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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

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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.

Follow us on Twitter @wwha Watch us on our YouTube channel wwhahomesforwales

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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


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

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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

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 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 |

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.


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

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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

9 Conwy



121 Wrexham


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 Our strong position has been endorsed by the Welsh Government who awarded the Association a ‘pass’ in its annual financial assessment.


393 Powys

24 Merthyr Tydfil


Cardiff Bridgend


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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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, Cardi CF24 2UD. and Unit 2, Acorn Business Park, Aber Road, Flint CH6 5YN. Telephone on 0800 052 2526 Minicom: 0800 052 5205 Email: Website: @wwha wwhahomesforwales

Published October 2012

Spotlight on Wrexham Autumn 2012  

Wales & West Housing's Newsletter for the Wrexham area

Spotlight on Wrexham Autumn 2012  

Wales & West Housing's Newsletter for the Wrexham area