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heart

of the matter

Hey Good Looking ...

We are the winners

Find out what we have been doing to homes around the county.

The Riverside fund raisers Tenant Board Elections

Summer 2012 / Issue 7

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Contents

Keep in Touch

z Keep in Touch

p2

z Economic and Financial Inclusion Manager

p3

z Big Changes are Happening

p3

z About Universal Credit

p4

z Brynmawr Millennium Community Group Sensory Garden p5 z Cuts Watch Cymru

p6

z Recharge Policy

p6

z Hey Good Looking!

p8

z You said... We did...

p10

z 2013 Tai Calon Calendar Competition

p11

z Smart Money Credit Union

p12

z Sheltered Shout

p1

z A helping hand

p2

z Be fire safe

p3

z Sheltered Forum Meetings

p3

z Llandafel Court

p4

z The 1,200th kitchen

p14

z TPAS Cymru Participation Awards

p15

z Neighbourhood You said We Did

p16

z Board Elections

p18

z Tenant handbook

p18

£25 could be yours in our facebook competition We want your money saving ideas and... The best one each month will win £25 in shopping vouchers. The winner can double their money to £50 if they invest their winnings in a credit union account for six months. Visit us on facebook for more details. Facebook.com/taicalon

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There are so many different ways in which you can get in touch with us and keep up-to-date with what is going on. By Phone: Ring us on 0300 303 1717 between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday. In an emergency our “out of hours service” is available on 0300 303 1717. By Email: info@taicalon.org By fax: 01495 290 501. Visit or write to us at: Tai Calon Community Housing, Solis One, Rising Sun Industrial Estate, Blaina, Blaenau Gwent, NP13 3JW Website: www.taicalon.org has lots of useful information about us and you can read all our latest news. facebook: join our page by “liking” us at facebook.com/taicalon Twitter: follow us @taicalon If you have a story to tell us, or want us to include something in the next edition of our newsletter, contact: Hefina Rendle, Communications and PR Manager, at Solis One, or by email hefinar@taicalon.org


Big

Changes are Happening... Are You Ready? From October, 2013... Housing Benefit will be paid to tenants of working age. Housing Benefit will NO LONGER be sent directly to Tai Calon Community Housing. It is the tenant’s responsibility to pay their rent to Tai Calon on time, every time.

Hello My name is Sarah Freeman. I am the Economic and Financial Inclusion Manager at Tai Calon Community Housing. In this copy of the newsletter we will be explaining the changes to benefits that are happening over the coming months. We will also be giving details on how you can get money advice and join a credit union. In February, the Welfare Reform Bill was given the Royal Assent making it law. Under this new Act of Parliament there are several changes to the benefits you may receive and how you will get them. The changes that will come into effect next year will affect everyone if you receive any form of benefit, this includes housing benefit, council tax benefit, ESA, income support, job seekers, DLA and tax credits. Now is the time to seek advice and help to cope with these changes!

Are you ready for the change? The simplest way to pay your rent is by... Opening a bank account and setting up a Direct Debit. It guarantees your rent will be paid. DON’T DELAY ... SIGN UP FOR DIRECT DEBIT TODAY And receive TWO Time Banking Credits (limited offer, apply now).

Contact us for help in setting up a bank account.

Best wishes, Sarah 3


About Universal Credit The UK government is replacing a number of benefits with a new one called Universal Credit. From next year anyone applying for benefit will get Universal Credit if they qualify for help. After 2013 the government will move everyone to Universal Credit. However, it promises that no one will receive less money than they previously got, as long as there are no other changes in their circumstances. The Department for Work and Pensions has produced the following information about what is going to happen. At the moment, some people who are over 16 and under 65 and do not have enough money to look after themselves can apply for a number of different benefits. • Income Support. This is money people may get if they do not have a job or they work less than 16 hours a week. And the money they have coming in is less than the government says they need to live on. • Jobseeker’s Allowance. This is money people get if they do not have a job, but they can work. • Employment and Support Allowance. This is money people get if they have no job, and they cannot work at all, or cannot work now but could work some time in the future.

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than 16 hours a week but they are on a low wage. These benefits will be replaced by one called Universal Credit. It will help people who do not have a job or who do have a job but do not have enough money. People who get Universal Credit will be able to do more work before their benefit is reduced. Universal Credit will not take the place of Disability Living Allowance. But the government is changing Disability Living Allowance. This is money that is paid to people who have a disability and need help with personal care or getting around, or both of these things. The benefits that people can get if they have paid National Insurance Contributions will not be replaced by Universal Credit.

• Housing Benefit. This is money that helps people who are both in and out of work to rent a home.

Universal Credit will help people work within the law to make more money. It will also be easier to understand and to see if people are getting the right amount of money.

• Child Tax Credit. This is money that is paid to people who have at least 1 child or 1 young person living with them.

Most people will use the internet to ask for Universal Credit, but there will be advisers to help people who cannot use the internet.

• Working Tax Credit. This is money that people get if they have a job and work more

It is expected that Universal Credit will be paid monthly into a bank account. The amount people get

will be worked out by computer.

Under Occupation of a property for working age tenants From April, 2013, Housing Benefit will be linked to the number of people and bedrooms in your home. According to the new rules one bedroom will be allowed for: • Any couple or single person aged 16 or over • Children under 16 of the same gender • Children under 10 of either gender • A non resident overnight carer to provide care to a disabled tenant or their partner. It is expected that housing benefit will be cut by 14% for those judged to have one extra spare room and by 25% if two or more rooms are said to be under occupied. Tenants ... you will be responsible for paying the difference between what you receive in benefit and the rent if your allowance is reduced. Act now, to check that you are getting the benefits you are entitled to claim. Call our Income Team on 0300 303 1717 for advice.


Gorgeous to touch and smell This beautiful sensory garden has been created by the Brynmawr Millennium Community Group. Volunteers worked with schoolchildren and young people on work experience to plant flowers and shrubs that are richly scented and lovely to touch. The water feature is from the old Brynmawr swimming pool, which used to be on the site. Now visitors have somewhere they can go to learn more about the Terence Garden in Brynmawr and enjoy the view thanks to tenants from Tai Calon Community Housing. They had agreed to give the group ÂŁ3,000 from the Environmental Improvement Fund to build an Observation and Information Centre. The log effect cabin will house information about local wildlife as well as being a great place from where to look out over the garden. If you are part of a community group or tenants and residents association and would like to apply to the Environmental Improvement Fund then please contact the Community Investment team on 0300 303 1717. Kelsey Watkins - Tredegar Valley Natasha Jones - Ebbw Fawr Valley (Ebbw Vale) Chloe Williams - Ebbw Fach Valley

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Cuts Watch Cymru: watching Wales’ cuts People in Wales face some of the toughest challenges to their well-being for decades. Hundreds of thousands of people are already being affected by a weak economy, resulting in job losses, a squeeze on earnings and rising prices. Add to this the prospect of public spending cuts and welfare reform, and the outlook for many could be extremely challenging. Cuts Watch Cymru is a coalition of third sector organisations in Wales who have come together to examine the impact of cuts in public spending, and in particular welfare reform, on the lives of people in Wales. We are concerned that thousands more people across Wales will be plunged into poverty as a result of the changes and reductions to welfare – many of which have already been implemented, with more to come. We are particularly concerned that the most vulnerable groups

might be bearing the brunt of changes to come. We do not argue unthinkingly against all of the changes in public spending, to the structure of the welfare system, or indeed the role

Recharge Policy Tenants will be charged for repairs to their home, when the damage is not normal “fair wear and tear”. The Recharge Policy has been developed jointly by the Board of Tai Calon Community Housing, tenants and staff.

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Tenants will be recharged if there is: • Damage caused by negligence, misuse, or criminal damage by the tenant, members of their household or visitors to their home. • Deliberate damage caused by the tenant, members of

that the state should play in relation to the voluntary or private sectors. We accept that there are significant economic challenges facing decision-makers at all levels of government, and that it is always prudent to review spending and service provision decisions. However, it is also important to ensure that any changes are fair to all in society and that the most vulnerable are not disproportionately affected. Our first report, ‘Wales on the edge’, explored the likely

their household or visitors to their home. • Unsatisfactory alterations carried out by the tenant, members of their household, or persons instructed by them. • The tenant or a member of their household has lost their keys and can not gain access to the property. • The tenant, a member of their household or a visitor to their home, refused to


impact of the proposed welfare changes, and also those welfare changes which have already taken place, on people living in Wales. We looked at several key areas which will form the basis for our future research activities, including out-of-work benefits, benefits for disabled people, housing benefit, and social fund benefits. Despite the scarcity of evidence, we concluded that welfare reform in these areas is likely to have a grave effect on people in Wales. The possible impact of welfare changes is accentuated because of existing high levels of poverty, a weak economy and the complex interaction between benefits so that many individuals and households will be affected by not one but multiple changes to

allow the Police access to their home which resulted in damage being caused. • If a tenant reports an emergency response repair or makes an appointment but is not at home to allow access when the contractor calls, this can result in a missed appointment recharge. Tenants may not be recharged the cost of repairs if: • They suffer from mental

their income. The report highlighted not only the sheer number of people in Wales who will be adversely affected by the changes – with one in five people of working age claiming some sort of benefit in Wales – but also the question of the complexity of the reforms and the impact of multiple changes to benefits. Many claimants receive more than one benefit, and so may be subject to multiple changes and reductions affecting their living and housing costs. Those communities and local authority areas with a relatively high proportion of claimants are likely to see very significant changes in incomes and wellbeing, as are those where claimant levels may be lower but there are few opportunities and higher costs. Following on from this first report, our next piece of research was focused on changes to Crisis Loans. This research was based upon interviews and case studies with people who were

health problems or learning difficulties. • The damage has been reported to the Police and the tenant has obtained a crime reference number. • There are special circumstances. Each case will be decided on an individual basis. Former tenants will also be recharged the cost of any repairs that aren’t normal “wear

experiencing (or who had experienced in the past) some form of crises. We examined the nature of the crises people found themselves in, their types of need, and also experiences of accessing the Crisis Loan. From this research we contributed to the Welsh Government’s consultation on how Crisis Loans should be delivered when they are devolved to Wales in 2013. Following our initial work, in the next year we will be moving on to investigate further the impact of other changes and reductions to welfare. We want to explore further the lived experiences of these changes and reductions, and how this might vary for different people across different localities in Wales. We aim to not only raise awareness of these impacts, but also put forward suggestions which might mitigate them. Our reports and further information can be found at: www.cutswatchcymru.org

and tear”, as well as for the cost of removing any furniture, carpets or rubbish left in the property. Contractors approved by Tai Calon will usually be recharged the cost of any damage caused by their negligence, lack of care or accident. Tai Calon may refuse to carry out any further repairs or improvements if a tenant hasn’t paid for any rechargeable repairs.

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Better insulation and better looking as well Homes across Blaenau Gwent are getting a multi million pound makeover as part of a scheme to improve their insulation and help reduce heating bills. The £10 million pound cost is being shared between Energy Company, E.on, and Tai Calon Community Housing. Tenants are already seeing the benefit of the scheme to replace 1,000 heating systems, insulate and render the exterior of 770 properties of non traditional construction. Ralph Lewis Boulter has lived in his home at Garnlydan, near Ebbw Vale, for 57 years. “It used to be so cold that I and my family would wear our coats and scarves when eating our dinner. Now it is a lot warmer. The other night I left a bottle

of milk out and by the next morning it had curdled in the heat.” Tenants, including Pamela Snell who is also from Garnlydan, picked the colour of their rendering. “I am very pleased with my choice. I was told that I had chosen the most expensive one,” says Mrs Snell who has lived in her home for 43 years. “I love the colour and my house looks like it’s just been built.”

Pamela Snell (on doorstep), Jen Barfoot (right) and Paul Bevan (right) together with the team who worked on the properties.

Mrs Snell was named the “tenant sweetheart” by the team from E.on and Bullock Construction after she supplied them with regular cups of tea. As a “thank you”, Jen Barfoot, Chief Executive of Tai Calon, presented Mrs Snell with a Tea Caddy filled with tea bags to replenish her supplies. “It is lovely to see that Mrs Snell and Mr Boulter are so pleased with the work carried out to their homes. It is really amazing what difference a makeover can make to the properties and the community,” said Jen Barfoot. “The bright colours used on the outside walls are enough to put a smile on anyone’s face. The work should not only make their homes cheaper to heat, but reduce our maintenance costs on homes built from non traditional construction.” The work is being carried out as part of our Carbon Energy Saving Project (CESP) and has been so successful that it has been extended to include more homes across the county. Paul Bevan is Tai Calon’s Community Energy Saving Project Manager. “E.on

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Ralph Lewis Boulter (red cap), Clayton Phillips, carrying two year old Megan, Jen Barfoot and the team. has been working with us to reduce fuel poverty across Blaenau Gwent. We hope through CESP to reduce carbon output and assist in the reduction of fuel poverty.” Resident, Clayton Phillips agreed. “We have noticed that our home is a lot warmer

since the work was done. It is really great.” Jon Kirby, CESP Manager at E.on, said: “I’m delighted that these residents are already seeing the benefits of our insulation work – it just goes to show that becoming energy fit can improve our quality of

life as well as saving money off your fuel bills. And it’s not just tenants who can benefit from the investment; private homeowners can also take advantage of reduced rates on similar energy efficiency measures.”

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You said... We did... We listen to what you tell us. Your views are very important to us, which is why in a new regular feature we will be telling you what we have done when ...

You said... There was a long delay in repairing Ferroli boilers.

We did... We no longer install Ferroli boilers due to a national shortage of parts.

You said... We would like to make appointments for repairs.

We did... We have introduced a repairs appointment system. Tenants can choose morning or afternoon appointments on a day to suit them.

You said... Some homes were in a poor condition when re-let.

We did... We have introduced a minimum standard, which 10

has been approved by tenant representatives on the Quality Design Forum. All properties have to conform to this standard before they can be re-let. Tenant Auditors will be carrying out these checks following training.

You said... You wasted time enquiring when external repairs were to be completed, only to discover that they had been carried out in your absence.

We did... A card is now left at the property informing a tenant that the job has been done in their absence.

You said... You wanted to know how we monitor the time it takes to complete a repair and the quality of the work.

We did... We trained Tenant Auditors who telephone a minimum of 100 tenants a month. They ask a series of questions about the time it took to carry out the repair and what the tenant thinks about the finished work. The survey results are reviewed every month by the Tai Calon Board.

You said... Blaenau Gwent council would not repair any sanitary ware or fixtures that had been installed by the tenant. What is the view of Tai Calon?

We did... Provided the installation has been authorised, we will attempt to repair any item as long as the request is reasonable and practical.

Thank you for telling us ... we promise to listen.


Shout Sheltered

A helping hand Be fire safe

Summer 2012 / Issue 4

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manager, Caroline Bridge, suggested the appeal to build a new hospice centre in Ebbw Vale, and it all went from there. The residents, their family and friends ran a series of money making events over the years to raise the cash. Kevin Davidge, a fundraising officer with the appeal, said: “There just aren’t the words to describe how grateful we are to Caroline and everyone for all their efforts. They have all worked tirelessly and we are so lucky for their support.”

Caroline Bridge handing over the cheque to Kevin Davidge

A helping hand Congratulations and Well Done to Caroline Bridge, residents, family and friends of Riverside Flats in Blaina. In just three years they have raised a staggering £10,000 for Hospice of the Valleys, “Precious Moments New Building Appeal”. It all started when Marlene Davies, a resident of the sheltered complex who has

Sheltered Shout 2

had melanoma, wanted to raise money for charity by making greetings cards. Scheme

Caroline Bridge has been a volunteer for Hospice of the Valleys for more than 12 years and does four table top sales a month in aid of the charity. “It all started from a conversation between Marlene and myself. It is lovely to think that we are able to help others worse off than ourselves.” Marlene Davies, who also has arthritis, says making the cards keeps her active. “I enjoy doing them and now plan to make them in aid of diabetes research.”


Be fire safe...

What would you do if there is a fire ... and what should you do to prevent one? These are the questions that Fire Officer Dai Richards of South Wales Fire and Rescue Service answered when he recently visited Davey Evans Court in Abertillery. Every year Fire Officer Richards visits all eleven of our sheltered housing complexes to make residents aware of the dangers of fire in the home and to explain how they can reduce the risk of one starting Tai Calon is working with South Wales Fire to review fire safety arrangements at all its sheltered complexes and in communal areas.

Fire Officer Dai Richards (right) pictured with Kevin Thomas, from Tai Calon Community Housing

Sheltered Forum Meetings It is nice to get out and about, meeting new friends, which is why we are changing the way we hold our regular Sheltered Forum meetings. Over the coming months we will be taking the meetings to each of our eleven sheltered complexes.

Anthony Rowson, Supported Housing Manager, said, “Residents of other complexes will be invited to attend the meetings. We thought it would be a nice way for people to get to know each other and to see our other complexes.� Please contact your scheme manager for details of the next meeting.

Sheltered Shout 3


Llandafel Court Llandafel Court enjoys a peaceful location on the outskirts of Cwm in Ebbw Vale. There is level access to the sheltered scheme which consists of 24 one-bedroom apartments on two floors. The upper floor is served by a lift. All the apartments have recently been upgraded to the Welsh Housing Quality Standard to include new kitchens and bathrooms. There is a spacious communal lounge and Scheme Manager, Carl Dance, says “It’s great accommodation with a real community feel, but also ideal for those wanting independent living”. There are apartments available to rent. If you are interested in applying or want further information, please contact Anthony Rowson, Supported Housing Manager on 0300 303 1717.

Contact Us: If you would like to contact Tai Calon Community Housing you can phone us on 0300 303 1717 If you wish to report a repair, enquire about your rent or would like to speak to a member of staff from Tai Calon please telephone us on 0300 303 1717

www.taicalon.org Sheltered Shout 4


2013 Tai Calon Calendar Competition Are your photographs pretty as a picture? Do you have an award winning image of a friend or a local beauty spot? We are looking for 12 pictures with that “wow” factor to star in the 2013 Tai Calon calendar. The photographs can be of a tree, a place, or a family pet, anything, as long as they have been taken within Blaenau Gwent. The winners will have their photographs printed in the calendar, which will be sent to every Tai Calon home. Each of the 12 winners will also receive £75 in gift vouchers of their choice. Entries will be posted on facebook.com/taicalon and facebook friends will be able to leave their comments about the photographs.

The rules are simple: 1. Photographs only will be accepted (no transparencies) and must have been taken in Blaenau Gwent.

2. The photograph must be an original. It must not have been manipulated. 3. Photographs must not have previously won a prize or appeared in another publication, or on a competition website. 4. Copyright remains with the photographer, however by entering the competition they give Tai Calon Community Housing permission to use the photograph(s) for the purpose of this competition or general publicity. 5. Entries will only be returned if a stamped addressed envelope (sae) has been provided. 6. The decision of the judging panel is final. Send your photograph(s) to Hefina Rendle, Tai Calon Community Housing, Solis One, Rising Sun Industrial Estate, Blaina, NP13 3JW. Don’t forget to include your name, address, (age if under 18), telephone number, details of where the picture(s) was/were taken and an sae if you want them back. Closing date for entries: Monday, 3 September, 2012. 11


Smart Money Credit Union Smart Money Credit Union provides financial services to people living in Caerphilly, Blaenau Gwent and Newport. When you need to borrow money to get you through a difficult period or to help you afford a treat for you and your family, you need to be careful when choosing credit. Think about the following: • Can you afford the repayments? • How much you will have to repay in total? • How many repayments do you have to make? • What happens when you miss a repayment? • Is there a penalty if you repay early? One of the many benefits of borrowing from ‘Smart Money’ is that there are no hidden charges or early repayment penalties. • We lend responsibly - we will never encourage you to borrow more than you can comfortably afford to repay. • As you make your loan repayments we encourage you to save as well. So, by the time you have paid off your loan you will have increased your savings too! • We charge a maximum interest rate of 2% per month on a reducing balance, depending on your circumstances. • Interest is only charged on the reducing balance of your loan. This means that the amount of interest you pay decreases as you pay back the loan. • We consider loans for any amount up to £7,500, net of your savings. • There are NO set up costs.

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• There are NO extra charges or penalties if you want to make additional repayments or pay the loan off early. • Flexible repayment terms to suit you - choose to pay weekly, fortnightly, four-weekly or monthly. • Most members qualify for FREE Loan Protection Insurance so that in the event of your death the outstanding loan would be paid off, (subject to conditions). If you would like to become a member or to find out more about the services available through ‘Smart Money’ Credit Union please contact a member of the team: Tel: 029 2088 3751 Email: info@smartmoneycreditunion.co.uk


Smarterbuys ... a smarter way to buy Smarterbuys is the new website that helps you buy the essential things for your home at massively discounted prices. Smarterbuys offers one great deal every month – it could be for a fridge, washing machine, bed, sofa – any of the items you might need. There are also a range of payment options and you don’t need to have a bank account. You can pay with a debit card, use cash, or access low-interest, affordable finance through credit unions.

It’s about helping you to make your money go further – and making smarter buys. Smarterbuys is supported by Tai Calon Community Housing. If you don’t have internet access at home, you can get onto the web for free at its office in Blaina or at other places in the community, like your local library.

To subscribe to Smarterbuys visit www.smarterbuys.org.uk Be smart – make Smarterbuys. You can follow Smarterbuys on twitter: @smarterbuys

Budgeting What is a budget? Well it’s simply working out the money you’re left with every week or month after you have paid all your bills. It really is as simple as it sounds! • First, you need to work out how much money you get every week or every month, sounds simple but remember to calculate all of your payments in the same way - either weekly or monthly. • Second, work out how much you pay in bills every week or month. • And - what you have left over, is what you can afford to pay your debts with. • If you find you don’t have any money left after you have paid your bills SEEK HELP NOW. Don’t delay.

The Money Advice Service in Wales ... call 0300 330 0520 or visit www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk Christians Against Poverty call free on 0800 328 0006 or visit www.capdebthelp.org Citizens Advice ... call 08444 77 2020 or visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk

Where To Get Advice About Benefit Changes Shelter Cymru .. call 0845 075 5005 Or email campaigns@taicalon.org

Where To Get Money Advice

If You Have Trouble Paying Your Rent

National Debtline ... call free on 0808 808 4000 or visit www.nationaldebtline.co.uk/england_wales

Tai Calon Community Housing ... call our Income team on 0300 303 1717

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The 1,200th kitchen Blaenau Gwent resident Marjorie Slocombe has a brand new kitchen and it is the 1,200th to be installed by Tai Calon Community Housing. The social landlord is spending £111 million by 2015 bringing all its homes up to Welsh Housing Quality Standard, which was set by the Welsh Government. “I am over the moon,” said Mrs Slocombe, from Swffryd. “My new kitchen is gorgeous. I absolutely love the way it looks.” Mrs Slocombe chose an oak style kitchen with black work surfaces. “When we were planning my kitchen, I changed the layout and decided to buy myself a new cooker to go with my new kitchen. I just need a new table and chairs now to complete the look.” To mark reaching the 1,200th milestone, Chief Executive, Jen Barfoot, presented Mrs Slocombe with a cream Orchid, to match the colour of paint she’d picked for the kitchen walls. “Our WHQS work is on target and on budget,” said Jen Barfoot. “Not only that, the work we are doing to people’s homes is making a 14

real difference to them and to the communities in which they live.” Tenants can choose from four colour schemes for their kitchen. They can also pick which type of cabinet door handle, wall tile and work surface they prefer. Dave Solley is site manager for R and M. Williams, one of eight contractors working with Tai Calon’s own property services team to carry out WHQS. “The oak and black has been a very popular choice in

Swffryd. We are carrying out 180 renovations in this area and since we started in April we have finished 25, of which Mrs Slocombe’s kitchen is one. It’s lovely to see that she is so pleased with the finished look,” he said. Jen Barfoot said: “We are also renewing heating systems and roofs where needed as part of WHQS. In a recent survey more than 98 percent of tenants thought the finished work to be good or excellent.”


TPAS Cymru Participation Awards A project which trained tenants of Tai Calon Community Housing to carry out its weekly satisfaction surveys has won the social housing sector’s equivalent of an “Oscar”. The TPAS Cymru Participation Awards, held in Llandudno this year, are seen as the annual highlight for the organisation. The awards celebrate innovative ways in which tenants work with their landlords to improve services. Tai Calon was shortlisted after it ran an eight week course in Customer Care. The eight students, who included five of Tai Calon’s tenants, obtained an Open College Network certificate. They also volunteered to carry out telephone surveys on behalf of Tai Calon, asking residents what they thought of the repairs carried out at their homes. One of the group was tenant and mum of one Natalie Egan. She together with other tenants and staff was in the audience to see Tai Calon pick up its “Oscar”. She has recently started a one year contract with the organisation after using the skills she learnt to successfully apply for a job as a Tenant Liaison Officer. Hayley Selway, Assistant Director of Housing and Communities, said: “This award is all about supporting and encouraging others through work and training opportunities to improve housing services. We at Tai Calon are fully behind the principle and actively assist others to help themselves.”

Natalie Egan, making her speech, accompanied by Hayley Selway

Tenants and Staff with our award The award was collected by Natalie and Hayley. Natalie, in her speech, told the audience, “The OCN in customer care was a great experience for all tenants involved. It also made us more confident through taking part in the weekly telephone satisfaction surveys.” Natalie had enrolled in the course after being told about it by her friend Kelly Bratcher. In fact it is a double success for the pair. Kelly was recently appointed to a full time job with Tai Calon. She’d joined the organisation as a customer services advisor through JobMatch and was then given a temporary contract before being interviewed and appointed permanently to the post at Tai Calon.

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We all want to live in a nice, clean and safe neighbourhood, which is why we organise regular estate walkabouts.

Neighbourhood Walkabouts This is what we have done about some of the things you have raised with us during neighbourhood walkabouts.

You said...

You said...

We did...

What are you going to do about the parties held in an illegally parked caravan in Tredegar?

There is a problem with litter and fly tipping on open ground at Ysguborwen in Tredegar.

We are clearing it away.

We did...

There is moss on the paths at Beaumont Close in Nantyglo.

We did... The caravan and the rubbish surrounding it have now been removed.

You said... What are you doing about the dog fouling in communal areas at St Georges Court in Tredegar?

We did... We sent a letter to all tenants reminding them of their responsibilities to clean up after their pets. At our request, Blaenau Gwent council installed “dog waste bins” and so far, the problem has been resolved.

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We have arranged with Blaenau Gwent council for its staff to carry out regular litter picks in the area.

You said... There is a problem with rubbish and fly tipping around the bins at Newtown flats in Ebbw Vale?

We did... The area has been tidied up and larger refuse bins have been provided. We will be making regular inspections to make sure the problem is kept under control.

You said... What are you doing about rubbish in the gardens of empty properties on the Bryn Farm estate in Brynmawr?

You said... We did... We contacted Blaenau Gwent council and the paths have now been cleaned. Join us on a walkabout in your neighbourhood. The idea is for staff and tenants to: • Identify improvements that they would like to see carried out to communal areas in the neighbourhood, and • Identify problems that detract from the appearance of the area, like litter on pathways, rubbish that has been dumped in communal spaces, potholes etc. We will provide refreshments for all those taking part.

Keep me! Information you may want to keep


Regular Neighbourhood Walkabouts Sirhowy Valley Neighbourhood Walk Dates Area

Meeting Point

Date of Walkabout

Georgetown

10.00 am in the car park opposite Peacehaven Court.

Tuesday 24th July

Sirhowy Lower

10.00 am St James Way car park.

Tuesday 31st July & Tuesday 4th September

Cefn Golau

10.00 am outside the Community House on Attlee Way.

Tuesday 7th August & Tuesday 25th September

Ashvale

10.00 am at the corner of Griffiths Gardens / Griffiths Square.

Tuesday 17th July & Tuesday 11th September

Town Centre

10.00 am at the car park outside St Georges Court then 10.30 am outside Deighton School.

Tuesday 14th August

Ysguborwen

10.00 am Outside Top Shop Store, Ysguborwen.

Tuesday 10th July & Tuesday 28th August

Nantybwch & Tafarnaubach

10.00 am outside the Waundeg Community Flat.

Tuesday 21st August

Dukestown

10.00 am near number 1 Ystrad Deri.

Tuesday 3rd July & Tuesday 18th September

If you want further information about the Tai Calon neighbourhood walks taking place in Tredegar, please contact Kelsey Watkins, Community Involvement & Investment Officer on 0300 303 1717.

Nantybwch & Tafarnaubach Area

Meeting Point

Date of Walkabout

Beaufort

12.00 pm at the car park to the rear Beaufort Ballroom. 12.30 pm Bryn Coch site entrance. 12.55 pm meeting at Lansbury Terrace.

Tuesday 31st July

Garnlydan

12.00 pm outside Garnlydan Club, Queensway.

Tuesday 7th August

Rassau Lower

12.00 pm outside Ty Bryn Club, Rassau Road.

Tuesday 21st August

Rassau Upper

12.00 pm outside Rassau Community Centre.

Tuesday 17th July & Tuesday 25th September

Hilltop Upper

12.00 pm outside Hilltop Shopping Centre shops.

Tuesday 4th September

Brynteg

12.00 pm outside Hilltop Shopping Centre shops.

Tuesday 14th August

Hilltop Lower

12.00 pm outside Hilltop Shopping Centre shops.

Tuesday 3rd July & Tuesday 11th September

Briery Hill

12.00 pm outside RTB Club, Drysiog Street.

Tuesday 24th July

Newtown

12.00 pm outside the entrance to Princes Court Flats.

Tuesday 28th August

Glyncoed

12.00 pm outside the entrance to Glanffrwyd Court.

Tuesday 10th July

Cwm

12.00 pm outside the entrance to the School on Curre Street.

Tuesday 18th September

If you want further information about the Tai Calon Neighbourhood Walkabouts taking place in Ebbw Vale, please contact Natasha Jones, Community Involvement & Investment Officer on 0300 303 1717.

Ebbw Fach Valley Neighbourhood Walkabouts - 10.00 am on Thursdays Area

Meeting Point

Date of Walkabout

Twyncynghordy

10.00 am outside Twyncynghordy Stores.

Thursday 2nd August

Gurnos Estate

10.00 am at the entrance to Gurnos estate.

Thursday 5th July

Bryn Farm

10.00 am - the entrance to the estate.

Thursday 26th July & Thursday 13th September

West Side, Blaina

10.00 am in the car park at Parry Jones Close.

Thursday 9th August

Winchestown

10.00 am at the entrance to Waunheulog estate.

Thursday 27th September

Coed Cae

10.00 am outside the community centre.

Thursday 30th August

Ffoesmaen

10.00 am outside the Ffoesmaen Inn.

Thursday 16th August

Cwmcelyn

10.00 am in Troed Y Bryn car park.

Thursday 6th September

Roseheyworth

10.00 am in the car park near 43 Arael View. 10.30 am car park near 79 Arael View.

Thursday 12th July

Cwmtillery

10.00 am outside the entrance to Valley View.

Thursday 23rd August

Brynithel

10.00 am - car park near number 1 Hafodarthen Bungalows.

Thursday 20th September

Swffryd

10.00 am outside Swffryd Shops.

Thursday 19th July

If you want further information about the Tai Calon Neighbourhood Walkabouts taking place in Abertillery, Blaina & Brynmawr, please contact Chloe Williams, Community Involvement & Investment Officer on 0300 303 1717.

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Tai Calon Community Housing Tenant Tai Calon Community Housing is due to appoint 3 tenants to be members of the Board. Members of the board are responsible for:

Shirley Ford

• Setting objectives and agreeing the plans to achieve the objectives • Approving budgets and accounts

• Monitoring the performance of the organisation against budgets, plans and targets • Ensuring that Tai Calon delivers the promises it has made to its tenants.

I was born in the house where I now live in Nantyglo. I married and first lived in a caravan before we were lucky to have a council home at Winchestown. As a Blaenau Gwent councillor I served on the Tai Calon board. I am now standing for election as a tenant member because I am passionate about the people and the county they live in. I want to see Tai Calon expand as a business, providing badly needed homes for local people. I am also very concerned about how the changes to welfare benefit will impact on residents and their families.

Phil White

A devoted grandfather I have lived and worked in Ebbw Vale all my life. Now retired, I am proud to have been the first ever elected tenant board member of Tai Calon. Whilst on the board I have learnt a great deal about how social housing operates and is regulated. I am standing again because I want to continue to use the experience I have gained for the benefit of tenants and Tai Calon. The board plays such a vital role in how Tai Calon operates day to day and I have the skills to help drive forward the business.

Tenant handbook Your tenancy agreement sets out the legal do’s and don’ts of renting your home from Tai Calon Community Housing. We also give new tenants a “welcome pack” which contains lots of useful information about how to contact us, what we can do for you and how to get help if things go wrong. We also include a few tea bags and a mug for life’s basic necessities.

18

Sometimes we need to update the information, or send you details about a new scheme. We want you to tell us how it should be done.

There are five options and you have until 21 July 2012 to vote on which method you prefer: 1. Tenant handbook ... the size of a hardback novel with all the

information printed on pages bound into the book. Advantage ... Everything about your tenancy and of being part of the Tai Calon family in one document. Disadvantage ... it will have to be reprinted on a regular basis and would be expensive to keep reproducing. Advantages of the four suggestions below ...cheaper to produce and easier to up date. New information will be printed in a leaflet which will either be sent


Board Members Election 2012 We need you to take part in this democratic process by voting for the 3 tenants you think should be on the Board.

Julia Gregg

This election is independently run by Central Consultancy and Training. It will be writing to you shortly with your ballot papers. Please return them to the company by 18 August, 2012.

The candidates standing in this election are shown below, together with a short paragraph about themselves. The election results will be ratified at the AGM on 24 September, 2012

I’m a Mum, who has lived in Nantyglo most of my life, and a tenant for six years. Although a qualified welder, I dedicate my time to working for my community. I’m vice-president of Parc Nant-y-Waun and volunteer for Communities First and The Friday Project working with young people on environmental schemes. I am passionate about my community and tackling poverty. People need safe, comfortable places to live and communities, in which to take a pride. I have been involved with the board since pre-transfer and want to continue to serve to ensure we deliver our promises for the benefit of tenants.

Margaret Rettalick

I have a great deal of experience in managing people and encouraging them to achieve their potential. I have worked on programmes helping the unemployed back into work. I have also been a Tredegar councillor and a Tenant Inspector with the Wales Audit Office, assessing how housing associations treated and involved their tenants. I have been involved in Tai Calon since pre-transfer and have served on the board ever since. I want to make sure the interests of tenants are upper most when decisions are taken. I particularly want to ensure that disabled and vulnerable tenants are treated according to their needs.

to all tenants, or made available on request. Disadvantage ... not a bound book.

mailed to tenants or included in the newsletter.

2. Tenant folder ... Tenants will be supplied with a folder in which they can keep their tenancy agreement and leaflets.

4. Tai Calon website ...tenants would still be provided with an agreement, but all the other information would be available online on our website.

3. Tenant Ring binder ... again the size of a hardback novel ... documents would be supplied with punch holes and can be inserted into the ring binder. Replacement leaflets would be

5. No handbook ...we continue as at present, publishing information on our website, and providing leaflets on different subjects to tenants who request them.

There are three ways in which you can vote: 1. Fill in and send back the enclosed form. 2. Vote at the tenant funday on 21 July 2012. 3. Vote on facebook. Your views are important to us, please take the time to vote and tell us what you want.

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A free, fun filled day for all the family!

The Tai Calon Games Tenant funday 11am – 4pm Saturday 21st July 2012 @ Our offices in Blaina

Win Prizes

FREE Transport Featuring: The Velcro games Gladiator jousting BRfm roadshow

Earn a free lunch!

Fairground rides Olympic themed activities

Call 0300 303 1717 now for your free ticket!


Heart of the Matter Newsletter 7  

Newsletter for Tenants of Tai Calon Community Housing.

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