

Go online www.svhs.org.uk/directdebit or call 01684 272727.


What is a loan shark? Anyone who operates a money lending business without a license from the Office of Fair Trading. Illegal money lenders often charge very high interest rates and target vulnerable people, leaving them struggling to get through each day due to the amount of interest they owe.

Would you know how to spot a loan shark?

Advice from the England Illegal Money Lending Team If you have borrowed from an unlicensed lender you have not broken the law, they have. Call the confidential hotline on 0300 555 2222, email reportaloanshark @stoploansharks.gov.uk or text ‘loan shark’ and your message to 60003. •

What would you do if you or someone you know became tangled in a spiral of debt to an unlicensed lender, known as a loan shark?

Loan sharks often resort to extreme methods to reclaim their debts – threats, intimidation or violence.

Loan sharks are a big problem right now across the country, including Gloucestershire. An estimated 310,000 households in the UK are borrowing from unlicensed lenders.

If you are unable to pay they will take items as security such as passports and credit cards.

Loan sharks very rarely offer paperwork, keeping those who borrow from them in the dark about how much they owe.

Could you afford the vets’ bills if your pet were ill or injured? If you receive means-tested help with your rent or Council Tax Liability and live within one of the following postcode areas GL19, GL20, GL50, GL51, GL52, GL53, you may be eligible for help towards your pets’ veterinary fees. Eligible pet owners living within the catchment area of a PDSA PetAid hospital or practice should register their pets at that facility. Eligible pet owners living outside these catchment areas may apply for PDSA support through a special request. To find out more, contact PDSA direct on 0800 731 2502 (Monday – Friday 9am – 5pm) or visit their website www.pdsa.org.uk/pdsa-vet-care

Don’t wait until your pet is sick or injured. Find out today if PDSA can help you.

All popular pets are treated - dogs, cats and those described as ‘small furries’ (hamsters, rabbits, gerbils, guinea pig, etc).

PDSA only treats one pedigree pet per household.

They always invite pet owners to make a voluntary contribution for treatment provided.

If you don’t qualify for PDSA PetAid visit their website for other suggested ways of support.

FREE CASH withdrawals Don’t you just hate having to pay to withdraw your own money?! Don’t get caught out again. In the future why not use this website: www.link.co.uk/atmlocator Simply type in your address or postcode and it will bring up a map of all the available free to use cash points in your area. Plus it shows you which cash points dispense £5 notes. Don’t be stung again by paying a withdrawal fee!

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 and secure new homes for SVHS and development agencies. Here’s a round-up of their recent work, and proposed development sites.

Redmarley

D’Abitot Forest of Dean

Following a housing needs survey undertaken by Gloucestershire Rural Community Council, we’re currently working with Aqua Construction on this rural exception site to develop 10 affordable rent homes. These properties, two 1-bed flats, eight houses (four 2-bed and four 3-bed) will soon be appearing on Gloucestershire Home Seekers (however you will need to have a local connection in the area to bid) and will be ready late June / early July.

Northway Lane, Tewkesbury Through a section 106 agreement, and working with Sherbourne Homes, we have secured two 2-bed houses for general needs rent. The site is currently being cleared and work is scheduled to commence soon, so watch this space! Properties will be available in early 2015.

Wycombe Road, Kingsway, Quedgeley We’re pleased to announce the final shared ownership property has now been sold on this site, which completes the nine properties of this type on this development. Happy new home to all those who have recently moved in - hope you’ve settled in!

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PAY YOUR RENT ONline www.svhs.org.uk

FURTHER DEVELOPMENT We are also working on acquiring and developing other sites throughout Gloucestershire for and on behalf of GRHA, Cirencester Housing Society and Wydean Housing Association, with all of which we provide a development agency service.


Goose Bay Drive

Kingsway Quedgeley

Goose Bay Drive, Kingsway, Quedgeley

Tatenhill Close, Kingsway, Quedgeley

Through a Section 106 agreement, we are working with Taylor Wimpey to develop 15 homes on this site. They include two 3-bed shared ownership houses and 13 general needs homes (three 1 bed flats, seven 2-bed flats, one 2-bed bungalow and two 4 bed houses). Properties will be available from June/July 2014.

Working with Abbey New Homes under a Section 106 agreement, which ensures that affordable housing is provided on larger development sites, we have recently provided eight new homes in Kingsway. These are a mixture of 2, 3 and 4-bed properties with the final one let this month.

Tatenhill

Close

Quedgeley

report a repair ONline www.svhs.org.uk

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community spirit

Retirement Forum AGM A big thank you to those who attended the Retirement Forum AGM in March. It was a great event with over 50 scheme residents in attendance. The Forum welcomed two guest speakers, Jo Worthy-Jones from the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust and Tim Knight, Acting Chief Executive at SVHS. The Forum also gave a presentation to the rest of the group highlighting the activities they’ve been involved with, these included:

Thanks to everyone who supported Retirement Forum events over the past year. If you are interested in joining the group to represent your scheme we currently have vacancies at Barton Court, Spring Gardens, Parklands and Virginia Close.

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Service Standard review

Unacceptable behaviour poster campaign

Laundry service review

The group reviewed examples from other housing associations and consulted with residents speaking to over 100 at coffee morning events. The group reviewed feedback and working alongside SVHS staff put together a draft standard for approval. The Retirement Housing Service Standard has now been approved and distributed to all scheme residents.

During 2013 a number of offensive behaviour issues were highlighted at our schemes. The Retirement Forum got together with staff to create a poster to remind residents of their tenancy agreement. Posters have now been displayed on all schemes and will soon be rolled out to all communal areas within our stock.

In October 2013 the Forum met with three commercial laundry companies to discuss various issues regarding the communal tenant laundry service. Following the presentations Atherton Close decided to move forward with JLA, whilst Lanes, Tynings and Shipway decided to move forward with Gilmans, and the remaining schemes were happy with their current equipment and service.

PAY YOUR RENT ONline www.svhs.org.uk


INNSWORTH HUT CLOSURE After 14 years of great activities, workshops, and involvement at Innsworth Hut in Rookery Lane, unfortunately we have made the decision to close the building. Attendance at events has been low over the past couple of years so working with the Innsworth Tenants and Residents Association the building has now been taken over by the Parish Council. Big thanks to everyone who has supported events at the Hut over the years, especially Pat Harries who has chaired the group. We wish you well at your new location for your weekly bingo, the Parish Council Community Hall.

Northway Youth Club receives fundingw Congratulations to Northway Youth Club who have just secured £8,000 funding from Tewkesbury Borough Council for play activities for 2014. The Youth Club provides some great activities for children in the area aged between 11 - 19. If you live in Northway and would like to help shape activities for the coming years get in touch with Roy Winrow on (07776) 435114 or email roywinrow@tiscalli.co.uk. The Management Group meet once a month and also would welcome new members who would like to get involved.

Growing success for Garden Mentors Started in spring 2013 in partnership with Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, the Garden Mentor project works with local volunteers to help make gardening easier for those customers who are struggling to maintain their outside space.

Garden mentors can give whatever time they have available, and in return SVHS will provide access to gardening equipment,tools and expert wildlife training from the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust.

“The project allows people to share their skills and knowledge with others in their area, improving the environment we live in,” said Isobel Edwards, Community Development Officer at SVHS. “The project has really gone from strength to strength, but we’re still on the lookout for volunteers to help in their areas.” We’re currently reviewing the gardens of customers who have expressed a concern with maintaining their garden and will soon be matching these with local volunteers. Are you interested in helping others in your area to look after their garden? To find out more, get in touch with the Community Involvement Team on 01684 272726 or email info@svhs.org.uk

You’re Welcome

You’re Welcome You’re Welcome is all about creating more welcoming and inclusive communities across Gloucestershire to help you do the things you enjoy and get to know more people where you live. It’s for everyone, from all walks of life, and that includes people for whom life can sometimes be tricky.

Run by the Barnwood Trust, You’re Welcome offers a range of grants and support to help you create a more welcoming and inclusive community where you live. To find out more, contact the Barnwood Trust on 01452 614429 or visit their website www.yourewelcome.to report a repair ONline www.svhs.org.uk

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community spirit

Helping others in the community Each year we have a £10,000 funding pot known as the Corporate Community Fund, which is divided between local organisations and community groups to help deliver work to benefit local people. Here’s a selection of the projects that were funded from March to November 2013.

The big energy leak

THE BIG LUNCH

TEWKESBURY NATURE RESERVE

Transition Cleeve is a voluntary group working to help households reduce their energy use and bills. In April last year we awarded them with £190 to cover the cost of their ‘Big Energy Leak’ event.

Kingsway Residents Association has been hosting events throughout the year for all Kingsway residents. SVHS provided £200 towards the ‘Big Lunch’ event in June 2013 which was a great success with hundreds of residents turning up to join in with the fun.

Founded in 2011 this voluntary group have developed a nature reserve that will benefit the wildlife and local community of Tewkesbury by enhancing biodiversity and improving urban drainage. £1,000 from the fund went towards recruiting much needed volunteers and co-ordinating activities.

Coopers Edge Dream Scheme

ASHCHURCH STATION GARDEN

£350 was awarded to this scheme supporting their summer holiday activities enabling young people (aged 10-16 years) to earn a reward trip in return for participating in projects to improve their local area.

This voluntary organisation which supports and promotes the Ashchurch for Tewkesbury train station, was provided with £170 for matting which will be placed in time to plant during 2014.

ENCOURAGING YOUTH FOOTBALL

TEWKESBURY YOUTH SUPPORT CENTRE

Brockworth Youth Association Football Club is a volunteer group who oversee nine football teams, which incorporates 154 players ranging from 5 – 18 years old. SVHS funded the group with £500 to fund the cost of hiring floodlights throughout the 10-week winter period.

£74 was awarded to the EPIC youth group towards their Christmas party. EPIC is a group specifically for young people who have a physical or learning disability. The group provides the opportunity to take part in a variety of activities, encouraging their personal development and independent social interaction skills.

Northway area residents

and homeowners association

£500 was provided to this group towards their August Fete which brought residents from all parts of the community together in a day packed with fun activities. 12

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WHITE TIGER CLUBS TAE KWAN DO This voluntary group has been awarded £500 towards the start-up costs of the White Tiger Cubs project. Open to local residents, this group is specifically aimed at children from 3 – 7 years.

GL3 HUB This community hub is a charity which has been awarded £2,000 towards their annex project which aims to provide new accommodation by extending the existing café, creating a multi-purpose community space for events etc.

Applications are now open for the 2014 fund. Are you a member of a community organisation or group in need of some extra funding? To find out more, contact the Community Involvement Team on 01684 272726. As part of your application you must demonstrate how your project will be of benefit to SVHS customers.


get involved

The SVHS Scrutiny Panel NEEDS YOU!

Do you have an inquisitive mind? Do you enjoy talking to people and finding out how things work? Are you a good problem solver? If yes, SVHS Scrutiny Panel needs you! Resident scrutiny is a way for you to examine and challenge the performance of SVHS, and make suggestions on how we can make improvements. Members of our scrutiny play an important role in bringing about positive change to your housing services. SVHS provide a laptop, money towards your home broadband and a range of training and support opportunities to help you examine performance information, understand the way we are financed and regulated, and ask us the right questions about how we can do better. In return we’ll ask you to attend monthly meetings and liaise with other panel members.

“Being involved with the Scrutiny Panel has really helped to build my confidence and develop my skills. SVHS offer lots of training opportunities which helps with the role and boosts my CV too.”

“The Scrutiny Panel offers the chance to learn a little bit more about the work behind the scenes at Severn Vale Housing. They also offer a laptop and money towards my home broadband too, which is a great help.”

Colin, current Scrutiny Panel member.

Pippa, current Scrutiny Panel member.

The Scrutiny Panel is a key way for tenants, leaseholders and shared owners to be more involved in the work of Severn Vale Housing. Interested? To find out more call Deb on 01684 272747.

THE ROLE OF THE SCRUTINY PANEL IS TO: •

Prioritise and oversee tenant led scrutiny activities

Collect evidence to enable housing services to be scrutinised

Examine the evidence, make recommendations for service improvements

Report recommendations to senior management teams

Monitor and review agreed action

report a repair ONline www.svhs.org.uk

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Energy wisE

Save water. Save energy. Save money! We don’t always associate saving water with cutting energy bills, but if you’re on a meter there are some real savings to be had by becoming more water-wise. Severn Trent Water offers a number of water efficiency products that could help save you money. Call into our Tewkesbury offices to collect yours today.

Shower timer: take the shower challenge with the four minute shower timer.

Have you made the energy switch? If you’ve been watching the news recently you’ll have noticed that most of the big energy companies have increased their prices, yet many people believe switching suppliers is difficult and continue to pay. By switching your gas and electricity providers you could save yourself £200*.

“I attended one of the sessions and found out how easy it is to switch providers,” said SVHS customer Alan from Priors Park. So don’t delay, make the energy switch today! Simply visit www.moneysavingexpert.com/ cheapenergyclub and the process is explained in clear and easy steps.

We kicked off 2014 with Energy Switching Sessions showing how easy it can be to switch and save. Across the sessions 26 people saw just how easy it is. One customer even managed to save £360 just by switching providers!

For more advice about switching, or other ways to save money on bills, call the Community Involvement Team on 01684 272726. *Based on figures from moneysavingexpert December 2013.

Save-a-flush: place the bag in your toilet cistern and save over one litre of water with every flush.

ShowerSave: regulates the flow of your shower, saving you water, energy and money. Alternatively, you can ring Severn Trent Water on 08457 500 500 to request further information or visit their website at www.stwater.co.uk/save Severn Trent Water also offers a range of tariffs and services for customers to help manage bills better, now, and in the future. These include flexible payment options, Water Direct, the Severn Trent Trust Fund, the Water Sure scheme and a Single Occupier Assessed Charge. Contact Severn Trent Water to find out more.

economy 7 An economy 7 tariff gives a cheaper electricity rate at night, and a more expensive one in the day. Done right, it can save £100 a year; however done wrong it can cost you a lot more!

How does it work? With a higher rate in the day than at night, this tariff is ideal for those people with storage heaters (but only if you are using them and only if they are charged up at night). The expensive rate usually runs from 7am to midnight and the cheaper, off-peak runs from midnight to 7am, although this varies slightly depending on your supplier.

Is Economy 7 still right for you? According to a survey by campaign body Consumer Futures, about 38%

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PAY YOUR RENT ONline www.svhs.org.uk

of Economy 7 customers don’t have storage heating, or use any appliances at off-peak rates. Is this you? Some people have been on this tariff for some time, however as your circumstances change it’s worth taking time to consider whether it’s still the best choice for you and your energy requirements. Daytime rates can be very high so you can end up significatly overpaying.

How do I leave Economy 7? If you’re on Economy 7 and decide it’s not for you, ask your current supplier to switch you to a non-Economy 7 meter. Most suppliers won’t charge for this switch.


meet the team

“we are like the brain of the company, once we have all the information together we then feed it into all the other departments.”

Mandy

Tell us which member of the team you’d like to meet in the next issue.

Meet the team Danielle Revill, Customer Services Co-ordinator Mandy Bennett, Customer Feedback Assistant You may not recognise the name, but I am sure you’ll recognise the voice. Danielle and Mandy are busy on the phones calling you to find out how we did. If you have had work done by us; a repair, or gas service you may be one of our customers who have received a phone call asking you to rate the level of service. This is because we like to know what you think, good, bad or indifferent. Danielle, a keen volunteer with Worcestershire Wildlife Trust, has been with Severn Vale Housing for over thirteen years. “I moved over to the customer service team when a secondment opportunity became available. I enjoyed working in the finance team for SVHS but wanted to be in a more customer focused role, and now I certainly have that.” Danielle is one of the thirteen members of the Customer Service team and manages two of the ladies in the contact centre, as well as Mandy who works with Danielle collecting customer feedback.

“I have seen a lot of changes, including the way we collect customer feedback. Recently we reviewed all our satisfaction surveys with Managers, Directors and the Scrutiny Panel, and reduced the number of questions we ask from 18 to 7, or even 4 in some cases. People are busy, they don’t have time to stay on the phone or complete long questionnaires and our new format reflects this. In 4-6 short questions we can understand if the work that is being carried out is to the standard we hope for, as well as benchmark against other housing associations to see how we are performing in our sector. The results are also reported to Severn Vale’s Board so that they can see how we are doing. The team is good fun, Darren Knight heads it all up as the Customer Service Manager and he is also the only male!” Customer feedback, whether collected from postal surveys or telephone calls is never wasted, it is entered into the computer using software called Snap and turned into

colourful charts and graphs. “In a way we are like the brain of the company, once we have all the information together we then feed it back to the other departments, this can be from Planned Maintenance to Anti-Social Behaviour. Customer feedback is really important to us, whether it’s to say we’ve done a good job or a suggestion for improvement it’s all recorded and acted on. I really enjoy seeing changes being made as a result of customer feedback that we have passed on to departments.” “Outside work I am very active, my dog Monty ensures this, he keeps me fit and healthy and I enjoy getting outdoors every lunch time to take him on a walk. I would say my least favourite part of my job can be the low response rate some of our paper surveys get, or when I call a run of people and don’t get through to one person. But I see changes in the future which will improve this, such as the introduction of survey text messaging and email to suit our customers’ preferred contact methods.”

report a repair ONline www.svhs.org.uk

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housing

Understanding succession When a customer passes away their tenancy can often be transferred to another member of their household. This is called succession but the law surrounding it can be quite complicated.

Trees – whose responsibility ARE THEY?

Dealing with this issue, along with the loss of someone close, can be difficult and if you have any questions relating to succession, your Lettings Team are on hand to help. To help clear up what rights you have, our expert Lettings Manager Lorraine Freeman answers some common questions we receive from customers.

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My mother who was the sole assured tenant has passed away. I have lived with her for 10 years. Can I take over the tenancy from her? SVHS would investigate the terms of the Tenancy Agreement but if you can prove that you have lived at the address for 12 months or more, it’s likely that you’ll be able to succeed the tenancy but possibly not the property, depending on your housing need. We would also check if there had been a previous succession as housing law states that there can be only one. If I can’t take over the tenancy of the house, will I have to move out immediately? No, Severn Vale Housing is keen to avoid making people homeless and also wants to support you through this difficult time. We will allow you to continue to live there for a short time providing you a pay a charge for the use and occupation of the property. During this time, Severn Vale Housing will provide advice and assistance that will include a referral to your local authority to help you find an alternative home. The law states that we must serve ‘notice of seeking possession’ within 12 months of being notified of the death, if we wish to regain possession of the property. My mother and father were secure tenants. My father passed away five years ago and I have lived at the property with my mother since then. Now my mother has also passed on. Can I take on the tenancy? Unfortunately the tenancy can only be passed on once and this occurred when your father died. We will do our best to help you find alternative accommodation and will assess your housing need at the time of your contact.

The Grounds Maintenance Team has been busy over recent months carrying out necessary work to trees that are in our communal areas. Many tenants ask if we can carry out work to the trees within their gardens, however unfortunately we have to say no. Under the terms of the tenancy agreement, tenants are responsible for the garden, which includes any trees within its boundary. Some areas that we manage are conservation areas and some trees have Tree Preservation Orders placed upon them. Before cutting back or removing any tree please contact the Local Authority in your area to check if this applies to your tree. The tenancy also restricts you from removing any trees before seeking permission from your Housing Officer. If you think that the trees are causing damage to the property itself we will send someone out to assess it. We may or may not have to carry out works and re-charge them if necessary, however this will only be done in exceptional circumstances where the property is at risk of being damaged. If you need further information about this, please contact your Housing Officer on 01684 272751.

To find out more about succession of your tenancy, call your Housing Officer on 01684 272751.

where there’s muck there’s... .. an irresponsible dog owner! Some inconsiderate owners are allowing their dogs to foul the pavements in the Priors Park area on an almost daily basis. Dog faeces left on the pavement is a health hazard and a nuisance, and could leave you facing a £1,000 fine. 16

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Ask yourself, “would you want to clear up constantly after someone else’s dog?” Don’t make others clean up your mess. Be responsible. Don’t just leave it – Bag it, Bin it.


gloucestershire

GloucEstershire’s wacky event guide Ranging from the mildly bizarre to the downright daft, here’s your very own guide to the county’s craziest summer events. So if you fancy getting out to soak up the sunshine and enjoy some of the more unusual activities in Gloucestershire, take your pick from this selection happening from May – August.

THE SEVERN BORE

CHEESE ROLLING

BOURTON FOOTBALL IN THE RIVER

At various times throughout the year surfers, canoeists and windsurfers gather along the Severn Estuary to ride the epic Atlantic wave of water that forces its way through the estuary at speeds of 20mph. Hordes of spectators flock to the river banks where waves can reach two metres in height. So don’t miss the chance to witness this natural phenomenon on your doorstep.

Traditionally on the last bank holiday Monday in May, the annual Cheese Rolling competition takes place at Cooper’s Hill on the outskirts of Cheltenham. Expect to see hundreds of people throwing themselves down a very steep slope after the elusive 8lb Double Gloucester cheese! Despite being officially cancelled since 2010, an unofficial event has been staged ever since.

Annually on the last bank holiday Monday in August you’ll find Bourton Rovers Football Club take to the river to play a laugh-aminute game of football whilst immersed up to their knees in freezing water. Waterproofs are a must if you plan to observe this tradition as splashing around is all part of the fun!

GLOUCESTER DOCKS DRAGON BOAT REGATTA

Cotswold ‘olympick’ games

Eastcombe gnome hunt

Each summer you’ll find a host of unusual athletic events such as shin kicking take place at Dover’s Hill in Chipping Campden. With live music and dance performances, as well as a bonfire, fireworks and traditional torch lit procession to Chipping Campden Square, this event will provide entertainment for the whole family.

Every June expect to find scores of rosy-cheeked little men dotted around the pretty private gardens of Eastcombe, waiting to be discovered by families following the trail and solving clues, hoping to win one of the gnomes! Stalls and games promise to keep the family entertained at this charity event.

Annually on the second or third Sunday in May, Gloucester’s historic Docks welcome fancy dress-clad rowers who make their way across the water in decorative dragon boats. This fun-filled afternoon offers a fun fair, stalls and live music for all the family to enjoy.

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17


garden time

“A sneaky trick for a healthy lawn is to wait for it to be completely dry, mow the lawn once, put seeds and feed down and then leave.”

2013 Best in Show Winner Barbara Crew - Alderton

Show us your garden If you enjoy gardening and are proud of your blooms, it’s not too late to get your application in for this year’s 2014 gardening competition. This annual affair has been growing in applicants and categories since it started in 2011. Last year we saw our first young grower, Teagan Stebbings-Pritchard, pip everyone to the post and crowned winner of her category. The 2013 Best in Show prize was awarded to Barbara Crew from Alderton who displayed many beautiful gardens within one. Even the rolling hills in the distance couldn’t distract the judges from the beauty of her garden. Nearly a year on we caught up with Barbara to see what she is planning for this year. 18

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“Because of the winter and the work we are doing to our bungalow everything is a bit of a mess, but I hope to have it all back in shape ready for the 2014 gardening

“Over the winter I leave the garden, especially the lawn. You don’t want to be doing anything to it whilst it is wet. Spring is when I get back out there and get everything ready, all the flowers start popping their heads up at once, which need to be pruned and cut back. This year we have planted daffodils, tulips, crocuses, and laid more seeds on the lawn. I do all the planning and decide what pots to use and how to display them, and my husband Kenneth does all the hard work!

competition. We’re getting a dove house for our garden, which should look great; I just hope it’s all finished in time.

“A sneaky trick for a healthy lawn is to wait for it to be completely dry, mow the lawn once, put seeds and feed down and then leave. I also add a layer of


Categories • • • • •

Wildlife friendly Communal areas Small spaces Your garden Primary School Gardens

Check out our Facebook page to see photos from last year’s entries. www.facebook.com/severnvalehousing

soil from grow bags and pat down on top. Any weeds, such as the tobacco plant, need to be dug out. I have found that weed killer won’t do and they keep appearing so I dig them out, otherwise once you have them you have them for good.” said Barbara. Gardening is no walk in the park so show off your dazzling daffodils and celebrate your hardworking green fingers by entering the competition. Categories include wildlife friendly, small spaces, your garden and communal areas. This year we’ve also included a category for primary schools. If your garden is a window box, on a balcony, or a never ending meadow we want you to share it with us; it doesn’t matter how big or small there are many categories for you to compete in. Plus everyone who enters will be invited to an awards ceremony, will have the opportunity to star in our next magazine and wallow in the pleasure of being crowned top gardener.

Don’t let your gardening skills go unnoticed, share them with Gloucestershire. Scrub the soil away from your finger nails, pop the kettle on and complete your application form today. If you haven’t got your entry form yet give us a call or drop us an email and we’ll send you one. You’ve got three months until the application deadline, in June, so if your garden isn’t quite up to scratch there is still plenty of time to get creative.

Film premier coming soon Remember the Garden Mentor Project and Edible Garden in Priors Park? Both projects have been featured in previous issues of 24/Severn over the last couple of years.

Well now thanks to Barnwood Trust both projects will soon be featured in a film which will showcase the excellent work that’s been going on within the community.

If you need a reminder, the Garden Mentor project links up customers who are struggling to maintain their garden with a volunteer to help clear and brighten up their outside space. And the excellent Edible Garden in Priors Park, Tewkesbury provides a space for people to grow their own crops.

To view the films visit our Facebook page www.facebook.com/severnvalehousing 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

Let us know what you think by leaving a comment on our page. Now where’s the popcorn?

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19


competition time

Spring has sprung! Find 10 hidden words and return your entry to us by 1 June for a chance to win £20 Love to Shop voucher. Words may read up, down, diagonal or even backwards. Good luck!

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Send your entry to: 24/Severn competition, Severn Vale Housing, Shannon Way, Ashchurch, Tewkesbury, GL20 8ND

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

Postcode: Telephone number:

WINTER edition

WINNERs Well done to Betty from Winchcombe who correctly completed the ‘New year, new you’ word search, winning £20 shopping voucher.

Pearl from Northway who correctly spotted all the differences in the Computer Café themed spot the difference, winning a delicious Easter themed hamper.

SPOT THE DIFFERENCE Study the two pictures shown left. There are 10 differences between the top and bottom image. Can you spot them all? Circle the changes on the bottom image and send to: 24/Severn competition, Severn Vale Housing, Tewkesbury, GL20 8ND by 1 June for a chance to win the hamper. If you live on one of our retirement schemes, look out for the brightly coloured entry boxes in your communal areas. Name: Address:

Postcode: Telephone number:

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

SURVEY

PRIZE DRAW WINNER Congratulations to Mr Symington of Atherton Close, Shurdington who won a £25 M&S voucher in the communal cleaning survey prize draw.

24/Severn issue 7  
24/Severn issue 7  

Stay up-to-date with the latest issue of the Severn Vale Housing customer magazine 24/Severn.

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