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Spotlight on


Spring 2012

Helping Merthyr families through Mortgage Rescue Lean management is working well for us Community spirited family rewarded by First Minister

Award winning residents Merthyr residents triumph in our Making a Difference awards 2011 Also in this edition...

Huw Lewis AM opens new Brewery Court & Brewery Mews development Merthyr gets connected

Spotlight on Merthyr - Spring 2012

Welcome to the Spring 2012 edition of Spotlight on Merthyr

Cyfarthfa Food & Veg Co-op wins WWHA’s Community Project awrd

I do not need to say that we are all still facing very challenging economic conditions and now more than ever we recognise the importance of delivering excellent customer service, supporting innovation to meet demand and, quite simply, going the extra mile to help our residents and their communities to help themselves. We are committed to being green, to helping our residents deal with money-related problems, and to as many of them as possible up-andrunning online. We’re also working with various partners to help people get into, or get back into work or training. Then there are our latest developments within the business including news of our £101m Development programme, our


new RP strategy and how we’re approaching self-assessment. And we’re absolutely thrilled to be able to tell you that we’ve been recognised as the top not-for-profit organisation in Wales in the Sunday Times Best Companies List 2012. So I hope you will take five minutes to read this newsletter and that it proves to be useful and informative. Finally we always value your feedback so don’t hesitate to get in touch and tell us what you think, about Spotlight, the news within it, or any other aspect of our business.

Anne Hinchey Chief Executive

Spotlight on Merthyr - Spring 2012

Providing affordable homes for Merthyr

HUW LEWIS, AM for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney and Minister for Housing, Heritage and Regeneration, officially opened our latest development of high quality, affordable new homes in Merthyr Tydfil. Brewery Mews & Brewery Court is the town’s new development, working in partnership with Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council, and provides 20 homes for local people. Located off Brecon Road, the £3m development was formally opened

by Mr Lewis on Friday, October 7th. The development comprises: 2 x two-bedroom apartments 13 x two-bedroom houses 5 x three bedroom houses The properties have all been built to the Welsh Governments Development Quality Requirements and key features include solar panels helping to reduce fuel bills. To view a video about the opening go to:


Spotlight on Merthyr - Spring 2012

More affordable homes for Merthyr Developing more high quality, affordable, sustainable homes for people in Wales is a major priority for WWHA. WWHA’s current five year £101m development programme includes innovative projects for residents with autism and learning difficulties, together with general needs housing and extra care facilities. The programme is supported by £15m social housing grant funding from our partner local authorities and the Welsh Government. Amongst WWHA’s developments currently on site, or shortly to go on site, in Merthyr, are: • Vulcan House, Merthyr Tydfil We have been working with Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council for the past four years to enable the redevelopment of this Grade 2 listed building which is adjacent to our recently completed Brewery Court and Brewery Mews development. Planning and listed building consent has been approved. The project is due to start this month (March 2012) and is due for completion in summer 2013.


• Rent First The Rent First scheme provides a mid-market option for people on moderate incomes and we bought two empty properties in Merthyr Tydfil as part of a project to pilot this scheme. Both properties have been let to young families from the locality. Rent First aims to provide a housing solution to those who are in a financially stable position yet who are unable to purchase a house at the present time due to economic uncertainties. Nikki Cole, Head of Development, adds: “While family housing is a major area of strength and expertise for WWHA, we also work in partnership with local authorities across Wales to meet the needs of local people with learning difficulties and autism. We relish the opportunity to provide housing solutions to meet a wide variety of housing requirements.” Grant funding to assist the development of new social housing is limited, however we have been successful in securing funding to help develop a range of housing opportunities across our area of operation.

Spotlight on Merthyr - Spring 2012

Merthyr residents win awards

Cyfarthfa Food Co-op ladies packing bags ready to sell

EATING healthily on Merthyr Tydfil’s Twyncarmel estate is now much easier and cheaper thanks to a group of awardwinning volunteers. Cyfarthfa Fruit & Veg Co-Op were winners of WWHA’s Making A Difference Community Project Award 2011, sponsored by Cambria Maintenance Services, a part of the WWHA group which services properties throughout South and Mid Wales. The group of eight women travel to Cardiff’s fruit and veg markets before dawn every Thursday, using a borrowed van, in order to source and buy fresh local produce at cost-price which they then re-sell at affordable prices to the community in Twyncarmel. Since starting in 2010 they have sold more than 1,000 bags of fresh produce to delighted customers within the local community.

They were nominated for the Community Project Award by Helen McShea of Communities First. And Cyfarthfa Fruit & Veg Co-Op were not the only MAD Awards 2011 winners from Merthyr Tydfil. Mary Cassidy and Andrew Selway, representing Mount View Angels, also picked up a Special Inspiration Award for their work on community gardens on the estate. Nominated by local Councillor Brian Mansbridge, the greenfingered duo are bringing the community together with their new fruit, veg and flower beds, supported by WWHA’s Environment Fund. To complete the hat-trick, Merthyr had another reason to celebrate as Merthyr Tydfil-based WWHA Board member David Davies was shortlisted in the Housing Hero category at the Welsh Housing Awards 2011.


Spotlight on Merthyr - Spring 2012

Merthyr gets connected

WWHA is one of the partners who are delivering a digital inclusion project funded by Communities 2.0/Welsh Government and hosted by the Aberfan and Merthyr Vale Youth and Community Project. So far over 879 people have benefited from the project which covers learning more about anything from how to make the most of a mobile phone or kindle to computer skills such as emailing, Skype, using the internet or shopping online. Outreach sessions are being held in community venues throughout the County Borough and many residents take part in more than one session.


Thirteen local residents have also volunteered to be community champions, helping others get digitally involved. One of these has recently gained employment. Jane Hutt, the Minister for Finance recently visited Ty Pontrhun, one of WWHA’s retirement schemes in Merthyr Tydfil, on a fact-finding mission about our pioneering work with partners including Connect Merthyr and Communities 2.0 to make digital technology accessible to all. One resident, Joe Foley, has used the sessions to write a blog about the experiences of his father during World War II in India.

Spotlight on Merthyr - Spring 2012 “Before I started these sessions I had never touched a computer let alone switched one on.” said Joe, 68. “But Laura, our tutor, from Connect Merthyr has been wonderful. I started out thinking “I’m not going to be able to do this, but now look at me!” Fellow Ty Pontrhun resident Lorraine Morgan, 80, (pictured left with the Minister) showed the Minister how her new found skills were enabling her to view products from her favourite shops online. “It’s incredible really,” she said. “Here I am, sitting at home, and I’m looking around Marks & Spencers and Debenhams. It’s very good for me as we don’t have an M&S in Merthyr and it’s a long way down to Cardiff. “Without these classes I would never have got into the internet at my age. It has been life changing.”

The one project covering a Borough principle adopted by the Connect Project has been adopted as the model for Communities 2.0 follow on programme from March 2012 - 2015.

In the 8 months following the project staff first being recruited in January 2011:

For more information on digital inclusion visit the Welsh Government website.

• 173 informal courses have been attended by 731 people

A further development of this project involves Ty Pontrhun retirement scheme, which is now the pilot for a £1m investment in WiFi broadband technology by WWHA. Using local firm Boynes we plan to roll out affordable broadband provision to older people in all of our 92 retirement schemes Wales-wide within the next two years. Access to 1GB download per household should cost no more than £1 per week to our residents.

• 32 taster sessions have been attended by 255 people • 69 supported dro- in sessions have been attended by 213 people • 23 community groups have engaged in the project and a further 17 have been contacted to offer support.


Spotlight on Merthyr - Spring 2012

Cyfarthfa Ward PACT

Coed y Dderwen school WWHA staff recently attended a Fun Day at Coed-y-Dderwen School, Gellideg, Merthyr Tydfil to help with fundraising efforts for the local schoolchildren. We also gave away energy saving packs to people on qualifying benefits.

Alison Chaplin, one of WWHA’s Community Development Project Officers covering Merthyr Tydfil, was recently presented with a Community Champion Award at the Cyfarthfa Communities First Partnership Volunteer Awards night for her continued work within the PACT meeting.

Housing plays vital role Housing has been recognised as having a vital role in the new Integrated Offender Management Protocols which are being put in place in an initiative which is being led by the Police and Probation Service.


Alison Chaplin also attends the following on behalf of WWHA: • Cyfarthfa Ward Communities First Partnership Board

Alison also attends the following on behalf of WWHA: • • •

• •

Cyfarthfa Ward Communities First Partnership Board Merthyr Tydfil Financial Inclusion Forum MTCBC Third Sector Wider Grants Panel – occasionally deputising on the Technical Appraisal Panel, Rural Action Merthyr Tydfil Partnership Third Sector Regeneration Forum – previously Heads of Valleys Third Sector Partnership VAMT lead HSCWB forum and CYPP Forum, Participation (Youth) Forum

Spotlight on Merthyr - Spring 2012

Continued investment in our properties During the last six months of 2011 we spent £5.7m on refurbishing our homes across Wales and we are delighted to say that we are on course to achieve the Welsh Housing Quality Standard by 2012. Across Wales we’ve renewed the kitchens in over 400 homes (£1.3m) and we’ve spent over £600k refurbishing bathrooms. Locally this includes £100,000 invested in 45 new bathrooms in

Ty Pontrhun retirement scheme in Troedyrhiw, as well as £44,000 renewing controls for the scheme’s communal boilers. We’re also investing a further £1.2m in a major window renewal programme which should make our homes more comfortable, warmer, cheaper to heat and less likely to need expensive maintenance work in the near future.

Development update Throughout Wales our £101m five-year development programme is going from strength to strength. We are now on site, or about to go on site, to start work on more than 250 units in five different local authority areas. These units include general needs housing, extra care, special needs and dementia care accommodation.

the option of purchasing the property, after a year’s successful tenureship. For more information about our development plans please go to: development

We have also recently completed a total of 47 units across Wales including general needs houses and apartments as well as specialist supported housing units. We’re also piloting our first Try Before You Buy’ initiative with 16 units for affordable rent with

Brewery Court & Brewery Mews, Merthyr Tydfil


Spotlight on Merthyr - Spring 2012

Strong financial performance for WWHA The Association has just closed another strong year of financial performance. Firstly, as part of the new WG regulatory framework, we received a pass for financial viability judgement which is the highest rating awarded and demonstrates that we are adequately resourced to meet current and future business and financial commitments. Secondly, our results for the year show both a surplus and a positive free cash flow. This has allowed us to invest over £30m in the last three years in our existing properties to improve the quality

of our homes. With a further £10m investment planned this year, we are well on track to meeting the Welsh Housing Quality Standard (WHQS) by the target date of 2012. We already have £35m of funding in place to fund future development. Having brought into management 165 newly developed properties this year alone, we have plans to bring in a further 600 over the next 5 years. To do this will require further funding and we are well placed to do this, with low gearing and a large portfolio of unsecured high quality properties on our books.

Mortgage rescue Our mortgage rescue scheme is continuing to have a positive impact on the lives of many householders at risk of repossession. We are one of the few associations to operate a self-funded scheme now that the grant funding from the Welsh Government has stopped. We are still experiencing considerable demand and are committed to continuing the mortgage rescue scheme in order to help reduce homelessness. So far we’ve invested more than £2m in the scheme and have:


• Purchased 31 properties outright – where the residents have now become our tenants. This includes 3 properties which have been purchased without grant as part of the Associations self funded scheme. A further 4 households have accepted offers of assistance as part of this scheme. • Completed 26 loans to enable the occupiers to remain in their properties as owners

To find out more our mortgage rescue scheme call freephone 0800 052 2526.Or go to: MortgageRescue/

Spotlight on Merthyr - Spring 2012

Awards round-up Since our last edition of Spotlight we’ve gained the following recognition: • 2012 Sunday Times Best

Companies. In 2012 WWHA has been named the top not-for-profit organisation in Wales and ranked 8th, up from 14th in 2011.

We are also the only Welsh housing association to be awarded the coveted three stars award by Best Companies.

“I’m absolutely thrilled that we’ve been recognised as the top not-for-profit organisation in Wales, and, that we’ve made the top ten NFP organisations to work for in the UK. And to have been awarded the highest rating of three stars is fantastic,” says Anne Hinchey.

“We pride ourselves on being a values-driven company – to be fair, open, supportive, efficient and responsible – to our staff as well as everyone with whom, and for whom, we work.

• WWHA were delighted to be named in the Top 30 Family Friendly Firms in the UK by Working Families, an organisation which campaigns for work-life balance. We were one of only two Welsh organisations to make the list which is dominated by blue chip firms. • Our Stoneleigh Manor More Options Homelessness Project in partnership with Powys County Council won the Cymorth Cymru Promoting Independence 2011 Good Commissioning

Award. This project was also shortlisted for a CIH Welsh Housing Award ‘Making Best Use of Stock.” • North Wales Financial Inclusion Forum, of which we are a member organisation, won the 2011 Promoting Independence Award 2011 Service User Involvement Award for it’s ‘My Home… Making Every Penny Count’ DVD. The DVD has since won a second award – the MoneyActionNet Award 2011 by social action information provider Lemos & Crane. • WWHA residents have scooped two TPAS Cymru awards. The groups from the Garw Valley, Bridgend, and Barracksfield estate in Wrexham, beat off stiff competition from other social landlords’ groups in Wales. • Our Powell Road Eco-Friendly Regeneration Project in Flintshire was shortlisted for an Outstanding Achievement in Wales CIH UK Housing Award. • Our retirement scheme Sydney Hall Court in Connah’s Quay, run by scheme manager Rob Holmes, was shortlisted for The Cinnamon Trust’s Pet Friendly Care Home of the Year Award. • We’ve achieved the Gold Standard in RSPCA Housing Footprint.


Spotlight on Merthyr - Spring 2012

Eco-friendly initiatives We are committed to being green across our organisation, as well as supporting our residents to be able to enjoy the many benefits of being environmentally friendly. and we have just passed our annual Green Dragon audit, reaching Level 2.

Picured is the first bore hole being started at Clos Pontganol for the installation of the ground source heat pumps. One of the 10 bore holes will go nearly 200 meters (aproximately 600 feet) down.

We are undertaking a wide range of projects, led by Owen Jones, our Environment & Sustainability Officer. We have been installing Ground Source Heat Pumps at Clos Pontganol, Llangynidr, together with additional sites at Crickhowell, Llanfair Cereinion and Flint. These literally groundbreaking projects are going to have a huge impact in helping residents to save money on their energy bills. Some residents in Maes Yr Onnen, Crickhowell are currently


paying £150 to £200 per month on their electricity bills, and they are now going to benefit from new windows, improved insulation and Ground Source Heat Pumps. Further measures such as removing their electric showers and replacing them with mixer showers will also help to reduce their bills. Ground Source Heat Pumps are amongst the most sustainable space and domestic hot water heating systems currently available and residents will gain from having greater control of their heating and in most cases it will be cheaper to run.

Spotlight on Merthyr - Spring 2012

Other projects include: •

Fuel switching

Continuing to trial voltage optimisation devices

Working with the Environment Agency to develop flood plans for our properties which may be affected.

We’ve also invested more than £15,000 from our Environment Fund in 29 projects across Wales. These are all resident-led projects which have applied to us for grassroots funding. Projects include developing biodiversity gardens, installation of raised beds for accessible planting,

to purchase of seeds, tools, greenhouses and other equipment. We are continually working hard to make sure that, where possible, we use and incorporate environmentally friendly technologies into every aspect of our new developments as well as in our refurbishment programmes. However, uncertainty around funding has unfortunately resulted in us having to put on hold our plans to install solar PV panels on the roofs of our suitable properties. This was due to factors beyond our control and we are among many other social housing providers across the UK in this position.

Picured is the former bin store at Western Court, Bridgend, which has now been transformed by the residents into a greenhouse, thanks to a £200 contribution from the WWHA Environment Fund.


Spotlight on Merthyr - Spring 2012

Wi-fi broadband access for older residents

Self-assessment and planning for the future

We are committed to providing broadband WiFi access at all our 100 older persons schemes across Wales within the next two years, investing £1m in the project.

Like many other housing associations we conduct rigorous self-assessment exercises to look at how well we are performing and to help us plan for the future.

We are already working on a pilot scheme at Ty Pontrhun, one of our retirement schemes in Merthyr Tydfil, in partnership with Welsh provider Boynes. Four lines, routers and boosters will be up and running at the scheme from March 2012 providing 1MG download capacity for each resident. The cost to residents will be an affordable £1 per household per week.

We always welcome constructive feedback about any aspect of our business, our properties, or the services we deliver. To find out more about our plans and self assessment process please go to: CorporateInformation/ Performance/InspectionInformation

Upskilling with Communities 2.0 and Take Ctrl We’re also working with a number of partners to upskill any of our residents, regardless of age or previous experience, to be able to enjoy the benefits of digital technology. In Merthyr Tydfil we’re working with Communities 2.0 on the Connect Merthyr Project. This is supporting older people to learn how to use a variety of platforms on the internet inclusing email, Skype, search engines, Twitter and YouTube. It is also helping them to use a variety of other


digital equipment including mobile phones, cameras and video cameras. Welsh Finance minister Jane Hutt visited the project recently to see for herself the incredibly positive impact it is having on its older participants. And in North Wales we are hosting Jen Bailey, co-ordinator of the Take Ctrl Project. This is a partnership between seven housing associations including WWHA. For more details go to:

Spotlight on Merthyr - Spring 2012

Employment and training opportunities We are continuing to work in partnership with our contractors and others to provide work and training to people within many of the communities where we work.

• Working with JobMatch to train two dedicated Energy Advisers who will spread the word among residents as to how to get the best fuel deals and how best to cut costs.

Donna Samuel is one of two returners to work who have secured permanent jobs with WWHA thanks to JobMatch, Bridgend. Donna recently met First Minister Carwyn Jones (pictured below) at a local Health and Wellbeing event, and she took the opportunity to explain how finding a full-time job had transformed her life.

• Supporting our contractors and suppliers to create apprenticeships in electrics and window fitting. • Creating work placements through JobCentre Plus and the Department of Work and Pensions’Work Programme. • And we’re exploring what job opportunities we may be able to create through recycling.

New Resident Participation Strategy We’ve updated our resident Participation strategy. If you’d like to find out more please go to: NR/rdonlyres/6C6733C0-FA834302-912C-F846D2D3C68F/0/ InTouchWinter20112.pdf Many of our contractors have taken on apprentices as a result of the work we commission them to do. Some other example of how we are supporting people to get back into work, include:

Or you can read the strategy in full at: rdonlyres/10FD0DC5-E4DD4B9C-9FC0-EF0F5A83AA1B/0/ WHALTPS2011.pdf


Spotlight on Merthyr - Spring 2012


Contacts Head Office 3 Alexandra Gate, Ffordd Pengam, Tremorfa, Cardiff CF24 2UD Tel: 0800 052 2526 Fax: 029 2041 5380 Website:

Flint Office Unit 2 Acorn Business Park Aber Road, Flint, Flintshire CH6 5YN Email: Minicom: 0800 052 5205 Follow us on @WWHA

STRATEGIC Anne Hinchey, Chief Executive 029 2041 5335

Tony Wilson, Finance Director 029 2041 5346

Shayne Hembrow, Operations Director 029 2041 5362

HOUSING Lynnette Glover, Head of Housing 029 2041 5365

Jenny Williams, Housing Manager (Gen. Needs) 029 2041 4086

Jackie Bloxham, Housing Manager (Retirement/Supported Housing) 029 2041 4083

DEVELOPMENT Nikki Cole, Head of Development 029 2041 4093

PROPERTY SERVICES Steve Porter, Head of Property Services 029 2041 5373

16 Wales & West Housing Association is registered as a charitable association under the Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1965 No. 21114R

Spotlight on Merthyr  
Spotlight on Merthyr  

Wales & West Housing Association's newsletter for the Merthyr area