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Spring 2012 - Viridian Housing

Link

SPRING 2012

Bringing people together

The Making a Difference residents awards

7 13 14 21

Closer to you

Catherine Court

fundraising

New homes in

Littlehampton

Aids and adaptations


SPRING 2012

Publisher

Viridian Housing

Colwell House

376 Clapham Road

London SW9 9AR.

Ph: 0330 123 0220

Fax: 0203 202 3601

0330 123 0221 (minicom)

Email: communications@

viridianhousing.org.uk

Copyright

All material published in Link is

copyrighted and may only be

reproduced with the permission

of the editor.

Inside this issue…

3 Calls to the Customer Service Centre

Find out how we’ve changed our call centre to

serve you better.

4 Welfare Reform Bill

What does this mean for you?

9 Host a Jubilee party in your area

We’re offering funding through our community

grants scheme.

About us

Viridian Housing is a not-forprofit

organisation that provides

housing to over 30,000 residents

in the Midlands, West Sussex,

London and the south east.

Our mission is to provide high

quality, good value housing for

mixed income communities.

3 News

10 Around the houses

18 Resident involvement

21 Our services

23 Noticeboard

24 Lifestyle

26 How are we doing?

Welcome to the spring edition of Link,

our quarterly magazine for residents.

This edition was put together with the help of two fantastic residents,

Carol Ross and Tinuola Aregbesola. Carol is a general needs

resident living in Milton Keynes and Tinuola is a shared ownership

resident who lives in Tooting, London. You can read about Tinuola

and shared ownership on page 8. Both offered their time and

expertise to help bring

this magazine to life, so

thank you.

As usual, a big thank

you also goes to

colleagues and

residents who helped

at the editorial

committee meeting.

Happy reading!

Emilie Armstrong

Editor

Resident Editors Tinuola Aregbesola (left) and

Carol Ross (right) with Emilie Armstrong (centre).

Link editorial

committee

Do you fancy yourself

as a writer?

Or do you have

something to say

about this magazine?

You can get involved in the

Link editorial committee

by attending quarterly

meetings or simply offering

your opinions from the

comfort of your home

through a questionnaire.

Contact the Communications

team for more information.

Want to get in contact with us?

Communications team 0330 123 0220 communications@viridianhousing.org.uk

www.viridianhousing.org.uk/about_us/our-publications/Link

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NEWS

Going

mobile

Over the last few months,

we have been busy working

on an application for Apple

and Android smart phones

and tablets. We expect

the app, named Viridian,

to be available this month

to download from the App

Store or Google Play.

This is what our

app will look like.

The app will allow you to report any problems,

such as repairs or anti-social behaviour. All

you’ll need to do is enter the details on a simple

form. The app will also link you to news from

our website and to our Twitter and Facebook,

keeping you updated about what we are doing.

Unfortunately, residents at Middlesex University

will not be able to use the app.

We’re transparent

about our spends

We recently began voluntarily

publishing all employee salaries over

£50,000 and all expenses over £500.

Chief Executive, Matthew Fox, said the

decision to publicise these figures is about

meeting changing expectations.

“The world is becoming more open and we

are taking practical action to become even

more transparent, honest and accountable.

It is becoming increasingly important for us,

and our residents, to be very open about the

money we spend,” Matthew said.

“Around 80% of our income is from residents’ rent

and other charges, so we owe it to them to be

clear about how their money is used,” he said.

This information can be accessed online by

anyone and will be routinely updated.

Visit www.viridianhousing.org.uk/transparency

for full details.

Introducing

Social Impact

The first of April marked the launch of

a brand new team at Viridian - Social

Impact. The team will work to deliver

quality of life for residents and build on

the services we already provide.

They will work with our existing resident and

community engagement, supported housing and

retirement housing services to improve quality of

life and create positive impact for our residents.

Director of Social Impact, Matt Campion said

social impact is much more than just one aspect

of Viridian.

“Our social impact work is already beginning to

underpin the direction of the entire organisation,”

Matt said. “We’re passionate about offering

more training and employment opportunities,

financial assistance, life skills and the chance

to get involved in initiatives run by us and other

organisations. We recognise, particularly in these

financially difficult times, it is important to offer

more services to our residents.”

We’ll be measuring the impact we make by

looking at how happy residents are with their

lives and their communities. In particular, we’ll

be asking what we can do - either directly or in

partnership with other organisations - to improve

the quality of life for our residents.

If there is a service we could provide to help

improve your life, we would like to hear about

it. It could be anything from interview skills to

household maintenance tips – just let us know!

For more information:

Customer Service Centre

0330 123 0220

0330 123 0221 (minicom)

customerservices@viridianhousing.org.uk

spring 2012

3


NEWS

Welfare Reform Bill

What does this mean for you?

The new Welfare Reform Bill became

law last month and there will be some

important changes that may affect you.

Some of the changes include:

Universal Credit will replace many existing

income-based benefits with a single benefit

system. This means Jobseeker’s Allowance,

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA),

Income Support, Housing Benefit, Working and

Child Tax Credit will no longer exist.

A maximum benefits cap of £500 per week will

be introduced, which equals to £26,000 per year.

Households that have spare rooms may

receive less housing benefit.

Getting help

If you are on benefits you can expect a visit from

us to discuss how the changes may affect your

household and how we can help you.

If you are worried or unsure about how these

changes might affect you, get in touch with

your Housing Officer, Scheme Manager or

contact our Customer Service Centre.

0330 123 0220

0330 123 0221 (minicom)

customerservices@viridianhousing.org.uk

Tougher penalties for people cheating the system.

Calls to the Customer Service Centre

On Friday 6 April, all East and West Midland

calls began going through our Colwell

House office in London. This change will

provide an improved and more efficient

service to all Midlands residents.

Benefits of the centralised call centre include:

Increased opening hours of 8am to 6pm,

Monday to Friday.

Customer Service professionals who are trained to

handle a wide range of housing management,

repairs and maintenance requests.

We chose the 0330 number as it offers the lowest

price for calls from a landline or mobile phone.

Calls from West Sussex will still go through the

Littlehampton office, with the aim of bringing

these calls to London by 2014.

Did you know?

Repairs and maintenance calls from the Midlands have

been coming through our London-based call centre

since November 2010.

Contact our Customer Service Centre

0330 123 0220 0330 123 0221 (minicom) customerservices@viridianhousing.org.uk

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NEWS

What is the Affordable Homes Programme?

The Affordable Homes Programme

is a new scheme introduced by the

government to encourage housing

associations to offer some properties

at up to 80% of the rent charged for a

similar home if rented privately.

These new affordable rents are inclusive of

service charges, which mean the homes are

more affordable than renting privately, but will

be more costly than socially rented homes.

During the coming year, we will begin to

change some of our new homes and homes

that are vacated onto the Affordable Homes

Programme. This will mean we have two different

rent levels - social rent and affordable rent.

The Affordable Homes Programme will not

affect existing residents. Only new homes and

homes that become empty may be moved

into the programme. The only time current

residents could be impacted is if they chose

to transfer to an affordable rent property. We

have calculated the levels of affordable rents

so residents will still be eligible for housing benefit

and that the rent levels are below existing

benefit limits.

We are introducing five-year fixed-term

tenancies for some of our affordable rent

homes. The fixed-term tenancies will ensure our

homes are used for the best purpose and help

residents move to more suitable homes if their

circumstances change.

Affordable rents and fixed-term tenancies

will not apply to any retirement or supported

housing schemes.

The government has introduced this programme

to address the growing need for housing in the

UK. Housing associations will reinvest all money

generated to purchase or build new homes, as

well as fund other services.

For more information on the Affordable

Homes Programme, please contact your

Regional Housing Manager.

0330 123 0220

0330 123 0221 (minicom)

customerservices@viridianhousing.org.uk

Our governance

review

Our Board has approved a proposal for a

governance review, meaning we will be

reviewing the people who have a role in

approving our business decisions.

This will streamline governance

structures, provide clearer accountability

and greater resident involvement.

It will also reduce repetition in decision making

processes. The review is now underway and

will be an ongoing process. We will give you an

update as more information becomes available.

Our zero

tolerance policy

Our colleagues, partners and contractors

are committed to providing an excellent

service to all residents and should be doing

so without any fear of violence, threats or

other forms of abuse.

In the same way, our employees will not

tolerate bullying, harassment or intimidation

in any form and all incidents will be

reported and necessary action taken.

spring 2012

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NEWS

NEWS

Making a Difference residents awards

Almost 100 residents, colleagues

and guests came to the Grange

Hotel in London in January for our

first residents’ recognition event,

the Making a Difference awards.

The hugely successful day recognised the

achievements of groups and individuals who

work to make our communities better places

to live. The group listened to inspiring speeches

from residents both young and old, as well as

from members of our Executive Team and the

chair of our Board.

Chief Executive Matthew Fox

(left) embraces Outstanding

Contribution to Viridian

winner, Shaun Lansfield.

Winners included National Residents’ Forum

Chair, Shaun Lansfield, who was awarded the

Outstanding Contribution to Viridian award for his

long standing commitment to the organisation.

Another winner, Resident Auditor Doreen Hill, was

awarded the Making a Difference award for her

work in retirement housing, and inspiring resident,

Uzma Shakil, from our Shanti women’s shelter was

awarded the Resident of the Year award. ard.

Nominations for next year’s Making a

Resident of the Year, Uzma Shakil (centre), with fellow

resident Manjula Tukadia (left) and Supported Housing

Officer, Sara Begum.

Taking a Stand

Abderrahim Mantouran

and his wife, Mina Bachar

Young Person

of the Year

Adam Gravely

Winners

Community Project

of the Year

Yvonne Carter

Outstanding

Contribution to Viridian

Shaun Lansfield

Difference awards are now open! If you

are involved in something great in your

community, or know another resident who

is, make sure you let us know. We can help

you gain funding for your project or provide

support in other ways. We’d also love to come

out to film or take photos of your project.

Making a Difference

award

Doreen Hill

Resident of the Year

Uzma Shakil

Customer Engagement team

0330 123 0220 0330 123 0221 (minicom) customerservices@viridianhousing.org.uk

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Closer

to you

NEWS

getting to know you better

Closer to You is our new pilot

programme offering residents in

north London better access to

their housing team.

The team, made up of one Area Manager,

five Neighbourhood Managers and one

Neighbourhood Assistant, are now looking after

250 homes each compared to the usual 350

homes each. This means much more face-toface

contact and personal service, helping

to build closer relationships and improve the

services we provide.

The six month trial covers all homes in

Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and

Chelsea, Enfield, Barnet, Hackney, Haringey,

Westminster, Camden and Hillingdon.

Meet the team

Area Manager

Melissa Gent

Neighbourhood Managers

Imogen Forbes

Kathy Weinrich

Moti Rahman

Antoinette Charlery

Taiwo Adekoya

Neighbourhood Assistant

Charlene Oliver

If you live in any of these areas and

would like to give your opinions about

how we are doing, please come along

to our Closer to You Residents’ Panel on

the evening of 26 April 2012.

Contact the team for more information.

Contact the Closer to You team

0330 123 0220 0330 123 0221 (minicom) m)

(From left) Antoinette Charlery, Charlene Oliver,

Moti Rahman, Kathy Weinrich, Melissa Gent,

Imogen Forbes and Taiwo Adekoya,

customerservices@viridianhousing.org.uk

www.viridianhousing.org.uk/about_us/closertoyou

spring 2012

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NEWS

Do you want to own

your own home?

An artist’s impression of

the new development

Many residents who thought they

would never be home owners are

now achieving their dream through

an initiative called First Steps Shared

Ownership.

A new development on Tottenham High Road

in Haringey, London, is currently up for purchase

through shared ownership. Construction of

Skylark Apartments is due for completion in

August this year and includes 21 new shared

ownership apartments with one, two or three

bedrooms.

These modern apartments are very close

to shops and amenities, with excellent

transportation links nearby, nine local bus

routes, Bruce Grove railway station and London

underground, providing regular services to

central London. Apartments will be fitted with a

new kitchen, white goods and carpets.

For information on the Tottenham High Road

development or any other shared ownership

properties, please contact our Development team.

Development team

020 8307 7966 dlsales@viridianhousing.org.uk

Link magazine Resident Editor, Tinuola Aregbesola, entered into shared ownership

with us in 1995. If you’re thinking of doing the same, read on to find out about

Tinuola’s experience of the process.

The first time I heard about shared ownership

was while I was working in a doctor’s surgery and

overheard a conversation, which prompted me to do

some further research.

At the time I only had about £2,500 saved up. I had

also just completed my teaching degree and soon

after began working full time.

My new salary as a teacher put me in a position

where I could, at last, be considered for a mortgage

and able to purchase 50% of the property. After

my mortgage application was approved by the

bank, it was just a matter of completing the relevant

documentation for Viridian.

In August 1995 we moved into our new home, which

at the time was a brand new apartment. It was a

great change from the estate we were living on

previously and I was happy that I would now have

something to leave my family.

I would advise anyone thinking of entering into shared

ownership to make sure this is the right scheme for

them. For example, even though I only own half the

home, I am responsible for all repairs. Although, one

plus is that I do not pay for building insurance. Also,

it can be difficult to understand how to go about

purchasing the other half of the property – a process

known as ‘stair casing’ – which is actually one of

the most important things to know about shared

ownership.

Despite the cons, there is nothing more exciting than

having the freedom to decide everything about your

home. Of course, it is also an excellent investment.

The initial £2,500 has worked hard for us, appreciating

many times over.

To see if shared ownership is an affordable option for you, visit our financial adviser’s website, www.jdcifa.com.

For more information or to apply for shared ownership, visit www.firststepslondon.org or call 0845 230 8099.

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NEWS

Host a Jubilee party with a

Viridian community grant

On Sunday, 3 June 2012, the whole

country is invited to lunch with their

neighbours for the Queen’s Diamond

Jubilee.

Best of all, we’re offering £100 community grants

to any group of residents who hosts a party in

their area. Hosting a lunch is a great way to

honour the occasion and get to know your

neighbours at the same time!

Community grants are also available for any

event or activity that involves getting together

with your neighbours, such as gardening

projects or social evenings.

To apply for a community grant, please visit

our website and search ‘community grants’ or

contact our Customer Service Centre.

Contact our Customer Service Centre

0330 123 0220

0330 123 0221 (minicom)

customerservices@viridianhousing.org.uk

Residents in West Sussex can contact their local office

for more information on 01903 734339

Changing our office

to serve you better

The new reception

area on the first floor

Over the next few months, we will begin

the process of redesigning the Colwell

House office.

Residents who visited the reception last year were

asked about their experiences at Colwell House

and we used their feedback to help design the new

customer area.

Computers will be available in this new area, so

everyone will have access to the internet. There

will also be new meeting rooms where you can

speak with your Housing Officer privately, as well

as a mothers’ room and a quiet room for prayer.

A reception desk will remain on the ground floor,

with the addition of seating for visitors.

Ground floor reception

spring 2012

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AROUND THE HOUSES

Is something exciting happening in your community? Let us know!

0330 123 0220 0330 123 0221 (minicom) communications@viridianhousing.org.uk

Freepost RSSL-TTHU-SYSR, Viridian Housing, Colwell House, 376 Clapham Road, London, SW9 9AR

Estate improvements

The 2012/2013 financial year will see many improvements to our retirement housing

schemes across all regions.

We are investing £45,000 in the Midlands and

£17,000 in London to improve many schemes.

West Sussex has already had a number of

improvements carried out, including additional

CCTV cameras fitted at the Hawthorne Road

Scheme and a hearing loop system fitted

in the lounge at Benizi Court. This is already

making a big difference for residents with

hearing problems at the scheme. They can now

participate in social events and meetings.

Work in the Midlands will include upgrading

CCTV, improving street lighting, installing loop

hearing systems, providing storage for mobility

scooters and installing automated doors.

London schemes will also see improvements

to CCTV and street lighting, as well as more

storage for mobility scooters.

If you have any questions about improvements

at your scheme, please speak with your

Regional Housing Manager.

Retirement housing

garden competition

We hosted our very first retirement housing garden competition recently, with many

green fingered residents getting involved.

The winners for each region were:

Midlands: Catherine Court, Birmingham

West Sussex: Servite House, Bognor Regis

London: Lovatt Court, Balham

Millicent Buller House and Edith Pope House

were highly commended by the judges.

After months of hard work, all schemes were

very pleased to have won.

Catherine Court residents said the prize money

would be used to buy raised beds so all residents

could grow their own vegetables.

Kerry Blakemore, Scheme Manager at Servite

House said,

“The residents worked really hard

at this and put a lot of time and

energy into making the gardens

look so nice.”

Lovett Court resident, Anne Wilson, said she

was “gobsmacked to be part of the winning

scheme”, while Sid Stone promised to share the

produce of his garden with other residents.

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AROUND THE HOUSES

London

Getting healthy

in south London

In February we co-hosted an exciting Wellbeing

Workshop in Kennington, south London. The

afternoon included advice on stopping

smoking, cutting down on alcohol, tips for

healthy eating, fitness demonstrations and

opportunities for people to get involved with

sports and leisure activities in their community.

Brian Akintokun, Resident Involvement and

Community Engagement Officer, said the event is

a great way for us to encourage residents to get

involved in sport and promote a healthy lifestyle.

“As we approach an exciting summer of sport in

this country, it is important we help motivate and

support our residents to get healthy,” Brian said.

If you need that extra bit of encouragement to

get healthy, contact us and we’ll point you in

the right direction.

Customer Engagement team

0330 123 0220

0330 123 0221 (minicom)

customerservices@viridianhousing.org.uk

Learning independence at Harding House

Colleagues at our Wandsworth deaf care

home, Harding House, recently introduced a

programme to help residents become more

independent in their everyday lives.

Late last year, then Care Home Manager,

Imogen Lucas, and Deputy Manager, Sarah

Omogbehin, began hosting workshops for

residents capable of doing much more for

themselves than they had previously.

“Before now, it would be the responsibility of staff

to cook meals, as well as provide daily pocket

money for them. We think it is very important for

residents take control of their lives and learn these

basic skills as far as possible,” Imogen said.

The independence workshops have so far

covered topics including healthy eating,

cooking and shopping wisely.

One resident who has benefited from the

programme, Cornelius Brand, explained his newfound

responsibilities.

(From left) Support Workers Nezar Abul-Ela

and Huseyin D Jemal, resident Cornelius Brand,

and Care Home Manager Imogen Lucas.

“I used to be given £3 a day, which I spent on

coca cola at the local shop,” Cornelius said.

“Now I go out to get my own money from the

bank. I know how much I have in there and

how much I can spend. I’ve been saving for a

shopping trip to Oxford Street.”

More workshops will take place in the coming

weeks and will focus on eating out, take away

food and exercise.

spring 2012

11


AROUND THE HOUSES

What’s happening

at John Morris House

John Morris House (JMH) community

centre in south west London has been

thriving lately with many of our resident

groups hosting their meetings and social

events at the venue.

The Deaf Club is one group who has been making

the most of the space. In February, members hosted

their own lunch for Shrove Tuesday (pancake day).

Care Services Manager, Liz Alli said, “the group

is going brilliantly and members are becoming

very empowered.”

If you are hearing impaired and would like to

take part in the group, please contact Liz Alli or

Seeta Manjeswar.

Kim Baker and David Smith making pancakes.

Resident and CHISEL Kids charity founder,

Jacci Francis uses the rooms at JMH for her

youth training sessions.

“Thank you to Viridian for the support and

use of John Morris House. We are always

made to feel extremely welcome, so much

so that it is difficult to get trainees to leave

at the end of each session!”

0330 123 0221 (minicom)

elizabeth.alli@viridianhousing.org.uk or

If you are interested in hiring the space,

please contact the centre on 020 8871 3246 or

email carol.chambers@viridianhousing.org.uk

seeta.manjeswar@viridianhousing.org.uk

One step closer to Olympic dream

Our very own Olympic hopeful is

edging closer to competing in the

London Olympics later this year.

In January, resident and long jumper, Ezekiel

Ewulo achieved a personal best of 7.75

meters at the UK Indoor championship and

won the silver medal.

He also scored a place on the England

Athletics team and competed at three

high profile indoor track and field events in

Europe.

Ezekiel said his career is going really well

under new coach Aston Moore.

“My recent indoor performance has helped

to lift my profile for the coming outdoor

season, so things are looking up,” Ezekiel

said. “I’m going to the Olympics trials in June

at Alexander Stadium in Birmingham and

I’m definitely hoping to make the team!”

Ezekiel will also be jumping in May at the

IAAF World Challenge in Daegu, Korea.

We wish him all the best!

12 Link


Midlands

Catherine Court fundraising

AROUND THE HOUSES

Over the past 12 months,

Catherine Court residents have

been busy hosting a number

of fundraising events for this

year’s selected cause - The

John Taylor Hospice, Erdington.

Last month, project lead Eleanor

Plant was pleased to present a

bumper cheque for £1,150 to a

representative from the hospice.

This money was in addition to the

£330 given to the MacMillan Nurses

last September, and was up on

last year’s £1,000 donation to the

Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

Events to raise the money included

tea and cake events, raffles,

lunches and movie afternoons.

Would like to host a fundraising

event in your scheme or

community? Talk to your Scheme

Manager or contact the

Customer Engagement team.

Sarah Jane (left) is presented

with a cheque from Eleanor

Plant on behalf of Catherine

Court.

0330 123 0220 0330 123 0221 (minicom) customerservices@viridianhousing.org.uk

Upstairs

Downstairs

Gerard Dutton outside his home.

Residents and colleagues in the Midlands have

been glued to their televisions recently, trying to

spot one of our properties in the latest season of

the BBC classic ‘Upstairs Downstairs’.

During filming, Claredon Square in Leamington Spa

was transformed into Eaton Square, with actors

and a film crew lining the streets.

Viridian resident and collector of Edwardian items,

Gerard Dutton, said it was great to watch the

filming take place around him.

“The film crew put tape across my windows, just like

they did in the war to prevent them breaking during

bomb raids,” said Gerard.

“It was great to see the square as it would have

looked in the Second World War. It added real magic

to the area and made me feel very proud that my

flat would be seen by millions of people on TV.”

The street on a day of filming.

spring 2012

13


AROUND THE HOUSES

West Sussex

New homes

in Littlehampton

Demolition at the old Wickbourne Swan

pub site in Littlehampton took place

in December 2010 and just over a

year later - in March this year - 12 new

families moved in to their new homes.

One family nominated for a home was Gemma

Johnson and her three children. Having been

on the waiting list for over four years and living

in a cramped two bedroom house, the family

were very excited to move into their new home

in March.

“I was overwhelmed when I was told, I cried

happy tears!” Gemma said. “It’s the smallest

things that made the biggest difference. I now

have my own space, so I can take myself off to

bed and read a magazine without disturbing

anyone.”

Gemma is no stranger to Viridian. She grew up in

one of our properties in Bognor Regis, where her

parents still live.

“I like the way Viridian properties

are managed. I know if I have any

problems I can call and get advice

on what to do. My Dad said he is

really happy I was going to be a

Viridian resident again,”

Happy new residents: Gemma Johnson and her three

children, Liam (15), Anya (11) and Leah (2).

The new homes are super-insulated and

airtight, with a mechanical ventilation and heat

recovery system that will help keep heating bills

affordable. Construction was carried out by

contractors PMC, who worked really well with

the community, employing local tradesmen and

doing minor building work for local residents.

Gemma said.

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AROUND THE HOUSES

West Sussex

ASB Officer invited

to House of Commons

In January, one of our Anti-Social

Behaviour (ASB) Officers, Anita

MacMahon, was invited to a

reception in the House of Commons.

Anita MacMahon

The function was to recognise the fantastic work of

Albion in the Community, an initiative funding free

football sessions and tournaments for our young

local residents. The Cup Final football project is

funded in partnership with eight other housing

associations, with Anita’s involvement extending to

weekend events where she provides refreshments.

Anita said she believes the football scheme has

helped to reduce low level anti-social behaviour

problems.

“During the five years we have been involved,

there has been great improvements in ASB

issues, particularly on estates where there are

many children and teenagers,” Anita said.

Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas said, “I

am immensely honoured to host a reception

for Albion in the Community at the House of

Commons. The fantastic work being done by

Albion in the Community shows that football can

be a tremendous force for good.”

Need a helping hand?

West Sussex Credit Union offers a helping

hand to people struggling to keep their

head above water when finances are tight.

The credit union has introduced Life Raft Loans

- a service to help refinance your existing loans

and avoid increasing debt. The Life Raft Loan

repays the outstanding loan or credit card

bill directly to the lender, then your debt is

refinanced into affordable repayments. The loan

is flexible and will ensure finances are managed

safely over the period of the loan, especially if

unexpected events occur.

For more information or financial advice, call

West Sussex credit Union on 01903 237221 or

01903 210172.

spring 2012

15


YOUTH

Go Green Week

Go Green Week is People & Planet’s

annual event to inspire colleagues

and students in schools, colleges and

universities to take action to prevent

climate change.

In February, residents at Southampton and

Middlesex Universities got behind Go Green

Week, with a series of exciting events to promote

the prevention of climate change.

Events included Waste-

Not Wednesday, a

day to think about

recycling, as well as

Fair Trade Friday, which

highlighted fair trade

university status and fair

trade products.

For information about

Go Green week and

People & Planet, visit

www.peopleandplanet.

org/gogreenweek

A student with a fairtrade chocolate bar.

Practical workshop

at Blackshaw House

Young residents at Blackshaw House recently

attended an eye-opening workshop by the Cassandra

Learning Centre (CLC). The workshop focused on

domestic violence, sexual abuse and relationships.

Residents taking part in the workshop.

Valarie Howard and Seun Okunowo from CLC led

the residents in a range of group activities and

discussions. Participants were also shown a film

on domestic violence, which was followed by a

challenging discussion where the young people’s

attitudes and perceptions were explored.

Supporting Housing Officer, Gemma Howard,

said the residents were really engaged with the

workshop.

“They thoroughly enjoyed interacting with one

another and were very keen to participate. They

were still discussing some of the issues days after

the workshop!” Gemma said.

For more information on the Cassandra Learning

Centre or if you would like to book a workshop, please

visit the www.cassandralearningcentre.org.uk

Contact us if you need support on

domestic violence or relationships

0330 123 0220

0330 123 0221 (minicom)

customerservices@viridianhousing.org.uk

16 Link


YOUTH

Celebrating ‘New Leaders’

In January, residents Jodie Gerald and

Adam Gravely attended a celebration

evening for successfully completing their

‘New Leaders Programme’ through Duke

of Edinburgh (DofE) London.

Residents Jodie Gerald and Adam Gravely

at the celebration event.

The ‘New Leaders Programme’ is an innovative

training and development opportunity for

young people, which incorporates the Duke

of Edinburgh’s Gold Award alongside work

placement and qualification in youth work.

Jodie and Adam were two of only 15 ‘New Leaders’,

who were selected for the initial programme.

This is the first time DofE in London has worked

in partnership with social housing associations

to engage vulnerable young people and offer

them leadership opportunities.

Would you like to get involved with the Duke of

Edinburgh award?

Customer Engagement team

0330 123 0220 0330 123 0221 (minicom) customerservices@viridianhousing.org.uk

LGBT history month!

February was lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender

(LGBT) history month and we celebrated with a

number of events across all regions.

Young residents at our Foyer in Worthing took part in a

LGBT history themed quiz and enjoyed an afternoon tea

to celebrate.

There was also some great discussion around current LGBT

issues, as well as the history behind civil rights movements

for LGBT people.

Our Equality Tsar,

Eoin Quiery, cutting

the diversity cake

with Ewan McLeod

at the Writtle House

LGBT event.

Viridian supports a joint initiative by Stonewall Housing and Age UK

to promote greater housing options for older LGBT people.

We are committed to working with all residents to help improve our

services. If you are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender and would

like to get involved, please email equalities@viridianhousing.org.uk.

Residents at Worthing Foyer

taking part in the LGBT quiz.

spring 2012

17


RESIDENT INVOLVEMENT

Resident involvement strategy

Since the approval of our resident

involvement strategy last year, we’ve

been working hard to consider your

views about the services we deliver and

decisions that effect you.

In the last 12 months we have:

Delivered local events on our estates, in

our retirement schemes and for our street

properties in all regions.

Increased the number of residents in our

involvement groups and asked questions

about performance and service delivery

at our regional scrutiny panels.

Our priorities for next year include:

Develop the scrutiny role for the National

Residents’ Forum by agreeing a new structure

and approach, as well as recruit and train

new members.

Provide a training programme for all members

of our resident involvement groups.

Maintain and develop existing local area and

scheme meetings programme.

The resident involvement strategy is available on

our website.

Delivered three resident-led audits

of our services.

Updates from our

resident involvement

groups

Some of the members of the NRF, scrutiny

panels and resident auditors at the Making a

Difference residents awards in January.

National Residents’ Forum (NRF)

The NRF held its quarterly meeting in March. It

discussed a range of issues, including:

Closer to You pilot in north London

affordable rents

service charges: and,

changes to the planned repairs programme,

which included the publication of a five-year

schedule of the works to be carried out.

Scrutiny panels

In February, the regional scrutiny panels discussed:

day-to-day repairs

communal repairs

service charges; and,

benchmarking our services against other

housing associations.

To find out when the next scrutiny panel will take

place in your area, please contact the Resident

Governance team or see our website.

Contact details are on the next page

18 Link


RESIDENT INVOLVEMENT

Do you want to get involved?

We are looking for residents to join our

involvement groups!

National Residents’ Forum (NRF)

Working as part of a team of other residents

and colleagues, you will help out by attending

four meetings a year. We will provide training,

support, expenses, an iPad and internet

connection.

Regional scrutiny panels

Resident auditors

Would you like to inspect our services and work

out how we can work better for you? We will

provide training, expenses, support and advice

to help you carry out the role. The skills you will

learn will be invaluable. One of our auditors

has used the experience to help get a job with

another housing association.

Interested? Get in touch with us.

If would like to get involved in issues affecting

your local area, want to work as part of a team

whilst getting to know some of your neighbours,

this is the involvement group for you. We will

provide training, support and all expenses.

Resident Governance team

0330 123 0220 0330 123 0221 (minicom) customerservices@viridianhousing.org.uk

Freepost RSSL-TTHU-SYSR, Viridian Housing, Colwell House, 376 Clapham Road, London, SW9 9AR

Log onto My Viridian and tick the relevant boxes in the ‘Getting Involved’ section.

Let us know if we

do something great!

Live It! is our colleague recognition

scheme, which rewards our people

when they’ve done something

particularly special.

So if your know someone who has gone above

and beyond – let us know! You are welcome to

nominate at the reception in any of our offices,

by sending us an email or letter, or simply giving

us a call.

0330 123 0220 0330 123 0221 (minicom) communications@viridianhousing.org.uk

Freepost RSSL-TTHU-SYSR, Viridian Housing, Colwell House, 376 Clapham Road, London, SW9 9AR

spring 2012

19


RESIDENT INVOLVEMENT

Summer jobs fair

in Croydon

We are excited to be involved in this

year’s South London Jobs Fair, which will

be held on Thursday, 21 June at Fairfield

Halls, Croydon.

This important event is open to all residents, and

will offer real job opportunities, apprenticeships,

work placements, training sessions. It will link

local residents to local jobs and initiatives

through partnerships with local businesses.

Resident Involvement and Community Engagement

Officer, Brian Akintokun has been working with

partner organisations to pull the event together.

“Residents who attend this event are taking a

step in the right direction towards obtaining long

term, sustainable employment. It is important

we support residents who are currently looking

for work, so we encourage everyone to

register for the event by visiting the website or

contacting us directly,” Brian said.

We’d also like to hear about your experiences

or concerns in gaining employment and what

we can do to support you. Let us know by

contacting the Customer Engagement team.

0330 123 0220

0330 123 0221 (minicom)

communications@viridianhousing.org.uk

To register your interest in the South London Jobs

Fair, please visit www.southlondonjobsfair.co.uk.

Two week legal

placement available

An exciting two week work

experience opportunity has become

available in our legal team for a

resident or a member of their direct

family, who is currently studying law

at a degree level or higher.

Based in our Colwell House office in south

London, the unpaid placement offers

invaluable legal experience. The successful

candidate will work in-house at Viridian,

as well as have the opportunity to work

in a London law firm for one day and

shadowing a barrister for another.

The successful candidate would ideally

have a particular interest in housing

law, and will work on matters including

subletting, anti-social behaviour and

possession proceedings.

The placement can be undertaken any

time from June to September this year.

For more information, please call Christine

Steele on 0203 202 3668 (Monday to

Wednesday).

To apply, please send your CV and

covering letter to:

Freepost RSSL-TTHU-SYSR

Viridian Housing, Christine Steele

Colwell House, 376 Clapham Road

London, SW9 9AR

20 Link


OUR SERVICES

Aids and adaptations

If you’re finding it difficult to manage in

your home, we may be able to make

changes to help you to live more

comfortably and independently.

Aids and adaptations can include:

Grab rails to help with stability

Level access showers if you can’t use the bath

Stair lifts to help you get upstairs

Ramps for wheelchair access to your home.

To help us provide you with the right adaptations,

we usually need a recommendation from your

doctor or occupational therapist. They can

provide us with a detailed explanation of what

improvements they think you need, which ensures

the adaptations we make are right for you.

We will make sure we

keep in touch throughout

the process, so you know

what is happening. Once

everything is complete, we

will carry out a feedback

survey to assess how happy

you are with the way we

handled the work.

Asbestos safety

Asbestos is a strong, fibrous material which is

resistant to chemicals and heat. It was popular

between the 1950s and 1980s because of its

insulation, fire proofing and sound protection

qualities. It was banned in the UK in 1999. However,

a lot of our housing was built before this time and

some properties contain asbestos materials.

It is our policy, in line with the Department for

Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and

the Health and Safety Executive’s recommendations,

to leave asbestos as it is. However, if it is in a bad

condition, is likely to be disturbed, or if maintenance

work is taking place on or near it, we may remove it.

A thank you letter from a happy resident!

Larger adaptations are usually jointly funded by

us and by your local authority. To secure funding

from your local authority, you will need to apply

for a Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) and we can

help you with the application.

To date, we have completed 275 aids and

adaptation projects nationally. So if you are

having problems getting around your home,

please let us know and we will be happy to help.

0330 123 0220

0330 123 0221 (minicom)

nationalaids&.adaptations@viridianhousing.org.uk

As long as materials containing asbestos are left

undisturbed, there is no risk to you or your family.

You can find more

information on our

website or the Health

and Safety Executive’s

website, www.hse.gov.uk/

asbestos

If you have any concerns

about your property,

please contact us.

0330 123 0220 0330 123 0221 (minicom) asbestosinfo@viridianhousing.org.uk

spring 2012

21


OUR SERVICES

Dealing with anti-social behaviour

We want you to always feel safe in

your home and community, and we

take reports of anti-social behaviour

very seriously.

Examples of anti-social behaviour

Verbal or physical abuse

Vandalism

Graffiti

Threatening or intimidating behaviour

Substance misuse

Litter and rubbish dumping

Nuisance driving and nuisance vehicles

Domestic abuse

Racial, sexual and other harassment

Steps to dealing with anti-social behaviour

Handling the problem yourself

Have a conversation with the person causing

the nuisance. In many cases they may not even

be aware they are causing a problem.

Try not to approach the person when you

are feeling angry or upset. Instead, leave it a

little while so you have a clear idea of what

you want to say. Speak in a friendly way and

aim to discuss how the problem can be fixed.

If the person becomes aggressive, end the

conversation and walk away.

Seek advice and support

If the situation is not resolved after the

conversation, discuss the issue with other

neighbours who may also be affected. The

support of your neighbours will be valuable if we

need to take action.

Keep records

It helps to keep a record of when the nuisance

occurs. This will help you get your facts straight and

highlight whether there is a pattern. Write down

times, dates, places and a description of what

happened. It may also be useful to take photos

as evidence, if for example rubbish is blocking

communal areas or property is damaged.

If the issue is still not resolved, contact your

Housing Officer or the Customer Service Centre.

Our dedicated Anti-social Behaviour team will

take the relevant steps to control the situation.

0330 123 0220

0330 123 0221 (minicom)

communications@viridianhousing.org.uk

In severe cases of nuisance or harassment,

contact your local police. If there is a serious risk,

call the emergency number on 999.

Sign-up for My Viridian

My Viridian is our online tool that helps you log

repairs, view rent account information and keep

your tenancy information up to date.

This new service is completely free and can be

accessed through our website homepage.

We are continually improving this service, so if

you have any feedback please let us know.

To access My Viridian visit our website and

search ‘My Viridian’.

22 Link


NOTICE BOARD

My home energy switch

My Home Energy Switch is

a service provided for all

housing association residents

to quickly and easily check

the cheapest price of gas and

electricity available.

The My Home Energy Switch website is currently under development.

All visitors to www.myhomeenergyswitch.org.uk are being redirected to

the uSwitch website, where a price comparison can still be made.

The 0800 051 5346 telephone number is working as normal.

Thames Water

Residents whose water is supplied by

Thames Water may be eligible for a

discount. Thames Water has a Single

Occupier Discount, which is available to

those who cannot have a meter fitted.

For more information on the scheme,

visit www.thameswater.co.uk and search

‘Assessed Household Charge’.

London Re-use

Do you have unwanted or repairable able items

gathering dust in your home? London Re-use is a

network of charities who work to find new homes

for good quality furniture and appliances that are

no longer wanted. They will even collect items

directly from your home.

For more information, call

their hotline on 0203 142 8506.

spring 2012

23


LIFESTYLE

London Olympic quiz

Test your Olympic knowledge with this tricky quiz.

1. In which month will the London 2012

Olympics start?

a) January

b) December

c) July

2. Which country held the last Summer

Olympic Games?

a) Bolivia

b) China

c) Denmark

3. Which sport will kick off the games?

a) Women’s rugby

b) Women’s football

c) Women’s golf

4. How many sports will feature in the games?

a) 16

b) 26

c) 36

5. Which of these Olympic venues is outside

London?

a) Wembley Stadium

b) Olympic Stadium

c) Millennium Stadium

6. Who are the official London 2012 mascots?

a) Wendy and Matthew

b) William and Mary

c) Wenlock and Mandeville

7. Which sport will not be played at the games?

a) Softball

b) Hockey

c) Tennis

8. Which sport will be played on the Prime

Minister’s doorstep?

a) Fencing

b) Long jump

c) Beach volleyball

9. What is the name of the building where the

track cycling event will take place?

a) Velodrome

b) Eton Manner

c) Old Trafford

10. After the 2012 games in London, where will

the next summer Olympic Games be held?

a) Brazil

b) Belize

c) Bolivia

Answers

1. The opening ceremony is on

27 July 2012

2. The 2008 Olympics were

held in Beijing, China

3. Women’s football will be

the first sport of the games

4. 26 different sports will

feature in the games

5. The Millennium Stadium is in

Cardiff

6. Wenlock and Mandeville

7. Softball – although it was

played at the 2008 games

in Beijing

8. Beach Volleyball will be

played at the Horse Guards

Parade – just next to where

the Prime Minister lives in

Downing Street

9. Velodrome – Gold medal

cyclist Sir Chris Hoy helped

design it

10. The 2016 games will be held

in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil

24 Link


LIFESTYLE

Foods from around the world

Curried meat triangles

Ingredients

1kg beef or mutton, cooked and

minced

1 tbsp curry powder

1 small onion, chopped

225g short crust pastry

Oil to fry

Salt to taste

Do you have a yummy recipe you’d

like to share? Send it to us via email or

freepost and you could see it in the next

edition of Link.

Email: communications@viridianhousing.org.uk

Post: Freepost RSSL-TTHU-SYSR,

Viridian Housing, Colwell House,

376 Clapham Road, London, SW9 9AR

Method

Mix minced and cooked meat with curry

powder, onion and salt.

Roll out pastry and cut into squares 10cm

by 10cm.

Put a tablespoon of meat mixture on each

pastry square.

Brush edges of squares with milk and fold

over to form triangles.

Seal edges with a fork.

Fry each side of meat triangles until

golden brown.

Serve hot with vegetables.

The Livewell Plate

The University of Aberdeen, in partnership

with the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF),

have developed what they call the Livewell

Plate – a diet that is both healthy and

environmentally friendly.

The Livewell Plate recommend over a third of

our diet should be fruit and vegetables and

another third should be starchy foods like

potatoes, pasta or rice. The last third should

be split between treats, milk and dairy foods,

and protein-rich foods like beans, eggs, fish

and meat.

Research shows that many

of us eat much more meat

than is good for our health,

our planet and our wallet.

By eating a little less meat and dairy, and

bulking out our diet with more vegetables and

whole grains, researchers believe we can be

healthier, environmentally friendly and save

some money in the process.

For more information on the Livewell Plate,

please visit www.wwf.org.uk and search

‘Livewell’.

spring 2012

25


The period covered in this edition is April to December 2011.

doing?

Edition 11, Quarter 3, 2011-12

How are we

“How are we doing?” is our quarterly performance report which

provides residents with information on how we are performing.

Resident satisfaction

Satisfaction with our services Apr-Dec 2011

2011-12 target

Student service

Key worker service

Hostels service

Support service

ASB process

Customer Serv. Centre

Repairs service

Lettings service

57%

80%

78%

75%

79%

80%

85%

97%

95%

95%

95%

100%

95%

96%

95%

94%

0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100%

We are currently looking at how to improve satisfaction in our handling of ASB cases.

Customer services

% of telephone calls answered within five rings (20 seconds)

100%

Total number of calls

received between April

to December 2011

90,428

90%

80%

70%

60%

76%

82%

80%

81%

Number of calls

answered within

five rings

% of calls answered

within five rings

73,247

81%

50%

40%

Our 2011-12 target is 80%

30%

20%

Apr’10-Mar’11 Apr’10-Jun’11 Apr-Sep’11 Apr-Dec’11

% of calls to our

Customer Services

Officers resolved at first

point of contact

53%

26 Link


Repairs and maintenance

% emergency repairs completed in 24 hours

100%

90%

95.9%

95.2%

80% 88%

70%

96.3%

Total number of

emergency repairs

reported between

April to December 2011

Number completed

in target

4,088

3,932

60%

50%

% completed in target 96%

40%

30%

20%

Apr’10-Mar’11 Apr’10-Jun’11 Apr-Sep’11 Apr-Dec’11

Our 2011-12 target is 100%

% of responsive repairs where an appointment was arranged and kept

100%

90%

Total number of repairs

appointments made

between April to

December 2011

22,982

80%

70%

80% 81.4% 81.9%

82.2%

Number of

appointments kept

18,559

60%

50%

40%

% of appointments

kept

82%

30%

20%

Apr’10-Mar’11 Apr’10-Jun’11 Apr-Sep’11 Apr-Dec’11

Our 2011-12 target is 97%

For more information www.viridianhousing.co.uk/ourperformance RICE team 0330 123 0220

If you need help understanding this information or would like it in another language or format,

such as Braille or large print, please contact the Business Excellence team on 0330 123 0220.

spring 2012 27


Want to contact us?

Colwell House

376 Clapham Road

London, SW9 9AR

Tel: 0330 123 0220

Fax: 020 3202 3601

0330 123 0221 (minicom)

Email: customerservices@@viridianhousing.org.uk

Post any mail

to us for free!

Freepost RSSL-TTHU-SYSR

Viridian Housing, Colwell House,

376 Clapham Road

London, SW9 9AR

Want to get

involved?

Contact:

Customer Engagement team

Phone: 0330 123 0220

Email:

customerservices@@viridianhousing.org.uk

This document is also available in:

Audio

Tape

Different

languages

Large

print

Braille

www.viridianhousing.org.uk

Link is produced on 75% recycled paper

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