WREXHAM ISSUE 4 | AUTUMN 2012 Preparing for Welfare Reform Enabling work, training and experience Expanding Cambria Maintenance Services Our latest new developments in your area
2 | Spotlight on WREXHAM | Autumn 2012 | www.wwha.co.uk
INTRODUCTION Welcome to the Autumn 2012 edition of Spotlight on Wrexham, bringing you progress updates about Wales & West Housing initiatives in your area. This edition the ﬁrst using our new brand identity which we introduced in April this year features a mix of news about some of our current countyspeciﬁc initiatives, plus relevant organisationwide updates. This Spring we welcomed a new Chair to our Board. After three successful years Ivor Gittens retired from this role, although he remains a WWH Board member. His successor is Kathy Smart, a wellknown member of the Cardiﬀ business community and longtime champion of social housing. Other recent changes have included the promotion of Shayne Hembrow from Operations Director to the new role of Deputy Chief Executive/Commercial Director. Following this I am pleased to say that Steve Porter has just been appointed as Operations Director. With the changes to Welfare Reform gathering pace, against a backdrop of continuing economic uncertainty and ever increasing pressures on public ﬁnances, I’m sure you will agree that there is much for us to do. However while the challenges are great, we remain committed to our vision to make a diﬀerence to people’s lives, homes and communities across Wales. We 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.
Finally please don’t hesitate to get in touch at any time with your comments, ideas and feedback about any aspect of our work. Yours Anne Hinchey, Chief Executive.
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Minister Huw Lewis with Cllr Mark Pritchard, WWH CEO Anne Hinchey, Anwyl Construction Director, Matthew Anwyl, and WWH resident and Board member, John Williams
KINGSMILLS ROAD AND RIVULET ROAD
DEVELOPMENT UPDATE It’s been a busy period for our £17m development in the Hightown area of Wrexham with works starting on site at Rivulet Road, and events held to promote potential training and apprenticeship opportunities resulting from the development. Firstly we were delighted to be joined by Welsh Housing, Regeneration and Heritage Minister Huw Lewis who braved the driving July downpours to formally mark the start of works on the scheme. The Minister was joined by Cllr Mark Pritchard, WWH CEO Anne Hinchey, Anwyl Construction Director, Mathew Anwyl, and WWH resident and Board member, John Williams to ceremonially turn the ﬁrst sod on the Kingsmills Road site. “I am pleased that the Welsh Government has been able to support the development
of this scheme,” said the Minister. “It is an excellent example of partnership working, with several diﬀerent organisations, the Welsh Government Wales & West Housing, Wrexham Council, Hightown Communities First and Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board all working together.” The 127 new homes and ﬂats are due to be ﬁnished at the end of 2013, providing a range of property sizes and tenures together with a new community centre and medical facility. Local schools helped to suggest street names for the developments. Please see overleaf.
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Hightown, Wrexham. Housing Minister Huw Lewis with youngsters from St Giles and St Christopher’s Schools, who won the street naming competition run by Hightown Communities First, and supported by WWH. The competition was part of the start of works celebrations on site on Kingsmills Road in July.
JOBS AND TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES Supporting local people into jobs and training is a key priority for Wales & West Housing and Anwyl Construction is now working in partnership with subcontractors employed on our Kingsmills Road/Rivulet Road developments to help facilitate as many opportunities as possible. Anwyl has teamed up with Yale College, Jobs Growth Wales and the Caia Park Partnership to facilitate opportunities. Recent events have included Anwyl taking a stand at Hightown Jobs Fair in September, where more than 50 people registered an interest in ﬁnding out about forthcoming opportunities. A successful ‘Meet the Contractor’ event also took place where potential subcontractors were able to discuss potential traineeships and apprenticeship opportunities. Our Neighbourhood Initiatives team is also working closely with Hightown residents to look at ways in which the new community centre will be funded and managed. In August concerns were raised over odours released during earthworks on contaminated soil at our brownﬁeld Rivulet Road development. These concerns, however, were quickly proved to be unfounded.
Wrexham CBC Land Contamination Team and contractors Anwyl worked together with local representatives to address the concerns raised and took steps to proactively inform people living around Rivulet Road of progress on site. Finally, this development is in line with our commitment to minimising our impact on the environment. The 127 new homes, medical resource centre and community centre will be ﬁtted with photo voltaic panels to generate electricity and water saving devices such as ﬂow regulators on taps. Wherever possible, building materials are sourced from local suppliers and a local labour force is being sourced. You can keep a track of the new developments in Hightown by visiting www.hightownﬂats.com.
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WWH RESIDENTS RECOGNISED AT NATIONAL AWARDS In May, two Wales & West Housing residents were recognised for their hard work in their local community and were presented with a Tenant Participation Advisory Service Cymru (TPAS) award at Llandudno. Sian Hope of Wrexham picked up 2nd prize in the Ruth Radley Outstanding Achievement in Participation category for her work with her local residents’ organisation and WWH’s Resident Participation Steering Group. Fifteenyearold Lauren also from Wrexham, received 2nd prize in the Young Tenant of the Year, both beating competition from all social housing residents in Wales.
Our Make It Happen grant provides successful applicants with a cash sum of £200 £500 to help enhance community activity and encourage fellow community engagement. If you know of anyone in WWH accommodation who would beneﬁt from the grant then please contact Claire Hammond, Resident Participation Strategy Oﬃcer on Claire.email@example.com
Our Environment fund can help facilitate ecofriendly projects such as growing fruit and veg, raised beds or native species of fruit trees. If you know of anyone in WWH accommodation who would beneﬁt from the grant then please contact Owen Jones, Environment and Sustainability Oﬃcer on firstname.lastname@example.org Pictured below, an example of one of the raised beds which we have helped to fund. Residents are now growing their own veg and beneﬁtting from the regular exercise that comes with gardening as well as enjoying the produce that they’ve grown.
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The SARTH (Single Access Route to Housing) project which aims to simplify the aﬀordable housing application process in North Wales is progressing well. The driver behind SARTH is to create a common policy for allocation of housing across the region. This will make it easier for applicants with one set of rules to follow than the nine that exist at the moment.
Council, Denbighshire County Borough Council, Flintshire County Council, Cartreﬁ Conwy, Clwyd Alyn Housing Association, Cymdeithas Tai Clwyd and North Wales Housing.
We are hosting SARTH Project Development Oﬃcer Nik Weatherall and are working in partnership with Conwy County Borough
A draft policy will shortly going out for public consultation will be on partners websites.
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Brian Williams and Margaret Guillain, Green Fingers Winners with Kathy Smart, Richard Leyshon of Wates Living Space, and Anne Hinchey WWH Chief Executive.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE AWARDS 2012 We held our ﬁfth annual Making A Diﬀerence Awards in October and once again it proved to be a fantastic night. A total of 159 residents, staﬀ and contractor partners attended the ceremony at the Village Hotel, Coryton, Cardiﬀ, on Friday, October 19th. Several Wrexham residents featured as winners and ﬁnalists, as follows: • Caia Gardens Resident Gardeners – winners, Green Fingers (General Needs) Award • Langford Close Resident Gardeners – ﬁnalists, Green Fingers (General Needs) Award • Ros & Peter Whitaker, Sylvester Court Retirement Scheme – ﬁnalists, Local Hero Award • Amy & Ashley Roberts, Llys yr Orsedd – ﬁnalists, Fresh Start (New Build) Award • Adam Hawksford, Hightown – ﬁnalist, Fresh Start Award There were a further two ﬁnalists from the Wrexham area, who, due to domestic circumstances, have requested that they receive no publicity from this event. We had almost 60 high quality entries from across Wales this year, a very pleasing ﬁgure, and a real demonstration of just how well so many of our staﬀ really know their residents. This year we also beneﬁtted from superb
support from our contractors with 11 providing a very signiﬁcant contribution to this year’s MAD budget. Media Wales are now in the process of making a short ﬁlm about the event, which will be uploaded onto our website and YouTube very shortly. Anne Hinchey, Chief Executive, said: “Now in their ﬁfth year, the MAD Awards are our way of recognising the strength, selﬂessness and community spirit of our residents. Our mission is strong, sustainable growth to make a diﬀerence to people’s lives, homes and communities, and these awards provide a real insight into some of the ways this is being achieved. It has been a wonderful night and a real privilege to hear the inspirational stories of all those involved.” Finally, there is one more award to mention – this time the one won by our own PR & Marketing team when our MAD Awards were recognised by Community Housing Cymru’s PR Network as the Best Event in Wales 2012.
8 | Spotlight on WREXHAM | THE BIGGER PICTURE | Autumn 2012 | www.wwha.co.uk
PREPARING FOR WELFARE REFORM Perhaps no single issue currently dominates the housing sector more than Welfare Reform. Our staﬀ right across our organisation are working closely with all our local authority partners, housing beneﬁt oﬃcers, Community Housing Cymru and other partners to promote and publicise the changes to come, the consequences to our residents, and ways in which they can help themselves. We’ve looked again at the services we provide and are making sure that we are doing all we can to help people to stay out of debt and to pay their bills. In particular we are working with residents to help them to: • prepare for the introduction of Universal Credit and direct payments • provide tailored help and advice around budgeting
• understand the implications of the introduction of the socalled ‘bedroom tax’ next year, and, • where appropriate, helping people to move to homes they can aﬀord and of the right size. Our two dedicated Money Advice Oﬃcers also work closely with Moneyline Cymru (see page 12) as well as Credit Unions across Wales, to help residents to budget eﬀectively and to access low cost, safe and aﬀordable credit.
LEADING THE SECTOR WITH
THE LIVING WAGE Our eﬀorts to tackle poverty do not stop with our residents. As the ﬁrst housing association in Wales to introduce the ‘Living Wage’, we are leading the sector with this initiative. Currently £7.20 per hour (for workers outside of London) the ‘Living Wage’ is considerably higher than the legal minimum wage which is currently £6.08 per hour. With more than 340 employees across Wales, our decision means that noone working for us will earn less than £7.20 an hour, and since this August 40 of our employees have seen their wages go up as a result of this policy.
Rhys Moore, Director of the Living Wage Foundation, said:
“We are delighted to award Wales & West Housing the Living Wage employer mark. This is a signiﬁcant moment as they become the ﬁrst housing association in Wales to achieve the mark.”
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WORK PLACEMENTS AVAILABLE Helping our residents to beneﬁt from employment and training opportunities is also a key priority for us. Through our contractor partners we have already supported 33 people back into employment, and, we have a number of apprentices working on our projects across Wales. Some examples of where we have recently had an impact include: • North Wales – At the recent Hightown Jobs Fair in Wrexham more than 50 people registered an interest in ﬁnding out more about potential employment and training opportunities to be facilitated through our contractor Anwyl. These opportunities will arise as part of our £17m developments on Kingsmills Road and Rivulet Road and more details will follow in subsequent editions of In Touch and Spotlight on Denbighshire. • South Wales – 18yearold Jordan Evans has just completed a two year plumbing apprenticeship with our subsidiary company Cambria Maintenance Services Ltd. Jordan, from Bridgend, combined onthejob training with Cambria with a day a week study at Ogmore College. “I would recommend this as a good way to earn and study,” said Jordan. “Several of my mates have asked me if this is a good thing to do, and I have told them that it deﬁnitely is.”
Apprentice plumber Jordan Evans, 18, with Neal O’Leary, Cambria Board member and Peter Jackson, Head of Cambria, at a presentation ceremony outside Cardiﬀ City Stadium to mark his qualiﬁcation.
Cambria is now looking to take on an additional 3 apprentices across its operations in North and South Wales over the coming months. • South Wales – As part of our Back to Work scheme (a Bridgend Employment Routes Team initiative) we hosted two trainee energy advisors. Based in Bridgend, Lynn and Howard were placed with us for six months, gaining experience that helped them to ﬁnd permanent employment. They promoted the Warm Home Discount scheme in retirement schemes and oﬀered residents advice on being more energy eﬃcient and how to save money on their bills. • We are working with Jobs Growth Wales as well as several other agencies to link people with opportunities, where possible and appropriate. • We are also able to host a number of inhouse placements, either as shortterm unpaid work experience, work placements (some funded) and apprenticeships. These opportunities are open to all, regardless of age, qualiﬁcations or previous experience. Those interested simply need to ﬁll in and return to us the Workplace Skills Initiative Expression of Interest Form on our website www.wwha.co.uk
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Service users in Mostyn, Flintshire. This project involves adults with learning disabilities learning to use computers, so that they can help to create digital memory books for residents in our retirement schemes.
DIGITAL INCLUSION Another key area of focus for us is ‘digital inclusion’ – enabling our residents to get online: to have access to appropriate equipment, software and support service, to get connected with each other and their communities through this medium, and, to make informed choices with the ability to access discounted purchases. The key drivers for us behind our investment in digital inclusion are: • helping people to be better placed to deal with Welfare Reform, and especially the introduction of Universal Credit • enabling people to be better connected within their communities, and • helping our residents to get better value by accessing information and purchases online Our pilot scheme to bring aﬀordable broadband WiFi access at Ty Pontrhun in Merthyr Tydﬁl is now live. Since 5 July, Ty Pontrhun residents and their families have been able to access the internet from any room within the building with a WiFi ready device, using an individual password.
North Walesbased Boyns is our chosen supplier for this pilot scheme and has installed a phone line to the building enabling residents up to 2Mb of WiFi broadband. Currently our residents are receiving 6 months free connection and then they will pay a very aﬀordable 63p per week. Our aim is to learn from this pilot scheme in order to extend eﬃcient and aﬀordable WiFi and broadband connections to as many of our residents as we can across Wales, and we are now starting work on a second pilot project in Nant y Môr, our Extra Care Scheme in Prestatyn, Denbighshire. WWH also hosts the Take Ctrl project on behalf of the North Wales Financial Capability Forum, a wide partnership including Communities 2.0.
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Cambria Maintenance Service’s 40 strong South and Mid Walesbased team. A further 40 skilled jobs are being secured through Cambria’s expansion into North Wales which will become operational in early 2013.
INTO NORTH WALES We set up our own maintenance company in 2011, taking us to a Group structure. Cambria Maintenance Services has just seen a very successful ﬁrst 20 months of trading, undertaking repairs as well as kitchen and bathroom renewals for WWH in South and Mid Wales. With a turnover of £2.8m in its ﬁrst year, we anticipate that in the next couple of years that this will triple. Building on the considerable success of its operations in South and Mid Wales, preparations are now underway for Cambria to expand into North Wales, with this division becoming operational from the beginning of 2013.
This move will secure the future of 40 skilled jobs in North Wales, as well as providing another secure platform for further work placement and apprenticeship opportunities. We anticipate that Cambria within the next five years will install 4,000 kitchens and bathrooms across Wales.
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SYNIAD CONSORTIUM In 2005 we joined forces with Linc Cymru and Clwyd Alyn Housing to form the Syniad Consortium. Since then the consortium members delivered more than 1,500 new social housing units, 11 extra care schemes and enabled training and apprenticeships for more than 150 people, maximising outcomes from more than £100m social housing grant. However with the transfer of the social housing grant programme to local authority partners and the reduction in available public subsidy for new homes, Syniad members reviewed its role. The result was that from June 1st of this year, the consortium ceased to exist.
Notwithstanding the end of the consortium, we will continue to work together where appropriate to provide much needed new homes across Wales.
EXPANSION Wales & West Housing, one of the founder members of Moneyline Cymru, is continuing to provide ﬁnancial support for this important initiative. In these very diﬃcult economic times more and more social housing residents will need to be able to access the services provided by organisations including Moneyline Cymru and local credit unions. We are pleased to support both and WWH is now actively working with Moneyline and North Wales Credit Union to look at how new services can be developed to help residents to deal with the changes that will come with the introduction of Universal Credit. We have also committed to help fund the expansion of Moneyline over the next 3 years,
and the latest branch has recently opened in Merthyr Tydﬁl. Further branches are planned in Swansea and Wrexham. Loans given by Moneyline in the past 3 years have resulted in £2.5m savings in interest compared to interest charged by the Provident, the most common provider of doorstep loans.
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Today’s challenging economic environment means we need to be eﬃcient and invest wisely if we are to achieve our ambition of growth and to make a diﬀerence. While big is not always beautiful it does bring with it the ﬁnancial strength and capacity to ride out the current economic storm as well as the wherewithal for innovation, creativity and fresh ideas. We expect to achieve year on year increases in operating surpluses through the eﬀective operation of our business even after absorbing the bad debts we expect to incur from changes to welfare beneﬁts, and in particular the introduction of Universal Credit and the ‘bedroom tax’.
Number of homes currently in development by LA area Denbighshire
Over the next ﬁve years we expect to invest £36m in maintaining and improving our existing stock. Furthermore we have the ﬁnancial capability to invest more than £100m in building and acquiring new homes. Only one ﬁfth of this investment is expected to be funded by social housing grant from the Welsh Government, with £70m coming from additional borrowings and the remainder from internally generated surplus cash. For more detailed information about our ﬁnancial position please see pages 28 and 29 of our Business Plan 2013 to 2017 which you should have recently received, alternatively you can access it through our website www.wwha.co.uk. Our strong position has been endorsed by the Welsh Government who awarded the Association a ‘pass’ in its annual ﬁnancial assessment.
24 Merthyr Tydﬁl
39 Vale of Glamorgan
These ﬁgures represent developments which are on site now and programmed to commence in the next 12 months. However, in total, we anticipate building and aquiring an additional 450 units in the next ﬁve years, which will take our total new build over that period of time to 850 units.
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SOUTH WALES FIRE AND RESCUE SERVICE
PARTNERSHIP Dealing with the risk from ﬁre is high on the agenda at the moment and we want to ensure that all our homes are as safe as they can be. We have formed an innovative partnership with South Wales Fire and Rescue Service, agreeing to act as an ‘exemplar’ partner to help them to promote good practice within ﬁre safety in the social housing sector across the country. Group Manager Andy Petersen from SWFRS said “WWH has demonstrated the
importance that they place on ﬁre safety. Our partnership with them will provide a positive attitude to enabling compliance with all ﬁre safety legislation.” We are now in talks with Mid Wales Fire Service and North Wales Fire Service to explore the possibility of expanding this partnership further.
Andy Petersen, Group Manager South Wales Fire and Rescue Service and colleague, Robin Alldred, Commercial Manager WWH, Jo Burns, Health and Safety Oﬃcer WWH, Anthony Williams, Health and Safety Oﬃcer WWH.
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DOING THE RIGHT THING… Our aim is to do right by our residents and right by our staﬀ, and below are the awards and accreditations which we have recently received which recognise and celebrate our approach. • We have been awarded the highest accolade possible under the prestigious Investors in People awards system achieving the Gold standard in our recent assessment. “Wales & West Housing continues to demonstrate that it is a forward thinking organisation achieving business success by the application of visionary leadership behaviour, underpinned by strong and meaningful values,” said IiP specialist Mavis ElliottSmith. • The Sunday Times Best Companies 2012 has recognised us as the topnotforproﬁt organisation in Wales, and, we were ranked 8th out of the top 100 best notforproﬁt organisations to work for in the whole of the UK. We are also the only Welsh housing association to be awarded the top 3 stars award by Best Companies. • Worklife balance charity Working Families have ranked us in the Top 30 family friendly ﬁrms to work for in the UK for the second year running. At their recent national awards ceremony we also
won the Working Families Award for Career Progression for Flexible Workers and were ﬁnalists in the following categories: Best for Carers and Eldercare, Best for Engagement, and, The National Grid Best for Innovation Award. Sarah Jackson OBE, Chief Executive of Working Families said:
“To reach the shortlist in four out of seven of the Special Award categories is a tremendous achievement. The judges were impressed by Wales & West Housing’s innovative policies to engage and support their employees, particularly carers and ﬂexible workers.” • In partnership with GKR Maintenance & Building we have been Highly Commended in the Integration and Collaborative Working award category at the 2012 Constructing Excellence Awards. Judges said the team has worked hard to cut costs and reduce waste ‘with passion and commitment.’
Steve Porter (right) now Operations Director WWH, receiving a trophy at the 2012 Constructing Excellence Awards. He is pictured with Jayne RowlandEvans, Director of GKR Maintenance Services and Phil Lumley, Head of Property Services for Carmarthenshire County Council
Wales & West Housing 3 Alexandra Gate, Ffordd Pengam, Tremorfa, CardiďŹ€ CF24 2UD. and Unit 2, Acorn Business Park, Aber Road, Flint CH6 5YN. Telephone on 0800 052 2526 Minicom: 0800 052 5205 Email: email@example.com Website: www.wwha.co.uk @wwha wwhahomesforwales
Published October 2012
Wales & West Housing's Newsletter for the Wrexham area