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intouch Issue 67 – Spring 2011


The magazine for residents of Wales & West Housing Association

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Together we’ve raised a whopping £24,000 for the Alzheimer’s Society– full report Also in this edition...

It’s official! We’re the tops! Sunday Times rates us the best HA in Wales Our Plans - Your Views Special report inside



Drake’s Den


WWHA News & General Information


Going Green


Anti Social Behaviour


Our Plans - Your Views 15 Special Report Resident Participation 26 Money Matters


Your News & Views


Letters to the Editor


Birthdays & Anniversaries 34

round-up Go to page 32 for a sing rai s ort eff est of our lat roes. funds for Help for He

Dear Readers The sun is shining and the daffs are out and it can only mean one thing – Spring is here! But even though it’s getting warmer rising fuel prices mean that saving money on our energy bills is still really important to all of us. See Going Green on page 13 for some of the ways we’re trying to help you to do this. We’re also thrilled to bits with two bits of really good news – firstly we’ve just been named the top Housing Association in Wales in the Sunday Times Best Companies Public Sector List (pages 5). And we’ve donated a whopping £24,121 to the Alzheimer’s Society thanks to the incredible efforts and generosity of so many of our staff and residents. Also in this edition you can read all about how we are performing in our special report Our Plans - Your Views on pages 15 to 25. Finally turn to Money Matters on pages 27 to 29 to find out how forthcoming benefits changes might affect you – and more top tips on how to make the most of your money. Warm regards.

Sarah Manners, PR & Marketing Manager

Contact Us

In Touch in other languages and formats If you would like a copy of this edition of In Touch in Welsh or in another language or format, please don’t hesitate to let us know.

Wales & West Housing Association Ltd, 3 Alexandra Gate, Ffordd Pengam, Tremorfa, Cardiff CF24 2UD. Telephone: 0800 052 2526 Email: Website: Minicom: 0800 052 5205 Alternatively you can contact most members of staff direct by email. All our staff emails end with If you know the name of the staff member, simply place a dot between their name e.g.


Drake’s Den

Spring Colouring Comp Go on get your crayons and felt tips out and colour in this pretty picture and send your completed entry to me: Keri Jones, Wales & West Housing Association, 3 Alexandra Gate, Ffordd Pengam, Tremorfa, Cardiff, CF24 2UD, before June 1st. Don’t forget to add your name and address and contact details. Competition open to 7yrs and under and from 7 – 11yrs old. Surprise prizes to be won.

Winners of Santa’s Reindeer Word Search • A Millar from Flint won the Yes/No card game. • E. Branson from Cardiff won the Skull Island Adventure game. • Donna Evans from Carmarthen won Smart Ass board game. • A Jones from Tredegar won The Logo board game. • Natalie Gate from Cardiff won Pig goes Pop.


Wales & West Housing Association Spring 11

WWHA News & General Information

We’re simply the best! We’re thrilled to bits because WWHA has been named as the top registered social landlord in Wales in the 2011 Sunday Times Best Companies Public/Third Sector list. We were placed 14th on the list which was published in the Sunday Times on March 13th. Not only were we the top rated housing association, we were also second only to Newport-based the St David’s Hospice Foundation, out of all the businesses in Wales. “This is fantastic news,” said Anne Hinchey, WWHA’s Chief Executive. “Listed companies are also awarded a star accreditation rating from 0 to 3 and we achieved a Two Star accreditation meaning that we are outstanding. “This is the first time that Wales & West Housing Association has taken part in this survey so to go straight in WWHA Chief Executive Anne Hinchey at number 14 is a real achievement of with our Best Companies plaque. which we are very proud.”

And our Tony’s been shortlisted for national award too… We’ve got another reason to be cheerful this Spring because our Bridgend-based Site Superintendent Tony Egginton has been shortlisted for a national Housing Heroes 2011 Inspirational Colleague Award.

Our super Site Superintedent Tony Egginton with scheme managers Claire Sylvester, Lucy Clewlow and Suzanne Whelan who nominated him for the Housing Heroes Award.

“We are very proud of Tony to have got this far in this prestigious national competition,” added Anne Hinchey. “We’re keeping everything crossed for him for May 20th when the outright winner will be announced in London.”


WWHA News & General Information

Nant y Mor now up and running NANT y Mor, our Extra Care Scheme in Prestatyn, Denbighshire, is now up and running and the first residents have moved in. And we’re thrilled to say that they’ve told us they “couldn’t be happier” with their new home.

Mrs Irene Dowling, 72, said: “I feel safe here with the help that is on hand. I am diabetic and I was living alone before I moved here as my family do not live near me. “The loneliness was terrible at times,” added Mrs Dowling, a former secretary. “Now I have friendly faces all around me, care and support when I need it, and my own front door so I’ve got as much privacy as I want, when I want it.” Last month residents were joined by our Chief Executive Anne Hinchey and Councillor Pauline Dobb, Cabinet Lead Member for Health and Social Care and Well-Being who presented them with gifts to celebrate the occasion.

Malcolm Harries receives his gift from Councillor Pauline Dobb. So far more than 30 older people with care needs have moved into our stateof-the-art scheme on Marine Drive in the past three weeks - and they say that they are delighted with their new homes. “Moving here is the best thing that could have happened to me,” said Mrs Lily Whitley, 75, a former chef and lollipop lady, who was one of the new development’s very first residents. “I have had a lot of difficulties in my life and I will be going into hospital for an operation soon, so knowing that I have a lovely place to live and all the support I could need has made a world of difference to me.”

“We are very proud of Nant y Mor and what it offers the older generations,” said Anne Hinchey. Councillor Pauline Dobb, Cabinet Lead Member for Health, Social Care and Well-being, said: “We are delighted to have worked closely with Wales & West Housing Association to meet the needs of the older people in Prestatyn.” If you would like to find out more about living in Nant y Mor, call WWHA’s Housing Options Team on freephone 0800 052 2526.

Former teacher Malcolm Harries, 82, is another of the very first residents to move into Nant y Mor. Now living alone and suffering from prostate cancer he said: “I have found it to be a great benefit moving to Nant y Mor. The building is very pleasant, the food is lovely and the staff are extremely helpful.” 6

WWHA staff join the team from Denbighshire CC to celebrate the arrival of Nant y Mor’s first residents.

Wales & West Housing Association Spring 11

WWHA News & General Information

We’ve raised £24,000 for the Alzheimer’s Society! Together, thanks to some incredible generosity and loads of hard work, staff and residents of WWHA have raised more than £24,000 for the Alzheimer’s Society. We’ve raised the money – exact total £24,121.77 – during the past 18 months lead by WWHA’s 2010/11 charity team Di Barnes, Suzanne Round, Lucy Simms and Verity Davies. “Hundreds of staff and residents have contributed towards raising this wonderful amount,” said Anne Hinchey, Chief Executive of WWHA. “They have organised a huge range of activities including dress-down days, raffles, bake sales and bring and buy sales – and our Operations Director Shayne Hembrow raised £6,746.77 alone through a sponsored head-shave. I am very proud of everyone’s efforts and it give us great pleasure to be able to give this money to such a deserving cause”. Did you know that there are currently around 40,000 people in Wales diagnosed with dementia? And some experts fear that these figures could be just the tip of the iceberg with only an estimated 40% of people who have the disease being properly diagnosed. Helen Lloyd, Partnership Development Manager for Wales, received the cheque for £24,121.77 on behalf of the Alzheimer’s Society, at a special Singing for the Brain session held at WWHA’s Cardiff head office.

you to every single member of staff at Wales & West Housing Association and their residents who contributed in raising awareness of dementia and raising this fantastic amount of money to support services in Wales,” said Helen. “The Alzheimer’s Society relies on voluntary donations to continue its vital work.” Singing for the Brain tutor Robert Hurst led the session with Di, Lucy, Suzanne and Verity plus dementia sufferers and their carers. “These sort of sessions make such a difference to people,” said Robert. “It would be wonderful if there was funding available for many more such sessions to take place around Wales.”

Now we’re raising funds for Help for Heroes Our 2011 staff charity is Help for Heroes and so far we’ve already raised hundreds of pounds for this very deserving cause – see page 32 for a full report and pictures. If you are interested in having a fundraising event at your scheme, let your scheme manager know who can contact us and we will try to arrange something. Or you can simply ring us direct on 029 20414047. Chaz and Leah

“Everyone from the Alzheimer’s Society would like to say a big thank


WWHA News & General Information

Record number of call outs during the BIG freeze Amid the coldest December for a century we had a huge number of calls for boiler breakdowns. And things were made even more difficult for our engineers on the ground because of the snow and ice. We would like to thank all residents for your patience and understanding during this difficult period, and the engineers from Gibsons STS and PH Jones for all their efforts in responding to calls. A lot of the calls related to the ‘modern’ energy efficient (condensating) boiler that is the only sort permitted to be installed since 2005 under government regulations. However, these boilers produce waste water (condensate). This waste water is usually expelled into the drains via a slim plastic pipe running down an external wall – a pipe which is can easily freeze in particularly cold weather stalling the entire system. The good news is the problem is relatively easy to prevent. The pipe can be lagged, or replaced with a bigger diameter equivalent less likely to freeze, or even routed inside the house or via a more sheltered spot. WWHA will be making these alterations where necessary throughout 2011. In the meantime if you find you have no heating in your home there are a number of quick checks you can do before calling out an engineer.


Check 1 - Look for causes. Are the appliances turned on? If you have an isolation switch on your fuse box,is it set to on? Pre-payment customers check that your credit has not run out. Check 2 - Check the thermostat is turned up and clock timer is set. Check 3 - Check your boiler appliance controls are turned on or up as required. Check 4 - Examine the pressure gauge to see if it’s at approximately 1 bar. (combination boilers only) Check 5 - If you have a pilot light, is it turned on? Check 6 – If you have a condensing boiler (you can tell this as it has a white plastic pipe that runs from the bottom of the boiler to a drain or waste pipe outside) then this pipe may be frozen. It’s actually relatively straightforward to sort out yourself. The trick is to gently unfreeze the pipe using either a hot water bottle, heat pads of the sort used for muscle pain, or a watering can of warm – not boiling – water. Once you’ve defrosted the pipe, by holding down the boiler’s reset button should spark it back into life. And how do you tell if this is the problem? Well, if the weather has been freezing, and your boiler has an external condensate pipe, then a gurgling noise when you try to reset it is a good clue. If you still have no heat or hot water then we may need to send out an engineer.

Wales & West Housing Association Spring 11

WWHA News & General Information

We were ‘On Board’ With Welsh Assembly Government elections coming up in May WWHA was one of many Welsh housing associations who took part in Community Housing Cymru’s Are You On Board Tour. Hustings were held in each of the 22 local authorities around Wales with the key messages focusing on Housing, Care and Regeneration. More than 1,200 people attended including sitting Assembly members and dozens of prospective candidates. A third of the Cabinet attended including First Minister Carwyn Jones, Deputy Minister for Children, Education and Lifelong Learning John Griffiths and Minister for Business and Budget Jane Hutt. Other sitting AMs who attended included Alun Davies, Sandy Mewies, Brian Gibbons, Christine Chapman, Rhodri Glyn Thomas, Dai Lloyd, Bethan Jenkins, Chris Franks, Mark Isherwood, and Peter Black. And 52 additional candidates from all main parties also attended. Nick Bennett, Chief Executive of Community Housing Cymru, said: “We are the only sector in Wales to hold a hustings event in each county and we hope to see housing, care and regeneration high on the list of priorities of the new administration.”

Planned Maintenance 2011 These are the schemes that we plan to upgrade during Spring and Summer 2011. Kitchens Alexandra Road, Bridgend; St John Street, Ogmore Vale; Wilfred Brook House, Cardiff; Llys Heulog, Finch Court, Heighway Court, Llandrindod Wells; Maes Yr Onnen, Welshpool; Llys Hafren, Newtown; Llys Bryngolwg, Llandinam; Dennis Court, Wrexham Bathrooms Ty Pontrhun, Merthyr Tydfil; Ty Brynseion, Merthyr Tydfil; Brynderwen, Talgarth; Bryn End, Wrexham; Edwardsfield, Newtown Windows and Doors Caerau Court Road, Cardiff (Maisonettes) (Windows); St Peters Close, Llanbedr; Denbigh Court, Penarth (Doors) If you have any comments or feedback then please do not hesitate to contact us on 0800 052 2526.


WWHA News & General Information

£750k investment in Powell Road, Buckley THE Welsh Assembly Government is working with social housing providers, including WWHA, to help communities in deprived areas of Wales to become more energy efficient. One of the ways it is doing this is through the ARBED programme - Wales’ Strategic Energy Performance Investment Programme. The programme is designed to bring environmental, social and economic benefits to Wales. It will coordinate investment into the energy performance of Welsh homes. One of our ARBED projects is Powell Road, Buckley. A programme of nearly £750k of works started in October last year on a total of 82 properties. We were working in partnership with contractors Hillserve, British Gas and Snowdonia Windows and Bushmede Property Maintenance Ltd. All works are now complete. Several installation teams worked on the project and we’ve finished work on time even though the bad weather delayed progress at times. External wall insulation has been installed which will greatly increase the thermal insulation of each property. Improvement to windows and roofline works have been completed. We also have upgraded ventilation systems. Mike Wellock, Commercial Manager, said: “This scheme is possibly the single largest external wall insulation project in the North Wales area and was designed in conjunction with Rockwool, based in Bridgend. “The works (pictured in progress above) involved the installation of an external insulation ‘coat’ to our residents’ home that was then finished with a render. “The renders could be coloured and so in conjunction with the residents a contrasting range of colours was selected that has now given the whole area a light, airy and summer feel. “In fact it’s like a mini Tenby or Port Merion!” Our residents have told us that they are very happy with what we have done and we’ve even received letters from some residents saying they’re having to turn their heating down already. In total WWHA has invested a total of £1.5m ARBED funding which has been used to carry out similar external wall schemes along with a comprehensive programme of installing solar PV arrays in the Heads of the Valleys area and the North Wales Coast. The PV installations provide free power during the hours of daylight.


Wales & West Housing Association Spring 11

WWHA News & General Information

Rydyn ni siarad Gymraeg yn dda WWHA are delighted to announce that the Welsh Language Board have approved our Welsh Language Scheme. It will be in place for 3 years. The purpose of the language scheme is to provide details of how our Welsh language services will be provided and it shows our commitment to providing a quality service to our residents who want to communicate with us in Welsh. In this document we state our aims are: • to enable everyone who uses our service to do so through the medium of Welsh or English according to the personal choice of the individual, • to ensure that the services available through the medium of Welsh are high quality services, • to promote the use of the Welsh language in the community, • to promote and assist in the use of the Welsh language in the workplace. We know that our residents and members of the public can express their opinions and needs better in their chosen language. With this in mind we will ensure that we consider the Welsh language in all elements of the service we provide such as staffing, signage, communication over the phone, communication in writing, publicity and our work with other organisations.

Our Welsh Language Scheme document is available to read in full on our website (both in English and in Welsh). If you have any questions at all relating to our Welsh Language Scheme please contact Claire Bryant, policy and diversity officer on 0800 025 2526.

Win £250! Congratulations to Mr Weaver of Wrexham who has won the fourth quarter prize of £250 for giving access to our contractor PH Jones on their first appointment to have their gas appliances serviced. Mr Weaver said he was very surprised to receive the £250, flowers and champagne and will let Mrs Weaver decide how to spend the money.

Annerley Brown, Property Services Assistant at WWHA, with Mr Weaver and Dave Kenyon, Tenant Liaison Officer from PH Jones.

All residents are automatically entered for this draw when gas appliances are serviced in their home on the FIRST appointment that WWHA made with residents – or if you have given 48 hours notice to postpone.


WWHA News & General Information

Worried about loan sharks? We know that more and more people are falling victim to loan sharks. As more families struggle to cope financially, the lure of a quick loan with no forms to complete is hard to resist. But Wales Illegal Money Lending Unit says don’t use loan sharks as the costs are just too high.

WWHA is an active supporter of the Wales Illegal Money Lending Unit and a founder member of the Loan Shark Victim Support Fund which provides short term financial support to victims.

If you are unemployed and have a poor credit rating loan sharks may target you. If you do borrow from them you may: • Have to pay extortionate rates of interest • Have no paperwork or proof of repayments • Be ordered to make extra payments as the loan shark sees fit • Be threatened or intimidated if you fall behind with your repayments

For help call WIMLU’s 24 hour One loan shark victim explains: confidential hotline on 0300 123 “I’m a single mother of five children 3311, e-mail, on Income Support. When I moved or text ‘loan shark’ to 60003. into a new home I needed to buy things for the house. I went to a man on the estate that I knew lent money Emergency Alarm Report to people and asked for a loan of £500. He told me I had to pay back Would you like to read our latest £1,000 and pay him £100 per week. Emergency Alarm annual report I asked him for a payment book and 2010? If so then please go to how much I still owe him but he won’t tell me. I have been paying him OlderPersons/EmergencyAlarm/ where you can read it in full onfor four years and he says if I stop line. Or, if you don’t have paying he’ll send someone round to access to the internet, get it. I’ve thought about moving but simply call freephone he says if I move he will find me.” 0800 052 2526 to request your free copy.


Wales & West Housing Association Spring 11

Going Green

Free energy saving packs IF you live in one of our retirement schemes and you are aged 70 or over, or if you get Housing Benefit, you should have received a free energy saving pack from us this Spring. We have teamed up with British Gas in order to offer residents these energy saving packs which include a standby saver device and an energy monitor. Throughout March WWHA staff have delivered nearly 2000 of these packs during to eligible residents.

Owen Jones, WWHA Environment and Sustainability Officer, said: “Thanks to support from British Gas we have been able to provide these packs to eligible residents and help them save money.

“This will help residents who are already facing increased energy bills These energy monitors will help residents to identify any wasted energy due to the recent price rises and will help to cut carbon too, so everybody usage. For example leaving lights or a can feel good about saving money television on when there is nobody in the room, a quick glance at the energy and doing their bit in the fight against climate change.” monitor will remind you that you are using electricity needlessly! Not received your pack? Call us on The pack also contains a standby saver freephone 0800 052 2526 now. device. This works by tuning it to your television remote control, so that when you switch the telly off on the remote, everything plugged into the device switches off at the mains along with the television, so this could be a DVD player, hi-fi, or a lamp, just about any device really that is currently used near to your television.

Owen Jones, WWHA Environment and Sustainability Officer

Saving on water and electricity bills We are working on a water saving trial in partnership with Dwr Cymru / Welsh Water, the Energy Saving Trust, the Environment Agency and Aqua logic to support residents that want to make savings. If this trial is judged to have been successful the new products we’ve tried out will be considered as standard items within all our future bathroom and kitchen upgrades.

We’re also going to try out some new technology which should cut electricity consumption by around 10% in residents homes. This builds on a similar trial we did in Brackla, Bridgend in 2010 which saw typical savings of between 6 and 12%. Incoming voltage to the home is cut to a stable 220 volts cutting out unnecessary and expensive excess voltage.


Anti Social Behaviour

Brecon: ‘Neighbour from hell’ evicted A POWYS woman who waged a 17 year campaign of harassment against her neighbours has been evicted from her WWHA home. Brecon County Court granted WWHA outright possession on the property in Cradoc Close, Brecon on 24th February 2011. Jane Griffiths (Whatmough) who had lived in Cradoc Close for the past 17 years, had waged a campaign of harassment against her neighbours. Our staff at WWHA began investigating complaints against Mrs Griffiths going back as far as 1993, but due to the reluctance of some residents to give evidence for fear of reprisals, the Association was unable to take action. A spokeswoman for WWHA said: “However in 2010, Mrs Griffiths’ luck ran out when her new neighbours decided that enough was enough and stood up to her and her bullying daughter Natalie Whatmough”. Catalogue of harassment • banging on walls • playing loud music • damage to vehicles • litter thrown into gardens •s  oaking neighbour’s washing with bleach • occasioning Actual Bodily Harm •v  erbally abusing neighbours and their children • staring through windows • entering neighbours’ gardens • t aking photographs of neighbours and their children • making malicious telephone calls •m  aking false allegations to social services


District Judge Llewellyn, sitting at the County Court, told Mrs Griffiths that it was one of the worst cases he had heard. He said the case itself was unique given the length of time it had taken and the amount of victims who had the misfortune to “cross her”. Many neighbours who had previously lived next door to Mrs Griffiths gave evidence against her during the four day hearing. Those who were still too afraid to give evidence directly allowed WWHA staff to use information that they had provided previously with a cover letter explaining what had happened to them during their time as neighbours. Prior to the County Court hearing Mrs Griffiths had been found guilty in Brecon Magistrates Court on Tuesday 22 February 2011, of three counts of harassment against her neighbours. And her daughter Natalie Whatmough, of Cae Derw, Brecon, was found guilty of two counts of Public Order, against the same neighbours. The WWHA spokeswoman added: “I’m delighted that at last justice has been done. It was a wonderful outcome for the residents both past and present, who can now live in relative peace and quiet. Wales & West Housing Association will not tolerate anti-social behaviour which has devastating effects on families and blights communities. We will continue to work proactively with police forces across Wales to tackle problem families such as this.” You can call us on 0800 052 2526 if you need help or advice regarding Anti Social Behaviour.

Wales & West Housing Association Spring 11

Our plans - your views

Planning for the future at WWHA We all know that looking ahead and planning for the future is important. And we all know that however good we are now, there are always new things to learn, new opportunities to be explored and new ways to make things even better. So to help us do these things we’ve taken a long, hard look at what we do now and come up with plans for the future which we hope will make life better for all of us. This is important not only for the Association, but also for the Welsh Assembly Government, who call this kind of activity ‘self assessment.’ So, who decides what we do and how we do it? The people who run the Association – our Board of Management – have led this review and have agreed our plans and priorities and staff have been involved at every stage. We always strive to be honest however we know that there are areas where we can improve. So now want you to tell us what you think about us, how

we are doing now, and our plans for the future. In this special section‘Our plans – your views’ we set out where we are at now, and want we want to do next. So please now take a few minutes to read through our plans and let us know what you think of them. Also please tell us about anything we have missed or which we have included which is not important to you. Shayne Hembrow, Operations Director, Anne Hinchey, Chief Executive, and, Tony Wilson, Finance Director pictured above It’s easy to tell us what you think. You can: • email us at • call us on freephone 0800 052 2526 – ask for Gavin Jones or Gareth Kitchen • or write to us in Cardiff or Flint Please let us have your comments by April 30th, 2011.


Our plans - your views

1. Build and renovate homes to a good quality Consulting with residents.

Nant y Mor, our new extra care scheme before and after. What this means to us • We build good quality, cost effective, housing where it is needed. Here are some facts • We speak to residents and communities to make sure that our new schemes and estates suit their needs. • We use a tendering process to make sure that our developments are value for money. • The homes we build and renovate meet Welsh Assembly Government standards. What does it all mean? We think that we are at the forefront of building new, ground-breaking types of housing, making sure that that we comply with the Welsh Housing Quality Standard. We always look for ways


to improve and get the best value for money when we build our properties and from the partners we work with, such as contractors, consultants, other housing associations or the Welsh Assembly Government. As our relationships have developed over time, we are in a stronger position than ever to be able to create exciting, eco-friendly homes for our residents. Here’s what we’re going to do 1. We will agree what we are going to build and where. 2. We will make sure that our developments are value for money and eco-friendly. 3. We will look at the way that we choose consultants and contractors for development services to make sure we get good value for money.

Wales & West Housing Association Spring 11

Our plans - your views

2. Let homes in a fair, transparent and effective way What this means to us • We let homes quickly and try to make sure that the ‘right’. person gets the ‘right’ property. • We give the right advice and help to people we are unable to house. • Allocation is fair and transparent. • Help is given to reduce homelessness. Here are some facts • We accept people in housing need on to the waiting list where there is a likelihood of housing them in two years. • Our new Housing Options Team provide information and advice to people looking for a home. Residents view their new home.

What does it all mean? We have recently reviewed our Lettings process and we have completely changed the way that we let our homes. We now only accept people onto our waiting lists if they are ready to move and if we are sure that we will be able to rehouse them within a reasonable period of time. This makes things much clearer and gives people who are thinking of applying more choice about what they do. We have a new Housing Options Team, who give help and advice on many issues, including homelessness, to people looking for homes.

Here’s what we’re going to do 1. We want to understand how being part of different Common Waiting Lists in different local authorities affects our applicants and us and make any changes needed. 2. We will work out the best ways to check that our new Lettings process is working properly. 3. We will look at how we can change the way that we deal with less popular properties. 4. We will try to find out what people who are applying for our properties want and change our services to suit their needs.


Our plans - your views

3. Manage our homes effectively What this means to us • Our residents stay until they choose to leave. • Our residents are free to lead the lives they want. (debt free, safe and healthy). • Our residents know what their responsibilities are and are held to account. Here are some facts • We provide access to debt and money advice – Pennysmart and DRAMA (The Debt Recovery and Money Advice scheme). Over 290 residents were helped in 2010. • We have high levels of rent collection and low levels of rent arrears. • It is easy for our residents to pay via a variety of methods. What does it all mean? We recognise that, in these difficult times, it can be tough for you to juggle bills, rent and other debts. We have been working on lots of new ways to help, such as offering you independent debt and money advice. Our staff are trained to help you sort out rent payments and we offer a wide range of payment methods to suit your needs. We want you to enjoy living in your home so we make sure that you know what we expect of you but also what you can expect from us.


We offer you several ways to pay. Here’s what we’re going to do 1. We will look at our estate management and related services including grounds maintenance and cleaning to work out the best order in which to carry out a programme of reviews. 2. We will review and improve how we support you generally and specifically older people in retirement. 3. We will examine how we manage rents. 4. We will use Area Improvement Plans more and make sure they are used in the best way. 5. We will seek to understand more about how you want to get involved in your community.

Wales & West Housing Association Spring 11

Our plans - your views

4. Repair and maintain homes in an efficient, timely and cost effective way What this means to us • We have good quality, well maintained housing set within safe, well maintained environments. • Our repairs are thorough, offer value for money, they keep up the standard of our properties and meet residents’ needs. Here are some facts

•W  e have focused on doing the right thing for repairs, when the resident wants them done.

What does it all mean? We have improved our repairs service in the past few years by doing what you have told us matters to you. You told us that you want a repair to be done when it suits you, on the first visit and to stay fixed. It is important to us that our new repairs contractor Cambria Maintenance Services keeps up these high standards. We are identifying when we will need to replace kitchens, bathrooms, windows and doors to bring all our homes up to the Welsh Assembly Government’s Welsh Housing Quality Standard (WHQS) by 2012.

Here’s what we’re going to do 1. Make sure our repairs contractor Cambria is working well. 2. We will work out the best ways to reduce your energy bills. 3. We will work out the best ways to replace heating and windows so that our homes use less energy. 4. We will ensure that all our properties will be up to the WHQS standard by 2012 and keep to standard thereafter.


Our plans - your views

5. Engage with others to enhance and maximise outcomes for our service users and the community What this means to us • We work in partnership with other organisations • The work we do helps local authorities to achieve their goals What does it all mean? We know that we can achieve much more if we work together with partners. We work hard to build up relationships with the local authorities in whose areas we work. We provide services to other housing associations and work closely with them.

Here’s what we’re going to do • We want to find out more about the difference that partnership working makes and see who else we can work with.

munity magazines This is one of the com ip with two other rsh tne par we produce in housing associations.

We actively engage with our residents to find solutions to local issues.


Wales & West Housing Association Spring 11

Our plans - your views

6. P  rovide fair and efficient services for owners What this means to us • Owners and soon-to-be owners get the services they want from us. • We will try to make buying your home as quick and easy as possible. Here are some facts • We offer you assistance when you re-sell your home. •W  e try to give you the information you want on annual service charges. What does it all mean? We know that our owners and leaseholders may have different needs to our residents who rent so we try to give them the services they want from us. We try to make it easy for residents to buy their homes through Right to Buy and Right to Acquire.

Here’s what we’re going to do We will understand better what information leaseholders want from us.


Our plans - your views

7. Place the people who want to use our services at the heart of our work –putting the citizen first What this means to us • Our customers are important to us • We tailor our services to your needs and what you tell us is important to you • We make it easy for you to contact us and use our services Here are some facts

Some reasons for not scoring a 10 What does it all mean? We want you to tell us what you think of our services. We want to make sure that we get it right. We want to know if we haven’t got it right and learn from it. We have been finding out more about our residents so we can make our services the best for you. Here’s what we’re going to do 1. We will develop ways to ‘listen’ to and record demand for new services when they are made. 2. We want to understand your experiences of our services, such as when you phone our Customer Service Centre and how well we take account of your individual needs. 3. We will develop better systems to make sure that your feedback is used to improve our services. We will tell you how we have used your views to change our services. 4. We will develop a new website which will meet demands from customers and partners and which promotes the Association and what it can offer.


Wales & West Housing Association Spring 11

Our plans - your views

8. L  ive public sector values, by conducting our affairs with honesty and integrity, and demonstrate good governance through our behaviour What this means to us • We live by our values. • We make sure that anyone who comes into contact with us has the right information to understand us and hold us to account, where necessary. • We will look at how we can use less natural resources. What does it all mean? We want all our staff to live and work by our values - fair, open, responsible, supportive and efficient. We want to give the best service to everyone who comes into contact with us - you, other customers and anyone else with an interest in the Association. We want to give you the right information for your needs so that you are able to challenge us about our services, if you want to. We want to do our bit to help the environment. We have a plan of practical ways to help the environment around us.

Here’s what we’re going to do 1. We will look at the information that we give to you and the ways that we provide it. Does it help you to understand us and to hold us to account? 2. We will make sure that we carry out environmental improvements on time. 3. We will find new ways to help you and others into training and work. 4. We will find out if any of your homes cost you more than 10% of your average income to run.


Our plans - your views

9. M  ake sure our purpose is clear and we achieve what we set out to do – knowing who does what and why What this means to us • We understand what is needed and we do what we say we will do. What does it all mean? We work hard to find out what matters to you, by listening to what you tell us you want. We need to make sure that we can make the changes that you ask for, whilst still doing what we set out to do. We want our staff to feel confident that they know what do to and that they have our support to do this.

Our staff ask you what is important to you. Here’s what we’re going to do • We want to develop better ways to tell you, our staff and other people about our future plans.


Wales & West Housing Association Spring 11

Our plans - your views

10. A financially sound and viable business What this means to us • We have enough money to do what we need to do now and in the future. Here are some facts • During 2011 we will invest £19.3m in housing development. •W  e are also investing £15m to meet the Welsh Housing Quality Standard. •W  e generate enough cash to maintain and manage 9,445 properties and can borrow new money to keep building. What does it all mean? Our money is safe and well managed. We borrow at affordable rates so that we can keep building new homes, pay all our debts on time and invest in our existing homes and services. Here’s what we’re going to do 1. We will arrange to borrow more money so that we can keep on building homes and continually improve services. 2. We will work out how many new houses we want to build and how we can afford to do this with fewer grants. 3. We will seek to improve the terms of our leases from landlords so that properties can be used more efficiently by both our leaseholders and the Association.


Resident Participation

We’re changing how we listen to your views In the last edition of In Touch we told you how residents have helped us review our Resident Participation Strategy, the document that explains all the ways that you can tell us your views about the services you receive from us. Our Resident Participation Steering Group are working with us to develop the strategy for the next few years, using your feedback. This time, we are not trying to create new ways for you to give your views but to make better use of what we already have in place. When we do a repair, let a property to a new resident or deal with a complaint of antisocial behaviour, we now ask some of the residents what they thought of the service by scoring it out of ten. If we don’t get a ten, we ask what else we could have done to get a ten. Group 500, our consultation group, is still a really important way for you to tell us your views but in future we will only ask members about one-off topics or new services we would like to deliver. If you would like to know more about Group 500 ask a member of staff or contact us on one of the methods below.

We also now support residents to develop informal social or gardening groups rather than formal residents associations. These don’t require a committee, minutes or agendas so you can concentrate on activities rather than administration. Find out more about our new strategy at one of four feedback events which will be held in the next few months. We will cover your transport costs so you will not be out of pocket if you attend and it is a great opportunity to meet other residents in your area. For further information please contact me at on 0800 052 2526 or at

Did you know that you can tell us your views of our services, on any topic, at any time, through our Customer Service Centre on 0800 052 2526 or our Complaints, Comments and Compliments email address:


Wales & West Housing Association Spring 11

Claire Hammond Resident Participation Strategy Officer

Money Matters

Are you worried about changes to your benefits? You’ve probably heard on the news that the Government is planning to make changes to the benefits you can claim. Confused? Worried? You’re not alone. Our dedicated Money Advice officers Mike Halloran and Les Cooper - are here to help you whatever your problem with money. Just call us any time on 0800 052 2526. Or go to MoneyMatters And we’ve also teamed up with Shelter Cymru, other housing associations and local authorities across Wales to try to help you understand and prepare for any drop to your income which may come about because of the Government’s changes. The first change to benefits concerns non-dependents allowance. You will have received a postcard telling you about the changes to non-dependants allowance along with your copy of In Touch. This postcard is the first in a series of simple postcards which we will be using to help to keep you informed of any benefits changes which may affect your circumstances. What’s is non-dependants allowance? Well, if you claim Housing Benefit and have someone living with you who is




over 18 years old it is possible that a non dependant deduction is made. A non dependant is defined as someone living with you who is 18 years old or over and is not your partner. For example - an adult son or daughter, an elderly relative or a friend. But if you receive child benefit for your son or daughter, they are not classed as a non dependant, even if they are 18 or older. From the 1st April 2011 the deductions made for non dependants have gone up. The table on the next page (28) shows the previous charge and the new charge. This is also published on our website. Please note that if you receive Disability Living Allowance (Care component), Attendance Allowance or are registered blind a non dependant deduction will not be made. If your non dependant is under 25 and claiming Job Seekers Allowance (JSA), Income Support (IS) or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) they should not have to pay a deduction.

££ £

For help and advice on your money issues contact Money Advice Officers, Mike Halloran (pictured first right), or Les Cooper (far right) on

0800 052 2526


Money Matters Non-dependant circumstances

Previous deduction New deduction from Housing Benefit from April 2011

Working - gross weekly income under £122.00



Working - gross weekly income over £122.00 but under £179.99



Working - gross weekly income over £180.00 but under £233.99



Working - gross weekly income over £234.00 but under £309.99



Working - gross weekly income over £310.00 but under £386.99



Working - gross weekly income over £387.00.



Other non-dependants not working



t Direcrize p debit aw dr er winn

Congratulations to Mr Hughes from Rhyl who has won £100 in the WWHA quarterly draw for residents who pay by direct debit. If you pay your charges by direct debit you will automatically be entered into this free draw. To set up a direct debit simply call our Customer Service Centre on: 0800 052 2526

In most cases the amount and frequency of you payments can be agreed in a matter of minutes. We will take some details then send you a form that we will ask you to check, sign, date and return to us in a prepaid envelope. Alternatively next time you see your housing officer ask them for details.


Wales & West Housing Association Spring 11

Money Matters

Facing redundancy or retirement?

Turn2us to get the advice you need

Are you faced with redundancy or retirement? These are life events which can bring some money worries. Do you need some help? We recommend you get a copy of ‘The Redundancy Handbook ’or ‘Your Guide to Retirement’ both of which are published by the Consumer Finance Education Body (CFEB). The booklets are free and packed with useful information. To obtain copies visit www. or call them on 0300 500 5000. If you are concerned about your financial situation in general please speak to your housing officer or contact the Call Centre on 0800 052 2526. We can put you in touch with an independent adviser who will help you.

We have teamed up with Turn2us, part of the charity Elizabeth Finn Care, to help you get free up -to-date information on welfare benefits and grants when you need it. • Want to know if you are claiming all the benefits you are entitled to? • Want to know how much housing benefit you should be receiving? • Want to know if there are grants out there you may be entitled to? You can find the answers to these and other benefit questions by logging on to or and go to the Money Matters pages. Your housing officer will also be using Turn2us to help advise you if and when your circumstances change and your benefit entitlement changes. If you would like your housing officer to assist you give them a call on 0800 052 2526.

Who are Turn2us? Winner of the Annual Up-To-Date Account Prize Draw 2011 If your rent account is clear, or you are maintaining an agreement, or are in credit, you could win £250. Full details will be in the December 2011 issue of In Touch. The 2010 winners were: Mr & Mrs Fisher of Applewood Close, Cardiff.

They are a charitable service which helps people access the money available to them – through welfare benefits, grants and other help. The website contains all the information you will need.


Your News & Views

Maes Y Mor Residents support Alzheimer’s Society Because several residents had personal experience of caring for family members suffering Alzheimer’s it became very close to the heart of many at Maes Y Mor. All residents showed their support by holding fund raising events. The fantastic amount raised was £481.26.

Residents and friends enjoy tribute to Tom Jones As part of their Christmas festivities residents and friends of Fferm Y Bryn in Ystrad Mynach got together to enjoy a lavish Christmas dinner with all the trimmings at Maes Manor Country House Hotel, near Blackwood. Maes Manor, a superb hotel set in nine acres of landscaped gardens, holds special events for people of a certain age... The meal was followed by an afternoon dance with resident DJ and a Tom Jones tribute act (Simon Abbotts). They all had such a good time they are ready to go again….

from L – R: Back row – Ray Waters Nolan Mac William, Barbara Mac William, Pat Waters, Val Jones, Simon Abbotts (Tom Jones) Sandra Carpenter, Peter Jones, Anne O’Brian, Shirley Green,Tula Evans. Front row – Muriel Jones, Megan Davies, Anne Baldwin.


Maes y Mor raffle.

It’s Suzanne! Shhh!

Absolutely no-one could get our dedicated Admin Assistant Suzanne Round to break her sponsored silence from morning till 4pm, in aid of Red Nose Day at WWHA head office in Tremorfa. Her perseverance - as well as a dress down day in our Cardiff and Flint offices meant that we raised £300 for Comic Relief.

Wales & West Housing Association Spring 11

Your News & Views

Residents ‘switching on’ at Ty Pontrhun Residents of Ty Pontrhun retirement scheme in Troedyrhiw, Merthyr Tydfil, are benefitting from the Connect Project which helps everyone to make the most of digital technology. The project includes looking at: • Getting the most out of mobile phones • Using digital and Sky+ remote controls • Taking and modifying pictures with digital cameras and camcorders • How to use a laptop or personal computer • Improving word processing skills • How to write, send emails and attachments/pictures • Use social networking safely eg Facebook, Skype (free phone calls via the internet) • S  aving money and accessing services on line


The WAG funded project is aimed at residents living in social housing, older residents, long term unemployed, long term sick and disabled and young mums looking to return to work. Hosted by Aberfan & Merthyr Vale Youth & Community Project, various Communities First partnerships sit alongside the Association on the steering group. ‘During the project, we hope to help 600 residents to better use the digital technology that everyone will have to use shortly’ said Alison Chaplin Community Development Project Officer with the Association. ‘This will include giving people essential new technology skills to gain employment as well as helping them to save money by using online services and keep in touch with their families and friends’.

Fitness equipment For a complete workout for strength, tone and cardiovascular conditioning kit this pack contains fitness ball with pump, ab wheel, resistance tube with handles, speed skipping rope all wrapped up in a carry case. To win the above please send your name and address, phone number and email address (if you have one) to Keri Jones, Wales & West Housing Association, 3 Alexandra Gate, Pengam Road, Tremorfa, Cardiff CF24 2UD by June 1st. Usual competition rules apply and the first one out of the hat wins.


Your News & Views

And we’ve raised hundreds already for Help for Heroes Our 2011 staff charity is Help for Heroes and so far we’ve already raised hundreds of pounds for this very deserving cause. On 22nd February a Cake and Help for Heroes merchandise sale was held for residents at Oldwell Court, Cardiff raising an amazing £108.76. Big thanks to all and to Scheme Manager Sandy Houdmont.

Race in aid for Help for Heroes On a fine, lovely but cold day on 6th March British Military Fitness organised a 10km and 5km St David’s Day Fun Run in Bute Park Cardiff. Eighteen WWHA staff were among over a thousand who ran on the day to raise money for various charities. They raised a grand total of £920.00.

£184 was raised on 25th February by a table top sale and Help for Heroes merchandise sale at Four Elms Court, Cardiff. Thanks to Scheme manager Lauren Webber and all our generous residents. And on St. David’s Day this year a cake, toastie and Help for Heroes merchandise sale was held at Head Office in Cardiff. Staff also dressed down for the day to a Welsh Theme. An amazing £238 was raised for Help for Heroes so a big thank you to all staff at WWHA for being so generous. If you are interested in having a fundraising event at your scheme, let your scheme manager know who can contact us and we will try to arrange something. Or you can simply ring us direct on 029 20414047. Chaz and Leah

Exhilarated runners at the end of the race.

Ty Pontrhun residents raised £407.11 for Help for Heroes.

s Court fundraising. Residents of Four Elm


Wales & West Housing Association Spring 11

Alan & Evelyn Baker, pictured, are just some of the residents from Hanover Court Llandudno who have already raised £170.00. More activities are planned.

Dear Editor

ion of the Thank you for your Electronic Winter Edit er of £100 “In Touch Magazine” which I am the winn er. read in Argos Vouchers and an avid This £100 was gratefully received by my three buy s to daughters at a time when I was short on fund Santa was it se cour of ugh Christmas presents, altho y! reall who brought them process Whilst I write this letter I am actually in the on ed start h whic ange exch an of moving via have HomeSwapper an excellent service that you ce servi this out With notified to us tenants recently. n inso Rob on Alys of e tanc assis and the unwavering nsize dow to le unab be ld wou I er, Offic my Housing to more for health, financial and practical reasons suitable accommodation. HA as I Please pass on my thanks to all staff at WW ). 2011 ury Jana of (end leave my WWHA property Thank you one and all. Kind Regards,

Bryan Smith,

ney Formerly of Countisbury Avenue, Llanrum

Dear Editor Court four years ago, we When we moved to Hanover way the complex was kept were very impressed with the , Mr Tony Eggington clean and tidy. The Site Super it. He was also very works diligently to maintain recycling commenced the helpful and patient when we had heavy snow, the here. Earlier this year, when y kept all the paths clear cars were snowed in, but Ton This enabled us to . ons and gritted on several occasi areas at all times. ing ycl rec access the laundry and hough we thanked him We were all very grateful. Alt I feel it would be a nice e, tim for his hard work at the ed by a gesture if he could be reward . ch’ Tou ‘In mention in Yours sincerely

Peter N. Rees, Mrs Barbara T. Rees & Mr Hanover Court, Bridgend

Your Letters News to the & Views Editor Dear Editor During the past year my colleague Tracy Pallant and I have been working at Dan y Mynydd shelt ered housing in the Garw Valley on a digital storytelling project, “Growing Together”. We have worked with residents, together with pupils from local schools, to gather memories and photographs and produce short films using this material on DVD. Three residents - Trevor Phillips, Lillian and Lena Charles have between them contr ibuted five stories, all of which were shown to a large audience at a big celebration screening at Porthcawl Pavil ion. Now we have just started on a new ten week project at Dan y Mynydd, this time incorporating musi c and song into the mix with the help of a trained musi c worker. We have very much enjoyed working at Dan y Mynydd. Scheme Manager Yvonne has an excellent relationship with the residents who are all full of prais e for her. There is a lively atmosphere and plenty going on. Yvonne welcomed us straight away for “Gro wing Together” and, when it ended, invited us back with any other projects we may have available. Once again, we would like to say how much we enjoy working at Dan y Mynydd and how much we appreciate the lively, welcoming atmosphere we find there. Yours with best wishes,

Penny Lewis-Stempel and Tracy Pallant,

Flm workers, Valley and Vale Community Arts

We’re always keen to hear from you… So if you’ve anything you’d like to share with us, please write to Sarah Manners, Letters to the Editor, In Touch, Wales & West Housing Association, 3 Alexandra Gate, Ffordd Pengam, Tremorfa, Cardiff CF24 2UD. Or email We reserve the right to edit letters subject to space or other considerations.


Birthdays & Anniversaries

Clarice & Vida 100 yrs young On December 19th 2010, Mrs Vida Price of Ystad Goffa Court, Flint, celebrated her 100th birthday and was presented by Rhian Marsh WWHA Housing Officer with a beautiful flower arrangement at a reception in the lounge. Vida is a lifelong inhabitant of Flint and has seen many changes to the town in her lifetime. Her father, David Wray was a local postman and was Mayor of Flint, Vida being his lady Mayoress. She married dentist Glyn Price in 1938. She worked at Flint baby clinic for many years as a volunteer, only retiring when she was 80! Though she had no children of her own, she loved everyone else’s. She became a Christian in her late 40’s and has been a committed and active member of the Evangelical church in Flint to this day. She is now in her 6th year of residency at Ystad Goffa and is a daily visitor to the lounge for tea and chats.

During Vida’s morning calls I always ask her how she is. Vida always reply’s by saying “I’m getting on with it”. She is a little star you can not help but love her”. Another very special birthday took place on Dec 18th at Restway Court, Cardiff, for Clarice Allbrow. Clarice (pictured below) has her family spread across the world and as many as could travelled to join the celebrations with residents at Llandaff. Born in Brythdir near Bargoed she has two sons, one daughter, eight grandchildren and seven great grandchildren. A slide show was created by her daughter Sue showing snapshots of her life. Clarice keeps her brain active by taking various interesting cuttings from the newspapers and then sending these to family members. A much loved lady, who doesn’t like a fuss, had lots of attention on her special day.

Mrs Margaret Thomas a good friend said “The celebration was wonderful and Vida truly appreciated what we had done for her. All the residents were invited to her 100th birthday celebration. You could tell by her big smiles she was delighted they had come along. Rhian, David and I put some money in a pot and purchased Vida’s basket of flowers.

Birthday Girl at 80 yrs of age Mrs Margaret Toft of Ty Gwynn Jones (pictured above, right) celebrated her 80th birthday on the 3rd of January with a party in the communal lounge. She would like to thank the ladies who did the catering for her. 34

Wales & West Housing Association Spring 11

Birthdays & Anniversaries

Diamond Wedding Anniversary

Happy 90th Birthday

L-R: All brothers together, Martin, Cornelius, Thomas, Jack and Dennis. Congratulations to Jim and Valerie Sullivan of Newlands Court, Llanishen, Cardiff who celebrated their Diamond Wedding Anniversary on 18th November 2010. They held a party for the residents of Newlands Court on 20th November where a good time was had by all!

Cornelius Costello, of Ty Gwyn Jones, Abergele was 90 years young on March 3rd. He has three sons and five grandchildren. His wife Frances unfortunately died in 1999 after nearly 50 years of marriage. Despite greatly missing her, Cornelius has got on with his life and lives at his own pace, which for his age is pretty fast. He enjoys going dancing two or three times a week and is the first to put his name down whenever a trip out is planned. He was in the armed forces from 1939 to 1959 and walks or rather marches to the shops a quarter of a mile away. Everyone he meets consider him a gentle man and a Gentleman.

New minibus service for Sydney Hall Court residents A new minibus service has been launched by Welsh Border Transport running every other Wednesday from Sydney Hall Court retirement scheme in Connahs Quay to the new Quay Shopping Centre and adjoining Morrison’s supermarket. The service is free for residents of the scheme and is financed by both Wales & West Housing Association and Flintshire County Council. The service has been launched as there is no direct bus service to the shopping centre which is over a mile away from the scheme. The new service, which incorporates 90 minutes shopping time at the centre, has been welcomed by residents and the scheme manager who thinks it will be invaluable for residents who don’t drive or own a car.


In Touch Spring 2011  

The magazine for residents of Wales & West Housing

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