BRIDGEND ISSUE 5 | SPRING 2013 Welfare Reform weathering the storm Getting online thriving online Our latest new developments in your area Connect24 telephone and telecare services
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ANNE’S INTRODUCTION Welcome to the Spring 2013 edition of Spotlight on Bridgend, bringing you updates about Wales & West Housing initiatives in your area. This edition features our usual mix of news about some of our current countyspeciﬁc projects, plus relevant organisationwide updates. First of all I am very pleased to tell you that in our most recent Resident Satisfaction Survey 88% of our residents told us that they were satisﬁed with the overall service provided by WWH. This is a 2% increase compared to the survey we did in 2011, and, a signiﬁcant increase of 7% on the results we achieved in 2007. Another signiﬁcant development since our last Spotlight on Bridgend is the investment we have made in seven new innovative Tenancy Support Oﬃcers posts. After a successful recruitment exercise our new TSOs are, as I write, starting their new roles across Wales and will be taking a proactive and handson approach to helping our residents to weather the welfare reform storm. Across the business we are continuing to explore and invest in new technology and our digital inclusion programme is continuing apace, in itself playing an increasingly important role in helping our residents to deal with forthcoming welfare reform changes. I am also very pleased to announce that, in recognition of our capacity as a developing association, we have been granted a substantial tranche of additional funds by the Welsh Government to help us build more much needed aﬀordable homes across Wales. When we sent you our Business Plan last autumn we told you we would deliver 800 new homes in the next ﬁve years. Thanks to this new investment we are now on course to deliver 1,000 new homes in the next four years.
However developing new homes is just a part of what we do and so to ensure that we remain customer focussed, and readily accountable, we are undergoing our regular selfassessment process. I and my fellow directors have been conducting our annual staﬀ roadshows and have so far spoken to more than three quarters of all our staﬀ across Wales, many of whom live in the communities in which they work, gaining invaluable insights and feedback from them. Finally, it gives me great pleasure to tell you that Sunday Times Best Companies has ranked us the top notforproﬁt organisation in Wales for the second year running – placing us 7th in the UK overall. We not only moved one place up the ranking from our 2012 position in 8th place, but we also retained our coveted gold standard Three Stars rating. I’m sure you will agree that this is another very pleasing result and a testament to the hard work and dedication of our fantastic staﬀ. To conclude, I 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. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch at any time with your ideas and comments about any aspect of our work. Yours Anne Hinchey, Chief Executive.
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WELFARE REFORM WEATHERING THE STORM Our agenda has been, and continues to be, dominated by welfare reform and in particular the impact of the ‘bedroom tax’ which came into eﬀect on April 1st. Working eﬃciently with Bridgend Housing Beneﬁt team we have been able to identify the 175 WWH households in the county who will be aﬀected by the change. Our staﬀ have contacted all aﬀected residents to talk through the changes, discuss the potential impact on household budgets and to work with them to ﬁnd aﬀordable solutions. To date, the vast majority of our residents have told us that they intend to stay in their existing homes although many may struggle to make up the shortfall in their housing beneﬁt. In recognition that many of our residents will need more help to sustain their tenancies, we have also invested heavily in providing ongoing support through the creation of seven entirely new Tenancy Support Oﬃcer posts.
Starting work with us now and based across Wales – four (Natalie Davies, Amanda Collins, Stuart Lock and Sharon Jones) in the South, one (Donna Steven) in Mid Wales and two (William Brook and Jen Bailey) covering our properties in North Wales – they will work with residents to help them deal with the impact of all forthcoming welfare reforms, including the introduction of Universal Credit, giving them the knowledge, choices, strength and hope to weather the forthcoming storm. Of course, one knockon eﬀect of the bedroom tax is that we are now seeing some of our larger properties – especially three bedroom family homes – becoming available. Again we are working closely with all our local authority partners, and all other appropriate partners to make sure that the right people in housing need are able to access these aﬀordable homes.
TENANCY SUPPORT We are delighted to be able to introduce Stuart Lock, our new Tenancy Support Oﬃcer for the Bridgend area. Stuart will be helping our residents to deal with the many challenges of welfare reform, as well as providing support and advice on eﬀective budgeting and information on employment and training opportunities. Stuart will initially be concentrating his eﬀorts on helping those residents who we have already identiﬁed as being at risk of potentially facing ﬁnancial hardship, or falling into arrears, due to changes brought about by the ‘bedroom tax’, and other forthcoming welfare reform. Stuart’s line manager is Housing Manager Jenny Williams. Stuart Lock, Tenancy Support Oﬃcer for Bridgend
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RESIDENT SATISFACTION SURVEY (RSS) - BRIDGEND We carry out our annual Resident Satisfaction Survey of a third of households (approximately 2,700) every year. We undertook our second annual, and most recent, survey in autumn 2012. Here are some headline results plus insights into what is important to our residents in Bridgend. Overall Satisfaction We are really pleased to report that 88% (four out of ﬁve residents) were satisﬁed with the overall service provided by WWH. This is a 2% increase compared to 2011’s survey and a signiﬁcant increase of 7% on the results we achieved in our 2007 survey. Customer Service Our scores for the standard of customer service when making contact with us are very good. In particular more than half of households (52%) gave us a perfect score of 10 for the helpfulness of staﬀ, with the average overall score being 8.65 out of 10. There has also been a signiﬁcant increase in satisfaction levels for receiving a response in a timely manner (7.99 average, up from 7.70). The Property On the whole, respondents were satisﬁed with their property, with an average rating of 7.99 out of 10, including 32% of the sample who scored 10. In general, average scores for each feature of the home were equivalent to, and in most cases higher than, those reported in 2011.
Bridgend speciﬁc results People’s perceptions of their neighbourhood overall is typically an important factor in how satisﬁed or not they are with their accommodation and landlord. So it is positive to see respondents in Bridgend scored their neighbourhood with an average of 8.4 out of 10 – with nearly half scoring it a perfect 10. Determining factors included a ‘quiet area’ and ‘good neighbours’ (30% and 26% respectively). We also asked residents about our priorities for improvement in a variety of areas of work over the coming years. The results clearly show that we are planning to improve areas of service provision that are relevant and valued to our residents. The top three items identiﬁed by our residents in Bridgend are: • to review the services to support older residents to help them live independently in their homes • review how we deal with anti social behaviour • make our homes more energy eﬃcient. So what next? We are now exploring in more depth the results of this survey and the speciﬁc comments that residents have made. These will be invaluable to us in moving forward and further improving our services.
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HOMES IN BRIDGEND Coed Castell: Contractor Wates Living Space will soon be completing this development of 23 new homes – 15 houses and 8 ﬂats – for us working in partnership with Bridgend County Borough Council. The ﬁrst residents of these lovely new homes will shortly be taking up their tenancies on this development, completing the overall development of 39 aﬀordable homes under our management in this area. Bryncethin: We are currently on site at our Maes Gwyn development in Bryncethin where we are developing 28 new homes in partnership with Bridgend County Borough Council, all for aﬀordable social rent. Contractor Greenhill are on schedule to complete this £2.7m development at the end of this year. Coed Parc: We have held focus groups to seek their views about the future of Coed Parc, formerly the Old Library and we are currently considering the results of these groups. We’ve also demolished outbuildings to make the area safer and more secure, and are carrying out grounds maintenance work. We have been successful in securing additional funding from the Welsh
Government which will enable us to deliver more than 1,000 units during the next four years across all areas in which we operate. The supply of enough high quality, aﬀordable homes for Wales remains a pressing issue. However we remain conﬁdent of our ability to meet a range of needs. We are in a strong position ﬁnancially and thanks to this we are able to build not only more new homes, but more of the right type and speciﬁcation to meet local demand. By providing homes at diﬀerent prices provides not only us, but also more importantly, our current and potential residents, with real choices.
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NOW OPERATING FROM OUR CUSTOMER SERVICE CENTRE Moneyline Cymru is currently operating out of a number of branches primarily in South Wales, including Nolton Street, Bridgend. Moneyline also wants to oﬀer a telephone service to people from other areas of Wales and to people who cannot get to their oﬃces. So they are now operating from our Customer Service Centre in our Head Oﬃce in Cardiﬀ on an experimental basis. The service went live in February and the threestrong team are currently taking overﬂow calls from existing Moneyline Cymru branches.
SUPPORTING THE LOCAL
COMMUNITY During the past six months we have continued our commitment to community development in this area. We have contributed funds to support a range of community initiatives including the WRU’s Little Stars programme in Brackla, bus
transport for youngsters to and from Brackla Live, provided funding for Christmas activities including Santa’s Grotto run by Brackla Events Committee, and we are now exploring options for funding play equipment for our younger residents on Bryn Amlwg.
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Geoﬀ Bunce and Derek Rose members of Western Court Eco Warriors.
LOOKING AFTER THE ENVIRONMENT IN BRIDGEND It is a corporate priority for us to minimise the impact we have on the environment, and that of our residents too. We are improving the energy eﬃciency of our properties beyond that required by the Welsh Government, so that our residents save money, use less and are less likely to be in fuel poverty. We have also invested £6m in the past ﬁve years to ease fuel poverty in our properties and will continue to invest in improvement measures. One example of this is the upgrade we have done to the mechanical ventilation and heat recovery systems in our properties at Erw Hir, Coychurch. These works will ensure the system provides excellent ventilation while keeping the properties warm. We’re also supporting several environmental projects in this area from the very small, to the notsosmall. One example is Western Court retirement scheme where residents Geoﬀ Bunce and Derek Rose the Eco Warriors
have turned second hand wooden pallets into a smart new decking area. They also obtained new timber with funding from our Environment Fund to extend and reinforce their garden shed. They are now planning to adopt another piece of land for fruit growing and to enlarge their garden. We’re delighted to reveal that Western Court Eco Warriors have been shortlisted in the Improving the Environment Award category in the 2013 TPAS Cymru Awards. For more details about our Planned Maintenance Programme please contact Commercial Manager Mike Wellock. And to ﬁnd out more about our Environmental works, including our Environment Fund, please contact Owen Jones, our Environment & Sustainability Oﬃcer.
9 | Spotlight on BRIDGEND | THE BIGGER PICTURE | Spring 2013 | www.wwha.co.uk
SUPPORTING HOUSE SWAP WALES Mindful of the need for many residents to downsize as a result of the ‘bedroom tax’ we have joined forces with Cadwyn and Linc Housing Associations to back the creation of the House Swap Wales project on Facebook. Essentially a series of countybycounty Facebook groups – eg: House Swap Cardiﬀ, House Swap Wrexham etc – House Swap Wales is aimed at social housing tenants who need to move due to welfare reforms including the bedroom tax, or who simply want to move for other
reasons. It provides a simple and readily accessible online platform for residents to advertise their own properties free of charge, ﬁnd out about potential properties they could move to, and facilitate the moves themselves. Find out more at www.facebook.com/HouseSwapWales and follow us on Twitter @HouseSwapWales
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GETTING ONLINE THRIVING ONLINE Technology liberates, empowers and enables. More and more services, including access to beneﬁts, are becoming available only via the internet and yet the majority of our residents are not connected. So we’re continuing to support our residents to get online, and make the most of being online, through a range of digital inclusion initiatives across Wales. Our aims are: • to help people maximise their incomes and deal with welfare reform in particular the introduction of Universal Credit • to combat social isolation by enabling residents to be better connected within, and beyond, their communities • to assist residents to get better value by accessing information and purchases online • to support residents to take advantage of all the educational – and fun – beneﬁts that being online brings. In South Wales our aﬀordable broadband WiFi access pilot scheme at Ty Pontrhun in
Merthyr Tydﬁl is providing us with a great foundation from which we can roll out this initiative, where possible, across Wales. And in North Wales we have also recently WiFi enabled a communal lounge at Nant y Môr, our extra care scheme in Prestatyn, Denbighshire. Work is now ongoing to WiFi enable communal lounges in a number of our retirement schemes in both North and South Wales. We are also running ‘how to’ sessions with residents, as part of the ‘Take Ctrl’ project, which we host on behalf of the North Wales Financial Capability Forum. To date Take Ctrl has helped more than 500 residents get online, with the support of 48 volunteers. Jen Bailey, one of our Tenancy Support Oﬃcers, is concentrating in particular on this area of demand.
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CONNECT24 TELEPHONE AND TELECARE SERVICES AT WWH We have been delivering telephone and telecare services for more than 10 years and such is the signiﬁcance of this area of our business that we have recently given it its own brand identity, Connect24. Why Connect? Because it’s all about connecting people with the services they need to enable them to live independently and safely in their homes. And 24? Because we are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. Currently we provide Connect24 emergency alarm and telecare services to more than 4000 households across Wales and have contracts with: • Valleys to Coast Housing in Bridgend • Pennaf Housing Group in North and Mid Wales • Newydd Housing Association in South and Mid Wales We also monitor alarms for individuals in rented accommodation as well as owneroccupiers. A simple alarm monitoring service, including the equipment, costs as little as £2.50 per week. This helps to give older and vulnerable people the reassurance they need to continue living independently in their own home, and their families some peace of mind, and all at an aﬀordable price. We also oﬀer a full 24/7 outofhours service and currently have contracts with the following housing associations, seeing us deliver out of hours services to 27,000 households across Wales: • Hafan Cymru across Wales • Grwp Gwalia across Wales • Bron Afon Community Housing in Torfaen
For more information about Connect24 please visit our website www.connect24.co.uk or contact Jackie Edwards, Customer Service Centre Manager or Cate Dooher, Head of Support Services on 0800 052 2526.
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Di Barnes, Verity Kimpton and Anne Hinchey WWH’s crack skydive team.
CHARITY UDPATE After a terriﬁc two years during which staﬀ and residents raised £25,000 for Help for Heroes, our new corporate charity partner for the January 2013 to December 2015 period is Stroke Association Cymru. Adopted by staﬀ as our main charity partner this January we have already raised more than £10,000 for Stroke. Events include regular dressdown days for staﬀ, participation in the St David’s Day Fun Run, and most recently a sponsored skydive. WWH charity team leader Di Barnes was joined by admin oﬃcer Verity Kimpton and Chief Executive Anne Hinchey for the jump, from 13,000 feet over Swansea Airﬁeld, on Saturday April 6th. Huge thanks to everyone who supported them in this hairraising enterprise. More details about
forthcoming charity events and fundraising on our website and on Twitter @wwha. Other charities to beneﬁt from staﬀ fundraising include Comic Relief Red Nose Day, and Trusell Trust Foodbanks in Cardiﬀ, Merthyr Tydﬁl, Wrexham, Vale and Bridgend.
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Western Court gardeners
AWARDS ROUND-UP At the time of going to print we have a number of staﬀ and residents shortlisted for major awards. They are as follows: TPAS Cymru Participation Awards 2013:
CIH Housing Heroes Awards:
Les Cooper has been posthumously shortlisted for the Inspirational Colleague Award. Les, formerly our Money Advice Oﬃcer based at our Flint oﬃce in North Wales, sadly passed away unexpectedly last month. An active member of the North Wales Financial Capability Forum, Les was enormously inﬂuential and respected in the sector and had a hugely positive impact on the lives of all those with whom he came into contact.
Scheme Manager Helen Jones from Llandudno, Conwy, has been shortlisted in the intensely competitive Inspirational Colleague category.
Greenﬁngered gardeners, aka ‘Western Court EcoWarriors’ from our retirement scheme Western Court in Bridgend, have been shortlisted for the Improving the Environment Award.
HR Excellence Awards: Anne Hinchey, Chief Executive, has been shortlisted for the Most People Focussed CEO Award in the Charity/ NotforProﬁt sector. This is the third consecutive year that Anne has been shortlisted for this award.
14 | Spotlight on BRIDGEND | LOCAL STAFF | Spring 2013 | www.wwha.co.uk
LOCAL STAFF All areas:
LR Tony Wilson (Finance Director), Shayne Hembrow (Deputy Chief Executive/Commercial Director), Anne Hinchey (Chief Executive), Steve Porter (Operations Director)
Lynnette Glover, Head of Housing Nikki Cole, Head of Development Alex Stephenson, Head of Property Services
Bridgend Housing Manager: Housing Manager: Commercial Manager: Commercial Manager: Development Manager:
Jenny Williams (General Needs) Jackie Bloxham (Retirement Housing) Robin Alldred (Repairs) Mike Wellock (Planned Maintenance) Vacant (to be appointed)
General Needs Andrew Pritchard (maternity leave March) Maria Edwards Claire Pepper Ann Lewis Liz Daniels (Housing Assistant)
Retirement Ilka Beynon
Bridget Garrod Alison Chaplin (Community Development Project Oﬃcer) Claire Hammond (Resident Participation Strategy Oﬃcer)
Asset Management Oﬃcers: Andrew Lester Vacant (to be appointed) Environment:
Tenancy Support Oﬃcer:
Telephone: Email: Website:
0800 052 2526 firstname.lastname@example.org www.wwha.co.uk
Wales & West Housing 3 Alexandra Gate, Ffordd Pengam, Tremorfa, CardiďŹ€ CF24 2UD and Unit 2, Acorn Business Park, Aber Road, Flint CH6 5YN. Telephone: 0800 052 2526 Minicom: 0800 052 5205 Email: email@example.com Website: www.wwha.co.uk @wwha wwhahomesforwales
Published April 2013