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BRIDGEND ISSUE 4 | AUTUMN 2012 Preparing for Welfare Reform Enabling work, training and experience Expanding Cambria Maintenance Services Our latest new developments in your area

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INTRODUCTION Welcome to the Autumn 2012 edition of Spotlight on Bridgend, bringing you progress updates about Wales & West Housing initiatives in your area. This edition ­ the first using our new brand identity which we introduced in April this year ­ features a mix of news about some of our current county­specific initiatives, plus relevant organisation­wide updates. This Spring we welcomed a new Chair to our Board. After three successful years Ivor Gittens retired from this role, although he remains a WWH Board member. His successor is Kathy Smart, a well­known member of the Cardiff business community and long­time champion of social housing. Other recent changes have included the promotion of Shayne Hembrow from Operations Director to the new role of Deputy Chief Executive/Commercial Director. Following this I am pleased to say that Steve Porter has just been appointed as Operations Director. With the changes to Welfare Reform gathering pace, against a backdrop of continuing economic uncertainty and ever increasing pressures on public finances, I’m sure you will agree that there is much for us to do. However while the challenges are great, we remain committed to our vision to make a difference to people’s lives, homes and communities across Wales. We hope that this briefing will help to keep you up to date with much of our grassroots work in your area, as well as the bigger picture about WWH.

Finally please don’t hesitate to get in touch at any time with your comments, ideas and feedback about any aspect of our work. Yours Anne Hinchey, Chief Executive.

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

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IN BRIDGEND Now managing more than 1,300 affordable homes in Bridgend County we are continuing to expand in the area. Our Coed Castell Phase 2 development in Brackla is progressing well despite the wet summer. Works are due to finish early 2013 which will see the completion of 23 high quality, affordable homes for local people. Our properties are designed to meet Code for Sustainable Homes Level 3 and will use solar hot water systems to supplement gas fired heating and hot water systems. Phase 2 was made possible thanks to additional Welsh Government funding awarded after the completion in March 2011 of 16 affordable homes as part of Phase 1 of the project.

Barratt Homes South Wales site of Ffordd Maendy are now completed and fully occupied. We are also continuing to work in partnership with BCBC and members of the local community to determine the future of Coed Parc and its Grade 2 listed house which we were pleased to acquire from the council in October last year. We are now working with architects to explore the various opportunities which this large site offers, and we hope to be able to put out the results of this to public consultation in the near future.

Elsewhere in the county borough 16 affordable homes built on the brand new


ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR Tackling anti­social and nuisance behaviour remains a high priority for us in the county borough. In June this year, Bridgend County Court granted us the power to evict tenants who were living at 19 Dan y Coed Rise in Brackla, following repeat complaints to the local police and our Anti Social Behaviour team about drugs­related incidents. “We will do what we can to support our law abiding residents to live in safe, peaceful and productive communities,” said Anne Hinchey. “I would like to thank those living in Dan y Coed Rise and the surrounding area for their support and understanding while this action was being taken.”

Bridgend Local Policing Inspector Paul Tinkler said: “This positive action demonstrates to our communities that they should not and will not be expected to tolerate such behaviour, whether the home is rented or privately owned.”

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Alex Ashton, one of our Board members, looks at the books WWH staff donated with pupils from Betws Primary School.


AT BETWS PRIMARY After a devastating fire destroyed the junior block of Betws Primary School in June this year, we have helped the school replenish some of their lost stock by donating two boxes of children’s books and a brand new drum­kit. Liz Pearce, Deputy Head of Betws Primary, said: “This drum kit from Wales & West Housing will take pride of place in our new music corner.” “Many of the children at Betws Primary are our young residents and this school is at the heart of the community. Who knows, this might be the start of the next Stereophonics!” said Anne Hinchey. We are now working with the school to help them with other initiatives, including securing a flagpole on which Betws Primary can display its newly acquired Green Dragon eco­excellence logo.

Bethan Hopkins, 11, of Betws Primary School tries out the new drum kit donated by WWH.

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Pictures from the official opening


LIME KILN WOODS COMPLETED WWH sits on Brackla Communities First Partnership, which will now form part of the larger South Cluster under changes to the Communities First Programme. The Partnership, working with Keep Wales Tidy secured outcomes funding to help open up the Lime Kiln Woods for local residents. The intention is for residents to make use of this green space on their doorsteps for informal leisure, as a green gym and to enjoy local wildlife. The woods are situated behind our properties at Dan­y­Coed Rise and Heol­y­Rhos in Brackla Meadows and can be accessed off Princess Way. The pathway has given children a safe place to ride their bikes and also has provided an accessible pathway for residents and their dogs to enter the woodland.

An official opening of the pathway took place on Sunday 30th September which included a visit from Tropical Inc as well as face painting with a BBQ provided by Brackla Events Committee, with hot dogs and burgers funded by WWH! Children are now pleased to be able to ride their bikes up and down the pathway and dog walkers are happy to use it now. Brackla Community Council have agreed to maintain the footpath. John Udraufski of CF Brackla said “We hope this will be the first phase of something bigger.”

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WATES HANDY ART WORK Wates Living Space who are building new homes for us at Erw Hir/Coed Castell in Brackla Bridgend, have been working with the local community. Wates stepped in after local residents’ group, Community Focused Brackla, purchased a large storage container which is sited on our land at Clos­y­Wern/Clos­y­Waun. The group approached us asking for help to paint it. WWH staff, lead by local housing officer Claire Pepper, ran a competition with local children at two events for them to come up with designs for the container. As part of their staff volunteering day on 21st September, Debs Bolton and Chris Bowen from Wates visited Brackla Primary School, where children from each class took part in a handy artwork session. The children left their handprints in a multitude of colours on three boards which will be waterproofed and erected on the Community Focused Brackla storage container sited on land at Clos y Waun.

Debs Bolton said, “We were really pleased to work with the school and the children were very well behaved. I was expecting a mess, but it didn’t take us long to clean up afterwards. We left tins of chocolates for the children as a thank you.” Once the weather improves, Wates will also be painting anti­vandal paint on the roof for CF Brackla to discourage children from climbing onto it. CF Brackla will also benefit from £250 in funding from Wates to help run Brackla Live, a weekly play group for local children. WWH has also granted £200 from our Make it Happen Grant to Brackla Live to run activities.

Alison Chaplin, WWH Community Development Project Officer, who helped out on the day said, “The children had a great time dipping their hands in paint and leaving their impressions on the boards.”

Local children helping to come up with designs for the storage container

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Ian Davies from Solar Windows, with Kathy Smart, Chair of WWH, and Alison Stallard, Business and Community Fundraiser for Ty Hafan

TŶ HAFAN Representatives from Wales & West Housing were recently delighted to hand over a cheque for £600 to Tŷ Hafan, the children’s hospice for Wales. The money was part of a pot of more than £2,500, raised by the successful GE Aviation Wales Welsh Three Peaks team from WWH’s contractor partner Solar Windows Limited. Ian Davies, Mark Anderson, Jeff Collins, Gary Seldon, Paul Miller and John Lewis, all employees of Solar Windows Ltd, completed the gruelling three peaks in 15 hours or less marathon climb in June. After presenting the cheque, Kathy Smart, Chair of WWH and Anne Hinchey, Chief Executive, joined the Solar Windows team to take a tour of the hospice which provides respite care for life­limited children, their families and carers. John Lewis, contracts manager at Solar Windows who has worked in partnership with Wales & West since 2001 said: “The weather was so bad that we didn’t see the top of any of the mountains we stood on! On Cader Idris

there were some really scary moments as it was so wet and windy, I fell myself twice, not much can prepare you for that.” He added: “But when it got really difficult, we just remembered why we’re doing it, for children worse off than ourselves, then you found the will to keep going”. Anne Hinchey, Chief Executive of WWH, said, “It was a privilege to go on the tour of Tŷ Hafan and very humbling to witness the incredible work that they do. We are very pleased to have been able to support this much­needed facility, through Solar Window Ltd’s sterling efforts in the Welsh Three Peaks challenge.” Solar Windows are working towards carbon neutral status at their factory in Bedwas and continue to work in partnership with Wales & West Housing to help keep their commitment to building sustainable houses.

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Chris Eccles, of category sponsor City Satellite, with Mandy Hopkins, of Betws, Bridgend, finalist in the Local Hero category, and Kathy Smart, Chair of WWH

MAKING A DIFFERENCE AWARDS 2012 We held our fifth annual Making A Difference Awards in October and once again it proved to be a fantastic night. A total of 159 residents, staff and contractor partners attended the ceremony at the Village Hotel, Coryton, Cardiff, on Friday, October 19th. Bridgend residents featured strongly in those shortlisted, as follows: • Nigel Farmer, of Pontycymmer, who supports Danymynydd Retirement Scheme, Garw Valley – Good Neighbour category finalist • Glan yr Afon Court Gardeners, Maesteg – Eco Champion finalists • Derek Rose and Jeff Bunce, Western Court, Bridgend ­ Green Fingers (Retirement) finalists • Mandy Hopkins, Betws – David Taylor Local Hero finalist We had almost 60 high quality entries from across Wales this year, a very pleasing figure, and a real demonstration of just how well so many of our staff really know their residents. This year we also benefitted from superb support from our contractors with 11

providing a very significant contribution to this year’s MAD budget. Media Wales are now in the process of making a short film about the event, which will be uploaded onto our website and YouTube very shortly. Anne Hinchey, Chief Executive, said: “Now in their fifth year, the MAD Awards are our way of recognising the strength, selflessness and community spirit of our residents. Our mission is strong, sustainable growth to make a difference to people’s lives, homes and communities, and these awards provide a real insight into some of the ways this is being achieved. It has been a wonderful night and a real privilege to hear the stories of those involved.” Finally, there is one more award to mention – this time the one won by our own PR & Marketing team when our MAD Awards were recognised by Community Housing Cymru’s PR Network as the Best Event in Wales 2012.

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PREPARING FOR WELFARE REFORM Perhaps no single issue currently dominates the housing sector more than Welfare Reform. Our staff right across our organisation are working closely with all our local authority partners, housing benefit officers, Community Housing Cymru and other partners to promote and publicise the changes to come, the consequences to our residents, and ways in which they can help themselves. We’ve looked again at the services we provide and are making sure that we are doing all we can to help people to stay out of debt and to pay their bills. In particular we are working with residents to help them to: • prepare for the introduction of Universal Credit and direct payments • provide tailored help and advice around budgeting

• understand the implications of the introduction of the so­called ‘bedroom tax’ next year, and, • where appropriate, helping people to move to homes they can afford and of the right size. Our two dedicated Money Advice Officers also work closely with Moneyline Cymru (see below) as well as Credit Unions across Wales, to help residents to budget effectively and to access low cost, safe and affordable credit.


THE LIVING WAGE Our efforts to tackle poverty do not stop with our residents. As the first housing association in Wales to introduce the ‘Living Wage’, we are leading the sector with this initiative. Currently £7.20 per hour (for workers outside of London) the ‘Living Wage’ is considerably higher than the legal minimum wage which is currently £6.08 per hour. With more than 340 employees across Wales, our decision means that no­one working for us will earn less than £7.20 an hour, and since this August 40 of our employees have seen their wages go up as a result of this policy.

Rhys Moore, Director of the Living Wage Foundation, said:

“We are delighted to award Wales & West Housing the Living Wage employer mark. This is a significant moment as they become the first housing association in Wales to achieve the mark.”

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WORK PLACEMENTS AVAILABLE Helping our residents to benefit from employment and training opportunities is also a key priority for us. Through our contractor partners we have already supported 33 people back into employment, and, we have a number of apprentices working on our projects across Wales. Some examples of where we have recently had an impact include: • South Wales – 18­year­old Jordan Evans has just completed a two year plumbing apprenticeship with our subsidiary company Cambria Maintenance Services Ltd. Jordan, from Bridgend, combined on­the­job training with Cambria with a day a week study at Ogmore College. “I would recommend this as a good way to earn and study,” said Jordan. “Several of my mates have asked me if this is a good thing to do, and I have told them that it definitely is.” Cambria is now looking to take on an additional 3 apprentices across its operations in North and South Wales over the coming months. • South Wales – As part of our Back to Work scheme (a Bridgend Employment Routes Team initiative) we hosted two trainee energy advisors. Based in Bridgend, Lynn and Howard were placed with us for six

Apprentice plumber Jordan Evans, 18, from Bridgend with Neal O’Leary, Cambria Board member and Peter Jackson, Head of Cambria, at a presentation ceremony outside Cardiff City Stadium to mark his qualification.

months, gaining experience that helped them to find permanent employment. They promoted the Warm Home Discount scheme in retirement schemes and offered residents advice on being more energy efficient and how to save money on their bills. • North Wales – At the recent Hightown Jobs Fair in Wrexham more than 50 people registered an interest in finding out more about potential employment and training opportunities to be facilitated through our contractor Anwyl. These opportunities will arise as part of our £17m developments on Kingsmills Road and Rivulet Road and more details will follow in subsequent editions of In Touch and Spotlight on Bridgend. • We are working with Jobs Growth Wales as well as several other agencies to link people with opportunities, where possible and appropriate. • We are also able to host a number of in­house placements, either as short­term unpaid work experience, work placements (some funded) and apprenticeships. These opportunities are open to all, regardless of age, qualifications or previous experience. Those interested simply need to fill in and return to us the Workplace Skills Initiative Expression of Interest Form on our website

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Finance Minister Jane Hutt visits residents at Ty Pontrhun who were taking part in IT classes in support of our broadband WiFi pilot scheme

DIGITAL INCLUSION Another key area of focus for us is ‘digital Inclusion’ – enabling our residents to get online: to have access to appropriate equipment, software and support services, to get connected with each other and their communities through this medium, and, to make informed choices with the ability to access discounted purchases. The key drivers for us behind our investment in digital inclusion are: • helping people to be better placed to deal with Welfare Reform, and especially the introduction of Universal Credit • enabling people to be better connected within their communities, and • helping our residents to get better value by accessing information and purchases online Our pilot scheme to bring affordable broadband WiFi access at Ty Pontrhun in Merthyr Tydfil is now live. Since 5 July, Ty Pontrhun residents and their families have been able to access the internet from any room within the building with a Wi­Fi ready device, using an individual password.

North Wales­based Boyns is our chosen supplier for this pilot scheme and has installed a phone line to the building enabling residents up to 2Mb of Wi­Fi broadband. Currently our residents are receiving 6 months free connection and then they will pay a very affordable 63p per week. Our aim is to learn from this pilot scheme in order to extend efficient and affordable WiFi and broadband connections to as many of our residents as we can in our retirement schemes across Wales, and we are now starting work on a second pilot project in Nant y Mor, our Extra Care Scheme in Prestatyn, Denbighshire.

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REBRANDING If you receive In Touch, our quarterly residents’ magazine, you will already know that in April of this year we rebranded. We are delighted to say that reaction to our new look has been very positive, and is helping to spread the message about our new group structure, with Cambria Maintenance Services Ltd as our first subsidiary company. In addition to this Spotlight On Bridgend, you should also have received our 2013 Business Plan, which outlines Wales & West Housing Group’s strategic direction for the coming five years. Another part of our rebranding process has involved the creation of our first new sub­brand, Connect24. This brings together the comprehensive range of services that we provide including our Emergency Alarm, Out of Hours and lone worker support services. Having added a number of corporate customers to our portfolio in recent months, we now look after more than 20,000 homes across Wales via our Telecare Services Association accredited customer service centre, enabling repairs to get done and helping people to get the help they need in an emergency. If you would like to talk to us about how our Customer Service Centre might be able to help organisations in your area who require call centre support, please contact Cate Dooher, Head of Support Services on 029 20415386.

Mrs Nancy Pilott of Cwrt Anghorfa, Bridgend, modelling our Connect24 personal alarm wrist button.

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Cambria Maintenance Service’s 40 strong South and Mid Wales­based team. A further 40 skilled jobs are being secured through Cambria’s expansion into North Wales.


INTO NORTH WALES We set up our own maintenance company in 2011, taking us to a Group structure. Cambria Maintenance Services has just seen a very successful first 20 months of trading, undertaking repairs as well as kitchen and bathroom renewals for WWH in South and Mid Wales. With a turnover of £2.8m in its first year, we anticipate that in the next couple of years that this will triple. Building on the considerable success of its operations in South and Mid Wales, preparations are now underway for Cambria to expand into North Wales, with this division becoming operational from the beginning of 2013.

This move will secure the future of 40 skilled jobs in North Wales, as well as providing another secure platform for further work placement and apprenticeship opportunities. We anticipate that Cambria within the next five years will install 4,000 kitchens and bathrooms across Wales.

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SYNIAD CONSORTIUM In 2005 we joined forces with Linc Cymru and Clwyd Alyn Housing to form the Syniad Consortium. Since then the consortium members delivered more than 1,500 new social housing units, 11 extra care schemes and enabled training and apprenticeships for more than 150 people, maximising outcomes from more than £100m social housing grant. However with the transfer of the social housing grant programme to local authority partners and the reduction in available public subsidy for new homes, Syniad members reviewed its role. The result was that from June 1st of this year, the consortium ceased to exist.

Notwithstanding the end of the consortium, we will continue to work together where appropriate to provide much needed new homes across Wales.


EXPANSION Wales & West Housing, one of the founder members of Moneyline Cymru, is continuing to provide financial support for this important initiative. In these very difficult economic times more and more social housing residents will need to be able to access the services provided by organisations including Moneyline Cymru and local credit unions. We are pleased to support both and WWH is now actively working with Moneyline and local credit unions to look at how new services can be developed to help residents to deal with the changes that will come with the introduction of Universal Credit. We have also committed to help fund the expansion of Moneyline over the next 3 years,

and the latest branch has recently opened in Merthyr Tydfil. Further branches are planned in Swansea and Wrexham. Loans given by Moneyline in the past 3 years have resulted in £2.5m savings in interest compared to interest charged by the Provident, the most common provider of doorstep loans.

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Today’s challenging economic environment means we need to be efficient and invest wisely if we are to achieve our ambition of growth and to make a difference. While big is not always beautiful it does bring with it the financial strength and capacity to ride out the current economic storm as well as the wherewithal for innovation, creativity and fresh ideas. We expect to achieve year on year increases in operating surpluses through the effective operation of our business even after absorbing the bad debts we expect to incur from changes to welfare benefits, and in particular the introduction of Universal Credit and the ‘bedroom tax’.

Number of homes currently in development by LA area Denbighshire

9 Conwy



121 Wrexham


Over the next five years we expect to invest £36m in maintaining and improving our existing stock. Furthermore we have the financial capability to invest more than £100m in building and acquiring new homes. Only one fifth of this investment is expected to be funded by social housing grant from the Welsh Government, with £70m coming from additional borrowings and the remainder from internally generated surplus cash. For more detailed information about our financial position please see pages 28 and 29 of our Business Plan 2013 to 2017 which you should have recently received, alternatively you can access it through our website Our strong position has been endorsed by the Welsh Government who awarded the Association a ‘pass’ in its annual financial assessment.


393 Powys

24 Merthyr Tydfil


Cardiff Bridgend


39 Vale of Glamorgan


These figures represent developments which are on site now and programmed to commence in the next 12 months. However, in total, we anticipate building and aquiring an additional 450 units in the next five years, which will take our total new build over that period of time to 850 units.

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PARTNERSHIP Dealing with the risk from fire is high on the agenda at the moment and we want to ensure that all our homes are as safe as they can be. We have formed an innovative partnership with South Wales Fire and Rescue Service, agreeing to act as an ‘exemplar’ partner to help them to promote good practice within fire safety in the social housing sector across the country. Group Manager Andy Petersen from SWFRS said “WWH has demonstrated the

importance that they place on fire safety. Our partnership with them will provide a positive attitude to enabling compliance with all fire safety legislation.” We are now in talks with Mid Wales Fire Service and North Wales Fire Service to explore the possibility of expanding this partnership further.

Andy Petersen, Group Manager South Wales Fire and Rescue Service and colleague, Robin Alldred, Commercial Manager WWH, Jo Burns, Health and Safety Officer WWH, Anthony Williams, Health and Safety Officer WWH.

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DOING THE RIGHT THING… Our aim is to do right by our residents and right by our staff, and below are the awards and accreditations which we have recently received which recognise and celebrate our approach. • We have been awarded the highest accolade possible under the prestigious Investors in People awards system achieving the Gold standard in our recent assessment. “Wales & West Housing continues to demonstrate that it is a forward­ thinking organisation achieving business success by the application of visionary leadership behaviour, under­pinned by strong and meaningful values,” said IiP specialist Mavis Elliott­Smith. • The Sunday Times Best Companies 2012 has recognised us as the top­not­for­profit organisation in Wales, and, we were ranked 8th out of the top 100 best not­for­profit organisations to work for in the whole of the UK. We are also the only Welsh housing association to be awarded the top 3 stars award by Best Companies. • Work­life balance charity Working Families have ranked us in the Top 30 family friendly firms to work for in the UK for the second year running. At their recent national awards ceremony we also

won the Working Families Award for Career Progression for Flexible Workers and were finalists in the following categories: Best for Carers and Eldercare, Best for Engagement, and, The National Grid Best for Innovation Award. Sarah Jackson OBE, Chief Executive of Working Families said:

“To reach the shortlist in four out of seven of the Special Award categories is a tremendous achievement. The judges were impressed by Wales & West Housing’s innovative policies to engage and support their employees, particularly carers and flexible workers.” • In partnership with GKR Maintenance & Building we have been Highly Commended in the Integration and Collaborative Working award category at the 2012 Constructing Excellence Awards. Judges said the team has worked hard to cut costs and reduce waste ‘with passion and commitment.’

Steve Porter (right) now Operations Director WWH, receiving a trophy at the 2012 Constructing Excellence Awards. He is pictured with Jayne Rowland­Evans, Director of GKR Maintenance Services and Phil Lumley, Head of Property Services for Carmarthenshire County Council

Wales & West Housing 3 Alexandra Gate, Ffordd Pengam, Tremorfa, Cardi CF24 2UD. and Unit 2, Acorn Business Park, Aber Road, Flint CH6 5YN. Telephone on 0800 052 2526 Minicom: 0800 052 5205 Email: Website: @wwha wwhahomesforwales

Published October 2012

Wales & West Housing's Spotlight on Bridgend Autumn 2012  
Wales & West Housing's Spotlight on Bridgend Autumn 2012