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Community Heroes 2012

Welcoming New Food Bank to Stockbridge Village

Fittin in Bloom Winners

Tenants Get In The Know About Welfare Reform Villages tenants across Stockbridge Village and Fitton Hill learned all about the impact of the Governments’ Welfare Reform changes at our annual Tenants Conference. Taking place at Stockbridge Village Primary School, the event targeted Villages tenants who are going to be most affected by the changes to make sure they are prepared for the future. After listening to a presentation from Welfare Reform expert speaker Robert Webb, who discussed the impact of the challenges ahead, tenants were given the opportunity to expand their tech skills and get online. As well as learning how to manage their bills and finances at the click of a mouse, tenants also enjoyed getting clued up on how to save money on their household energy bills in the form of Villages very own interactive Energy Board Game. Help and advice was also on hand from representatives from Barclays Bank, who provided tenants with useful information on how to budget better, manage their finances and set up a basic bank account. (cont’d)

Rob Webb discusses welfare reform issues with tenants

Stories from Stockbridge – PAGES 13-17

The newsletter of

Stories for BOTH AREAS – PAGES 1-12 & 24


Stories from FITTON HILL – PAGES 19-23

Our Times Winter 2012

Our Times Winter 2012

Katherine Shakeshaft, a 23 year old lady living alone in a two-bedroom flat in Stockbridge Village, came along to the event to find out more about the support which is available for tenants who have more bedrooms than the government say they need – known as under-occupation or bedroom tax. Katherine said: “When I heard the tenant conference was themed around the Welfare Reform, I didn’t know much about it and wanted to go along to see how it would affect me.

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“I had a one to one discussion with Rob Webb on the day and took away lots of useful information from him – it really helped to make me aware of the types of challenges I will face, and the steps I can take to minimise the impact. “It’s great that Villages Housing put on this kind of event to help make sure tenants are prepared for the changes ahead – it’s going to make for very hard times for an awful lot of us, so having the support of our landlord is very reassuring.”

Villages Housing staff show tenant Anita Crossley how to get online really helped to make me aware of the types of challenges I will face, and the steps I can take to minimise the impact. Katherine Shakeshaft, Villages Housing tenant

More information on the Welfare Reform will be included in our 2013 calendar. If you would like to find out more about getting online and how you can save money on your energy bills, contact the customer service officers at your local Villages Housing Office. Stockbridge Village: 0151 480 1313 Fitton Hill: 0161 633 4060

Katherine and Rob Webb discussed bedroom tax at the conference

Our Times Gets A Makeover! You will have noticed that Our Times has had a bit of a makeover. As an early Christmas treat, we have spruced up the design, trimmed down the articles and added some fantastic new photography so reading our tenant newsletter is even more enjoyable. We are now keen to get your feedback on our revamped newsletter – and there could be a prize in store for you. Do you think we have improved Our Times? What do you like best about it? What could we do to make it even better? Please share your feedback – or any community news stories you would like to submit for Our Times - by contacting Susanne Frodsham, Villages Housing’ new Marketing and Communications Officer, on 0151 949 5032 or by emailing All feedback will be entered into a free prize draw to win £25 gift vouchers. The deadline for entries is Friday, January 25, 2013. 2

New Team Member

Winter 2012 Our Times

In order to provide our tenants with effective, tailored support to deal with the welfare reform changes, Villages Housing has reorganised members of the team so you receive the best customer service for any issues you may face. Currently, we have a team of Estate Management Officers (EMOs) who look after a wide range of tenancy issues. However, in light of the welfare reform, we recognise that our team – in both Stockbridge Village and Fitton Hill – need to provide more specialist support and advice.

Income Management Team

Neighbourhood Services

This team will look after all financial aspects of tenancies, including rents, recharges, and arrears.

This team will look after all other general estate management issues such as community involvement, allocations, choice-based lettings, and anti-social behaviour.

Bernie McConnell, Head of Housing Services, said: “The Welfare Reform is going to have a huge impact on our tenants and on us as a business, so we are hopeful that by reorganising our staff we can provide a more tailored support service to our customers and hopefully minimise the impact of the changes ahead.” Please contact us on 0151 480 1313 for Stockbridge Village and 0161 633 4060 for Fitton Hill and give in the name of the specific team you would like to speak to, and we will be able to deal with your query more effectively and efficiently.

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Therefore, we have now split our EMOs into two separate teams:

Have Your Say on Villages Housing Services Do you want to have your say and help to make a positive difference to the services Villages Housing provide? We have the following vacancies available and are encouraging new faces to come along and get involved: Stockbridge Village Estate Management Committee: Four tenants and one owner occupier Fitton Hill Estate Management Committee: Two tenants

The Estate Management Committees – made up of Villages Housing tenants, local residents, Board members and local councillors - meet at their local Villages Housing Head Office every three months to discuss our day-to-day services, any neighbourhood issues and local community grants. This is a real opportunity to share your views on the issues which matter to you most. Full training will be provided, and in return we are looking for your local knowledge, enthusiasm and commitment to your community.

If you are interested in getting involved or would like more information, please contact Bernie McConnell, Head of Housing Services, on 0151 480 1313 (Stockbridge Village) and 0161 633 4060 (Fitton Hill). The deadline for expressing your interest is Friday, January 11, 2013. 3

Our Times Winter 2012

Your Feedback – Welfare Reform

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Thank you to everyone who came along to our Tenants Conference and provided us with feedback on the Welfare Reform issues. We have compiled your views and are currently reviewing all of your suggestions so we can see where we can improve and provide more support with the changes – we will keep you updated on our progress in future editions of Our Times. You can see a sample of some of the Welfare Reform questions and feedback suggestions over the following two pages. If you would like to see the feedback report in full, please contact your local office 0151 480 1313 (Stockbridge Village) and 0161 633 4060 (Fitton Hill) and we will arrange to get a copy to you.

Communications: We asked… How useful have you found the information about welfare benefits changes that Villages Housing has already provided? Are you given the information you need? You said… We have been kept well informed on the bedroom tax in particular, but going forward as more developments occur, Villages Housing should tailor information to specific needs based on customer profiling, complete door to door visits or drop-in sessions where tenants could discuss their benefits situation face-to-face. Direct payments: We asked… Some tenants will find it difficult to pay their rent to Villages Housing out of their benefits. What can we do to help them avoid getting into financial difficulties or arrears? You said… Offering money management support and budgeting training as a priority. Provide more communications to tenants around the importance of setting up bank accounts and providing reminders when their rent is due.


Winter 2012 Our Times

Applying for Universal Credit:

You said… Provide more computer facilities with internet access in offices and hotspots across areas. Ensure there is adequate IT training courses provided – whether by Villages Housing or an external agency – to help people get online to apply for Universal Credit.

Welfare reform and work: We asked… Is there anything that Villages Housing can do to help tenants take up any work opportunities? You said… Help to up-skill tenants and provide holistic training (literacy, numeracy and IT) and improve access to training. Advertise job opportunities in the likes of Our Times and office receptions.


Stories for BOTH AREAS

We asked… How can Villages Housing assist you to make applications for Universal Credit? What local support and resources do you require?

We asked… What concerns do you have about the new assessments? How can Villages Housing help support disabled tenants moving from DLA (Disability Living Allowance) to PIP (Personal Independence Payment)? You said… Identify designated staff who understand specific disability-related benefits issues who can communicate with those tenants affected. Provide simple communications which explain in straightforward terms the main stages of moving from DLA to PIP together with and any other relevant benefits.

Pensioners: We asked… How can Villages Housing encourage pensioners to claim what they are entitled to? You said… Display more relevant information in community spaces, link up with Age UK, hold surgeries and open days to advise them of the benefits available, more home and face-to-face visits for vulnerable pensioners.


Our Times Winter 2012

Our Community Heroes of 2012

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Our annual Tenants Conference also saw some of our most dedicated community volunteers scoop awards for their hard work in our neighbourhoods.


Stockbridge Village Community Champion

Fitton Hill Community Champion

Staff Nomination Joe Wyke. Joe was nominated by Villages Housing staff for the help and support he provides to his neighbours. Despite his own medical problems, he always puts the needs of others first and helps them with any shopping to household chores. Nominees: Joe Wyke, Sandra O’Boyle, Flo Lappin, Maureen Clunan, Joseph Donelly, Neil Joseph.

Staff Nomination Kelly Royales. Kelly was nominated by Villages Housing staff for the amount of volunteer work she does in her community – including clubs such as Boogey Babies and the Eden project. Whatever she gets involved with, she does it with a huge smile on her face. Nominees: Kelly Royales, Eileen Clegg, Jenny Clegg, Robert Brooks, John Griffiths.

Stockbridge Village Community Champion

Fitton Hill Community Champion

Tenant Nomination Janet Gough. Janet was nominated by fellow tenants and residents for being ‘one in a million.’ Janet is a shoulder to cry on, she helps to cook and cleans for her neighbours when needed, and is the person everyone turns to for help. Nominees: Janet Gough, Mary Hagan, Maureen Clunan, Lily Earle, Margo Egginton, Steph Tomlinson, Margret Jones, Liam O’Donnell, Margret O’Sullivan, Stockbridge Village Catalyst Group.

Tenant Nomination Jenny Clegg. Jenny was nominated by her peers for the fantastic support she provides to children and their parents both through the Tiger and Tots community group and through arranging fun trips and activities for children on the estate. Nominees: Jenny Clegg, Beverly McDermott, Derek Kilgannon, Fred Jones.

Vernon Jackson, Chief Executive at Villages Housing, said: “Congratulations to all the winners and nominees in our 2012 Community Champion Awards – we really value the hard work and dedication of volunteers across both of our estates and it’s only with your support that we can continue to make improvements.”

Do you want to make a difference to your neighbourhood? Find out more about how you can get involved with Villages by visiting and clicking on the ‘Get Involved’ tab.

Gardening gurus across our Fitton Hill and Stockbridge Village estates celebrated a blooming good triumph after each area scooped a bronze award at this year’s North West in Bloom competition. The green-fingered residents claimed third place in the horticulture competition for their efforts in breathing new life into their environments. Teaming up with Villages Housing and local councils to improve the environment where they live, residents took part in clean up days and planting events to spruce up their local areas and add some colour to their neighbourhood. The competition left residents across both estates in very high spirits and they have already began cooking up some new green ideas to improve green spaces ahead of entering next year’s competition. In addition to scooping these prestigious accolades, individual community projects across Stockbridge Village and Fitton Hill also received recognition in the non-competitive ‘It’s Your Neighbourhood’ element of the horticulture event (see boxes):

Establishing Cliffs Community Garden Cremorne Hey Danette Hey – shared community space Fitton Hill Tenants Forum / Skills Swap Shop Holy Rosary RC Primary School Medlock Valley Community School St Martins Primary School McDonough Close Project

Developing Boodecroft shared community space Brandearth Hey shared community space Custley Hey Stockbridge Village Allotment Society The Spinney shared community space Treelanders (Treelands Nursing Home) Wildbrook Community Allotments


Claiming two bronze awards

Stockbridge Village residents scoop awards for their successful community projects

Hollow Croft shared space and borders Little Moss Hey Community Garden Newbridge Learning Centre Seeds Project – Disability Resource Centre

Stories for BOTH AREAS

Bronze Fever Blossoms

Winter 2012 Our Times


Proud Fitton Hill residents collect their awards


Round Hey Community Garden Spruce Grove Memorial Garden St Alberts Church Garden & Grounds

Outstanding Craigs Community Gardens

Lisa Fowles, Community Development Officer’ for Villages Housing, Pool Hey Community Gardens said: “We are really proud of all our residents and community projects which formed part of this year’s North West in Bloom event, we would Little Woods Little Rangers in particular like to offer a special congratulations to the Fitton Hill estate for getting a bronze in their very first competition – what an achievement! “Our community volunteers work really hard to improve their estates, so these awards are testament to the hard efforts they put into making a difference to where they live.” You can find out more about North West in Bloom by visiting


Our Times Winter 2012

Appy Days! Coming Soon… We are getting set to launch a free smartphone application or ‘App’ to help on-the-go tenants keep in touch with Villages Housing more easily. The App – which is free to download on iPhone and Android mobiles and can be used 24 hours a day, seven days a week – will allow tenants to report repairs, pay rent, view their tenancy information and stay up to date with the latest Villlages Housing news and events.

Stories for BOTH AREAS

Sarah Bevan, Director of Initiatives, said: “We are really looking forward to launching a new App and providing our tenants with another way of getting in touch – it really complements our existing channels of communication and makes it easier for tenants to access our services while on the move.

Coming Soon!

“We strive to be as accessible to our customers as possible, so the App will be a particularly effective tool for our tenants without access to a computer.” We will update you on the progress of Villages new App in the next edition of Our Times – watch this space!

Beat The Freeze & Stay Warm and Well! As the cold snap lingers, more people are diagnosed with flu which can lead to further health problems. To help you stay well, it’s important to keep your home warm and follow a healthy lifestyle: • W  rap up warm, inside and out. Remember that several thin layers of clothes are better than one thick layer, and having hot meals and drinks help you to stay warm too. • Keep your home warm - your main living room should be between 18-21C and the rest of the house at a minimum of 16C. • Get active – it helps to keep you warm and is good for your general fitness and wellbeing too. We have a range of activities that you can get involved in – check out the ‘Events’ section on to find out more. You can also take part in activities at your local Neighbourhood Centre - contact 0151 443 2200 (Stockbridge Village) or 0161 770 8840 (Fitton Hill) for more information. Top tip: if you are staying indoors on a very cold day, close the curtains and fit thermal linings if you can, as this will help to keep the heat in.


Winter 2012 Our Times

Don’t let your pipes freeze up this winter As the cold snap sets in, some problems may occur in your home, such as water pipes freezing up.

What you should do if your pipes have frozen: 1. Switch off the stop tap immediately and wait for the system to warm up; 2. Wrap a warm towel around the frozen pipe to see if this will help to defrost the blockage. Please don’t try any other method of thawing the pipes, you could place yourself in danger as there is likely to be a build-up of pressure contained within it. If your pipes do not thaw naturally, please contact Villages Housing on 0151 480 1313 (Stockbridge Village) or 0161 633 4060 (Fitton Hill). If your pipes have been frozen, check carefully for any cracks to ensure you do not have any leaks. There may be a little condensation on the pipe, but don’t worry, wipe this away with a cloth and check this is not a leak.

Stories for BOTH AREAS

To help avoid problems like this occurring, it’s best to keep your house at a reasonably warm temperature at all times. Keep your heating on - even if it’s just on a low setting or you’re away from home. You should run cold taps regularly to prevent freezing and open doors and cupboards that contain pipes to allow warm air to circulate.

Three key steps to follow if you have a burst pipe: 1. Immediately turn off the stop tap; 2. Flush the toilet and turn on all other taps to drain the system; 3. Contact Villages Housing straight away on the relevant number above. If you call out of working hours, you will be automatically transferred to the Sovini team who will be on hand to assist you.

There may be situations when Villages Housing is not responsible for the damage caused by a burst pipe, so make sure you have suitable home contents cover. Visit and you can choose a policy at the most suitable price and cover for your needs. 9

Our Times Winter 2012

Don’t let debt drag you down As Christmas fast approaches, we all spend extra money on food, presents, and staying warm in our homes. As a result, many of us struggle to manage our money.

Stories for BOTH AREAS

When finances become a problem, it can lead to a vicious cycle of debt. Unfortunately some of us, out of desperation, may be tempted to turn to money lending services such as Wonga, QuickQuid, and illegal loan sharks as a short-term fix – however the high interest rates placed on such loans only increases the mountain of debt in the long-term.

You may also benefit from the free, impartial debt help provided by Step Change Debt Charity. You can find out more about them by visiting or by contacting 0800 138 1111.

See how much you can save in the table below:

Rate of Interest (APR)

Amount to Borrow

Time to Repay

Amount of Interest

Total Amount to Repay

An example of a local Credit Union



35 days



A well-known ‘payday loan’ company which regularly advertises on TV



35 days



Sovini Earlier this year, we changed our repairs and maintenance contractors to Bootle-based company Sovini, who also complete the day-to-day repairs for Liverpool Housing Associations One Vision and Pine Court Housing. Sovini is made up of a 250-strong workforce and the operatives who look after Villages Housing properties all live in the Merseyside and Oldham regions, so their local knowledge of the Stockbridge Village and Fitton Hill areas is a huge advantage when delivering services to you, our tenants.


If you are struggling with your finances, don’t suffer in silence. Villages Housing can support you with your money matters, simply contact the Income Management Team on 0151 480 1313 Stockbridge Village or 0161 633 4060 (Fitton Hill) for more information.

‘Sovini’ is an anagram of ‘vision,’ which derives from One Vision Housing. Originally, the newly named company only provided a repairs service to One Vision Housing, but the business has since expanded and now provides services to Villages Housing and other associations – so the name ‘Sovini’ was created to explain their expansion. Andrew Spencer, Company Director at Sovini, said: “We are thrilled to have been appointed by Villages Housing to carry out their maintenance contract – it’s going very well so far and we’re confident

we will deliver an excellent service to the tenants and the business as a whole.” Members of the Sovini team enjoyed meeting some of our tenants at the Tenants Conference in October, and were on hand to give out goodies and answer any questions. To find out more about Sovini, visit

Winter 2012 Our Times

Stay Safe This Christmas PC Villages gives some top tips to help you to stay safe during the darker nights and Christmas period:

An important Christmas tip: Don’t advertise your presents and new goods to thieves – make sure you don’t leave them under the tree or in view of a window and dispose of their packaging carefully. You can report a crime by contacting Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. Alternatively, for emergency cases, please contact the Police on 999 or contact 101 for non-emergency cases.

Asbestos: Important Information Many homes built or refurbished between the 1930s and 1980s contain building materials with asbestos in them. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral used in building materials and is strong, flexible and heat resistant. If left undisturbed, asbestos does not cause any problems, but if damaged through sanding, drilling, sawing or scrubbing, this can lead to asbestos fibres being released into the air which can cause long term health problems. Villages Housing is working hard to identify properties where asbestos may have been used. Once identified, if these materials are

Stories for BOTH AREAS

If you go out… - Double check you have locked all windows and doors; - Lock up your sheds and garages so thieves cannot gain access to ladders and tools - they could use these to gain access to your home; - Inform trusted neighbours you are going out and ask them to keep an eye on your home; - Buy timers for lights – they deter thieves by giving the impression you are at home.

found to be in good condition, we will leave them and carry out regular checks. If they are damaged, we will arrange for specialist licensed contractors to repair, seal or remove them. If you want to carry out any home improvements and are concerned that you may disturb an asbestos containing material, contact Villages Housing first on 0151 480 1313 (Stockbridge Village) and 0161 633 4060 (Fitton Hill) so we can put the correct controls in place. If you carry out any work or allow others to carry out work without written approval, you will be liable for any costs for dealing with asbestos.


Our Times Winter 2012

Need to get rid of unwanted rubbish? Skip Dates. The skips will be available on the dates below, from early morning until approximately 12 noon or whenever they are full. Please note: the skip service cannot take fridges, freezers, gas bottles or tyres, and they are not to be used for commercial waste. To remove these items, please contact Knowsley Council on 0151 443 2400 or Oldham Council on 0161 770 6644 - however you may be charged. Thank you for your co-operation.

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DECEMBER 20 Dec Fold View (on the grass across from The Ace) 27 Dec No Skip JANUARY 3 Jan Snipe Road (by grassed area at the junction) 10 Jan Dowry Street car park 17 Jan St Cuthberts Church, Tanners Fold (in the grounds of the church) 24 Jan Sportsmans Drive (in the parking bay on the left) 31 Jan Reins Lee Avenue FEBRUARY 7 Feb Southcroft (on central grassed area) 14 Feb Wildbrook (car park at the front of numbers 59-85) 21 Feb Rosary Road (opposite number 66 on central grassed area) 28 Feb Woodpark (to the side of number 60) MARCH 7 March Fold View (on the grass across from The Ace) 14 March Snipe Road (by grassed area at the junction) 21 March Dowry Street car park 28 March St Cuthberts Church, Tanners Fold (in the grounds of the church) APRIL April 4 Sportsmans Drive (in the parking bay on the left) April 11 Reins Lee Avenue April 18 Southcroft (on central grassed area) April 25 Wildbrook (car park at the front of numbers 59-85)


DECEMBER 20 Dec The Spinney (car park on corner between 33/34) 27 Dec No Skip JANUARY 3 Jan Round Hey (To the rear of 180) 10 Jan The Grove, Dannette Hey (car park adjacent to 11) 17 Jan Barley Mow (car park to rear) 24 Jan Plumtree Close (car park opposite 8-10) 31 Jan Rosewood Close FEBRUARY 7 Feb Cliffs car park 14 Feb Boode Croft (car park to rear 328) 21 Feb Boode Croft (car park adjacent to 135) 28 Feb Hollowcroft (car park opposite cul-de-sac) MARCH 7 March 93 Custley Hey/ 64 Woodfarm Hey (car park opposite) 14 March Marled Hey (car park adjacent to open land) 21 March Spruce Grove car park 28 March The Spinney (car park on corner between 33/34) APRIL April 4 No Skip April 11 Round Hey (To the rear of 180) April 18 The Grove, Dannette Hey (car park adjacent to 11) April 25 Barley Mow (car park to rear)

contact details Stockbridge Village: 16 The Croft, Stockbridge Village, Knowsley, Merseyside. L28 1NR Phone: 0151 480 1313 12

Fitton Hill: 2 Fircroft Road, Fitton Hill, Oldham. OL8 2QN. Phone: 0161 633 4060

Web: Email:

Winter 2012 Our Times

Stockbridge Village Hits The Big Screen! Shoppers in Liverpool One were treated to a slice of life at Stockbridge Village after viewing a TV commercial about the area on a big screen in the heart of the city. Visitors flocked to see the advertisement – which played outside John Lewis and ran for a week during the October school holidays – and enjoyed finding out more about the area and how they could find properties in Stockbridge Village with Villages Housing. Villages staff were on hand to offer advice and information to people interested in finding out more about the area.

Villages Housing would like to thank all tenants and residents who participated in the making of the commercial. You can also watch it by visiting our website

Stories from Stockbridge

Spooktacular Fun In Little Woods

Young people across Stockbridge Village enjoyed fang-tastic Halloween celebrations in the Little Woods in Hollowcroft. Organised by Little Woods of Stockbridge Association, the event saw children get creative and design their very own scary Halloween masks before sitting down to a show-stopping performance of Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ routine from Christopher Lindsay School of Dance. The children were also treated to songs from local music talents En-Chord, and sported their costume creations for a head-to-head fancy dress competition. To conclude the fun and games, the children kept their eyes peeled for ghosts and ghouls and enjoyed spooky stories during a creepy night-time walk through the woods. Phil Parry, Chair of Little Woods of Stockbridge Association, said: “The children had a fantastic time at the event and made a real effort with their costumes – especially our eight winners in the fancy dress competition. “We really appreciate the support from Villages Housing Association, Parry’s, Tesco, and Village Farm Orchard who helped us to make the event such a success - it was great to see the children come together to enjoy celebrating Halloween in a safe, fun environment.”

To find out more about Little Woods of Stockbridge Association and their work in the community, please contact George Jewel on 0151 489 4505.


Our Times Winter 2012

Preparing School Children For World Of Work Villages Housing and Bramalls Construction have joined forces to give something back to the Stockbridge Village community and prepare local school children for the world of work.

Stories from Stockbridge

As part of the Community Energy Saving Programme (CESP) which is currently boosting green ratings of homes across Stockbridge Village, both partners have come together to provide young people from Christ The King Centre for Learning with valuable advice and skills to set them in good stead for their future in employment. As well as helping the students to create and develop CVs for job opportunities of interest to them, staff from Villages Housing and Bramalls Construction also held mock interviews with pupils to give them a flavour of what they can expect when they are applying for jobs. Colin Lafferty, CESP Project Manager at Villages Housing, said: “While the CESP is helping to regenerate properties in Stockbridge Village, we are also keen to invest in our tenants and residents, so supporting local school children who are the future of our neighbourhoods was very fitting. “The event was as beneficial for Villages Housing as it was for the students – it helped us to build positive relationships with a younger audience and we hope the children can put our teaching into practice in the future.”

...we hope the children can put our teaching into practice in the future. Colin Lafferty CESP Project Manager

Congratulations to Linda Fielding from Pool Hey! Linda was the lucky winner of an energy hamper basket which she claimed in a free prize draw at our consultation day for phase two of the CESP. Linda came along to the event to find out more about the project – which will boost energy saving measures to 91 properties across Pool Hey and Custley Hey by the end of January 2013 - and said she is “really looking forward to having the work done on her home” and “it will be great to have a warmer home without needing to put the heating on as much.”

Linda Fielding receives energy goodies 14

Well done again, Linda – we hope the energy goodies in your hamper have been useful and you enjoy a warmer, more energy efficient home once the CESP works are completed.

Winter 2012 Our Times

School Helps Villages Teach Energy Saving Villages Housing has been working closely with Christ The King Centre for Learning to create an energy leaflet to help our tenants become more eco-friendly at home.

You will find a copy of the leaflet inserted into this newsletter. Why not see what handy hints and tips you could try around your home? You may just save yourself some money in the process.


If the energy leaflet has helped you to become more energy efficient, we would love to hear your stories. Share your new-found energy savings ways by contacting the CESP team on 0151 949 5067.

Energy Saving Works On Multi-Storey Apartments: An Update Work to improve the energy efficiency measures of all our multi-storey apartments is progressing well, and completion is expected for early January 2013.

Stories from Stockbridge

The leaflet, devised by a group of year 10 and 11 arts students, is jam-packed with useful energy news and information, facts and figures, along with top tips on how you can save money by becoming more energy savvy.

The works will see all five of Villages multi-storey blocks – amounting to 450 apartments – benefit from improved draft proofing measures and new external cladding which will act as a giant thermal blanket around each block providing extra insulation and helping to reduce energy bills. Stay tuned to the next edition of Our Times for further updates on the works. The CESP works for this project were funded by Villages Housing, Scottish and Southern Electricity, Sefton REECH Team and Knowsley Council.


Our Times Winter 2012

Congratulations to the nine community groups who successfully scooped funding for projects which will help improve activities and services across Stockbridge Village.

Stories from Stockbridge

The funding – which British Gas provided as part of the Community Energy Saving Programme (CESP) - will help to support projects including dance and amateur boxing clubs, improved communications channels, and will help to sustain activities at the Neighbourhood Centre. Applications in the first round came in thick and fast and therefore all of the money has now been allocated, so the previously advertised dates for applying for further funding have now been cancelled. We will update you on how the funding is helping to boost projects in the next edition of Our Times.

Report it: Street Lights If you discover a fault with any street light, illuminated sign or bollard, please let us know. You can report a fault online at http://www.lightsoninknowsley. or by contacting Knowsley Council on 0151 443 3100.

Rewiring Works

In the new year, we will be carrying out extensive rewiring works to seven areas in Stockbridge Village. We will be completing these major electrical works to properties in Cremorne Hey, The Spinney, Buckthorn Close, Quickthorn Crescent, Whitehorn Drive, Juniper Close and Rosewood Close. The rewiring works are expected to take three to four days per property, and involve a full rewire throughout the property, which will unfortunately cause some short term disturbance and inconvenience. While a large majority of the properties in these areas will be affected, there will be some homes which do not require rewiring, so we will be contacting all affected properties by letter before any works begin to inform tenants of the exact works involved, who the contractors will be completing the work, and the exact date when the work will commence. If you do live in one of the areas above and will be affected by the rewiring works, we will be providing a decorating allowance and would advise you to reconsider completing any new decorating until after the work has been completed. For any general enquiries about the rewiring works, please contact the Customer Service Officers on 0151 480 1313.


Winter 2012 Our Times

Food Bank To Stockbridge Village

Villages Housing staff have showed their support for a new local food bank by donating lots of tasty goodies to help it get started. The food bank, which is based in St Judes Church, Round Hey, launched in November and is available to help support vulnerable people who are facing hardship and do not have enough food to eat. Those who make use of this new facility must be referred by a partner agency such as Villages Housing, and can go along each Wednesday between 11.30am and 2pm to collect a food bundle containing a selection of dried and tinned goods, which is enough to last them for three days.

If you feel your circumstances qualify you for a referral to the food bank, please contact Villages Housing Head Office on 0151 480 1313 (Villages Housing tenants only) or Tenants Extra Support Scheme (TESS) on 0151 949 5050 (local residents). To donate goods to the food bank, please call into St Judes between 11.30am and 2pm on Wednesdays. Tins, packets and other non-perishable items are welcome.

Stories from Stockbridge

Welcoming NEW

Harvest Festival Fun Residents across Stockbridge Village enjoyed a vibrant harvest festival to celebrate the start of fruit-tree planting season. Taking place in November at The Croft, the event was facilitated by local residents who have been taking part in training to boost their horticultural and craft skills. The residents demonstrated their new found knowledge and enjoyed an autumnal afternoon of basket weaving, woodwork workshops, massage sessions and apple tasting.

The event formed part of the Village Farm Orchard project run by Squash Nutrition - a Liverpool-based social enterprise working within communities to share skills and promote food health and well-being. For more information on Squash Nutrition and their upcoming events and training opportunities, contact Becky Vipond, Co-Director at Squash Nutrition, on 0151 707 7987 or visit the Village Farm Orchard Facebook page at thevillagefarmorchard


Our Times Winter 2012

“I cannot thank the TESS Team enough for their support moving here has been an absolute blessing”

Stories from Stockbridge

Brian Gets His Life Back On Track Thanks To TESS One of Villages newer tenants has been given a whole new positive lease of life since moving to a sheltered property in Stockbridge Village. Brian Green, Roughsedge House, previously lived in a flat belonging to another Housing Association which due to his ill health was no longer suitable for his needs. Brian’s previous flat – which he could only access by climbing a large amount of steps – had become difficult for Brian to manage after undergoing a heart operation, and had left him feeling isolated and lonely. It was at this point that

Did you know?

Villages TESS Team offer support to approximately 150 vulnerable people across Knowsley every week? The TESS Team work with people across the entire Knowsley area and provide support with the following: Housing issues, including tenants housing rights, and their personal safety and security; 18

Brian was referred to Villages Tenants Extra Support Service (TESS) Team for further support. After discussing Brian’s circumstances, the team recognised he required a more suitable home and helped him to secure an easily accessible ground-floor flat in one of Villages Housing sheltered accommodation properties. Since moving into his new home in August, Brian’s life has been transformed for the better - not only can he get around his home more easily, but he has made friends with local neighbours and residents

and is now enjoying a more active social life. Brian said: “I am over the moon with my new home – getting around has become more difficult since my operation but since I‘ve moved here it’s been easier to get out and about and meet people so I don’t feel as lonely. “I cannot thank the TESS Team enough for their support - moving here has been an absolute blessing. The area is fantastic, there is a really good community spirit and the support from Villages staff is second to none.”

Money matters – including budgeting and support, managing debts and rent arrears; Completing forms and speaking to other organisations on behalf of tenants; Signposting to educational courses, employment and voluntary work opportunities, and social activities;

Support with substance misuse problems and help maintaining a healthy lifestyle. If you live in Knowsley and think you or someone you know would benefit from support from TESS, please contact the team on 0151 949 5050.

Winter 2012 Our Times

Improved Energy Saving In Fitton Hill

After the fantastic success of the Community Energy Saving Programme (CESP) works to properties in Stockbridge Village, Villages Housing has secured almost £1 million of further funding from Scottish and Southern Energy to improve the energy-saving measures to 87 Villages Housing properties in Fitton Hill. Work began on the properties – which span across hard to heat homes in Dowry Street, South Croft, The Spur and Wildbrook Crescent – in October this year, helping to enhance the central heating improvements in each property by adding further exterior and loft insulation for an overall warmer home.

Stories from FITTON HILL

Before CESP Works

After CESP Works

By the end of December 2012, all properties will have received the works to their homes and can start benefitting from a warmer, more eco-friendly and cost effective home life. Jed Pearson, Deputy Chief Executive at Villages Housing, said: “We are delighted to extend energy saving measures to our homes in Fitton Hill and hope our tenants feel a real difference in both the warmth of their home and the amount of money they spend on their energy bills.” We will update you on the success of these works in the next edition of Our Times. For further information on the CESP in Fitton Hill, contact the Villages Housing Fitton Hill office on 0161 633 4060.


Our Times Winter 2012

Gardening Awards For Our Awesome Foursome

Stories from FITTON HILL

Residents from Fitton Hill celebrated sowing the seeds of success after winning awards in Villages Housing annual gardening competition. After months of trimming, digging, weeding and planting, four local green-fingered gurus were overjoyed to claim awards in ‘Fitton in Bloom’ and received recognition for their efforts at a ceremony held at The Queen Elizabeth Hall in Oldham. The event - which brings together council and housing association residents across Oldham – saw the fab four scoop trophies and certificates from the Mayor of Oldham, Councillor Olwen Chadderton, and Joe Swift – garden designer and presenter of BBCs’ Gardeners World.

Congratulations to the following winners:

Best Garden Diane Emsley, Rosary Road

Best Garden (over 55’s) Joyce Hooton, Keswick Avenue

Best Container Display Fred Edwards, Wildbrook Crescent

Best Vegetable Garden Robert Brooks, Kelso Close

Keep Your Gardens Tidy Make sure you follow in the footsteps of our award-winning green gurus above and keep your garden clean and tidy. Keeping a well maintained garden – whether a private space or communal area forms part or your tenancy agreement, so please ensure


you do your bit to keep your plot looking pretty. If your garden areas are not maintained to an acceptable standard, Villages Housing may decide to carry out the necessary works to restore your land and you may be charged for this.

So make sure you start the new year in style with a tidy garden, it’s the ideal time to prune those privets, rid your plot of weeds and have a good clear out – you could even make use of the skips we provide – turn to page 18 for more information.

Winter 2012 Our Times

Work Club Is A Hit With Diane Villages Housing Work Club in Fitton Hill is becoming more popular than ever with local tenants and residents looking to boost their career prospects.

One lady who made use of the Work Club is Diane Heaton from Hawthorn Crescent who – after getting support with improving her CV from Lisa Fowles from Villages Housing – managed to secure a permanent role working as a Warehouse Operative. Diane said: “I am really grateful to Lisa for helping me to go through my CV and make improvements – I was coming to the end of a temporary role working for an agency and was keen to secure a permanent post that was being offered, and thanks to Lisa’s help and the support of the Work Club, I managed to get the job and am now bringing in a regular income which supports my family.” The Work Club runs every Monday, 1pm – 3pm in the new location of Fitton Hill Youth Club (previously Fitton Hill Library). To find out more or to book your place at a session, contact Lisa Fowles on 0161 633 4060.

Stories from FITTON HILL

Taking place in the Youth Club in the Neighbourhood Centre, the club now sees over 40 regular visitors come along for help searching for jobs, improving their CV and for general careers advice.

Skill-Up With Learning Together Partnership Do you want to boost your skills and CV? Then why not take part in the following training sessions with Learning Together Partnership (LTP). The following two training sessions will be available in early 2013, taking place in locations in the Greater Manchester area (yet to be confirmed). Social Enterprise and Community Building. Tuesday 15th January, 9.30am - 3pm Employment Training. Thursday 7th March, 9.30am - 3pm Transport will be provided to and from the training. For more information or to book your place, please contact Lisa Fowles on 0161 633 4060.


Our Times Winter 2012

Reminder: New opening times for Fitton Hill Library

Stories from FITTON HILL

At the end of October, Fitton Hill Library in the Neighbourhood Centre changed its opening times. You can now go along to the library between any of the times on the days listed below: Tuesday

2pm – 5pm


2pm – 7pm


2pm – 7pm


9.30am – 1pm


9.30am – 1pm

The library has a series of events going on throughout the week, from support sessions and homework help to bounce and rhyme activity classes. Tuesdays:


Online Basics. 2.30pm – 4pm. Learn how to get online and become savvy surfing the World Wide Web!

Threshold Housing Floating Support Drop-In. 3pm – 5pm. Representatives from Threshold will be on hand to offer housing advice and support to homeless or vulnerable people.

Wednesdays: Bounce and Rhyme. 2.15pm – 3pm. For children up to 5 years accompanied by parents. Time to enjoy nursery rhymes and a sing-a-long session. Childminder drop-in. 3pm – 5pm. A chance for all childminders and children to come along to the library and make use of the facilities. Homework Help Power Hour. 3.30pm – 4.30pm Tutors on hand to provide assistance to pupils completing their homework.


Fridays: Stories and Rhymes. 10.15am – 11am. A chance for children to enjoy a sing-a-long session.

For more information about opening times or on any of the events listed, please contact the library on

0161 770 5504.

Winter 2012 Our Times

Ian Grabs Green Opportunity A local student enjoyed getting his green fingers dirty thanks to a partnership-working opportunity provided by Villages Housing and a local Learning Centre.

Ian (second from left) with Villages Housing staff

During his time, Ian got stuck into mowing, weeding, erecting hanging baskets and helping to keep residents’ gardens and the local area clean and tidy – as well as making many new friends along the way. Colin Garratt, Landscape Foreman at Villages Housing, said: “Ian is a fantastic lad and worked really hard during his time with us - he was a pleasure to work with and I’m sure he has a bright future ahead of him.”

Stories from FITTON HILL

Ian Carslaw, studying a horticulture programme at New Bridge Learning Centre, was selected by his teachers and Villages Housing to take part in a six-week summer work placement working alongside our garden maintenance team.

Update From Wildbrook Community Allotments Due to several break-ins at Wildbrook Allotments, the group will unfortunately not be holding their Christmas Fayre this year. However, they will be continuing to hold community events in the new year and would still greatly appreciate any donations for tombola prizes – these can be dropped off at Wildbrook allotments in Wildbrook Crescent anytime between 9am and 4pm, Monday to Friday. Volunteers at Wildbrook Community Allotments are also in the process of starting a garden clearance and maintenance service for local residents – looking after general garden clean-ups to planting and further upkeep. Prices will be competitive with discounts for elderly people. For more information or a free quote, please contact Carol on 07894 599 278.


Our Times Winter 2012

Christmas Competition Fancy taking part in a cracking Christmas competition for a chance to win £25 gift vouchers? All you need to do is visit our website – – click on our ‘Christmas Comp’ link on the left hand side, and then unscramble the letters from our elf to form an 8-letter word related to the festive season. You can email your answers - along with your name, address and phone number – to

Stories for BOTH AREAS

The closing date for entries is Friday, January 25, 2013 and the winner will be announced in the next edition of Our Times.

Christmas Opening Hours We will be closed for the Christmas period from 5pm on Friday, December 21, and will be reopening at 10am on Wednesday, January 2nd.

For emergency repairs during this period, please contact your local Villages office on the numbers below and you will be transferred to a member of Sovini, our repairs and maintenance team. We hope you have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

other useful numbers

Liberty Gas (Heating Queries) – 0330 333 5770 Transco (Gas Leaks) – 0800 111 999 United Utilities (Leakline) – 0800 330 033

How to contact us Phone: 0151 480 1313 (Stockbridge Village) 0161 633 4060 (Fitton Hill) Post: 16 The Croft, Stockbridge Village, Knowsley, Merseyside. L28 1NR 2 Fircroft Road, Fitton Hill, Oldham. OL8 2QN. Web: Email: 24

Our Times Winter 2012  

Our Times Winter 2012