Page 1


BRIDGEND ISSUE 5 | SPRING 2013 Welfare Reform weathering the storm Getting online thriving online Our latest new developments in your area Connect24 telephone and telecare services

2 | Spotlight on BRIDGEND | Spring 2013 |

ANNE’S INTRODUCTION Welcome to the Spring 2013 edition of Spotlight on Bridgend, bringing you updates about Wales & West Housing initiatives in your area. This edition features our usual mix of news about some of our current county­specific projects, plus relevant organisation­wide updates. First of all I am very pleased to tell you that in our most recent Resident Satisfaction Survey 88% of our residents told us that they were satisfied with the overall service provided by WWH. This is a 2% increase compared to the survey we did in 2011, and, a significant increase of 7% on the results we achieved in 2007. Another significant development since our last Spotlight on Bridgend is the investment we have made in seven new innovative Tenancy Support Officers posts. After a successful recruitment exercise our new TSOs are, as I write, starting their new roles across Wales and will be taking a proactive and hands­on approach to helping our residents to weather the welfare reform storm. Across the business we are continuing to explore and invest in new technology and our digital inclusion programme is continuing apace, in itself playing an increasingly important role in helping our residents to deal with forthcoming welfare reform changes. I am also very pleased to announce that, in recognition of our capacity as a developing association, we have been granted a substantial tranche of additional funds by the Welsh Government to help us build more much needed affordable homes across Wales. When we sent you our Business Plan last autumn we told you we would deliver 800 new homes in the next five years. Thanks to this new investment we are now on course to deliver 1,000 new homes in the next four years.

However developing new homes is just a part of what we do and so to ensure that we remain customer ­ focussed, and readily accountable, we are undergoing our regular self­assessment process. I and my fellow directors have been conducting our annual staff roadshows and have so far spoken to more than three quarters of all our staff across Wales, many of whom live in the communities in which they work, gaining invaluable insights and feedback from them. Finally, it gives me great pleasure to tell you that Sunday Times Best Companies has ranked us the top not­for­profit organisation in Wales for the second year running – placing us 7th in the UK overall. We not only moved one place up the ranking from our 2012 position in 8th place, but we also retained our coveted gold standard Three Stars rating. I’m sure you will agree that this is another very pleasing result and a testament to the hard work and dedication of our fantastic staff. To conclude, I hope that this briefing will help to keep you up to date with much of our grassroots work in your area, as well as the bigger picture about WWH. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch at any time with your ideas and comments about any aspect of our work. Yours Anne Hinchey, Chief Executive.

3 | Spotlight on BRIDGEND | LOCAL NEWS | Spring 2013 |

WELFARE REFORM WEATHERING THE STORM Our agenda has been, and continues to be, dominated by welfare reform and in particular the impact of the ‘bedroom tax’ which came into effect on April 1st. Working efficiently with Bridgend Housing Benefit team we have been able to identify the 175 WWH households in the county who will be affected by the change. Our staff have contacted all affected residents to talk through the changes, discuss the potential impact on household budgets and to work with them to find affordable solutions. To date, the vast majority of our residents have told us that they intend to stay in their existing homes although many may struggle to make up the shortfall in their housing benefit. In recognition that many of our residents will need more help to sustain their tenancies, we have also invested heavily in providing on­going support through the creation of seven entirely new Tenancy Support Officer posts.

Starting work with us now and based across Wales – four (Natalie Davies, Amanda Collins, Stuart Lock and Sharon Jones) in the South, one (Donna Steven) in Mid Wales and two (William Brook and Jen Bailey) covering our properties in North Wales – they will work with residents to help them deal with the impact of all forthcoming welfare reforms, including the introduction of Universal Credit, giving them the knowledge, choices, strength and hope to weather the forthcoming storm. Of course, one knock­on effect of the bedroom tax is that we are now seeing some of our larger properties – especially three bedroom family homes – becoming available. Again we are working closely with all our local authority partners, and all other appropriate partners to make sure that the right people in housing need are able to access these affordable homes.

TENANCY SUPPORT We are delighted to be able to introduce Stuart Lock, our new Tenancy Support Officer for the Bridgend area. Stuart will be helping our residents to deal with the many challenges of welfare reform, as well as providing support and advice on effective budgeting and information on employment and training opportunities. Stuart will initially be concentrating his efforts on helping those residents who we have already identified as being at risk of potentially facing financial hardship, or falling into arrears, due to changes brought about by the ‘bedroom tax’, and other forthcoming welfare reform. Stuart’s line manager is Housing Manager Jenny Williams. Stuart Lock, Tenancy Support Officer for Bridgend

4 | Spotlight on BRIDGEND | LOCAL NEWS | Spring 2013 |


We now have more than 1,300 followers on Twitter. Please join the conversation and follow us @wwha. We tweet daily about news, jobs, forthcoming events, training opportunities, charity fundraising initiatives, photos and much more. And you can watch us on our YouTube channel wwhahomesforwales.

5 | Spotlight on BRIDGEND | LOCAL NEWS | Spring 2013 |

RESIDENT SATISFACTION SURVEY (RSS) - BRIDGEND We carry out our annual Resident Satisfaction Survey of a third of households (approximately 2,700) every year. We undertook our second annual, and most recent, survey in autumn 2012. Here are some headline results plus insights into what is important to our residents in Bridgend. Overall Satisfaction We are really pleased to report that 88% (four out of five residents) were satisfied with the overall service provided by WWH. This is a 2% increase compared to 2011’s survey and a significant increase of 7% on the results we achieved in our 2007 survey. Customer Service Our scores for the standard of customer service when making contact with us are very good. In particular more than half of households (52%) gave us a perfect score of 10 for the helpfulness of staff, with the average overall score being 8.65 out of 10. There has also been a significant increase in satisfaction levels for receiving a response in a timely manner (7.99 average, up from 7.70). The Property On the whole, respondents were satisfied with their property, with an average rating of 7.99 out of 10, including 32% of the sample who scored 10. In general, average scores for each feature of the home were equivalent to, and in most cases higher than, those reported in 2011.

Bridgend specific results People’s perceptions of their neighbourhood overall is typically an important factor in how satisfied or not they are with their accommodation and landlord. So it is positive to see respondents in Bridgend scored their neighbourhood with an average of 8.4 out of 10 – with nearly half scoring it a perfect 10. Determining factors included a ‘quiet area’ and ‘good neighbours’ (30% and 26% respectively). We also asked residents about our priorities for improvement in a variety of areas of work over the coming years. The results clearly show that we are planning to improve areas of service provision that are relevant and valued to our residents. The top three items identified by our residents in Bridgend are: • to review the services to support older residents to help them live independently in their homes • review how we deal with anti social behaviour • make our homes more energy efficient. So what next? We are now exploring in more depth the results of this survey and the specific comments that residents have made. These will be invaluable to us in moving forward and further improving our services.

6 | Spotlight on BRIDGEND | LOCAL NEWS | Spring 2013 |


HOMES IN BRIDGEND Coed Castell: Contractor Wates Living Space will soon be completing this development of 23 new homes – 15 houses and 8 flats – for us working in partnership with Bridgend County Borough Council. The first residents of these lovely new homes will shortly be taking up their tenancies on this development, completing the overall development of 39 affordable homes under our management in this area. Bryncethin: We are currently on site at our Maes Gwyn development in Bryncethin where we are developing 28 new homes in partnership with Bridgend County Borough Council, all for affordable social rent. Contractor Greenhill are on schedule to complete this £2.7m development at the end of this year. Coed Parc: We have held focus groups to seek their views about the future of Coed Parc, formerly the Old Library and we are currently considering the results of these groups. We’ve also demolished out­buildings to make the area safer and more secure, and are carrying out grounds maintenance work. We have been successful in securing additional funding from the Welsh

Government which will enable us to deliver more than 1,000 units during the next four years across all areas in which we operate. The supply of enough high quality, affordable homes for Wales remains a pressing issue. However we remain confident of our ability to meet a range of needs. We are in a strong position financially and thanks to this we are able to build not only more new homes, but more of the right type and specification to meet local demand. By providing homes at different prices provides not only us, but also more importantly, our current and potential residents, with real choices.

7 | Spotlight on BRIDGEND | LOCAL NEWS | Spring 2013 |


NOW OPERATING FROM OUR CUSTOMER SERVICE CENTRE Moneyline Cymru is currently operating out of a number of branches primarily in South Wales, including Nolton Street, Bridgend. Moneyline also wants to offer a telephone service to people from other areas of Wales and to people who cannot get to their offices. So they are now operating from our Customer Service Centre in our Head Office in Cardiff on an experimental basis. The service went live in February and the three­strong team are currently taking overflow calls from existing Moneyline Cymru branches.


COMMUNITY During the past six months we have continued our commitment to community development in this area. We have contributed funds to support a range of community initiatives including the WRU’s Little Stars programme in Brackla, bus

transport for youngsters to and from Brackla Live, provided funding for Christmas activities including Santa’s Grotto run by Brackla Events Committee, and we are now exploring options for funding play equipment for our younger residents on Bryn Amlwg.

8 | Spotlight on BRIDGEND | LOCAL NEWS | Spring 2013 |

Geoff Bunce and Derek Rose members of Western Court Eco Warriors.

LOOKING AFTER THE ENVIRONMENT IN BRIDGEND It is a corporate priority for us to minimise the impact we have on the environment, and that of our residents too. We are improving the energy efficiency of our properties beyond that required by the Welsh Government, so that our residents save money, use less and are less likely to be in fuel poverty. We have also invested £6m in the past five years to ease fuel poverty in our properties and will continue to invest in improvement measures. One example of this is the upgrade we have done to the mechanical ventilation and heat recovery systems in our properties at Erw Hir, Coychurch. These works will ensure the system provides excellent ventilation while keeping the properties warm. We’re also supporting several environmental projects in this area from the very small, to the not­so­small. One example is Western Court retirement scheme where residents Geoff Bunce and Derek Rose the Eco Warriors

have turned second hand wooden pallets into a smart new decking area. They also obtained new timber with funding from our Environment Fund to extend and reinforce their garden shed. They are now planning to adopt another piece of land for fruit growing and to enlarge their garden. We’re delighted to reveal that Western Court Eco Warriors have been shortlisted in the Improving the Environment Award category in the 2013 TPAS Cymru Awards. For more details about our Planned Maintenance Programme please contact Commercial Manager Mike Wellock. And to find out more about our Environmental works, including our Environment Fund, please contact Owen Jones, our Environment & Sustainability Officer.

9 | Spotlight on BRIDGEND | THE BIGGER PICTURE | Spring 2013 |

SUPPORTING HOUSE SWAP WALES Mindful of the need for many residents to downsize as a result of the ‘bedroom tax’ we have joined forces with Cadwyn and Linc Housing Associations to back the creation of the House Swap Wales project on Facebook. Essentially a series of county­by­county Facebook groups – eg: House Swap Cardiff, House Swap Wrexham etc – House Swap Wales is aimed at social housing tenants who need to move due to welfare reforms including the bedroom tax, or who simply want to move for other

reasons. It provides a simple and readily accessible online platform for residents to advertise their own properties free of charge, find out about potential properties they could move to, and facilitate the moves themselves. Find out more at and follow us on Twitter @HouseSwapWales

10 | Spotlight on BRIDGEND | THE BIGGER PICTURE | Spring 2013 |

GETTING ONLINE THRIVING ONLINE Technology liberates, empowers and enables. More and more services, including access to benefits, are becoming available only via the internet and yet the majority of our residents are not connected. So we’re continuing to support our residents to get online, and make the most of being online, through a range of digital inclusion initiatives across Wales. Our aims are: • to help people maximise their incomes and deal with welfare reform ­ in particular the introduction of Universal Credit • to combat social isolation by enabling residents to be better connected within, and beyond, their communities • to assist residents to get better value by accessing information and purchases online • to support residents to take advantage of all the educational – and fun – benefits that being online brings. In South Wales our affordable broadband Wi­Fi access pilot scheme at Ty Pontrhun in

Merthyr Tydfil is providing us with a great foundation from which we can roll out this initiative, where possible, across Wales. And in North Wales we have also recently Wi­Fi enabled a communal lounge at Nant y Môr, our extra care scheme in Prestatyn, Denbighshire. Work is now on­going to Wi­Fi enable communal lounges in a number of our retirement schemes in both North and South Wales. We are also running ‘how to’ sessions with residents, as part of the ‘Take Ctrl’ project, which we host on behalf of the North Wales Financial Capability Forum. To date Take Ctrl has helped more than 500 residents get online, with the support of 48 volunteers. Jen Bailey, one of our Tenancy Support Officers, is concentrating in particular on this area of demand.

11 | Spotlight on BRIDGEND | THE BIGGER PICTURE | Spring 2013 |

CONNECT24 TELEPHONE AND TELECARE SERVICES AT WWH We have been delivering telephone and telecare services for more than 10 years and such is the significance of this area of our business that we have recently given it its own brand identity, Connect24. Why Connect? Because it’s all about connecting people with the services they need to enable them to live independently and safely in their homes. And 24? Because we are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. Currently we provide Connect24 emergency alarm and telecare services to more than 4000 households across Wales and have contracts with: • Valleys to Coast Housing in Bridgend • Pennaf Housing Group in North and Mid Wales • Newydd Housing Association in South and Mid Wales We also monitor alarms for individuals in rented accommodation as well as owner­occupiers. A simple alarm monitoring service, including the equipment, costs as little as £2.50 per week. This helps to give older and vulnerable people the reassurance they need to continue living independently in their own home, and their families some peace of mind, and all at an affordable price. We also offer a full 24/7 out­of­hours service and currently have contracts with the following housing associations, seeing us deliver out of hours services to 27,000 households across Wales: • Hafan Cymru across Wales • Grwp Gwalia across Wales • Bron Afon Community Housing in Torfaen

For more information about Connect24 please visit our website www.connect­ or contact Jackie Edwards, Customer Service Centre Manager or Cate Dooher, Head of Support Services on 0800 052 2526.

12 | Spotlight on BRIDGEND | THE BIGGER PICTURE | Spring 2013 |

Di Barnes, Verity Kimpton and Anne Hinchey WWH’s crack skydive team.

CHARITY UDPATE After a terrific two years during which staff and residents raised £25,000 for Help for Heroes, our new corporate charity partner for the January 2013 to December 2015 period is Stroke Association Cymru. Adopted by staff as our main charity partner this January we have already raised more than £10,000 for Stroke. Events include regular dress­down days for staff, participation in the St David’s Day Fun Run, and most recently a sponsored skydive. WWH charity team leader Di Barnes was joined by admin officer Verity Kimpton and Chief Executive Anne Hinchey for the jump, from 13,000 feet over Swansea Airfield, on Saturday April 6th. Huge thanks to everyone who supported them in this hair­raising enterprise. More details about

forthcoming charity events and fundraising on our website and on Twitter @wwha. Other charities to benefit from staff fundraising include Comic Relief Red Nose Day, and Trusell Trust Foodbanks in Cardiff, Merthyr Tydfil, Wrexham, Vale and Bridgend.

13 | Spotlight on BRIDGEND | THE BIGGER PICTURE | Spring 2013 |

Western Court gardeners

AWARDS ROUND-UP At the time of going to print we have a number of staff and residents shortlisted for major awards. They are as follows: TPAS Cymru Participation Awards 2013:

CIH Housing Heroes Awards:

Les Cooper has been posthumously shortlisted for the Inspirational Colleague Award. Les, formerly our Money Advice Officer based at our Flint office in North Wales, sadly passed away unexpectedly last month. An active member of the North Wales Financial Capability Forum, Les was enormously influential and respected in the sector and had a hugely positive impact on the lives of all those with whom he came into contact.

Scheme Manager Helen Jones from Llandudno, Conwy, has been shortlisted in the intensely competitive Inspirational Colleague category.

Green­fingered gardeners, aka ‘Western Court Eco­Warriors’ from our retirement scheme Western Court in Bridgend, have been shortlisted for the Improving the Environment Award.

Les Cooper

Helen Jones

HR Excellence Awards: Anne Hinchey, Chief Executive, has been shortlisted for the Most People Focussed CEO Award in the Charity/ Not­for­Profit sector. This is the third consecutive year that Anne has been shortlisted for this award.

Anne Hinchey

14 | Spotlight on BRIDGEND | LOCAL STAFF | Spring 2013 |

LOCAL STAFF All areas:

L­R Tony Wilson (Finance Director), Shayne Hembrow (Deputy Chief Executive/Commercial Director), Anne Hinchey (Chief Executive), Steve Porter (Operations Director)

All areas:

Lynnette Glover, Head of Housing Nikki Cole, Head of Development Alex Stephenson, Head of Property Services

Bridgend Housing Manager: Housing Manager: Commercial Manager: Commercial Manager: Development Manager:

Jenny Williams (General Needs) Jackie Bloxham (Retirement Housing) Robin Alldred (Repairs) Mike Wellock (Planned Maintenance) Vacant (to be appointed)

Housing Officers:

General Needs Andrew Pritchard (maternity leave March) Maria Edwards Claire Pepper Ann Lewis Liz Daniels (Housing Assistant)

Neighbourhood Initiatives:

Retirement Ilka Beynon

Bridget Garrod Alison Chaplin (Community Development Project Officer) Claire Hammond (Resident Participation Strategy Officer)

Asset Management Officers: Andrew Lester Vacant (to be appointed) Environment:

Owen Jones

Tenancy Support Officer:

Stuart Lock

Telephone: Email: Website:

0800 052 2526

Wales & West Housing 3 Alexandra Gate, Ffordd Pengam, Tremorfa, Cardi CF24 2UD and Unit 2, Acorn Business Park, Aber Road, Flint CH6 5YN. Telephone: 0800 052 2526 Minicom: 0800 052 5205 Email: Website: @wwha wwhahomesforwales

Published April 2013

Spotlight on Bridgend Spring 2013  

The latest news about the work of Wales & West Housing in the Bridgend area