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intouch ISSUE 78 | SPRING 2014 | FREE

The magazine for residents of Wales & West Housing

In this issue... A day in the life of a Scheme Manager MAD Awards 2014 – who’s your hero? Could you save money on your energy bills? Win Jack Monroe’s book

Do you have what it takes to be a

Resident Board member? Did you know that as a resident of WWH you are able to put your name forward for election to the Board, as long as your name is on your tenancy agreement and you are nominated by ten other eligible residents, writes Kathy Smart, Chair of WWH’s Board.

How to become a Resident Board member There are just five easy steps: Step 1:

You’ll be asked to attend an ‘Information Day’, where you’ll learn about WWH, the principles of governance, the way in which the Board works, the time commitment needed etc.

Step 2:

If spaces are available on the Board, next you’ll be asked to fill in a form registering your interest in becoming a Resident Board Member.

Step 3:

You’ll then meet with Anne Hinchey, Chief Executive, who will discuss with you the role and responsibilities of being a WWH Board member.

Step 4:

The next step involves completing all relevant paperwork.

Step 5:

If we have more nominees than places available we will need to hold an election. All residents are able to vote and the results are announced at WWH’s annual general meeting.

The Information Day will be held on 17 September 2014 between 10am and 4pm. Interested? To attend the Information Day please contact the Chief Executive’s section on 0800 052 2526 before 15 August 2014.

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Welcome to the spring edition of In Touch – the magazine especially for WWH residents where you’ll find our latest news and lots of useful information. It’s been an exciting few months for WWH. In April, we scooped an Environment and Energy Award for the innovative heating systems we installed for residents in Powys (page 27). Then in May, we won a UK Housing Award (the UK housing sector’s Oscars) for our Vulcan Court development in Merthyr Tydfil (page 5). Whilst on the subject of awards, nominations for our Making a Difference Awards are now open! A highlight of the WWH calendar, the ceremony recognises unsung heroes and heroines amongst our residents. This year, the awards will be held on October 10th at the Vale Hotel, Vale of Glamorgan. So, if you know someone who’s made a difference to your community or achieved something remarkable, head to page 47 to find out more about making a nomination. Also in this edition, there’s some great advice from our Tenancy Support Officers about switching your energy tariff, opening a bank account and managing your Council Tax (pages 19-22). We’re taking a fresh look at our pet policy too, following the Welsh Government’s proposal to bring in a new micro-chipping law from March 2015 (page 6). I hope you enjoy our magazine – don’t forget to let us know what you think, your comments are always welcome. Happy reading and stay In Touch.

Contents WWH News & Info Planned Maintenance Money Matters Neighbourhoods That Work Quarterly Report Healthy Living Going Green Resident Participation Charity Update Development Update Work. Skills. Experience A Day in the Life Your News and Views Birthdays and Anniversaries Competition Making a Difference Awards 2014

04 16 18 23 24 25 27 31 32 34 37 39 40 44 46 47

Did you know that you can now get more news and updates online? Follow us on twitter @wwha

Other languages and formats If you would like a copy of this edition of In Touch in Welsh or in another language or format, for example in large print, please let us know and we will help you.

Contact Us

Wales & West Housing, 3 Alexandra Gate, Ffordd Pengam, Tremorfa, Cardiff CF24 2UD.

Telephone: 0800 052 2526 Text: 07788 310420 Email: Website: You can also contact members of staff direct by their email. For example,

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Bedroom tax and disabled

We’re the top Vulcan Court

impact report

in Wales - again

adaptations campaign – In our previous edition of In Touch, we told you about our report into the impact of the spare room subsidy on disabled residents living in adapted properties. We launched our report – ‘Who Pays? – The impact of the removal of the spare room subsidy on disabled residents living in adapted properties in Wales’ and on the 6th February we were featured in the news on BBC Wales (radio and TV), ITV news and various newspapers. Interviews with resident Judith Parker and WWH’s Deputy Chief Executive, Shayne Hembrow, were broadcast on BBC Wales and ITV Wales news throughout the day, whilst discussion items on BBC Radio Wales ran from 6am to 10pm, as did reports on Radio Cymru. Print and online coverage was gained in titles including The Western Mail, The Daily Post, walesonline, The South Wales Echo and Evening Leader. Sector media coverage so far has included Inside Housing, The Housing 60 and South West Housing News. The issue is also due to be covered shortly in CHC’s Around the Houses, plus the Welsh Housing Quarterly.

Twitter was alive with tweets about the campaign, and we received cross-party responses and commitments to act from several leading politicians and stakeholders - including Conservative Shadow Housing Minister in Wales Mark Isherwood AM, Jessica Morden MP for Newport East, Leanne Wood AM, Leader of Plaid Cymru and Jocelyn Davies AM. One particularly pleasing result was the announcement by Housing Minister Carl Sargeant on February 7th (the day after our media blitz) that the Welsh Government was not only renewing its own calls on the UK Government to ditch its current policy regarding the spare room subsidy (bedroom tax) where people living in specially adapted properties are concerned, but it was also releasing an additional £1.3m to help those who are suffering financial hardship as a result of the policy. Finally, our report was also quoted in the Senedd when the bedroom tax was debated under a motion raised by Plaid Cymru, and in Parliament at the Welsh Affairs Select Committee.

not-for-profit firm

wins UK Housing Award

It has been a particularly successful six months for WWH in terms of awards and accreditations.

Our ground-breaking development, Vulcan Court in Merthyr Tydfil, has scooped one of the UK housing sector’s Oscars!

• In February, we were rated the top not-for-profit firm in Wales for the third year running by the Sunday Times Best Companies, which placed us 5th in the UK overall. Under the same process we also retained our coveted gold standard three stars Best Companies accreditation.

Vulcan Court - a 15 apartment regeneration of the formerly derelict and historic Vulcan House - won the Small Development of the Year category at the UK Housing Awards 2014 in May, beating off stiff competition from around the UK.

• Last autumn WWH was also named in 24 Housing’s inaugural Top 50 Affordable Landlords in the UK list, ranking at 42nd.

All registered social landlords with at least 250 units are subject to a regulatory financial review and are issued with a financial viability judgement. WWH was assessed in March 2014 and we again achieved the top category of “pass”, which means we are adequately resourced to meet current and future business and financial commitments. To read our Financial Viability Judgement 2014 in full, please go to our website:



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WWH Pet Policy

Respect and dignity

As part of our responsible pet ownership policy, we are:

A message from Anne Hinchey, Chief Executive of Wales & West Housing

The Welsh Government is bringing in a law that from 1st March 2015 all dogs living in Wales must be micro-chipped.

• changing our procedures, so that anyone asking for permission to keep a dog from now on will need to have it micro-chipped (if it isn’t already). • recommending that all existing dog owners get their pets micro-chipped over the next few months so they will be ready when the new law comes in. • asking residents to keep ownership details up to date with the company providing the chip. If you don’t, you could be fined and will still be responsible for any dog you sell or give to another person. To help our residents, we are working closely with the Dogs Trust, who will pay for micro-chipping for dogs at participating vets. They are also running a ‘Protect Your Pets’ scheme alongside the Cats Protection League, RSPCA and PDSA. For just £10 (instead of £200) this scheme will provide pet owners with: • • • • •

health checks de-fleaing worming micro-chipping neutering

works both ways “Much as most of us do our best to get along with each other, there are times when disagreements are inevitable and normal.

The scheme covers cats as well as dogs, along with other small pets such as guinea pigs and rabbits. In some areas, anyone within a certain postcode range can benefit from the scheme irrespective of income, whilst in other places it is only open to people on any means-tested benefits, including working families’ tax credits (meanstested element only). For more information about scheme dates and conditions in your area, speak to your local Housing Officer or Community Development Project Officer.

In addition, the Dogs Trust is planning to run some free micro-chipping events for dogs throughout Wales in the near future – we’ll let our residents know once the dates are announced.

This, of course, includes times when WWH staff will have disagreements with you, our residents. What is not normal, however, and what we will not tolerate, is when our staff suffer abuse from any resident or visitor to their household, whether in person, by telephone, in any correspondence to us or in any other format. If any member of our staff becomes the victim of a personal attack, or if derogatory terms are used against WWH staff, firstly they will make it clear to any resident involved that these comments are unacceptable and will not be tolerated. They will then immediately contact their line manager, who will begin an investigation into the complaint. In some instances, it may be enough for the line manager to speak to the resident by telephone, or conduct a

home visit with the housing officer, to discuss the incident with them. However there are occasions where the incidents require legal action and we have been very successful of late in obtaining legal undertakings on two individuals for abuse to staff, and in one extreme case, we are in the process of seeking possession of an individual’s home.

So please, remember that respect and dignity work both ways.”

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Teenage Digital Champions

support in facilitating this particular session, as well as The Transformation Trust.”

bridge the online

generation gap Tech-savvy teens recently teamed up with our older residents at Oldwell Court, Cardiff, to help get them online. Sixth-formers from Michaelston Community College joined residents at our retirement scheme in Penylan to show them how to use the internet.

Oldwell Court resident Anne Halliday, 62, said: “I’ve had an amazing time and learnt a lot. Jacob showed me how to get things done faster with Facebook and Twitter.

The event was part of WWH’s Digital Inclusion Programme, and supports our commitment to rolling out free Wi-Fi broadband to as many of our residents across Wales as possible.

“My tablet is only a few months old and because I’ve had a stroke it has helped me tremendously with my memory, as well as opening up a new world to me.

It was also the first time that a social housing provider in Wales has joined forces with the BT Digital Champions project, facilitated by the Transformation Trust.

Residents from Oldwell Court get online

“I think having the students here to teach us is a fantastic idea for us oldies. Some may think that we can’t do certain things, but, as I say, we can do anything as long as we are helped a little to get started.”

Wendy McCarthy with student Daniel Allen

Michaelston Community College student Jason Williams, 17, said: “I was pretty surprised how well the residents picked everything up. I went through social media, email access and getting on the internet- a bit of everything really. I also set up one lady, Jean, with her own email and Facebook account, helped her with her passwords and gave details on where to keep them all safe.” Richard Troote, Head of Information Communications Technology at WWH, said: “I am delighted at just how successful this day was. The students did a great job in helping our residents gain the most from the internet and the equipment that they already have, and I am thrilled that they are making arrangements to repeat this session on a regular basis. The students themselves will also benefit, because not only do they have the chance to share their skills, they also gain credits towards their Welsh Baccalaureate studies. “It is our intention to conduct as many sessions like this as we can, working with our older residents and students across Wales. I would like to take this opportunity to thank BT Digital Champions for their

Gemma Jones, Welsh Baccalaureate Administrator from Michaelston Community College, said: “Michaelston Community College & Glyn Derw High School believes that every person should have the opportunity to get online, with access to knowledge at their fingertips. This training will open doors for many and allow them to lead happier and more fulfilled lives. Our students are dedicated to helping the community and take pride in doing so as part of their Welsh Baccalaureate qualification.” Ann Beynon, BT Director Wales, said: “School children today have a natural affinity with technology, so it is great that over a thousand students in Wales have contributed by sharing their skills with people who stand to gain most. Becoming a digital champion transforms the children too and gives them the confidence to realise that they can make a difference to society.”

Student Jacob Durbin with Anne Halliday

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and complex transformed as

Working with SWFRS

at West Lee WWH has been working with South Wales Fire and Rescue Service (SWFRS) to enhance fire safety at our West Lee scheme in Cardiff. A series of fire exercises have been carried out at the complex, with local fire crews conducting their third practice earlier this May. The new directional signage at the scheme proved to be hugely beneficial to the fire fighters, allowing them to navigate West Lee with much more ease.

It is hoped that the exercises, along with further fire safety improvements recently made at West Lee, will help to ensure the safety of our residents in a fire emergency.

work nears completion Building work at our West Lee complex on Cowbridge Road East, Cardiff, is now in its final stages. West Lee’s 130 flats and maisonettes required substantial concrete, roof and masonry repairs, which began in August 2013. We have replaced all timber items - such as downpipes and facia boards with UPVC, and given the building a new lease of life by painting throughout the complex. A range of energy efficiency-based improvements have also been made, including the replacement of all existing single-glazed aluminium framed windows with A rated double-glazed UPVC windows. Those residents whose properties face on to the busy thoroughfare of Cowbridge Road East have also had acoustic glazing fitted in order to dampen road noise.

Cavity wall insulation has been upgraded in all of West Lee’s flat blocks and we have provided free boilers for three leaseholder residents through the Affordable Warmth Scheme. Fire doors have been fitted in properties for health and safety purposes, and the team is now in the process of replacing all communal area and stairway doors. Finally, a new signage system has been developed to benefit residents, visitors and emergency services and the old key lock entrances have been replaced with a fob entry system, with new UPVC external doors.

We expect all work at the West Lee scheme to be completed by the end of May 2014.

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Minister officially opens Llys Jasmine during Dementia Awareness Week

Cllr Aaron Shotton, WWH Chair Kathy Smart and Housing Minister Carl Sargeant open Llys Jasmine

Housing and Regeneration Minister, Carl Sargeant AM, officially opened Llys Jasmine - a £9.8m complex of 61 apartments and two extra care bungalows - on Thursday 22 May. The opening took place during National Dementia Awareness Week. The state-of-the-art scheme, part funded by a £6.07m Social Housing Grant from the Welsh Government, has been developed by WWH in partnership with Flintshire County Council and includes 15 purpose-built apartments for people with dementia. It is believed to be one of the first of its kind in Wales to include such purpose-built apartments for people living with dementia. Llys Jasmine offers independent living backed by 24 hour on-site care and support, for people aged 65 and over in Flintshire.

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Minister visits

Key features of the development, which has been designed by architects Ainsley Gommon and built by Anwyl Construction, include: • apartments designed to be adapted to residents’ changing needs • 24 hour on-site care and support • communal self-service restaurant providing hot meals for residents • community multi-function rooms • hairdressing and laundry facilities • sheltered courtyard garden and usable garden space designed to encourage exercise and an active lifestyle • state-of-the-art call care system • passive ventilation and intelligent heating design Kathy Smart, Chair of WWH, said: “I’m delighted that the Minister was able to open Llys Jasmine, our first extra care and dementia development. For us, Llys Jasmine is a significant milestone and we would like to thank our partners, Flintshire County Council and the Welsh Government, for helping to make this possible.” Housing Minister Carl Sargeant said: “I visited the Llys Jasmine site in July last year to see progress on the building of the scheme, and I’m delighted with the results. It’s clear the state-of-the-art facilities are going to make a real difference to the lives of its residents and provide the extra care and dementia care they need. “The scheme will also be a great benefit to the local community who will be able

award-winning green

heating systems in Powys The Minister chats to happy Llys Jasmine residents about their new home

to make use of the communal spaces which will help build links between residents and the wider area. “I’m pleased the Welsh Government has provided a £6.7m Social Housing Grant to establish Llys Jasmine and support older people who require a level of care to maintain their independent lifestyle in a home of their own.”

The Minister talks to residents Mr and Mrs Bibb about their new efficient heating system

Housing Minister Carl Sargeant with the WWH, Thermal Earth and Cambria team in Mill View Close, Howey

Housing Minister Carl Sargeant also visited some of our residents in Mill View Close Howey, Llandrindod Wells, recently to see their new renewable heating systems. WWH has been working with heating specialists Thermal Earth to install the air source heat pumps, in order to tackle fuel poverty amongst rural residents who are not able to benefit from mains gas supplies. The installation of the pumps in neighbouring Clos Llwynbrain last year led to WWH winning the Renewables Innovation category at the 2014 Environment and Energy Awards. Brian and Joyce Bibb, who have lived in Mill View Close for 30 years, are delighted with the new heating system. Brian, 66, said: “It’s easy to use and the house is lovely and warm. I can’t fault the chaps from Thermal Earth at all -they were clean and tidy and so helpful throughout the whole process.” The Minister said: “It’s great to see this fine example of how the energy efficiency of homes in Wales can be improved. Thanks to the latest technology, these homes are now much more environmentally friendly and the investment means that the tenants can look forward to reduced energy bills and warmer homes.”

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Major improvements

Nant y Môr set

Our renovation work at our Caerau Court scheme in west Cardiff continues, with many major improvements made since work started in August 2013.


continue at Caerau Court

Richard Tamlin (L) and Shaun Williams (R) from SMK Building and Maintenance with Kate Solomon from WWH at Caerau Court

Although the poor weather over the winter months resulted in some delays, much of the work has now been completed at the site. The exterior walls of the maisonette and flat buildings have been insulated, repaired, painted and enhanced. Asbestos removal has been carried out, new external lighting fitted and the porch roofs at the entrances to the flat blocks replaced. Following funding from the Welsh Government’s Arbed scheme, WWH has also made several energy efficiency improvements at Caerau Court. These include the installation of new boilers, Flatmaster ventilation systems and voltage optimizers - which we believe will help our residents to save up to 8% on electricity bills. So that no residents were left at a disadvantage, we also funded the upgrade of inefficient boilers at those properties that did not qualify for Arbed funding. Internally, we have fitted integrated reception systems (IRS) in the flat communal areas, so residents no longer need to pay for satellite dishes to be installed at their properties. This also

to celebrate 3rd

Residents had a great time together enjoying their exercise class with trainer Annaleah Lowe recently. The classes were funded by Denbighshire County Council Caerau Court, Cardiff

improves the appearance of our buildings at Caerau Court, to which end we have fitted external trunking to hide wiring. The final phase of work at the scheme continues now, with the team replacing roof coverings and putting in roof insulation. We’ll then move on to improving drainage work, installing new railings on the maisonettes, reinstating garden areas and fitting new windows for house leaseholders, for which we will cover half of the cost.

Residents and staff at Nant y Môr extra care housing scheme are looking forward to celebrating the scheme’s third anniversary on 19th June. It was the first extra care housing scheme to be developed by WWH in partnership with Denbighshire County Council and provides state-of-the-art facilities for the over 60s. Residents enjoy the freedom of living independent lives under one roof, with the reassurance that they are safe and comfortable and have access to care staff 24 hours a day.

Facilities include apartments with ensuite level access showers and fully fitted kitchens, a self-service restaurant serving nutritious locally produced food, terraces and roof gardens, a garden room, laundrette, on-site parking, lounges, a guest suite, hairdresser and social club.

For more information on Nant y M�r, please visit or call 0800 052 2526.

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Planned Maintenance

Fferm Y Bryn Residents



Carlsgate, Hay on Wye, Powys Brynawelon, Llanwrtyd Wells, Powys Maes Y Ffynnon, Crickhowell, Powys

Llys Colwyn, Colwyn Bay, Conwy

Residents at Fferm Y Bryn, Ystrad Mynach, are pleased with their new guest room which has recently been refitted by GKR.

The new room has twin beds, wardrobe and cupboard space as well as tea and coffee making facilities.


Victoria Road, Rhyl, Denbighshire Maes Y Ffynnon, Crickhowell, Powys

The room previously lacked an en-suite bathroom, and guests had to use the communal toilet which was situated across the corridor.

The kitchen was also refurbished so that more residents could easily use the facilities. There is now an eye level oven, which is much safer and the residents are happy to use it for their luncheon club.

Below are the schemes that we plan to upgrade for the remainder of 2014.

Cwrt Bannau, Crickhowell, Powys Richway Court, Brecon, Powys Oxford House, Brecon, Powys Clos Pontganol, Crickhowell, Powys Quay Wharf, Connah’s Quay, Flintshire Emlyn Williams Court, Connah’s Quay, Flintshire St John’s Way, Connah’s Quay, Flintshire Sullivans Rise, Connah’s Quay, Flintshire


Fuel Switch Rowan Court, Cardiff St John Street, Ogmore Vale, Bridgend

are thrilled with new guest room and kitchen

With the room completely redecorated and new carpets fitted, guests - who used to stay at local B&Bs - can now enjoy being in comfort and close to their relatives when visiting. The new guest room

Windows Hanover Court, Llandudno, Conwy – communal areas only

Scheme Manager Frances Hall said: “It wasn’t a brilliant room here; the old smoking room was converted to the guest room, but this year we were lucky to have a shower room fitted. It’s brilliant, the residents are thrilled and the room has already been used. We hope it gets used far more. When residents aren’t well it’s nice to know that their visiting friends or family members can be close. It’s worth its weight in gold. We charge a minimum of £4 per night. This new transformation will lead to more bookings for friends and relatives to visit and the money will help with the cost of the service charges at the scheme.”

Additional kitchen units, worktops, an integrated fridge freezer and worktop space in the communal area have also been installed.

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PH Jones Winners You could win a bouquet of flowers, chocolates and a cheque for £250!

To qualify, all you need to do is have your gas boiler serviced on the first appointment or give us at least 48 hours’ notice to postpone the visit. It’s simple and you too could be a WINNER! Having your boiler inspected annually gives you peace of mind, as well as keeping your home safe and warm.

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Money Matters: switching energy suppliers

The LUCKY WINNERS of the 4th Quarter are:

Donna Steven, Tenancy Support Officer

Helpline on 0800 074 0745 for all the advice you need on switching.

David and Janet Myles, of Buxton Court, Rhyl. “I’m really pleased – over the moon! I have never won anything before. We will spend the money on decorating and getting a new carpet for our flat. We’ve lived here for seven years and love it here,” said Mr Myles.

When money is tight, it sometimes seems that a prepayment energy meter is a good option- you pay for what you use and don’t get into debt.

Even if you have debts, as long as they are less than £500 you will still be able to switch. For those on low incomes and in financial hardship, all suppliers have an obligation to assist the most vulnerable in society to be able to heat their homes. If you qualify for the Warm Home Discount, you will receive £140 towards bills from your energy supplier. You will need to contact your energy provider in September/October in order to see if you qualify for the discount - it’s on a first come, first serve basis, so don’t delay.

Miss Sarah Sherlock of Glenbrook Close, Barry in the Vale of Glamorgan, is going to treat herself with her winnings.

Some people choose the prepayment option to help them manage their budget. What many do not know, however, is just how costly prepayment meters are; many are around £200 more per year than a credit meter. By changing from a prepayment meter, you can save a lot of money. You’ll find that the best deals and the biggest savings to be made are on credit meters, where you pay your energy provider by Direct Debit every month. If you are already on a credit meter, then check your tariff each year against other companies in order to ensure you’re still getting the best deal out there. It’s not difficult to change companies; in fact, it’s easier to switch now than it has ever been. Check on one of the comparison websites, such as Martin Lewis Money Saving Expert, or contact the Energy

Finally, if you are on a prepayment meter and still aren’t sure about removing it, spread the cost throughout the year. Keep putting credit into the account each week during the warmer months so that you are not hit so hard during the winter. It will also give you confidence that you will manage switching to a credit meter in the future.

For more information on saving money and budgeting, contact your Tenancy Support Officer by calling 0800 052 2526.


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Getting help with

your Council Tax

Over the past few months, we have heard from a number of residents who have fallen into Council Tax arrears. Council Tax is known as a ‘priority’ debt (along with your rent), meaning that you face the worst consequences if you fail to pay it. In the case of Council Tax, this would usually mean a bailiff calling at your home to remove any items of value or an order being attached to your wages. You will also be liable for the legal costs involved. Don’t worry, however, as these consequences can be avoided if you simply get in touch with your local council if you find yourself in difficulty. Let them know as soon as

possible that you are struggling to pay your Council Tax and they will be able to advise you of your options. These can include spreading payments over 12 months rather than the traditional 10 months, or arranging a more affordable payment plan. Don’t forget that we also offer independent money advice and have dedicated Tenancy Support Officers who can assist you if you’re facing financial difficulties.

Early action in these matters will make them a lot easier to resolve, so please don’t hesitate to contact us if you find yourself in arrears.

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Opening a

bank account Do you have a bank account? If not, then you may be missing out on the benefits of having one… Bank accounts allow you to pay your bills by Direct Debit, meaning you don’t have to worry about remembering pay dates, or go out of your way to visit a shop or Post Office to pay bills. They’re also a great way to save money, as most utility providers offer lower prices to customers who pay by Direct Debit. Many also give rewards to those who set up a Direct Debit payment– here at WWH, we enter our residents who pay by Direct Debit into our quarterly prize draw, where they can win £100. If you do not have a bank account, it’s worth looking into opening a basic account which will allow you to receive money and pay bills. Basic accounts are a great option for those who’ve been turned down for current accounts, and they’re very easy to use. A basic account will allow you to: • have wages, salary, benefits, pensions and tax credits paid straight into your account • pay cheques in for free (as long as they’re not in foreign currency) • get money out over the counter or from a cashpoint machine

• pay your bills by Direct Debit or standing order • pay money in over the counter • check your account balance over the counter or at a cashpoint machine • Some accounts will also give you a debit card Another benefit of basic accounts is that they don’t have a minimum amount you have to pay in each month - ideal if you are on a low income. Also, basic accounts do not let you go overdrawn, which means many banks will not require you to pass a credit check before opening one. Although you can’t go overdrawn with a basic account, it’s important to know that if there’s not enough money in your account to cover a standing order or Direct Debit, the bank can refuse to pay it, which means you may be charged. Checking your balance regularly will help you to make sure there’s enough money in your account to cover any bills you have due to go out. As long as you manage your money, you won’t have any problems. Opening a basic account is a simple process and the bank will do all the hard work for you; you’ll just need to take a proof of identity and address. Check with your bank to see what documents you need in order to open your account.

If you want more advice on opening a bank account or need a hand in doing so, speak to your Tenancy Support Officer.

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Need advice about

your benefits? If you need help and guidance about disability and sickness benefits, then is a great website and source of invaluable advice for you.

If you are struggling to claim or appeal an Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Personal

Independence Payment (PIP) or Disability Living Allowance (DLA) decision, then this website will be able to help. You can also speak to our Tenancy Support Officers, who will be able to provide you with advice about your benefits.

Direct Debit

Bucking the trend with


Recently the media reported a rise in the number of evictions of social housing tenants, particularly after the introduction of welfare reforms. However, in complete contrast, we are bucking this trend.



In we evicted a total of households: 3 for anti-social behaviour and 43 for rent arrears.

YOU could WIN £100 just by paying your rent by Direct Debit. It’s so simple to set up a Direct Debit payment, just contact your Housing Officer or our Customer Service Centre on 0800 052 2526 and you’ll qualify for the draw too. The winner for the last quarter is Mr Brandwood from Prestatyn, who received his £100 cheque from Scheme Manager Helen Jones.

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These figures represent a drop of 67% over a seven year period.

Our winner Mr Brandwood with Scheme Manager Helen Jones

Lynnette Glover, Head of Housing at WWH, attributes this drop to a “complete change in our culture which has seen us put the needs of our customers first.”

67% In 2013 we evicted just 16 households: 6 for anti-social behaviour and 10 for rent arrears.

She continues: “We work hard to help people to keep their tenancies, with eviction being the last resort. Our new approach includes innovative rent panels, in which persistent non-payers are given a significant last chance to address their problems and make a lasting arrangement which will tackle their arrears. These have been praised by the judiciary in Wales.”

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Quarterly Report Since 2012, we have been telling you how we are doing as a business with our regular What Matters To You section in In Touch and on our website. We’d like to take a fresh look at how we do this as we think there may be better ways to share such information with you. So in order to help us, we would love to hear your ideas on the kind of information you’d like us to share with you which will show how we are doing. Things like, for example, how much rent we have gathered, how many repairs we have done, how long it takes us to complete a repair and how long it takes us to let a property.

What matters to you? Here’s the latest edition of our regular feature on performance across all areas of service delivery at Wales & West Housing. We update our performance information every three months, so we hope this will be as useful and relevant as possible for you. Regular readers of In Touch will already be aware we have previously focused on Lettings, Rents and Repairs, and, in a separate article about communities that work.

However we would like to know if there are any other areas you would like to know about for us to focus on in the future. Have you got a particular interest in an area of our work? Just let us know and we will happily tell you about it!

So how well are we doing across all areas of the business? (All information relates to January - June 2013)

2564 Number of Rented Accounts in Arrears




% of accounts where an agreed payment plan is in place


With all the changes in Welfare Reform this continues to be a very challenging time for residents. Our staff are working hard to help and support them with their rent payments. We have employed Tenancy Support Officers (TSOs) who continue to assist those residents affected by the bedroom tax, with a focus on those who are struggling to pay or want to move. Assistance includes help with money and debt advice, with a focus on creating sustainable budgets, and completing applications for Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP), grants, assistance funds, benefit and/or transfer applications.

There are several ways you can tell us what information you would like to see: • Email us at heading your email with the words ‘In Touch – Quarterly Reports’ • Text us on 07788 310420 • Write to us at: In Touch Quarterly Report, c/o PR & Communications, Wales & West Housing, 3 Alexandra Gate, Ffordd Pengam, Cardiff CF24 2UD • Call us on freephone 0800 052 2526 and ask to speak to a member of the PR & Communications Team.

Stroke Prevention How to change your lifestyle

and reduce your risk Our current staff nominated charity is the Stroke Association Wales, for whom WWH has so far raised £24,851. In this article, you’ll find advice on how you can change your lifestyle to reduce your risk, and also how you can recognize the signs of a stroke.

What is a stroke?

A stroke happens when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off, which can be caused by a blockage in one of the blood vessels leading to the brain, or a bleed in the brain. It can affect the way the body functions, thought processes and how someone feels and communicates.

Cutting the risk

There are many lifestyle factors that can increase your risk of having a stroke. Taking steps to change these risk factors will help you to reduce your chance of having a stroke. Smoking: Smoking causes your arteries to fur up and makes your blood more likely to clot. If you smoke, you are twice as likely to have a stroke, and this risk will increase the more you smoke. Stopping smoking will reduce

your risk of a stroke – no matter how old you are or how long you have smoked. Call Stop Smoking Wales on 0800 085 2219 or visit for advice on quitting. Alcohol: Drinking too much alcohol raises your blood pressure. Binge drinking is particularly dangerous as it can cause your blood pressure to rise very quickly. If you have any problems controlling how much you drink, talk to your doctor. Diet: Eating well is essential for a healthy bloodstream. A good balanced diet can help prevent stroke, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Try and eat at least five portions of fruit or veg a day, cut down on red meat, eat plenty of fibre and reduce the amount of salt and fat in your diet.

26 | | intouch | Healthy Living Exercise: Just 30 minutes of regular exercise five days a week can halve your risk of having a stroke. You don’t have to do it all in one go – it’s just as effective to exercise a few times a day in 10 or 15 minute sessions.

Weight: Being overweight puts you at risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and type 2 diabetes - all of which increase your risk of a stroke. A healthy diet and regular exercise will help you to lose or control your weight.

For further information and advice, contact the Stroke Association on 0303 3033 100 or email


Recognising a stroke You can recognise a stroke by using the FAST test:

Facial weakness: Can the person smile? Has their mouth or eye drooped? Arm weakness: Can the person raise both arms? Speech problems: Can the person speak clearly and understand what you say? Time to call 999 If a person fails any one of these tests, get help immediately by dialling 999. A speedy response can help reduce the damage to a person’s brain and improve their chances of a full recovery.

Going Green | intouch | | 27

We’ve won a top

eco award! Litter picking

WWH has won the Renewables Innovation Category of the prestigious Environment and Energy Awards 2014 for work it has carried out in Powys.

WWH, which manages more than 800 properties in Powys and is in the process of building a further 70 new affordable homes in the county, won the award for work carried out in Llwynbrain Close, Howey. State-of-the-art air source heat pumps were retrofitted in 15 properties along with solar thermal panels, in order to cut energy waste and reduce energy costs for our rural residents.


lend a hand at


litter pick

good in Merthyr! Herman Valentin, our Community Development Officer, joined residents and young people on Twyncarmel estate in Merthyr Tydfil recently for a litter pick.

Supported by Keep Wales Tidy and the Neighbourhood Policing Team, the group managed to fill the back of the council’s Tidy Towns lorry with black bags. Well done to all involved!

Children from Barracksfield in Hightown, Wrexham, lent a helping hand at a recent litter pick on the estate. The youngsters also weeded some of the community’s raised beds. A big well done to all the children who helped!

28 | | intouch | Going Green

Going Green | intouch | | 29

We had a Wild

Sarah joins the environment team!

We’ve had so many requests from residents to develop community gardens that we’ve had to enlist the help of Sarah Willcox, our new Environmental Assistant, to respond to the demand! Sarah will be working full-time on helping residents who want to develop community gardens, wildflower areas and other environmental projects. Sarah says: “I’m so excited to be working with our residents, helping to improve the environment and making our communal gardens more productive food growing areas.”

Sarah (centre) has recently joined the team and will be helping our residents with environmental projects.

Our environment fund is available to groups of residents who want to work together on environmental projects. If you and your neighbours have a project that you would like assistance with, then call 0800 052 25 26 and ask for Sarah Willcox, or email

The environment team loves to hear feedback like this from residents: “Just want to say thank you on behalf of our residents for your help in getting the raised bed. Sarah, Ian, Phil and Marcelle worked so hard this morning putting it together and did a great job, we are very grateful to them all. The residents are over the moon with it.”

Weekend for Wales!

Fourteen WWH schemes enjoyed sprucing up their gardens after being awarded National Garden Centre vouchers as part of Keep Wales Tidy’s ‘Have a Wild Weekend for Wales’ campaign. Funded by Welsh Government and Natural Resources Wales, the aim of the weekend-long campaign was to encourage people to improve food sources and natural habitat for pollinators in Wales. The following schemes were awarded £100 vouchers: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14.

Sylvester Court retirement scheme, Wrexham Llys Binwydden supported scheme, Mold Hanover Court retirement scheme, Llandudno Llys Jasmine extra care scheme, Mold (£150 voucher) Nant Y Mor Extra care scheme, Prestatyn (£150 voucher) Caerau Potters, Caerau, Cardiff Oakmeadow Court leasehold retirement scheme, St Mellons, Cardiff Western Court, Bridgend St Catherine Court retirement scheme, Caerphilly St Michaels Close, Tongwynlais (north Cardiff) Wilfred Brook House retirement scheme , Grangetown, Cardiff St Mellons Community Garden, St Mellons, Cardiff Hanover Court retirement scheme, Barry Oldwell Court retirement scheme, Penylan, Cardiff

KWT Wild Weekend - Llys Binwydden

Most of the schemes spent money on planting pollinator-friendly herb gardens and buying plants including poppy seeds and compost. Lesley Jones, Chief Executive of Keep Wales Tidy, said: “I am delighted that so many groups across Wales got involved to help our pollinators and their natural environment. They have planted new flowering plants to attract our bees and butterflies as well as giving existing habitats a helping hand.” Anne Hinchey, Chief Executive of WWH, said: “It’s fantastic that 14 of our schemes have been awarded the vouchers to help make their gardens look more attractive and help the natural environment. Keep Wales Tidy helps make a difference to our neighbourhoods.”

KWT Wild Weekend - Sylvester Court residents

30 | | intouch | Going Green

Residents’ garden plans grow thanks to funding WWH has helped create a wildlife butterfly garden and a sensory garden for residents at the Cil y Coed scheme in Henllan, Denbighshire. The scheme is a mix of affordable housing and supported living for young adults with additional needs. The garden project was also part-funded by Cadwyn Clwyd, as part of the Axis 4 Rural Development Plan for Wales. Sarah Jones, Environment & Heritage Officer at Cadwyn Clwyd, said: The gardens will provide much needed outdoor space for the residents at Cil y Coed and act as a useful resource for the wider community.”

Helen D’Aulby, Chair of Henllan’s Conservation Group said: “Wales & West Housing wanted to create open spaces here, and we worked with them to plan the development of a bio-diverse nectar rich habitat to support butterflies, insects and wildlife. Anne Hinchey, Chief Executive of WWH, said: “I’m delighted with this news. The funding will really help make a difference to our residents’ lives as we can now make their wishes for the wildflower butterfly and sensory gardens come true.”

Resident Participation | intouch | | 31

Make It Happen - we did in


Bridgend! Brackla Parents’ Committee hosted a brilliant Easter Fun Day with the help of one of our Make It Happen grants. The grant paid for the hire of a bouncy castle, facepainting / glitter tattoo kits, tea urns, food and candyfloss making materials, amongst other items. The group of mums manned stalls and put on a range of entertainment for local families, including a sweet shop and raffle. All funds raised from the event will go towards trips for families living in the Brackla area. Our Make It Happen grants provide up to £500 to help you put on community activities where you live. The money can be used for a range of activities and events; from gardening and crafts, to cooking and computing - or anything else that would benefit your community. You don’t have to be a formal residents’ group to apply, just some enthusiastic neighbours with a good idea! As well as providing support with the Make It Happen grant, we can also help you to:

Cil y Coed, Henllan

• find out what activities residents are interested in where you live

Residents enjoying the Easter Fun Day, Brackla

• start up new gardening projects for growing fruit and veg with our Environment Grant • learn how to use computers by bringing in tutors to teach you at your scheme, estate or nearby • get free local training to help you carry out your new activity, such as first aid or food hygiene certificates • get free residential training at Trafford Hall (National Communities Resource Centre) such as gardening, newsletter writing and team building. These courses also have a linked grant you could apply to for your activity or group (constituted groups only). If you’d like to know more, contact Claire Hammond, Resident Participation Strategy Officer, on 0800 052 2526 or email

32 | | intouch | Charity Update

Andy is a WINNER training it was so hard to do nothing. The doctor’s orders definitely helped, however, as my knee fully recovered before the run.

“I have finally completed my journey and finished the London Marathon! “When I started running in 2012, the idea of doing a marathon seemed an impossible task as I could barely run 5km. However, on the 13th April I managed to complete the marathon (26.2 miles) in 4:03.26, which I was very happy with seeing as it was my first one.  “The training was hard going, and the 6 months from when I found out I had got into the marathon to completing it seemed to last forever.  The cold, dark nights in December and January were the most difficult, but I was so committed to completing the marathon that I never missed a run. “I experienced the highs and lows in training- a real low was when I injured my knee 7 weeks before the marathon.  I was told by the doctor to rest for 2-3 weeks; at such a crucial time of

“The week building up to the marathon was really exciting- plus I could eat whatever I wanted to build up my energy stores! I travelled with my family - who had come along to support me - to London on the Saturday. It was on the train that it all became real and I started to get pretty nervous knowing I had to run 26.2 miles the following day. After registering and picking up my timing chip and race number in London, I knew then there was no turning back.  I hardly slept that night, as all I could think was ‘am I able to run 26.2 miles?’ “The morning of the run was more relaxed. It was exciting waiting amongst the thousands of other runners on the start line.  The weather was really warm and a lot hotter than I had trained in, but on the positive side it meant thousands of spectators had come out to watch and support the marathon runners. “I felt fine for most of the run- when I passed my family at mile 17 and saw my son, that gave me a real boost.  As the miles passed by I could feel my energy levels dropping and it became harder, but I managed to keep pushing until mile 24...when I hit the dreaded wall.  It was nothing I had ever

Charity Update | intouch | | 33 experienced before; my legs just didn’t want to move. The mental battle was the worst, as my brain was telling me to stop for the last 2.2 miles.  It was the support from the crowd that got me over the finishing line. The sheer relief that it was all over when I crossed the line was overwhelming.  I didn’t quite manage my target of going under 4 hours, but I will definitely break 4 hours when I do my next one. Yes, the experience has not put me off attempting another marathon! “The hours after the run and the next day were pretty sore- my whole body ached.  However, it was all worth it as for such a great cause, namely the Stroke Association.  My grand total raised was £3684.29 (including gift aid). “I would just like to thank everyone who has helped me throughout this process and Wales & West Housing and GKR & Restruct Ltd for supporting me. The many generous donations from staff helped me to reach my total, which will go a long way in helping people who’ve suffered from a stroke.” Andrew Pritchard, Housing Officer WWH.

Residents rally together in aid of

Motor Neurone Disease Association Last August, Mrs Gent - a resident at our Cwrt Anghorfa scheme in Bridgend - sadly lost her niece to Motor Neurone Disease. “Mrs Gent had a tough time and many of the residents rallied round to offer comfort and support,” said Lucy Clewlow, Scheme Manager. “Everyone agreed that the money raised at our fete in November would be donated to the Motor Neurone Disease Association.   “Lesley Frost, from the MND Association, came to Cwrt Anghorfa in February, where she was presented with the residents’ donation by Mrs Gent. Lesley was great, and took the time to speak with us about MND and how donated money is put to use. “The residents are now planning a sponsored walk in Margam Park later this year in order to raise more money for the MND Association. We hope to get lots of people involved.”

The Grand Total so far raised for the Stroke Association is £24,851 and Wales & West Housing Charitable donations during 2013 amounted to £17,126. Mrs Alfreda Gent presents a cheque to Lesley Frost of the MND Association

34 | | intouch | Development Update

Development Update | intouch | | 35

Development Mayor visits Update


More affordable

new homes for the over 50s in Cardiff We have transformed a derelict warehouse on Elm Street, Roath, into 10 brand new flats for the over 50s, providing more affordable housing in a popular area of the city. The development, which consists of 4 two bed properties and 6 one bed properties with on-site parking, is the first older person’s residence to be built by WWH in Cardiff for many years. The flat complex forms an extension of our existing Willow Court retirement scheme and was built following the allocation of a social housing grant by the Welsh Government. Work started at the site during the summer months of 2013 and is due to be completed this June. Existing Willow Court residents have welcomed the development of the previously derelict land, telling us that the new flats add vibrancy to the scheme.

40 new homes

coming to Porthcawl, Bridgend

We are now on site at New Road, Porthcawl, building 40 one and two bedroom apartments in partnership with Bridgend County Borough Council, using funding drawn from the Welsh Housing Finance Grant. Contractor Jehu is building the apartments above a new Morrisons supermarket on the brownfield site, which formerly held two homes. The £3.8m build – designed by architects Spring Design - will be affordable properties for rent and low-cost ownership. So far, the build is going well and we hope to have the new apartments ready for tenants in March 2015.

The Mayor of Wrexham, Cllr David Bithell and his wife Virginia, recently visited residents in our new Hightown development on Kingsmills Road. Resident Tina Devlin showed the Mayor around her spacious apartment and told him: “I’m over the moon and will never move again!” He then visited her sister Gwendy Sydenham. “I love my home,” she said. “I can look over my garden fence and keep an eye on my sister.”

The Mayor said: “This development has improved Hightown 100%. It’s great to see residents settling in and enjoying the new state-of-the-art facilities. The community resource centre and medical centre are outstanding.” Located in the heart of Wrexham, the centre offers classes and rooms at affordable prices for individuals, families and local businesses to enjoy. To make a booking, please ring 0300 123 20 70. You can also visit

36 | | intouch |Development Update

Former garage site makes

way for social housing The former Slaters garage site on Bridge Street, Abergele, has been demolished to make way for an exciting new development of 23 homes to help meet the need for social housing in the area. The £2.3 million development has been proposed by WWH to provide a new residential scheme next to its other popular scheme, Ty Gwyn Jones. An informal open evening was held for local residents in December to see the plans, and their initial feedback to the proposals was positive. Craig Sparrow, Development Manager for WWH, said: “We’re really pleased with comments made so far from residents, who generally seem to welcome the scheme. We are proposing to build a mixture of 2 and 3 bedroomed houses and flats and will organise a proper formal consultation with the local community before building begins.” Anne Hinchey, Chief Executive of WWH, said: “The proposed development provides an answer to the need for affordable housing in Abergele as well as boosting the economy and giving the local community work and training opportunities.”

Cllr Phil Edwards, Conwy Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities, said: “Providing good quality, affordable housing for people who live in Conwy is a major priority for the Council and this new development in Abergele is an excellent example of how partnership working is helping us to achieve this.”

Work. Skills. Experience | intouch | | 37

Jack times it right with


“The development cost has been funded partly through Welsh Government Housing Revenue Grant secured by Conwy County Borough Council, and by private finance funded by Wales & West. It’s particularly pleasing to see a brownfield site near the centre of town being brought back into use.”

For more information on the proposed development, please call 0800 052 2526.

Jack Donald, 21, has never looked back since he joined WWH’s Development Team in Flint for a year’s work experience. Jack, whose family lives in Northwich, Cheshire, is studying for a Building Surveying degree at Leeds Metropolitan University and needed to gain practical work experience. “I wanted to go into construction as my dad is a developer. I love my course as it is challenging – last year I learnt about surveys, construction drawings, CAD, construction technology, contract law and the environment.

But it’s not until you are out on site and see developments progress from planning to completion that it all comes alive.” Jack also timed it right – when he sent out 60 letters to different organisations last year, he only received 10 replies, one of which was from Craig Sparrow, Development Manager at WWH. “I was so pleased and relieved – I was the first one at uni to get a placement. Not everyone did, as the construction industry was still feeling the effects of the recession,” said Jack. The work placement was just the icing on the cake. At the end of January, Jack was offered a paid contract for the remainder of his academic year. “I’ve been so lucky working at Wales & West Housing. I’ve been given the opportunity to work on nearly all of the North Wales sites and have been invited to have a say in meetings. I’ve also been to public consultation events and official openings. I can’t thank Craig and the team enough.” So how does Jack feel about returning to Leeds next September? “It will be great to share my experience with the other students. The next logical step for me is to focus on affordable housing for my dissertation. I understand the need for it now and how decent the standards of houses are, after working with Wales & West Housing.”

38 | | intouch | Work. Skills. Experience

A Day in the Life | intouch | | 39

Fancy working for

Castell Catering?

A Day in the

Life of… a Scheme


for extra care residents throughout the year and seven days a week. A lunchtime meal is served in the schemes’ restaurants with an alternative choice of a packed lunch or cold tea platter to accommodate residents’ daily engagements.

Castell Catering is going from strength to strength, serving over 1,000 hot meals to older people in our extra care schemes - Llys Jasmine in Mold and ^ in Prestatyn - every week. Nant y Mor They were also delighted to serve a buffet to Housing & Regeneration Minister Carl Sargeant AM when he officially opened Llys Jasmine on May 22. The buffet catered for 240 people. Castell Catering needs more staff and is now recruiting for both sites. They held a recruitment open day at Nant y Mor recently and there was a lot of interest. Castell Catering was established in August 2013 and provides meals

Residents’ families and friends are also welcomed and meals can be bought directly from Castell Catering. There is a commitment that wherever possible supplies will be sourced locally and Castell Catering also actively advertise employment opportunities within the local community. It is also aiming to, where it can make a difference, offer services to the wider community.

For more information on Castell Catering, please contact 0800 052 2526. You can also visit


Gay Baynes, 56, has been a scheme manager at Hanover Court, Llandudno, for nine years and looks after the scheme’s 55 retirement flats. “My role is a rewarding one, as you do feel that you have helped residents and improved their day. I love the variety – every day is different and often plans have to change as the phone starts to ring and residents, their families and contractors pop in and out of the office. “My day starts with welfare checks on residents- some choose a daily call, others weekly. I also test the scheme’s fire alarm and the smoke detectors, alarm cords and pendants in the flats on a regular basis. This is also a good time to have a catch-up with residents

who I don’t see very often as they lead busy, independent lives and are out and about a lot. I help the residents’ social club to organise their coach trips too – they’re going to Oswestry market next week. “With the recent heavy rain and resident seagulls, the roof drain on one of the blocks of flats has blocked, flooding the communal staircase, so I am busy sorting that out today. We’re having windows replaced in the halls, landings and staircase today too as part of planned maintenance works, so I’ll be checking on that. “On another note, it’s been a very sad day. Earlier I received a phone call from the family of a resident to inform me that she passed away in hospital during the night. It is certainly a difficult time for them and for the resident’s friends at the scheme, and I have known the lady for several years myself. “With the sad times come happier ones, however. Our housing officer has just arrived to help with a mutual exchange between two residents- one of whom has breathing difficulties and is visually impaired so uses a guide dog. A very kind gentleman on the ground floor has seen him struggling and has offered to swap flats in order to help. “You see, every day really is different. I would definitely recommend this role to others - I love being able to help make a difference to other people’s lives.”

40 | | intouch | Your News & Views

Your News & Views Flo receives her Citizens Award from the Mayor

On the 14th March, Flo attended a special awards ceremony at the Civic Offices in Bridgend to receive her Citizenship Award from Mayor Clive James. This isn’t the first time Flo has been recognised, however, as in 2004 she received a Bronze Award and was a finalist at the WWH Making a Difference Awards in 2008. Flo continues to be very modest in all her good work. To show their thanks, the other residents at Hanover Court presented her with a beautiful bouquet to go with her award.

Residents at Llys ‘Can Do club’ goes

from strength enjoy Easter to strength in Hafren, Newtown, As well as going to town decorating Easter bonnets, residents at Llys Hafren enjoyed their Easter with a meal prepared by Sylvia, Pam and Sherrie. The winners of the Easter bonnet competition were Amy Parry, Mary Smith and Beryl Haines.

Mrs Florence Thomas, resident at Hanover Court in Bridgend, recently received the Mayor’s Citizenship Award for her services to the community. Flo, 82, has worked tirelessly over the years, organising events such as the coffee mornings and other scheme activities, as well as raising funds for the local Stroke Club. She is highly thought of at Hanover Court, where she regularly gives up her time for other residents - even at Christmas, when Flo can be found cooking special dinners for those residents who don’t have any family or friends to visit.

Your News & Views | intouch | | 41

Cllr Clive James, Mayor of Bridgend, presents Flo with her Citizenship Award

Cwrt Pentwmpath residents receive a

Winners of the Easter bonnet competition

special visit

After suffering a stroke, Ty Ddewi resident Denise (Dee) Thorne started a social group called the Can Do club, for people with disabilities. The group has gone from strength to strength, with members enjoying activities such as gardening, gentle exercise, beauty treatments, garden bowls, darts and bingo - to name just a few. Denise, who used to manage the Superdrug store in Porth, decided to open the club to local people from outside the complex because of council cuts and funding issues.

Residents at Cwrt Pentwmpath in Wrexham received a lovely visit from local resident Isabel Sutton recently. Isabel, from Llay, gave a talk on the past and her family memories. The residents really enjoyed meeting Isobel and found her talk of great interest. They finished off the event together with a round of bacon butties.

Ty Ddewi, Rhondda

Models Beryl Haines and Nan Law looking glamorous at Llys Hafren’s Easter event

“The Can Do club provides companionship and the opportunity for people to learn new skills. It’s good fun and really does bring joy to people’s lives,” said Denise. John Mann, who also lives at Ty Ddewi, has also helped Denise with the club and will now be helping with the gardening activities. For more information about the Can Do club, please contact Scheme Manager Gill Jones on 01443 432194.

From L-R : Cynthia, Della, Margaret, Susan, Dilys, Sylvia, Audrey, Derrick, Isobel and Alan

Denise Thorne and the Can Do club

42 | | intouch | Your News & Views

Phoebe receives letter from the Queen for her Diamond Jubilee poem

Dan y Mynydd resident Phoebe Laing has received a special thank you from Buckingham Palace for her fantastic Diamond Jubilee poem (below). Watching the pageantry of the Royal Diamond Jubilee, the Queen’s entourage holding the crowds in their sway, really takes one’s breath away. How to describe? What can I say? At the milling people in their thousands todayWhat a day! O my! O my! The gathering medley of boats – small, medium and large, fills the Thames. Strung far and wide, long narrow river barges floating alongside. Our Queen with Prince Philip standing stoically strong, while the flotilla rows along- Oars raised aloft saluting the Queen, a sight ne’er seen in such a vast throng. Varied sounds of masses cheering, bells pealing loudly, guns a booming. Sweet voices singing “Our National Anthem”.

The orchestral music rousing and ringing. O my! O my! Buzzing chatter as crowds wander along, moving slowly down the Mall. Towards Buckingham Palace Balcony where the Royals meet together “A family” Taking their place by our beloved Queen, Whilst looking above to the planes now seen, zooming past with streaming colours, as “E-R” is forming fast. Such excitement fills the air. As our Royals depart pair by pair, it is not finished though; there is still the evening show!! O my! O my! The middle island, between the Palace and the Mall, alight and glowing with beauty in the lull, as stars come forward to do their bit, hoping their act will be a hit. Ah! Tis over- but wait – here is the Queen with Prince Charles, her Son who has something to say, to his lovely Mum, (bless him) He now voices his love and praise before they depart: With three rousing cheers for the Queen- from all our hearts. O my! O my! Phoebe Laing from Dan y Mynydd, Bridgend

Your News & Views | intouch | | 43

Llys Jasmine Our Llys Jasmine scheme in Mold, North Wales, is a new 61 apartment complex built in partnership with Flintshire County Council and has state-of-the-art support accommodation to help older people with care and support needs. Mrs Eleanor Hardy, 87, sent in this lovely poem about Llys Jasmine: There must be magic in this place That brings a smile to every face The staff are kind and friendly too A ship could have no better crew We may forget a person’s name But make good friendships just the same The green room holds many games to play The pink room is nice for a chat any day

May fortune smile on the wonderful folk Who planned and made it all work We’ll try and make light of our sticks and our gadgets And treat them like some sort of joke By Mrs Eleanor Hardy

Frank Price celebrates

80 years as a

‘choir boy’ Maes Y Ffynnon resident Frank Price received a special gift at St John’s Church, near Crickhowell, recently in order to mark his 80 years as a member of the choir. Frank was presented with a framed message from the Bishop and a plaque with a picture of the church at the ceremony.

If the weather’s not fit for a leisurely amble There’s bingo for those who enjoy a mild gamble We can learn to draw or knit or write Whatever makes our daytime bright Now we have a gardening club For those who can bend with ease We’d all like to help, of course we would But age plays havoc with backs and knees

After the service, everybody joined Frank at the village hall to see him cut his special celebratory cake. Congratulations Frank!

44 | | intouch | Birthdays and Anniversaries

Birthdays & Anniversaries

Happy Birthday


Birthday Evelyn

Edna has had a very interesting life, and started work at just 14 years old. One of her first jobs was sewing kit bags for WWII soldiers, where she also used to write good will letters and put them in the bags. She then joined the Women’s Land Army and travelled to different farms to help out. After the war, Edna spent many years working as a psychiatric nursing assistant and found the job very rewarding. Edna really enjoyed celebrating her birthday with her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.  

Happy 98th

Birthday Grace

Sprightly Mrs Annie Law celebrates her st 101 birthday with friends

Mrs Annie Law (known as Nan) had her 101st birthday on the 9th February, with all her friends at Llys Hafren in Newtown.

Happy 95th Happy birthday to Edna Parker, resident of Christchurch Court in Llandrindod Wells, who was 90 years young on the 8th May.

Birthdays and Anniversaries | intouch | | 45

Mrs Evelyn Brown, the oldest resident of Wentloog Court in Cardiff, would like to thank her friends and neighbours for her lovely bouquets of flowers, cards and her special birthday cake that they enjoyed together on the 2nd April. Evelyn said: “I felt really spoilt”. To add to the excitement, Evelyn attended her granddaughter’s wedding on the 9th May in Reading.

Nan was born in Crofton, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, in 1913 and lived there with her three sisters and brother. At 16 years of age, she worked at Crofton Hall as a chambermaid and stayed there until she got married at the age of 22. A year later in 1936, she had her son Jack. Grace Bligh, resident of Oakmeadow Court in St Mellons,celebrated her 98th birthday in March by dining in style at the Fox & Hounds in Llancarfan, Vale of Glamorgan. Grace and her friend Ina Miller are accomplished knitters and use their talents to knit blankets for premature babies for the ‘Loving Hands’ charity. They’ve also knitted nativity scenes which take up to 3 months to knit - to donate to local churches. Grace also enjoys jigsaws and has one on the go most of the time, which she exchanges with her neighbours. Her daughter Janet always brings a different one back from her travels for her Mum.

Evelyn, second from the left, with friends at Wentloog Court

Nan has spent most of her life running guest houses and pubs across Southport and Blackpool. She also once owned the Oldest Public House in Wales, The Skirrid Mountain Inn near Abergavenny, which can be traced back to the Norman Conquests and was used to house prisoners sent by Judge Jeffreys (1645 – 1689). She has plenty of tales to tell about ghosts and strange goings-on, as the pub was used for executions. Nan’s secret for her longevity is “good living and keeping active”.

46 | | intouch | Competition

Our Gardening Competition was a huge success and the

winners were: Send us your favourite

recipe and WIN all 3

fantastic money saving books We all seem to have a favourite recipe that we never get tired of cooking. It may be one that has been passed down through the generations and your family still enjoy eating to this day. From steam puddings to pasties and summer sizzlers to winter warmers, we would love to hear from you!

The recipe judged by our team to be the winner will WIN all three of the above top books! Please send your recipe, or recipes, by letter or postcard to: Keri Jones, Wales & West Housing, 3 Alexandra Gate, Pengam Road, Tremorfa, Cardiff CF24 2UD

Or email: Closing date for entries August 29th 2014

Mrs Katherine Burnand from Prestatyn, who won the Indoor Gardening Houseplant Kit and the Ceramic Windowsill Herb Pots. Katherine said: “This prize will come in really handy and I’ve never won anything before.”

Making a Difference Awards 2014 | intouch | | 47



Her winning money saving gardening tip is:


Plant Comfrey in your garden as the leaves can be steeped in water to make an organic fertilizer. Let the leaves steep in the water for approx. 4 weeks, then strain off and use as fertilizer on your plants and vegetables. (Comfrey leaves can be put into a hessian bag or any bag with holes, and then tied at the top and left it to hang in the barrel so it can be easily removed and replenished as needed).

Maybe they tend a beautiful garden, or perhaps they grow fruit and veg – or have started growing their own on an allotment?

Second prize goes to Emma Vyse from Acrefair, Nr Wrexham, who was very surprised to win the Self Watering Propagator. Emma said: “I’m really happy to receive this prize, as is my daughter Tilly.” Her gardening tip is: To keep the sticks after the children have enjoyed their ice lollies and use them as labels for seedlings and plants.

Who do you know who makes a real difference to your neighbourhood? Someone who goes the extra mile to help friends and neighbours? Perhaps they have started a youth or community group?

Maybe they have overcome big problems to get back into work? Or entered college to gain new qualifications? Whatever their story – we want to hear it. On Friday October 10th, we will be holding our seventh annual Making A Difference Awards. Now firmly established as a highlight of Wales & West Housing’s year, the awards celebrate the great efforts of all our unsung heroes and heroines – as well as being a great night out.















All shortlisted nominees – and the people who nominated them – will enjoy a top-notch three course dinner and entertainment in the Vale Hotel, the Vale of Glamorgan. You can see more for yourself on YouTube – search for Wales & West Housing’s Making A Difference Awards, where you can see short videos of previous years’ ceremonies. The categories again this year are: Good Neighbour, Fresh Start, Eco Champion, Green Fingers (Older Persons), Green Fingers (Younger Persons), Community Project and David Taylor Local Hero. It’s free to enter – you’ve nothing to lose and everything to gain. So if you’d like a copy of the nomination form, either go to our website where you can download a copy, or call Sharon or Keri on 0800 052 2526 any time and we’ll be happy to send you a form and help you with any questions.

Could| my daughter 06 | | intouch News and General Information buy one of these as a gift?

Yes, easily. Just ask her to contact us and we’ll do the rest.

Personal alarms and telecare

Reliable, affordable and installed at your convenience We all value our independence but sometimes we can all do with a little extra help. Connect24 personal alarms bring you help and support at the touch of a button. Suitable for anyone of any age.

Call freephone 0800 052 2526 or email: or write to: Connect24 Personal Alarms Wales & West Housing FREEPOST CF3588 3 Alexandra Gate, Ffordd Pengam Tremorfa, Cardiff, CF10 1YZ @wwha

Intouch spring 2014  
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