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Stockport at home

Issue 10: Autumn 2007

Stockport Homes' Customer Newsletter

New Dates for District Forums page 9

Customer Awards Scheme page 21

Improving your local neighbourhood page 25


Director's Column Elaine Dishong Director of Housing Need & Support Services

We are continually moving forward and improving services to customers. One of the key strengths of Stockport Homes is that it provides customers with services that go beyond the traditional 'bricks and mortar' remit frequently dealing with people who are vulnerable or have been socially excluded. In this introduction I want to focus on the teams within Housing Need and Support Services who provide these diverse services. This year the extension for disabled facilities to our men's temporary accommodation scheme was completed. Across our three temporary accommodation schemes we have seen increasing resident

involvement and partnership working. The Resettlement Team has seen an increase in work with private landlords, so we can offer more accommodation options through the Rent Bond Scheme. This service is exploring the development of more furnished tenancies for Stockport Homes' residents. The Allocations Service has undertaken an extensive consultation exercise as part of the allocations policy review. The Older Persons' Service has started an exciting new project with Welfare Rights who will visit all the sheltered schemes to offer benefit advice. The Falls Service offered through Carecall has meant that, with the use of special

lifting equipment, team members were able to ensure that 75% of the calls they attended didn't require a hospital visit for the resident concerned. As well as being invaluable to residents, this frees up valuable health service resources. The Carecall and Concierge services will soon be moving to new offices in Bredbury. This will mean that through improved technology we can offer both services to more people in the future. I hope this has given you an idea of the work being undertaken by staff who are dedicated to continually improving our services. Regards, Elaine Dishong, Director of Housing Need & Support Services

Contents Page Kitchen and bathroom rolling programme

Leaseholders news 4-5

The Housing Information Centre receives a makeover Improving housing services Estate walkabouts Gardening competition results

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Page

8 8-9 12 14 - 15

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16 - 17

Sheltered Housing summer fair

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Customer awards scheme

21

Anti-social behaviour news Grounds maintenance update

22 -24 32

Dates for your diary (please see enclosed booklet)

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Board Member Column We are very sad to report that Bernard Bradbury recently passed away

Bernard was very much involved with Stockport Homes. He was the Vice Chair of Stockport Homes' Board, Chair of the Tenants' Federation and the Chair of the Maintenance and Investment Sub Group. Bernard will be deeply missed by all the staff and tenants of Stockport Homes. Bernard was very challenging, but with the aim of improving life for tenants. He gave his time, effort and commitment tirelessly in pursuit of improved homes and services. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this very sad time. His death has come as a great shock to everyone at Stockport Homes. A minutes silence was held at the Stockport Homes Board AGM on 24 September in honour of his contribution to the valued work he conducted with Stockport Homes.

Repairs and Investment news

The importance of Customer Satisfaction forms for Investment works Do you feel that it is a waste of time completing the customer satisfaction forms for improvement works to your home? Do you think that nothing is done when you do take the time to fill it in? Do you just throw the letter into the recycle bin? Stockport Homes takes the results from these forms very seriously. Any comments which are not satisfactory are dealt with by a Customer Liaison Officer, and the issue will not be completed until you are happy with the outcome. The results are discussed with the contractors at monthly meetings. The target for customers scoring the investment works 'Excellent' or ‘Good’ is 95%. Our contractors are working in your home, and it is essential that they are professional and

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work to the highest quality standards at all times. We really need to know if this is not the case. Equally we need to know when a contractor is good, so that when we review the contracts we can employ only the best. As a “thank-you” for completing the form, we have a quarterly free prize draw, where you could win a 1st prize of £100 or two runner-up prizes of £50 in high street or decorating vouchers. The winners of the Investment draw for July were: 1st Prize £100 Mr L, Mottram Towers Runner up prize £50 Mr B, Conway Towers Runner up prize £50 Mr J, Millbrook Towers.

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Repairs and Investment news

Kitchen and bathro This year's programme has been determined by the continuation of the kitchen and bathroom rolling programme. The following chart shows the number of properties that are proposed for each of the main elements of work during 2007/08:

Proposed investment programme 2007/08 3000 2,727 2,450

Number of Properties

2500 2000 1,447

1500 1000 500 0

409

Kitchen & Bathrooms

Storage Heater replacement

Heating

Lift Replacement

110

110

Rewires

Roofing

218 Overcladding

289 Replacement of Rainwater Goods

2007/08 Kitchen and Bathroom Installations Kitchen and bathroom installations form a large part of the Investment Programme. The following map shows the areas and contractors appointed to carry out the installations in this financial year.

Contractors: Mears Emanuel Whittaker Hughes Brothers FT Finley

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oom rolling programme Kitchen and Bathroom Installation process Although this improvement work is of benefit there is considerable disruption whilst these works are taking place. A DVD highlighting the disturbance that may be caused will be available at the choice event in your area, which will be held shortly before the works begin. The following flowchart shows the kitchen and bathroom installation process:

Letters sent to customers involved to advise of forthcoming works and invite to initial meeting.

Initial meeting to advise customers of forthcoming works and exactly what can be expected when kitchens and bathrooms are replaced. DVD available to show extent of works.

➜ ➜

Appointment arranged Building Surveyor conducts survey and makes a decision whether the property needs a Kitchen or Bathroom replacement.

YES

NO

If the Kitchen and Bathroom is already a decent standard or newly replaced improvement will not take place. Flooring or tiling can be offered where necessary.

Choice event takes place showing customers: • Kitchen Units • Worktops • Tiles • Taps • Toilet Seats • Bath Panels

➜ ➜ ➜

Introduction to Contractor and Customer Liaison Officers. Choice forms are completed. Customer Liaison Officer will visit any customers who are not able to make choices at this event.

Designer visits property to take measurements and design kitchen and bathroom. Electronic designs can be seen by customer on a laptop - customer agrees and signs design as confirmation.

Customer Liaison Officer visits for a pre-entry inspection takes note of any special needs customer may have.

Work completed

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Repairs and Investment news

Advice on repairs to your home When you are expecting operatives at your home to carry out repairs there are a few things that you can do to ensure the job is completed as quickly and safely as possible. Prior to an operative arriving ● Clear away all valuable or breakable items. ● Remove the carpet/vinyl floor covering if we need to carry out repair work on a floor. We may need access under laminate flooring as well. ● Clear the area they will be working on to avoid trip hazards and any delays in completing the job. ● Neither we nor our contractors are responsible for moving any items of furniture, white goods or floor coverings. If you need special help, please call the Contact Centre on 0845 644 4304, so they can make arrangements.

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● Ensure the Contact Centre is aware if you have any particular needs, such as needing a friend with you or needing extra time to get to the door. ● Neither we nor our contractors are responsible for moving any items of outdoor furniture, flower pots etc. Access may be needed at the base of the property for ladders, scaffolding etc. As appointments are not needed for outside works to be done, please clear any items on reporting the fault to the Contact Centre. ● Check the Contact Centre has your up to date contact numbers.

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A New Home for Re Carecall and Conci Over the next few months Stockport Homes' Repairs and Investment Services, along with our in-house contractor Property Maintenance Solutions and Mears will all move to a new office and depot at Bredbury Industrial estate. The centre will be the operational focus for property maintenance and improvements for the company. The move is designed to reduce

On the day ● Ask for identification from anyone before allowing them into your home. ● Ensure someone will be there to let the contractors in.

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Repairs, Investment, ierge Services costs for accommodation and to share resources and work more efficiently by sitting closer to our contractors. The planned move starts in September. Carecall and Concierge will follow in the spring with a state of the art new control centre. The control centre will have access to all of the 260 CCTV cameras in the Borough at the touch of a button. It will be a significant improvement for the service and in the defence against crime and anti-social behaviour.

● Ensure workmen can access the rooms where they need to work. You may wish to cover other items/areas of your home to protect them from dust etc. ● Ensure pets are secure. ● Make sure children are kept away from tools, ladders etc. Children should not be allowed in the room where the workmen are. ● Please do not smoke where our operatives are working. Thank you for your cooperation. For more information, please phone Rodger Stead on 0161 218 1292 or email rodger.stead@ stockporthomes.org www.stockporthomes.org

Smoke free Stockport Homes! The Health Act became law on 1 July 2007. This means it’s now illegal to smoke in most enclosed public places. The new law is about protecting people's health from the damaging effects of cigarette smoke. Stockport Homes' customers are not allowed to smoke in corridors, communal lounges, lifts and enclosed public spaces. Health care providers are making a real effort to change this country’s culture so that we accept that smoking harms smokers, their families and people around them. If you’ve been thinking about stopping smoking, why not join the thousands of others who have decided that this will be the year to kick the habit? For more information about giving up smoking, please see the websites and contact details below. www.ash.org.uk

www.gosmokefree.co.uk

www.quit.org.uk

You can also contact Stockport Primary Care Trust (PCT) Stop Smoking Service, call 0161 426 5085 or email stopsmoking@stockport-pct.nhs.uk If you are unsure about where you can smoke please contact your District Housing Office.

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The Housing Information Centre receives a makeover The Housing Information Centre (HIC) is soon going to be receiving a make-over. This is in order to improve the services we are providing to you, our customers. We will be expanding the size of the HIC and providing a disabled toilet, plus baby changing facilities. For us to make these improvements the HIC will be closed to customers from 10 September 2007 for about three months. We will keep you informed about when the HIC will re-open. Don't worry, you will still be able to speak to us about your housing issues. If you need to contact the Homechoice, Housing Options or Rents Teams while the HIC is closed, you can visit the temporary reception at Stopford House or use the contact details below: Homechoice Tel: 0161 474 4567 Fax: 0161 476 4170 Text: 07797 806 630 Email: homechoice@stockporthomes.org Web: www.stockporthomes.org/homechoice Housing Tel: Fax: Minicom: Text: Email: Web:

Options 0161 474 4237 0161 474 1934 0161 474 3730 07900 617 690 housing.options@stockporthomes.org www.stockporthomes.org

Rents Central: East: West: Fax: Email: Web:

0161 474 2676 0161 474 2677 0161 474 2668 0161 480 4358 rents@stockporthomes.org www.stockporthomes.org

Improvin We are constantly looking to improve our services. We are making sure housing staff can concentrate on the things that matter most to you, our customers. Looking at our structure, we feel our district housing teams would work more effectively if certain staff focussed on customer-care issues and others dealt with neighbourhood issues. We know how important local environment and neighbourhood are to you, so we have appointed an Environmental Development Manager to improve these areas. In addition, a dedicated Green Space Manager will look after the Grounds Maintenance Contract. As part of these changes, the housing staff in the Central District office in

Message

We will also be increasing the number of home visits we do and the Housing Options team will be offering advice surgeries from some local offices. For more information, please contact the Housing Options Team on 0161 474 4237. 8

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ng Housing services

We will be retaining the popular District Forum Meetings. We will be giving customers a wider choice of dates as a result of the move to two teams. We will continue to send out personal invitations to all customers. However, if you are a regular attendee, make sure you check the October dates in this newsletter, as the dates in ‘Dates for your

diary' have changed. Please see new dates on the right.

Reddish will be relocating to the new West and East District housing offices at the end of September. Customers in the Central District will not really notice any changes, as the reception desks at the Houldsworth Centre and surgeries will continue and all the staff will be contactable by email, telephone and post as usual. Lancashire Hill Office will stay the same.

Stop Press:

We have freephones and housing information available in many other Council buildings, including libraries. Offerton, Hazel Grove and Bredbury Direct Local Centres in particular hold a lot of housing information. We are trialling a freephone in Ratcliffe Towers, and discussing with a local supermarket the possibility of installing such a phone in their store.

East District Date: Monday, 29 October 2007 and Tuesday, 30 October 2007 Time: 1.30pm - 3.30pm Venue: St. Lukes Church Hall, Northumberland Road, Brinnington

There are lots of improvements taking place to ensure you can easily access high quality housing services from Stockport Homes. For more information about how to access your local services, visit www.stockporthomes.org, or contact your District Housing Office.

East District (for customers in the Dialstone area) Date: Wednesday, 7 November 2007 Time: 2.00pm - 4.00pm Venue: Guildhall, Stockport Tel: 0161 474 4372

ge in a bottle The Lions Message in a Bottle scheme is a simple idea designed to encourage people to keep their personal and medical details on a standard form and in a common location - the Fridge Whilst it is focused on the more vulnerable people in our community, it can benefit anyone if they have an accident at home. Simply complete the form, put it into the bottle supplied and place this in the door compartment of your fridge. The Emergency Services will know to look for it in the event of being called to your home. They will be alerted by the use of the two special Green Emergency/Green Cross stickers. One is stuck on the fridge door, the other sticker is placed on the INSIDE of your front door. All Emergency Services are aware of the Lions Message in a Bottle scheme, and will locate the bottle and pass it on to a doctor or hospital personnel in an emergency. Bottles are free of charge and are usually found in your local chemist or Doctor's surgery. For more information go to http://lions.org.uk/miab.htm, email miab@lions.org.uk or call 0845 833 9502. A member of Stockport Homes' Resettlement Team can get a 'message in a bottle' for you. Please contact the Resettlement Team on 0161 474 3772. www.stockporthomes.org

New dates for District Forums

West District Date: Tuesday, 23 October 2007 Time: 2.30pm - 4.30pm and 6.00pm - 8.00pm Venue: Stockport County, Insider Suite 2 West District (for customers in Heaton Chapel, Reddish, North Reddish and Lancashire Hill) Date: Tuesday, 23 October 2007 Time: 6.00pm - 8.00pm Venue: Stockport County, Insider Suite 2 or Date:

Monday, 12 November 2007 Time: 2.00pm - 4.00pm Venue: Houldsworth Mill

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Back West District Following the West District Tenant Board Member Election in July we would like to congratulate Alex Todhunter on her re-election to the Board of Stockport Homes.

Credit Union The friendly place to save and borrow A credit union is a not-for-profit community savings and loans co-operative which is owned and controlled by its members. Anyone living or working within the Stockport Metropolitan Borough boundary can apply to join. You need to pay a membership fee and show two forms of identification. Savings is a condition of membership because without regular savings by members, a credit union cannot improve its services. You can save as much or as little as you like, but you need to have £1 in your account to keep it open. By law the most that anyone can save in a credit union is £5000. As long as you do not have an outstanding loan, you can withdraw your savings by giving seven days notice. Credit unions can pay a dividend to each member based on savings. You can usually borrow after you have saved regularly for 10 to 13 weeks. You must be 18 years or over to 10

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borrow money. You can borrow for household goods, holidays, Christmas, motor expenses, or anything else as long as it is legal. Why join a credit union? They: ● are local and approachable; ● are safe as a bank or building society; ● have services to meet you needs; ● are respectable lenders; and ● invest in your community. For more information contact Stockport Credit Union Ltd., First House, 367 Brinnington Road, Brinnington, Stockport, SK5 8EN. Telephone 0161 430 5808 or email stockportcreditunion@hotmail.co.uk www.stockporthomes.org


ck on Board Tenant Member Elections It was a closely run contest between Alex and fellow candidate, Norman Stoddard, with Alex winning 52.6% of votes to Norman's 47.4%. It was very encouraging to have two serious candidates with plenty of support and interest from the West District residents of whom 435 returned ballot papers out of nearly 4,000. We have spoken to Alex following the announcement of the result to find out her thoughts on winning the election and being on the Board of Stockport Homes. Alex, you've just been re-elected as Stockport Homes' tenant Board member for the West District. How do you feel? I'm absolutely delighted and I'd like to thank people for taking part in the ballot. I was really pleased to see that the other candidate, Norman Stoddard, got lots of support as well. It shows other people who want to stand for Board election in the future that it's open to anyone who's prepared to show interest and commitment.

So what does being a Board member of Stockport Homes entail? The biggest thing about being a Board member is taking part in making decisions that affects the whole organisation. We attend regular meetings with directors and senior officers and are required to prepare for these by reading reports and being aware of what is going on in order to have our say. We also take part in training sessions throughout the year and attend events in our capacity as Board members of Stockport Homes. We get lots of advice and support in our role. You have a track record of active tenant involvement both before and since becoming a Board member. How do you think being a Board member is different from taking part in other customer involvement activities such as the Customer Action Groups (CAGs)?

When I first joined the Board I thought my main responsibility would be to report tenants' issues to the Board. I now realise Board discussions focus on the bigger picture of running the organisation and of planning and managing services. I still find it really useful to attend customer meetings, though, and understand that individual customer concerns are taken seriously but are dealt with in a different forum to Board meetings. I like the fact that I can be involved in both of those processes in different ways. What would you say about being on the Board to anyone who considers standing in the next round of tenant Board member elections in 2008? I'd really like to encourage people to consider standing for Board membership. It's a great opportunity and I think lots of people would be capable of doing even if they think they're not. It takes time and effort but it's a very rewarding experience.

Millbrook

Every Thursday Morning at 10.30am at Millbrook Centre Run by local residents for local residents

Community

Everyone welcome!

CafĂŠ www.stockporthomes.org

Open to all age groups Supported by Stockport PCT Community Development Team

For more information, please call Sheila on 0161 430 3383 or 07887 950259 or Angela on 07918 626281 Stockport at home – Autumn 2007 Issue 10

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Estate Walkabouts A Customer's Perspective

Marion Carr is the Chair of the York Street Residents' Association and has regularly accompanied her Housing Officer on Estate Walkabouts on the York Street Estate. More recently, Marion joined the new Quality Panel and has accompanied other Housing Officers on Estate Walkabouts on the School Street Estate and the Walnut Tree Estate in Cheadle Heath, and the Larkhill Estate, Cheadle Hulme. Marion would like to encourage more customers to get involved in this way. “It only takes an hour and it's a really good way to understand the work Housing Officers have to do on our estates. Most people will admit they want to feel a sense of pride about where they live but, unfortunately, very few people do anything about it. I live on an estate of blocks of flats and we have to rely on Stockport Homes taking care of the

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landscaped areas surrounding the blocks. We don't have individual gardens so there's very little sense of 'community ownership'. It's not just about Grounds Maintenance keeping the area nice; it's also up to everybody not to drop litter or to let their dogs foul. Our caretaker is very good about keeping the estate clean and tidy but it must be a thankless task cleaning up after some people. The other estates that I've been to are very different because, apart from the flats on the School Street Estate where there's a lot of communal landscaping, most of the properties are houses with their own gardens and driveways. Some of the problems are the same - litter, dog fouling and inconsiderate parking -

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but the 'communal areas' usually come under the remit of Streetscene rather than Stockport Homes. If the Housing Officers see any untidy gardens or damage to the properties they'll contact the customer direct. After each walkabout, the Housing Officers send me a copy of their report so I can see what action they're taking and the estimated time for doing it. It also shows how, together, we've graded the streets Excellent, Good, Satisfactory or Poor. Any Poor streets will be given more attention to bring it up to a Good standard. The Housing Officers really appreciate having the customer's perspective. I would really recommend that more customers go along with them.” For more information on how to get involved, see 'Dates for your diary' or contact your District Housing Office.

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Always there when you need us ...

Homechoice news

Review of the Allocations Policy The Allocations Policy, which sets out how vacant Stockport Homes' properties are allocated, has recently been reviewed. The policy is regularly reviewed to ensure that it is still allowing those in most housing need to gain accommodation. Consultation was carried out in February and March 2007 with a wide range of people, including local Councillors and over 400 customers. The Homechoice website will be updated as the changes are implemented. We will also be updating the information provided in the Housing Application Pack. For more information, please visit www.stockporthomes.org/homechoice or contact the Homechoice Team on 0161 474 4567.

Estate Clean Up organised by Laura Whitfield On Wednesday 8 August a litter picking event took place on the Walnut Tree Estate, Cheadle Heath. The event, which was organised by Senior Housing Officer Laura Whitfield and involved lots of local children helping with the litter picking. The children also received a talk from an Area Conditions Officer and a Recycling Officer, from Stockport Council about the importance of not dropping litter and to recycle what you can. The enthusiasm of the children never faltered.

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Carecall All alarm calls received and made from the centre are recorded.

• Independance • Reasurance • Peace of mind

A rapid response service for older or vulnerable people Direct link 24 hours a day 365 days a year For more information or a free Carecall demonstration in your home ring Carecall

F R E E P H O N E

0500 130585 or write to: Carecall, 1 Ratcliffe Towers, Bosden Fold, Hillgate, Stockport SK1 3PB

or email to: carecall@stockporthomes.org

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Gardening Competition Results The judging of the gardening competition took place earlier this year. There were almost 50 gardens entered and the results are shown below. Well done to the winners and a big thank you to everyone who took part. East District Individual Garden 1st Debbie Kelsall, Talbot Street, Hazel Grove 2nd Betty Wood, Parkside Close, High Lane 3rd Mr B Otley, Oldham Drive, Woodley Communal Garden 1st Grimshaw Close, Woodley 2nd Pembury Close, Brinnington 3rd Oldham Drive, Woodley Vegetable Garden 1st Betty Wood, Parkside Close, High Lane

Stockport Homes

Annual Gardening Competition 2007

Container Garden 1st Joan Crooks, Grimshaw Close, Woodley 2nd Mr M O'Gara, Brook Drive, Marple 3rd Wilf Elking, Norwood Avenue, High Lane

Central District Individual Garden 1st Ms Burgoyne, Somerford Road, North Reddish 2nd Barbara Harnett, Grafton Street, Heaton Norris

Children's Picture 1st Isabella Hall, Brinnington

3rd Mrs Kirwan, Somerford Road, North Reddish

West District Individual Garden 1st J M Armshaw, Hall Meadow, Cheadle Hulme 2nd Doreen Brown, Russell Gardens, Didsbury Road 3rd Roy Sheldon, Warren Road, Cale Green Communal Garden 1st Avon Road, Cheadle Hulme 2nd Russell Gardens, Didsbury Road

Communal Garden 1st Garth Road, Offerton 2nd Dial Park Road, Offerton 3rd Priory Court, Reddish Vegetable Garden 1st Mr Green, Dial Park Road, Offerton Container Garden 1st Linda Philbin, Garth Road, Offerton 2nd Mrs Joan Bartley, Rectory Green, Churchgate

3rd Dorset Avenue, Cheadle Hulme

3rd Alan Fleet, Boardman Close, South Reddish

Vegetable Garden 1st Terence Edmeston, Russell Gardens, Didsbury Road

Children's Picture 1st Erin Jackson, Offerton 2nd Samantha Bond, Reddish

Container Garden 1st Mr K Ridings, Sycamore Walk, Cheadle 2nd Russell Gardens, Didsbury Road

3rd Scarlett Winter, Kellbrook Court

3rd J M Armshaw, Hall Meadow, Cheadle Hulme Children's Picture 1st Shanise Doran, Bridgehall 2nd Chloe Williamson, Adswood 3rd Vanessa Boylan, Bridgehall

Borough Winners Individual Garden - Ms Burgoyne, Somerford Road, North Reddish Communal Garden - Avon Road, Heald Green Vegetable Garden - Betty Wood, Parkside Close, High Lane Container Garden - Joan Crooks, Grimshaw Close, Woodley Children's Picture Erin Jackson, Offerton

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Stockport at home – Autumn 2007 Issue 10

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...and here are some of the winning entries

www.stockporthomes.org

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Leaseholders news

Leaseholders Customer Action

Have your Stockport Homes are committed to their customers and as a leaseholder you are a valued customer. We would like to invite you to the Leaseholder Customer Action Group (CAG) meetings. It provides a positive environment for you to discuss your experiences of existing services and give suggestions about how they can be developed and improved. Following the comments made by leaseholders at a

Leaseholder survey Help us improve the service to leaseholders by completing our short survey which will be sent to you soon. The survey: ● is specific to leaseholders; ● is simple and straightforward to complete; ● tells us how we can improve the service to you; ● tells us what is important to you; and ● involves you more in the decision making. All leaseholders that return their questionnaire will be entered into a prize draw and four lucky winners will receive a £20 shopping voucher.

Major works for leas Why do we carry out major repairs to the building you live in? Stockport Homes is responsible for the upkeep, maintenance, repair and improvement of the building and estate, but as a leaseholder you are responsible for paying your share of these costs. All buildings will at some stage require work such as re-roofing, external decoration etc. How do we decide what works are required? We carry out extensive surveys by qualified professionals. Are there any circumstances when we will not consult with leaseholders? Should Stockport Homes be required to carry out emergency works we will not consult leaseholders under the Act as this is a lengthy process. What happens if we do not

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CAG we credited all leaseholder service charge accounts with the estimated minor repair charge made during 2006/07 and are currently reviewing how we charge leaseholders for minor repairs. We

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consult on non-emergency works? We will not be able to charge you more than £250 for works or £100 per year for a service agreement. Tenant and Residents' Association involvement We will work with a recognised Tenant and Residents' Association to produce a specification for the works and agree suitable contractors. Benefits to you ● High standard of workmanship. ● Contractors have public liability insurance. ● Quality fittings/materials. ● Guarantees/warranties on all works. Our contractors will return to any defects. ● Value for money/economies of scale. ● Dedicated staff to obtain quotes, www.stockporthomes.org


Group -

say

Sinking Fund for Leaseholders

also invited a Customer Liaison Officer to give leaseholders more details on major repairs. If you are a leaseholder and would like to attend, please contact Tracy Nield on 0161 218 1364 or email tracy.nield@stockporthomes.org. See pages 4-5 of 'Dates for your diary' for details.

aseholders What is a sinking fund? It is a replacement fund which leaseholders build up over time to pay for repairs and replacement of major items.

organise work and ensure works run as smoothly as possible on your behalf. â—? Most works will add value to your property. If you have any queries regarding the consultation process, please contact one of our Customer Liaison Officers on 0161 474 4513/2905 www.stockporthomes.org

Why should we introduce a sinking fund? To avoid leaseholders being faced with large bills when major works are carried out. Should a sinking fund be introduced, we will collect monies from leaseholders and place these funds in a bank account where it will earn interest until it is required. Leaseholders will have access to information regarding this fund.

What will happen next? Stockport Homes will consult leaseholders to find out their views on introducing a sinking fund. We will give you as much information as possible and answer any questions you may have so you can make an informed decision. For more information contact Tracy Nield on 0161 218 1364 or email tracy.nield@ stockporthomes.org Tracy is available from 9.30am to 1.15pm on Monday to Thursday and 9.30am to 1.00pm on a Friday. An answer machine service is available to allow you to leave your messages outside these times.

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Customer Involvement news

Sheltered Housing Scheme Compact

Summer Fair We want to make sure that customers in sheltered schemes have a voice, so we have developed a Sheltered Housing Scheme Compact. This is an agreement which outlines the different ways in which residents of Sheltered Schemes can get involved in improving and monitoring the services they receive. On Thursday 2 August we officially launched the Sheltered Housing Scheme Compact at a Summer Fair to which all the residents of Sheltered Schemes were invited. The original venue for the event was Oaktree Court in Cheadle. As the date drew nearer the numbers wanting to attend grew, so we moved the event to a considerably larger venue at Stockport County Football Club. On the day 75 residents attended the event. Wendy Hodgson, Older Persons' Services Manager started by explaining what the Compact is designed to achieve and how Stockport Homes will keep to the agreement we have signed up to. Maria Lindars - District Housing Manager (West) then explained what actions are planned to improve the service and how customers can influence this. Councillor Hazel Lees, who is the executive member for communities then gave a brief speech explaining how pleased she was to be invited

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to the event and what a good idea she thinks the Compact is. Cream teas were served whilst people looked at the stalls which included tombola and hand massages from the Body Shop until the Bingo began. Tony Smith, Chair of Oaktree Court Residents Association took on the role of Bingo caller for the afternoon. We also had a raffle with prizes that included two luxury chocolate hampers and £100 in shopping vouchers. Also attending the event were Stockport Council’s Supporting People and Welfare Rights Teams who had stalls with lots of useful information for our residents. Overall, £307.10 was raised on the day. This money will be split between 12 sheltered schemes so residents can buy items of their choice for communal use. A lot of people have given their time and help to make this event a success so a big thank you to all involved. Special thanks to our

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contractors The Dodd Group, Seddons and The Mears' Group who all donated substantial prizes for the raffle. Even though residents had a huge amount of fun on the day the main purpose of the event was to raise awareness of the Compact. The document will be monitored at the Sheltered Housing Customer Action Group. If any residents would like more information on the Compact they should contact Stella Cook, Customer Involvement Officer on 0161 218 1368 or email stella.cook@ stockporthomes.org

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Sheltered Housing

Annual Questionnaire In June and July residents of the Sheltered Housing Schemes were sent an annual survey in order for us to identify any areas where services need to be improved and areas where we are doing well. We received a 36% response rate. Below are some of the results of the survey. ● 83.9% of respondents were either very satisfied or quite satisfied with the overall support service provided ● 83.8% of respondents were either very satisfied or quite satisfied with the method of contact with their scheme manager ● 56.6% of respondents knew what a support plan is and of them 80% were either quite satisfied or very satisfied with their support plan. ● 57.3% of residents were either very satisfied or quite satisfied with the range of social activities available at their scheme. More work will be carried out around the results of this survey and we will update you on the actions taken in the next newsletter. And the winner is? You may have heard about the massive transformation of the

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The residents receiving the cheque from Janice Reekie at Mears communal gardens at Russell Gardens on the Didsbury Road estate. With help from one of Stockport Homes' contractors, the Mears Group, and volunteers from the community, they have created their own little English country garden. The Mears Group run a national awards scheme to recognise the best community projects they have been involved in. Janice Reekie from Mears nominated Russell Gardens as a project that has made the most difference in the community and much to the residents' delight it won! Along with a trophy for the Stockport branch of Mears, the residents of Russell Gardens won £1,000. They have bought a stunning new water feature with the money which is the icing on the cake of their beautiful new garden. Irene Dooley, a volunteer from the Didsbury Road estate, who has done a huge amount

of work at Russell Gardens commented - 'Without Mears we would never have got this far. Everything we asked for we got. All the workmen have been friendly and willing to help. We just can't thank them enough.' The reason the project won was because all the community became involved with residents including Mears, the local community and local businesses. This project is a great example of what can be achieved when residents work in partnership with Stockport Homes and their contractors. If you would like to know more about how you can be involved with Stockport Homes, please contact the Customer Involvement Team on 0161 474 2862 or email stella.cook@stockporthomes.org

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Customer Training

Free IT Courses Did you know Stockport Homes offers free IT courses to its customers? We are working in partnership with Learn Direct through Stockport College to offer you the opportunity to gain certified and accredited qualifications. Colin Spencer, a Stockport Homes customer, recently enrolled on 'Using your computer' and 'Electronic Communication (Email)' courses. Prior to starting the courses Colin had very little knowledge of using computers. However, he was quickly put at ease by the “very patient, helpful and supportive” staff. He went on to say “I thought the courses were excellent, I couldn't have

asked for better staff, they fitted around my needs so I could come and do the courses whenever I wanted” Whether you're young or old, a complete beginner or just wanting to top up your skills, there is a course for you. All courses are taught at the Learning Store, 7 Vernon Walk, Mersey Way Shopping Centre, Stockport. Please see page 12 of 'Dates for your diary' for details of

the courses available. If you have any queries or would like to book on one or more of these IT courses, ring Learn Direct on 0161 958 3150. If you would like a copy of Stockport Homes' customer training programme “Skills for Life” or for more information, please contact Julie Nelson on 0161 218 1382 or email julie.nelson@ stockporthomes.org

Diversity Customer Action Group You might have heard the word 'diversity' and thought you knew what it meant…some customers have told us they thought it was just about ethnic minorities or disabled people. Diversity is about giving excellent customer care and making sure all our customers can access our services. Our customers are from a whole range of backgrounds. Every one of our customers has different circumstances, for example an elderly single person has different needs to a young couple with three children. Other differences between our customers include ethnic 20

background, disability, being a carer, working different hours etc. Every month we meet up with customers to discuss a wide variety of subjects whether it be ethnicity, disability, young people, elderly people or others. The group can help understand the difficulties other people may face and discusses issues about diversity, customer care and access. Recently we have discussed:

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● customer care service standards; ● new district offices; ● abusive customer procedure; ● housing information in libraries; and ● ethnic monitoring report. Please see pages 4-5 of 'Dates for your diary' for up and coming meetings. If you would like to attend or want to know more, please contact Phil Rhodes on 0161 474 2680, email phil.rhodes@ stockporthomes.org or text 07891 949399. www.stockporthomes.org


Does your local community have a “champion”? Is there somebody who has made a real difference to your estate or neighbourhood? You will have read in the spring and summer issues of Stockport at home that last year Stockport Homes launched its first Annual Customer Awards Scheme. The scheme was introduced to recognise the commitment and achievements of Stockport Homes' customers. It was such a success that we have decided to run it again this year. The categories of awards are:

recognise customer involvement and commitment, but it's not just Stockport Homes' staff who can nominate. You can nominate individual customers for: ● Mentoring or support given to others.

Individual customers nominated by Stockport Homes' staff for: ● High levels of involvement ● Mentoring or support given to others ● Tenants' & Residents' Groups nominated by Stockport Homes' staff for: ● Involvement in improving the estate/neighbourhood

There will also be an awards scheme for tackling anti-social behaviour. The categories are: ● Taking a stand against antisocial behaviour ● Contribution to tackling antisocial behaviour ● Parent/Parents of the year ● Young person of the year

This is the officers’ opportunity to www.stockporthomes.org

There are prizes to be won for individuals and Tenant and

Resident Groups. This is your chance to nominate those people or groups that have made a difference to your community. Nomination forms can be obtained from your District Housing Office or from the Customer Involvement Team. The deadline for nominations is 2 November. We want to celebrate their success and prizes will be awarded at the Annual General Meeting of Stockport Tenants' Federation on the 14 November 2007. If you would like a nomination form or require any further details please contact the Customer Involvement Team on 0161 474 2862 or email jane.clayton@ stockporthomes.org

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Anti-social behaviour news

Taking Action to resolve anti-social behaviour Case Study - Brinnington Estate June 2007 The tenant had been causing nuisance and annoyance to a number of residents over a period of time by playing loud music and making excessive noise in his property. He had been verbally abusive to three neighbours. The Senior Housing Officer and an Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) Officer issued a number of warnings to the tenant advising him of the consequences of his behaviour.

for a ‘without notice’ injunction against the tenant. It was felt that there was a significant risk of harm to the witnesses in the case should the perpetrator be given notice of the proceedings.

The tenant continued to cause a nuisance and during an incident in June 2007, threatened to have one his neighbour's visitors stabbed. This incident was witnessed by two other neighbours. A complaint was made to Stockport Homes about the incident and statements were taken by the ASB team to find out exactly what happened.

An application was made to the County Court the following morning and that afternoon, representatives from Stockport Homes attended and secured the injunction order.

Due to the nature of the threat made, Stockport Homes applied 22

The injunction was served on the tenant prohibiting him from carrying out behaviour that was capable of causing nuisance or annoyance and also prohibited threatening or abusive behaviour towards his neighbours. A power

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of arrest was attached to the order. This meant that if the tenant breached the terms of the order, he could face prison. The tenant attended court at a later date and offered an undertaking to the court, promising not to cause nuisance or annoyance to his neighbours or to engage in threatening behaviour. This undertaking is to remain in force for 6 months. The swift action taken by Stockport Homes meant the neighbours were protected from suffering further incidents of nuisance. www.stockporthomes.org


Stockport Homes is dedicated to using all the powers and tools available to tackle ASB and in signing up to the Respect Standard for Housing Management, Stockport Homes has made a commitment to seek and use new and innovative ways of working. Stockport Homes is introducing the use of Parenting Contracts and Neighbourhood Agreements to help combat and prevent ASB from occurring within its neighbourhoods. Parenting Contracts

Parents are the major influence on children's behaviour and play a clear role in promoting positive behaviour and tackling anti-social behaviour. Good parenting is really important in determining children's life chances, acting as a protection against crime and anti-social behaviour. Parenting Contracts and Parenting Orders have proved successful in turning children and young people away from crime

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New Initiatives for tackling ASB

and anti-social behaviour. Parenting contracts are voluntary agreements made between Stockport Homes, the Youth Offending team and individual parents. They can be used alongside Acceptable Behaviour Contracts or other interventions and can set out what parents will do to address the anti-social behaviour of any children they are responsible for. They may contain an agreement for the parent to attend a parenting programme and/or to ensure that a child attends school regularly. Stockport Homes, together with the Local Authority, may apply to the court for a Parenting Order or we may take action to bring the parent's tenancy to an end.

Good Neighbourhood Agreements Good Neighbour Agreements are voluntary agreements between a landlord and their tenants. They can be used to: ● highlight what is expected of tenants as good neighbours; ● reinforce the tenancy agreement; ● reassure tenants and residents that concerns of ASB will be addressed; ● give a statement of desirable or positive forms of behaviour that are expected of new tenants who are entering the community; and ● promote a set of shared community standards and expectations around behaviour. If you feel your community would benefit from introducing a Good Neighbourhood Agreement, contact your District Housing Office.

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Anti-social behaviour news

Positive Action against Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) Cases of ASB are often very different from each other so a range of different legal actions are available to Stockport Homes to tackle them appropriately. Stockport Homes has clear policies and procedures for ASB and staff are trained so they can establish the best resolution for cases. From 1 April until the end of June 2007, Stockport Homes has taken legal action in a number of cases (see table right).

Type of Action

Number Secured

Notice of Seeking Possession

4

Notice to Terminate (Introductory Tenancies)

1

Notice to Extend (Introductory Tenancies)

1

Demotion Notice

2

Suspended Possession Order

1

Outright Possession Order

1

Injunctions

5

Undertakings

3

Eviction

1

Seized, crushed and up to a £1000 fine Riding a quad bike/mini motor bike or driving an unlicensed vehicle in Stockport is illegal, anti-social and dangerous. If you ride an off-road bike in Stockport you run the risk of: ● having your bike seized and crushed; ● paying a recovery fee of £105 plus a storage fee of £12 per day; ● getting an Anti-Social Behaviour Order and the publicity that goes with it; ● being disqualified from driving; ● being imprisoned; ● causing serious injury to yourself or others; and 24

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● up to £1000 fine. Help us to take action in your area. If you know a person or persons causing annoyance by illegally riding an off-road bike you can report it to: Anti-Social Behaviour line: 0845 833 4444 or email orbn@gmp.police.uk You can also report information in confidence to Crimestoppers on: 0800 555 111. www.stockporthomes.org


Sustainability news

Improving your local neighbourhood Over the last twelve months 56 projects have been delivered through the Estate Improvement Budget. The projects have ranged from improvements to communal areas, to the safety of areas including fencing, gates and lighting and to young children's play facilities. The Estate Improvement Budget provides customers with an opportunity to help identify issues within their neighbourhood and to develop practical solutions to deal with these issues with the help of the District Teams. Customers at each of the District Forums agree which projects are to be delivered and at each subsequent meeting updates are

provided on progress with all the projects. Last year a number of projects were delivered in conjunction with customers and other organisations. These projects include improvements to young children's play areas at Lancashire Hill and to the communal area at Durham House, Edgeley. These projects

were delivered in partnership with the Groundwork Trust and the Landscape and Development section of Stockport Council. For this year, customers have been identifying projects. Work to develop these projects is now underway across the Borough. To help publicise how customers can apply for funding a new leaflet has been made available in all District Housing Offices. Details of past projects can also be accessed by visiting www.stockporthomes.org or contacting your District Housing Office.

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Sustainability news

Improving play opportunities for children and young people Stockport Homes has been working with partners to develop other opportunities within our estates for children and young people. This includes the development of the following projects;

Stockport Homes has been working in partnership with Stockport Play Partnership to help improve access to play opportunities for children and young people living on our estates. The Play Partnership includes many children and young peoples' services and organisations from across the Borough. To help deliver some of these improvements the Play Partnership has been working with the Big Lottery to develop a programme to help upgrade and provide new play facilities and activities across the Borough. This is part of the Big Lottery's Children Play Initiative of £124 million investment programme across England. Each local authority has been allocated an amount of money based on number of children living there. Before any of the money is released a strategy and action 26

plan has to be developed. All of this information has now been submitted to the Big Lottery Fund. We are due to hear the results of the bid made in December this year. For more information and updates on the results visit www.stockporthomes.org or www.biglotteryfund.org.uk Information regarding play and leisure activities for children can be found at www.stockport.gov.uk or at Family info Link. Freephone 0808 800 0606, text phone 0161 476 4380 or visit www.familyinfolink.co.uk In addition to the lottery bid

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● Sports facilities in partnership with Stockport Council Neighbourhood Renewal and Landscape Development Services for children living in the Lancashire Hill area. This is supported with funding in part from our estate improvement budget. ● Improvements to former underused open spaces in Offerton in partnership with the Parish Council and SMBC Landscape Development Services to provide young children's play areas. ● Improvements to provide play opportunities on York Street and Mottram Estates in partnership with each of the Tenant and Residents Associations. For more information, please contact Jo Cole, Sustainability Manager on 0161 474 2918 or email joanne.cole@ stockporthomes.org www.stockporthomes.org


Environmental Campaigns (ENCAMS) in Action in North Reddish In partnership with Stockport Council and the national environmental charity ENCAMS we have been working on a pilot project in North Reddish, with the aim to provide safe, clean, attractive and sustainable places to live and work now and in the future. Consultation with customers has been extensive and they have helped to identify many issues on the estate. This included the environmental quality of the area, where customers were asked how much of a problem they consider issues such as litter, cleanliness, vandalism, fly tipping, and dog fouling. Seventy five percent indicated that litter was one of the most important issues on their estate and from surveys on the ground a high percentage of litter was alcohol related. To help address this problem an eight week campaign was launched in partnership with Stockport Borough Council services and Greater Manchester Police. The first part of the campaign raised awareness in the local area, through promotional material in local shops, housing offices, community centres, primary and secondary schools. Fifteen "No Street Drinking" signs were placed on lamp posts throughout the estate, reminding residents of the street drinking ban that is in place across the Borough. Throughout the campaign the police confiscated over 400 unopened bottles and cans of alcohol from people found

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drinking on the streets. Two fixed penalty notices were issued to adults for purchasing alcohol on behalf of under-18s and six Fixed Penalty Notices were given to people over sixteen years old for drinking in the street. Stockport Trading Standards Department carried out a test purchasing exercise which targeted off licences in and around the area. Previously advisory letters and point of sale material were distributed to all licensed premises. The Police and Trading Standards participated in a ten week national campaign, targeting problematic licensed premises, with enforcement action taken under the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006. A community clean-up was also organised on the estate. The use of “robocycle” attracted fifteen children and young people to help litter pick on the estate, resulting in 15 bags of litter and recycling containers filled with glass, plastic and cans. The final element of the campaign is around education and Environmental Services have planned educational work, including litter assemblies, which

will be rolled out to all secondary schools from September onwards. In addition to the work being carried out in North Reddish, Stockport Council Environmental Services have now appointed a dedicated team of Area Condition Officers, who will be working with Stockport Homes' District Housing Teams and Caretaking Services to improve the environmental quality of your estates. The Area Condition officers aim is not only to ensure that the streets are cleared of litter, graffiti, fly tipping, fly posting and rubbish that is put out for collection too early, but also to find out those responsible and take enforcement action. These officers have the power to issue fixed penalty notices to the offender, this can be a £75 fine for littering rising to £300 for businesses who are unable to produce a Duty of Care document to prove that they are disposing of their rubbish correctly. If you want to report a problem to Environmental Services, visit www.stockport.gov.uk/waste You can also report problems with your recycling and rubbish collection services by emailing recycle@stockport.gov.uk or calling 0845 833 4444. For more information on the work of ENCAMS telephone the Project Officer on 0161 218 1411 or visit www.encams.org

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Sustainability news

Celebrate “Apple Day” Apple Day will be held at Reddish Vale Community Garden on 27 October 2007 between 1.00pm - 4.00pm. You can take part in apple bobbing, the longest peel competition and learn about all the different varieties of apples and new recipes. Further information on events and activities for National Apple Day can be found at www.commonground.org.uk or for information describing flavours and origins of apples visit www.orangepippin.com If you cannot make apple day, why not visit the Vale and Community Centre which is open every day? You can talk a stroll along the many trails and walks in the Vale or visit the community garden where attractions include vegetable growing areas, orchards of fruit trees, a wildlife pond and the “green roof”. If you want to volunteer in practical tasks or learn more about the garden, sessions are free and held every Wednesday 10.00am to 1.00pm. Contact Reddish Vale Country Park, off Mill Lane, Reddish - 0161 480 2686 for more information.

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Service Improveme

Service Stockport Homes aims to deliver high quality housing services that continue to improve and meet customer needs and aspirations. So you can see what to expect from our services, we set the following service standards for Stockport Homes: ● anti-social behaviour; ● customer care; ● caretaking;

Update about complaints Recently some customers have spoken to their Councillor or MP as they are unhappy with something we have told them. It is understandable to approach an MP or Councillor if you have complained to Stockport Homes and felt you were getting nowhere. However, the enquiries we have been getting have not been about poor service but about appointments which people want to bring forward, even though it is still within the timescale for completion. For example, repairs to a fence following the bad weather in January. These appointments and others are given on a priority basis by the repairs hotline, depending on the nature of the repair (see repairs guide for details). Please do not contact your MP or Councillor unless your repair is out of time for compeltion. If you are unhappy with the service you have received from Stockport Home, please call the Customer Feedback Officer on 0161 474 2600. Thank you.

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ent news

standards ● customer involvement; ● housing options; ● temporary accommodation; ● customer finance; ● sheltered housing; ● repairs; and ● investment. These standards tell you who to contact if you feel they are not being met. They have been written

with our customers. Our performance is checked by both our customers and ourselves on a regular basis to see how we are doing. All service standards are monitored by the Manager responsible for that area of service.

to comment on any of these standards, visit your District Housing Office, or please contact the Service Improvement Team on 0161 474 2854, text 07891 949399 or email quality@stockporthomes.org

We are now reviewing these standards to ensure they are the best way of measuring how good our services are. If you would like

All standards will be discussed at their relevant Customer Action Group (see pages 4-5 of 'Dates for your diary' for details).

You said, we did... We value your feedback on our services, whether you wish to make a complaint, compliment or comment. We try to learn from our mistakes and some of the things we have done as a result of your feedback are listed below. As you can see there are a lot of improvements in place and we are continually trying to improve our service to our customers.

What you said...

What we did...

● You said there was damage to my house caused by a falling tree.

● We will devise a tree register to allow trees to be monitored (the new Green Space Manager will do this).

● You said I have concerns over the communal doors being broken in my block of flats.

● We will be replacing all the communal doors to the scheme.

● You said I am unhappy about the cleaning service in the communal areas where I live.

● We did improvements at no extra charge by adjusting the type of work done.

● You said would it be possible to have useful resettlement service phone numbers on a card?

● We produced a laminated useful phone numbers guide for our service users instead of the paper ones.

● You said an area outside the men's temporary accommodation was being used inappropriately by passers-by.

● We will rebuild the boundary wall.

● You said the Housing Information Centre can get very warm on a hot day.

● We are planning to fit film to the windows to reduce excessive heat.

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Customer Finance news

Additional Non-Payment Weeks As you may be aware, you currently get two nonpayment weeks which are over the Christmas/New Year period. Stockport Homes is currently looking at introducing further nonpayment weeks and would appreciate your views. Because rents for the current financial year have already been fixed, any changes, if supported by customers, will not be effective until the 2008/2009 financial year. Non-payment weeks are not freeweeks, so any increase in the numbers of non-payment weeks would have to be financed by increasing the amount of rent payable in the remaining payable weeks in that financial year. For example, using a gross (rent that includes all service charges)

Your views rent of £50: Introducing one additional nonpayment week: Old weekly rent £50 x 50 = £2,500 / 49 = New weekly rent £51.02 Introducing two additional nonpayment weeks: Old weekly rent £50 x 50 = £2,500 / 48 = New weekly rent £52.08 Non-payment weeks allow customers who have rent arrears and who pay weekly, to reduce their debt without having to find extra money on the weeks that they pay rent. It also allows Stockport Homes to reduce the amount of money it spends on rent collection costs. It would allow customers who are not in arrears to have more payment breaks. By locating additional nonpayment weeks at the end of the

financial year (March) this would allow Stockport Homes to deal with year-end issues, for example, amend Direct Debits/Standing Orders more efficiently. Customers who pay their rent on a calendar month basis would not see any changes in the amount or the way they pay. They would still pay their annual rent over 12 monthly instalments. Customers who receive Housing Benefit would have this changed to reflect the reduction in payable weeks. Please complete the following questionnaire and let us know what you think. Please return it to us in the reply paid envelope provided. The closing date for replies is 31 October 2007.

Name: Address:

Tel:

email:

1. I/we support the introduction of additional non-payment weeks. *(Delete as applicable and proceed to next questions only if you answer Yes to this question)

Yes*

No

2. I/we support the introduction of One/Two additional non payment weeks (Please tick just one box)

One

Two

3. I would prefer for the additional non-payment week to be: Other (please state)

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At the end of the financial year

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Ask Helen Ever thought about what it is like being in charge of an organisation responsible for the delivery of services to 11,500 homes?

We asked our customers to consider this as part of our Central Housing District Forum event held on the 26 of April 2007.

The meeting covered a wide

Over 36 people gave us a question that they would ask the Chief Executive of Stockport Homes. Six customers from across the Central Housing District were selected at random to ask the Chief Executive their questions. An “around the table” lunchtime meeting with the Chief Executive, Helen McHale took place at Stockport Homes, St Peter's Square Head Office on the 23 July 2007.

● grounds maintenance;

Four customers were able to attend and took part in the meeting. Andrew Millard from Lancashire Hill, June Young from Offerton Estate, Glyn Jones from Heaton Chapel, and Peter Fury from Victoria Park in Offerton.

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range of interesting issues, such as: ● community development projects; ● allocations policy changes; ● staffing and development issues; ● the Capital Programme and its future; and ● the effect of being a three star organisation. During the course of the meeting the customer representatives got the opportunity to tell Helen about some of the good work they have been doing within their own estate. They also spoke about some first hand experiences. Overall this was a good meeting, which everyone around the table enjoyed and took something from. We would like to thank those who took part for their contribution.

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Grounds Maintenance

working in partnership for grounds maintenance

Grounds update Stockport Homes is delighted to announce that the new improved Grounds Maintenance Contract is now in place. The contract is for 5 years, reviewed annually, and started on 11 July. It has been awarded to Glendale. Glendale are very experienced in delivering contracts on such a scale and deliver large scale grounds maintenance contracts across the region. Stockport Homes are very excited about working with Glendale to improve our grounds maintenance services to all our customers and to provide clean, tidy and well maintained communal areas. What's new about this contract? ● Customers have been involved in designing the service and the terms of the contract. ● An improved specification across the Borough. ● Fortnightly grass cutting during the 'season'. 32

● Collecting grass cuttings from our sheltered schemes. ● An annual professional audit and customer questionnaire to assess the service aiming for year on year improvements. ● Glendale to attend monthly estate walkabouts with staff and customers to monitor the quality of the work. Whilst there has been a delay in contract start, Stockport Homes and Glendale are now working hard to ensure that the backlog of work is cleared. Initially the focus will be on tackling the backlog of work on grass cutting, weed spraying and hedge trimming. Both Stockport Homes and Glendale are working to ensure that

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customers receive an excellent service. We would like to apologise for the inconvenience caused by the late contract start and to thank you for your patience. Glendale are now based in Bredbury and we're sure you will soon see their vehicles and team operating in your area. A summary of the contract specification will soon be available in your District Housing Offices. We are holding a 'hot topic meeting' called 'plants, greens and gardening machines' about grounds maintenance now the new contract has started. We will let you know when dates/times have been arranged. Come along and meet Glendale, the new contractor, on Wednesday 24 October from 1.30pm onwards at the Guildhall, 169 Wellington Road South, Stockport SK1 3UA. www.stockporthomes.org


Mediation Scheme Hello, I am Anella Marshall, the Resettlement Officer running the Stockport Mediation Scheme. The scheme is for anyone who is homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. The first step of mediation focuses on service-users discussing their own perspectives on the issues and ways to improve the relationship. Several alternatives are looked at to prevent homelessness by assessing personal needs. It is an empowering process. And it is more likely to work because the decisions have been agreed by the individuals themselves. Even where it does not enable them to return home, mediation is likely to reduce vulnerability to homelessness through reconciling them with family or friends. Part of my job involves identifying causes of family breakdown and making necessary enquiries and referrals to relevant agencies. Some of the factors contributing to family breakdown are step family conflict, unemployment, service users not in receipt of benefits, thereby creating additional financial strain on parents/families. At this stage it is important for me to make contact with partner agencies and sign-post potentially

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homeless people to them. These include the Rent Bond Scheme, Stonham Connexions, Community Drug Team, Community Alcohol Team, Mental Health Team, Job Centre Plus, Central Youth and Stockport College 16+ Team. Since the launch of the Stockport Mediation Scheme in June 2004, this service has dealt with approximately 600 customers. From April 2006 to March 2007, a total of 218 cases were dealt with. Over 50% of cases return home. Of which 87% of the overall referrals are likely to sustain such an arrangement for six months or longer.

can be accessed via the Housing Information Centre and delivered through four weekly surgeries: Monday and Friday 9.30am to 12.00pm and Tuesday and Wednesday 2.00pm to 4.30pm. Mediation has contributed to a considerable fall in the number of families and vulnerable people losing their homes in Stockport. It has fallen from an average of over 60 per month at the start of 2005 to less than 20 per month at the end of 2006. For more information on this service, please call Anella Marshall, Resettlement Officer (Mediation) on 0161 474 2889.

Mediation has proved to be an invaluable service in helping individuals and families involved in a dispute or relationship breakdown with their parents/family to enable them to return home or to move to safe accommodation in a planned way. Mediation

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Housing Options news

Case study Sheila* approached the Housing Options Team at 1 St Peters Square in June 2007 asking for advice. Sheila was asked to leave her private rented tenancy by her landlord. This situation had arisen following a relationship breakdown which had left Sheila with only one income to pay the rent and support three children, being pregnant with a fourth child. As a result, Sheila was paying her rent late and was in arrears. The letter issued by the landlord implied that Sheila had mutually agreed that she would leave no later than the end of the month. Gary Stretton, Housing Options Outreach Worker, advised and supported Sheila and established that based on her current income she should be able to afford

the rent of property. However, an earlier overpayment of tax credits was affecting Sheila's ability to meet her child care costs. Sheila was advised of her legal rights, including that she could remain in the tenancy. Gary spoke to her landlord to explain this. Sheila was also advised and assisted with applying for housing benefit, due to her changed financial circumstances. The range of accommodation options available were discussed with Sheila, including the properties managed by Stockport Homes, registered social landlords (housing associations) and the Rent Bond Scheme for accessing

*not her real name

Buxton Road Centre Re-Vamp Over recent months the Buxton Road Centre which accommodates up to 22 homeless males until they secure alternative accommodation has undergone a number of improvements. This has included: ● an extension being built to the back of the centre; ● a new fully adapted self-contained disabled standard flat; and ● a new residents kitchen area. The extension at the back of the

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centre was quite a contrast to the remainder of the building which looked quite dated and shabby. Mears as a partner to Stockport Homes, and their commitment to corporate social responsibility, agreed to paint the communal areas at no cost to Stockport Homes.

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In June, Vernon, Marc and Craig, from Mears spent two days at the Centre painting the downstairs communal areas to bring it up to the same standard as the rear of the building. Janice the Customer and Community Manager, from Mears has also agreed that over the coming months a team of painters will return to the Centre to show the residents painting skills. They will provide them with equipment and paint, and assist them in painting the remainder of the

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privately rented accommodation. Following discussion with Sheila, Gary negotiated with her landlord, who was very sympathetic and agreed not to take action to recover the tenancy. Her landlord also reduced the rent for a period of time, as in the long run this would be a saving against legal costs and having the property empty. All of the above went into preventing Sheila becoming homeless with all the associated costs. It also removed the disruption that could have occurred to the family. If you know someone who would benefit from our advice, please telephone the Housing Options Team on 0161 474 4237 or visit www.stockporthomes.org, then click on Housing Options.

building including the residents' bedrooms. This will provide the residents with practical skills for the future.

www.stockporthomes.org

Preventing Homelessness in Stockport Stockport Homes' Housing Options Team prevented 229 households becoming homeless in 2006/7, leading to the lowest levels of recorded homelessness within Stockport for six years. The Team have targeted the main causes of homelessness by introducing home visits to mediate where families are having difficulties, negotiating with landlords and working closely with partner agencies such as Connexions, Social Care and the Community Drugs Team. This joint working has helped where there have been underlying problems leading to the threat of homelessness, such as mental

health or substance misuse issues. The Homeless Services Manager, Simon Welch, welcomed the increase in homeless prevention, and added “we still have a lot of work to do and intend to focus on making our service as accessible as possible through increased home visits and early intervention where people are having housing difficulties�. If you or anyone you know needs advice on their housing situation, please call the Housing Options Team on 0161 474 4237 or visit the housing options pages of the website at www.stockporthomes.org text 07800 617690 or email housing.options@ stockporthomes.org

Stockport at home – Autumn 2007 Issue 10

35


Diversity and accessibility If you find reading difficult, did you know you can get copies of newsletters and other documents from Stockport Homes on audiotape or CD, free of charge? We can also provide information in large print. If you want to know more, please contact Phil Rhodes on telephone 0161 474 2860, text 07891 949 399, email phil.rhodes@stockporthomes.org or write to Stockport Homes, Service Improvement Team, Directorate of Quality, 2nd Floor, 1 St Peters Square, Stockport SK1 1NZ

A free interpreting service is available if you need help with this newsletter. Please telephone Stockport Interpreting Unit on 0161 477 9000. Email: eds.admin@stockport.gov.uk

Useful Phone Numbers Repairs

0845 644 4304

Customer Finance Automated Payment Line 0845 129 7010 West District Housing Office 0161 474 4371 Customer Finance Team 0161 474 2668 East District Housing Office 0161 474 4372 Customer Finance Team 0161 474 2677 Central District Housing Office 0161 474 4373 Customer Finance Team 0161 474 2676

The paper which is used for this newsletter is from a sustainable source. Once you have finished with this newsletter, please recycle in an appropriate way. 36

Stockport at home – Autumn 2007 Issue 10

Customer Feedback

0161 474 2600

24hr Anti-social behaviour

0845 833 4444

www.stockporthomes.org

Issue 10-customer_news_autumn2007  

Customer Awards Scheme page 21 Improving your local neighbourhood page 25 New Dates for District Forums page 9 Stockport Homes' Customer New...

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